As we’ve done all year with Cons and Cosplay, we like to tell you the stories behind fun, familiar faces, and once in a while introduce you to someone new and upcoming. Since the calendar flip, fall has set in and Halloween quickly approaches.
Our Feature in Scream continues with another Good Taste talk with Scream Queen and award winner, Sarah Nicklin!
Sarah is a four-times best actress nominee for her roles in Exhumed, Choices, DeBeaked, and Zombie Allegiance. She is most well-known for her work in indie horror, however she has also appeared in several comedies and stage plays – and she enjoys working on dark dramas and thrillers the most.
You can find her on IMDB
Sarah: I just kinda fell into it really. I mean, I’ve always really liked horror films and it’s one of my favorite genres to watch, but I didn’t set out to be a “scream queen”, and that’s still not really my goal. I just want to work and it seems like the most work I get are in horror movies, so that’s just where I’ve ended up recently. I started trying to get involved in indie films while I was still in college at Emerson for acting thinking that I didn’t want to waste any time on getting started. So I looked around the Boston area for any indie projects I could find and just started auditioning. The first indie film I did was more Syfy, but the majority of the ones after that were horror. I met Richard Griffin and started working on a lot of projects with him and started to build a little bit of a name for myself in the genre.
- MoGT: What do you feel makes the right horror movie? How do you build up to the Blood, Guts, & Screams?
Sarah: For me, it’s all about the suspense. I’m much more of a fan of the ghost stories or thrillers more so than the overly gory bloody films. You have to care about the characters and genuinely be concerned about whether they live or die. I think the killer or “evil force” in the movie has to be believable and scary in some way too. I know that for many people who don’t believe in ghosts that the idea of a scary ghost movie is just silly because they don’t buy into the realism that this thing could actually hurt the characters, but since I do believe in ghosts, I think they are some of the scariest films out there. I think it’s all about getting lost in the world of the film and being entertained. If you’re getting distracted by bad acting or bad FX or bad sound or something, that is a movie that fails for me… unless its supposed to be a “bad movie” that you make fun of because of how bad it is.
- MoGT: With it being Halloween season we like to ask, what are your favorite frights of the season?
Sarah: There’s so much to do around Halloween! It’s by far my favorite holiday so I try to do as many Halloween related activities as possible. A good friend of mine puts together this amazing Halloween attractions calendar every year where she schedules out events for the entire month so that we can hit as many haunted attractions as possible. Some of my favorites is Coffin Creek and The Queen Mary, but there are still so many I have yet to visit. I really want to try out Delusions (an interactive haunted house where the actors are allowed to touch you), but it’s always sold out super early!
- MoGT: Who are your role models in the industry? Anyone you “kill” to work with?
Sarah: Most of the people I’m dying to work with aren’t necessarily horror-specific. I’m a huge fan of Gary Oldman, so he’s probably at the top of my list, or Johnny Depp. I would also really love to be in a Ty West or Tim Burton or Terry Gilliam or Ridley Scott film.
As far as role models go, I have a bunch of them. I think pretty much anyone who is making it work in horror and is doing their thing is a role model. It changes on almost a daily basis for me. I’ll see a new idea that someone has come up with that I think is really inspiring or an actress will come up with a new innovative way of promoting themselves, or I’ll see a movie poster that looks awesome. All of it is inspirational and motivational to me. Some days it makes me feel awful like I’m sitting around not doing anything and everyone else is working, but that’s all part of the game – the smoke and mirrors of making yourself look more important and busy than you really are. Haha 🙂
- MoGT: Everyone’s got a phobia, what goes bump in the night make you jump?
Sarah: Mine’s kind of weird – there’s really only one thing that I’m scared of, and it’s not like I go running the other direction like some people do with spiders, but it just kind of freaks me out. And that is sunken ships. Like all those images of the Titanic under the water all eroded and covered in seaweed… it just kind of gives me the “heebee jeebees”. It’s not that I can’t look at it, I just don’t want to. There’s something really ominous about sunken ships. They just come out of the darkness of the ocean and are big and foreboding and don’t belong there. It’s a bit ironic since I’m a certified SCUBA diver that this would freak me out so much, but who knows – maybe I died in a shipwreck in a past life or something (a physic suggested that to me once as an explanation as to why they freak me out). I also really don’t like not being able to see into the water that I’m swimming in or if something touches my leg (like seaweed) and I can’t see it. Something touching my leg when I’m swimming and I can’t see what it was really freaks me out too. However, I’m not really scared of sharks. I’ve been diving a few times where sharks have been around and it’s really no big deal. I was way more freaked out the one time I went diving and there was a sunken ship off in the distance.
- MoGT: There’s a lot of special effects in today’s film world, how does that affect acting and/or directing the process?
Sarah: I’m not a huge fan of special effects – digital ones at least. I much prefer practical effects and actually having something tangible in the scene with you that you can react to. It makes it much more difficult when you have to imagine the creature and how tall it is and where it is in proximity to you and the other actors in the scene, etc. It can just feel really silly when you’re “being scared” and there is absolutely nothing there for you to react to. You have to try to make it as real for yourself as possible, whether that’s recalling an old memory, or the director walking you through it and describing what is happening every step of the way, or just calling on your imagination to make up what you’re seeing. The more real you can make it, the less silly it feels and the better it will look on camera. But whenever possible I think practical effects should be used, hands down!
- MoGT: There’s a lot of clichés in the history of horror movies, people like to yell at the hero not to go in that room or go back for that girl. How do you feel about that being part of the genre, and do you work those into your work?
Sarah: I think more modern films are getting a little better about – except for when the big titt-ed bimbo trips over nothing in the woods when running away – but in general, I think a lot of them are getting more creative with the story lines and making it more realistic or at least acknowledging that the clichés are there and making fun of them. Sometimes there are plot contrivances that just have to happen to move the story forward or to create a selling point for the gore or nudity or whatever and you just have to understand that is why the scene is there and just go with it. Forget about all of your “master theater classes” and just make it work and do what the director tells you to do, even if it’s tripping over nothing in the middle of the woods. Sometimes those clichés can be fun though when you’re watching a film. There aren’t many other genres where the audience will yell at the screen trying to tell the actors to do something different. It might be silly and unrealistic, but sometimes it can help engage the audience more in the film.
- MoGT: What is your dream scream film experience?
Sarah: Oh man, that’s a tough one. I’ve gotten to play so many different types of characters, both the villain and the hero, and work within so many sub-genres in horror, it’s hard to pin-point a dream experience for me. I think it would really just being doing something super memorable. Horror has so many iconic moments in films that are referenced to this day and I think just being part of creating one of those moments would be a dream experience and really fulfilling accomplishment to me.
That and not ever having to be covered in fake blood ever again haha! It’s super sticky!
- MoGT: For those less familiar of the genre tell us a little about your craft, what you’ve done, and what’s exciting coming up?
Sarah: I have a few things mulling around at the moment with a few projects. The Sins of Dracula is premiering on the east coast on Oct 26th. This is my 8th film with Richard Griffin and is a horror comedy that is an homage to some of the Christian films in the 80s where they tried to convince kids to behave otherwise they’d go to hell. It follows the story of Billy, a squeaky clean literal choir boy, as he joins the local community theater and is exposed to a lot of new things that don’t always follow the ideals he was raised with. On top of that, the head of the theater is really a cult leader who is trying to resurrect Dracula and Billy and his girlfriend Shannon (that’s me) get caught in the middle of it.
Alice D. has been playing at a few festivals, and will also be playing in RI two days before The Sins of Dracula premiere. It won best film at the IFS Festival in LA and also opened Shreikfest. This is a ghost story about two sisters who were sold to a brothel in the 1800s and forced to work as prostitutes. Eventually they are separated when the older sister is sold off and the younger sister ends up killing herself. Flash forward 100 years and the grandson of the brothel owner (who was played by Kane Hodder) is throwing a party for some of his friends and buys some hookers as entertainment. During the party strange things start happening as the friends start seeing the ghost of dead Alice in the house.
The Fetish Set was recently picked up for distribution and will hopefully be available soon. This story follows 4 fetish models on a trip to Vegas for a fetish convention. Everything starts off really fun and sexy and light-hearted, but soon they find out that they are being stalked and things go rapidly and brutally downhill. Bill Oberst Jr. is in this one, who was super intense and a blast to work with.
Then there are also the Fun Sized Horror shorts that are going to be premiering on a few prominent horror websites towards the end of October. I’m not exactly sure how much I can say about those since they have some rules about that stuff, but what I can say is that I am in one of them and it will be online sometime on October.
Abandoned Dead just released its trailer and is post production. This is another thriller/ghost story. It’s mostly a one man (or woman) show as you follow around a security guard ( that’s me) who has taken on the night shift at an inner city medical clinic. The longer she’s in the clinic the more “strange things” start to happen. She’s forced to confront some of the demons from her past that she’s been avoiding as well as deal with the strange occurrences happening in the clinic. Judith O’Dea played a psychologist in this one, who was very cool to work with.
- MoGT: How serious does it get on the set? What stories of crazy thing happen can you share?
Sarah: The majority of the sets I’ve been on are all pretty light-hearted and fun! Most people are there because they love it and want to be there, so there’s really no reason to make it super serious or difficult. The only times when things can get tough is if the production is running behind and are about to lose the sunlight or a location or something and don’t have all of the coverage they need. That’s when things can get kind tense and tempers can flare a bit, but it’s really all just because everyone wants to get the best shots that they can. I can’t really like of an experience where there has been anything really crazy happen as far as on set drama. But I think one of the craziest things that did happen to me was when we were filming Adam K and the cops showed up to set because I had been screaming for my life and someone called them thinking that I really needed help. We had warned everyone in the building where we were shooting, but I guess it was the next building over that heard me crying for help and called the cops.
- MoGT: Blood, guts, and monsters are a staple of the industry, who are the prop/makeup artists you’ve worked with and how is their craft important to the film?
Sarah: Makeup artists are SO important to every film. They can make or break the movie, well so can just about everyone else involved too, but when there’s a bad make up effect, it can really make a movie look cheap. Then when you look at some of the old school practical make up like Hellraiser and Pumpkinhead and John Carpenter’s The Thing – those were incredible! They completely created the world that the actors were living in and made the film much more of a success than it otherwise would have been. And like I mentioned earlier about preferring practical effects, the better job a makeup artist can do with making a bullet hole or stab wound or creature look real, the easier it makes my job in reacting to that effect. A good makeup artist helps the actor to look good.
I’ve worked with a bunch of really great makeup artists over the years, a few off the top of my head are George Troster who is currently on Season 7 of Face/Off – he and I worked together on both Chupacabra Territory and Alice D. Then Jordan Pacheco and I worked on The Disco Exorcist, and Exhumed, and Sins of Dracula together. And Lawrence Mercado and I worked on The Fetish Set together where he had to give me a huge swollen black eye for like half of the days I was shooting.
- MoGT: Any last thoughts for horror fans out there? Where can our readers find you?
Sarah: I think you guys really covered a good gambit of stuff in here! I guess I’d just like to encourage people to check out some of my films. They’re available everywhere from Netflix to Amazon and Hulu. If you want some ideas of where to start, I have a “Projects” page on my website: www.sarahnicklin.com that lists where you can see all of my stuff that is currently available. And please continue to support indie film! And follow me on Facebook and Twitter so that I can keep you up to date about future projects! 🙂
- MoGT: Thanks for Joining us! Follow Sarah and have a Frightfully good time
~ E.S. Norton ~
Your Frightful Host
Categories: A Few Good Screams