In the past few months I have had the privilege of talking to some very talented individuals that have made impacts on the horror genre. One man that I had the great opportunity to talk to was Roger Conners, actor of Descending the cryptic (no pun intended) vampire film and the newest supernatural horror film American Poltergeist- Curse of Lilith Ratchet and the upcoming horror flick called Rebirth.
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I was lucky enough to get a interview with the man behind the talent. And so I give to you my horror-ific interview with Roger Conners.
Q- What is it that was your inspiration to act and what got you into the area of acting in horror?
Roger- You know, it’s funny because I honestly remember the exact moment in which I became obsessed with the horror genre. I was 7 years old, and I somehow managed to convince my grandfather to let me watch his VHS copy of George Romero’s iconic masterpiece Night of the Living Dead. Upon viewing it I was instantly infatuated with the film. However, it also scared me so much that it actually sort of traumatized me for several years following. I wasn’t able to bring myself to watch the movie again until I was roughly 12 or 13, that’s how bad it scarred me! But I would talk about it constantly and went through a weird phase in which I was always drawing really violent illustrations recreating sequences from the movie. So, to say it left a lasting impact would be an understatement! And my love for that film is what evolved into my obsession for independent horror cinema in general. It all just kind of took off from there.
Q- Tell us more about some of the upcoming projects that you are working on.
Roger- I’ve actually been hard at work finishing up my directorial debut which is entitled Rebirth. It’s heavily inspired by Night of the Living Dead and the works of George Romero, so it holds a very special place in my heart! Aside from that, I recently wrapped up production on Troy Escamilla’s slasher Teacher Shortage which was based out of Houston. I was so very lucky to be attached to that project. It was an amazing experience, from beginning to end. Right now, I’m in the midst of filming Eddie Lengyel’s upcoming creature feature Blood Clover. Well, at least that’s what they’re calling it for now. That title is tentative and these things change all the time. But yeah, that one has been quite the experience. I’m playing a very different sort of role than I’m accustomed to and I’m really stepping out of my comfort zone with it. But that’s what acting is all about, I suppose. Doing things that make you uncomfortable and capturing it on camera for the world to see!
Q- Who are some of your biggest inspirations in the horror genre and why?
Roger- As an actor I’ve always found myself drawn toward the strong, female figures portrayed in horror cinema. I suppose that, as a gay man, I’m naturally just attracted to that empowering feminine energy. There’s nothing more thrilling for me than seeing a badass woman overcome all odds and prevail over evil. Some of my favorite actresses within the genre include Judith O’Dea, Dee Wallace, Neve Campbell, Jamie Lee Curtis, Sharni Vinson, Barbara Crampton, and Olivia Hussey. Aside from that, I’ve recently found myself really interested in Mark Patton’s story. I just saw his documentary Scream, Queen: My Nightmare on Elm Street which was screened at the Cleveland International Film Festival, and I found it to be absolutely fascinating. He even spoke following the screening and it was really just a very surreal and touching experience. I mean, he truly was the original gay “scream queen”. This new generation of gay actors within the genre really needs to educate themselves on his journey and everything he had to go through following the release of Freddy’s Revenge. Once you hear his entire story it’s really just very devastating, but he totally managed to come out that much stronger because of it. But yeah, I highly suggest that you seek at that documentary. I even went back for the second screening. It was absolutely worth it!
Q- What are some sub genres of horror you would like to delve into? Examples: gore, macabre, slasher, psychological, etc.:
Roger- I mean, clearly I’m pretty fond of the zombie genre, but even I have to admit that the market is pretty oversaturated with it right now. However, when I find a film that still manages to keep my interest or surprise me I celebrate it. I recently watched a French zombie flick entitled The Night Eats the World and I absolutely loved it. I also just finished that new Netflix series Black Summer and it had me completely hooked from beginning to end. Aside from that, I am a die-hard slasher fan at my core. I love gore, but I would rather watch a film that manages to get into my head and makes me think a bit. I’d have to say You’re Next is a perfect example of a slasher flick that did a fantastic job of covering all of those bases. It can be so brutal and there was obviously plenty of blood and gore, but it also offers some really awesome character development. You get some great character arcs and plenty of surprisingly emotional moments that made me actually feel something. You don’t always get that within the horror genre. It’s nice when the characters you’re rooting for actually feel human, you know?
My interview with Roger Conners was truly a treat for me as we are both big fans of the zombie genre. I am hoping I can be one of the first ones to review Rebirth it would be such an amazing treat. Thank you Roger Conners for talking with me and answering all my questions. It has been truly amazing getting to know you and your work.