Talking Chainsaws and Sharknados with Caroline Williams
Caroline Williams is one of those actresses you never forget. In 1986 she starred in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Tobe Hooper’s bonkers and wildly entertaining sequel to the original horror classic. As disc jockey Stretch Brock, she fought to survive an unfortunate run-in with Leatherface and the rest of the sadistic Sawyer clan. Following that iconic performance, she appeared in dozens of other films, including another of my favorite horror sequels, Stepfather 2. This month marks the 30th anniversary of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, as well as the release of her latest film, Syfy’s Sharknado 4. To celebrate, we reached out (and geeked out a little) to Ms. Williams about her historic horror career.
Ink & Code (I&C): What draws you to horror roles?
I&C: What was your favorite memory from making Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2/working with Tobe Hooper?
CW: There are so many! I had the time of my life, romping and stomping around Cary White’s extravagant set, and working with these amazing actors. But I have to say, working with Dennis Hopper was a master class in acting and film technique. Lessons of a lifetime.
I&C: Was Dennis Hooper as kooky as legend says?
CW: He wasn’t kooky at all. He’d gotten sober 18 months before and was very disciplined and serious about the movie. Having worked with such legends at George Stevens and Nick Ray, he needn’t have been. But he was on his game and very helpful and instructive to me. Really changed my life on film.
I&C: How familiar were you to the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre at the time?
CW: I had seen a bootleg copy on a Texas/OU weekend (!) when it came out. Which is how most people saw it back then.
I&C: Were there any moments you were ever actually frightened while filming?
CW: The only time I was afraid was when Bob Elmore (Bill Johnson’s Leatherface double) was chasing me down the rocky, bumpy trails of the underground lair. The surface was so uneven, that if Bob had lost his footing and fallen on me, I would have been Saw Meat!
I&C: True or false, that’s you doing a cameo as a reporter in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3?
CW: I have 27 seconds in Jeff Burr’s sequel, in order that Stretch be kept alive going forward. That was Jeff’s strategy to wrap up her story and maintain the character in the event of future sequels. Which worked, since the movie hasn’t ever been remade.
I&C: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is almost a farcical re-imagining of the first. Thinking back to your first scene with Chop Top, it feels he’s playing it for laughs, which makes the heated hanger scratching more unsettling and the immanent attack more terrifying. Do you think the use of humor adds to the scares or takes away from it?
CW: The movie was centered around satire and parody, so the characters are more broadly drawn and the dialogue is a lot funnier and punchier than the original.
I&C: And speaking of the crossroads of humor and horror, you’re appearing in Sharknado 4. How was it to take part in the fun of this series?
CW: Had the time of my life. Anthony C. Ferrante loves salting the series with vivid take-offs on cherished characters from all genres of film. He happens to be a huge horror fan and wanted to send up some of those stories.
I&C: Who would win in a fight, Leatherface or a Sharknado?
CW: It would be a draw!
I&C: Your next role is in a remake of Blood Feast. What can we expect from the film? Does it follow the original fairly closely or are there surprises in store for fans of the original?
CW: The story has been expanded and fleshed out to make it more linear and the characters deeper and more invested in the story. The hallmark of the film is its international setting and feel. Many well-known actors and cultural figures in Europe are featured prominently, so US audiences get to make new discoveries. As well as the timelessness or historic European locations.
I&C: Unlike in other genres, sequels and remakes are more welcomed, or at least less frowned upon by their audiences. I look at it like retelling beloved ghost stories around a campfire; everyone has their own take on them. Is there any other film or film series you’d like to bring back? Some ultimate horror role you’d like to play?
CW: Indie filmmakers are coming up with so many wonderful original story lines, and TV has so many sterling opportunities, that I’m looking for those parts. So much to anticipate~!
Thank you so much for your time, Ms. Williams!
Be sure to follow her on Twitter: @WilliCaroline. And don’t forget to pick up Scream Factory’s recent and jam-packed blu-ray edition of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. If you’re a nerdy completest like me, you might also want to track down the film’s equally awesome limited edition from Arrow Video. Sharknado 4 is currently airing on Syfy.