From The Vaults: The Lost David Hess Interview

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SHOCK editor Chris Alexander combs his archives for “lost” interviews.

Lately, I’m taking great pleasure in combing through my archives and finding interviews with people that I had forgotten about. Some are massive chats with figures both fringe-dwelling and iconic. Some are quickie conversations with up and comers who are now household names. And, sadly, many are exchanges with cinema icons who are no longer with us…

Last night I stumbled upon this, a brief, unpublished interview I conducted back in 2007 or 2008 with late actor, musician and horror hero David Hess. Hess, of course, is best-known as Krug, one of the most vomitous heavies in film history and the driving force behind one of the most influential wallows in sadism and human misery ever, Wes Craven’s classic 1972 Bergman quote, THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT.

Hess was a talented man, having also composed the mournful folk music score for LAST HOUSE (when Hess sang that “the road leads to nowhere” in the track “Wait for the Rain”, you really did feel like reaching for the razor blades) and would also go on to star in several exploitation films of various merit, like Ruggero Deodato’s LAST HOUSE-inspired HOUSE BY THE EDGE OF THE PARK, a personal favorite.

I can’t recall what roads led to this interview. Perhaps it was his role in Lee Demarbre’s horror/comedy SMASH CUT which was filmed in Canada. Maybe it was something for FANGORIA designed to celebrate LAST HOUSE (though I’ve never really been a huge fan). Maybe it was just a blind reach out to the man to bank an interview for some sort of future purpose..

I truly cannot recall.

But here it is. A short, sweet conversation with a pop culture presence who was beloved – and will forever be so – by many.

Enjoy…

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SHOCK: Outside of your presence in exploitation films I’m fascinated by your incredibly full career…you’re a real renaissance man.

HESS: Thank you, that’s very kind…

SHOCK: But out of all the threads in your professional life, which one brings you the most personal satisfaction?

HESS: Absolutely, the music, without a doubt…

SHOCK: Why?

HESS: I see, hear, feel everything through my music. Acting for me is just another form of music. I learned very early on that if I were to lose all my senses I would still be able to
feel music and so it guides my life, always.

SHOCK: How many times have you seen LAST HOUSE? What are your feelings on the film today?

HESS: I’ve seen it on the occasion, but I really don’t much refer to past projects. I try to live in the present. LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT came at a time in my life where things were in flux-the world was in a flux for that matter-and I followed my instincts. What you see on the screen is instinctual and a product of a very special synergy between the actors and myself. It was the beginning of a personal study of ‘sociopathic’ behavior, something I’ve always been fascinated with.

SHOCK: Who’s more repulsive and sociopathic, Krug or Alex from HOUSE BY THE EDGE OF THE PARK?

HESS: No comment, man! I’ll have to let you decide for yourself. I think they both have their
moments to shine, so to speak…

SHOCK: At this stage of your game, are there any new challenges left?

HESS: Of course, there are always new challenges to face and to conquer. It’s just a question of finding them…

SHOCK: Where are you looking? I mean, what are you working on?

HESS: Oh man, a bunch of things. A new album, first of all. That’s a major project at the moment. I’m also trying to finish all the unfinished scripts that are gathering dust around me. There’s never enough time to get to everything, you know? I’m also trying to remodel our little house and thinking of directing my own projects too. Basically, I’m simply continuing the exploration of this thing we call life.

SHOCK: What’s your favorite horror film?

HESS: That I’ve done?

SHOCK: Not necessarily…just one that you think really stands alone.

HESS: That’s a hard one. I absolutely love anything from the Hammer series out of England as well as the early developmental films of the 1930’s and 40’s that were character driven, like Frankenstein, Dracula, etc. But to qualify that question into one answer, I really couldn’t say. What I can suggest is that horror, if done well and remains true to itself, becomes a morality play, a reflection of who we are as a species and culture and as such if I can take something away that improves my take on life, than it’s done the job right.