- Weekend of Horrors Interview: Michael Berryman

FilmFlausen Interview:

Michael Berryman

Spooner: So, we’re here with Michael Berryman. A -dare I say- living legend.

Michael Berryman: Wait... (checks his pulse) Yes!

Both laughing.

Spoon: You’ve been in so many classic films, so many great horror movies, so many great things and I’ve been a fan of yours for a long time, and just before coming here this morning I did a little research and saw that you’re in like five other movies I liked, that I didn’t even know you were in.
Michael: Which ones were those?

Spoon: For example, I didn’t know you were in Star Trek 4.

Michael: I was in Star Trek 4, yes. And then I did one episode named ‘Conspiracy’ on Star Trek: Next Generation. I played Captain Rixx and I got to warn Picard of a ... conspiracy.

Spoon: That’s cool. I never watched the whole show myself, I only know selected episodes, but a friend of mine is a big fan, so if you have any Star Trek stories to share, that’d be great...

Michael: Sure. When I played Captain Rixx on The Next Generation, I had make up with a slit all the way over my face, my skin was kind of blue and blodgy with spots and I looked very much like an alien, alright? And when I was finished with the production, I was driving home in my car, and I left the makeup on. So I’m driving in Los Angeles up on the freeway, to pick my children up from school, and I call the school and I say “Don’t put them on the bus, I will pick them up from their the classroom and take them home”, but in order to get to the school on time I had to drive faster than the speed limit and there was a police officer in front of me. So I go “Hmmm, okay” and I drive past the officer, and he gives me a very dirty look, but he looks at me with this fantastic make up on and he just waves me on, and I keep driving (makes driving sounds), but I was expecting to get arrested (makes siren sounds) but I didn’t, that was good. So I pick the kids up and school, and then I went shopping. At the grocery store.

Spoon: In the make up?

Michael: In the make up.

Both laughing.

Michael: And I told the kids “Pretend like everything’s normal”, and we had fun with that.

Spoon: It’s always the best when you act like everything is normal, when it really isn’t.

Michael: I try! (laughs)

Spoon: I’m also a fan of director Fred Olen Ray, and you made quite a few movies with him. Wizards of the Demon Sword, Armed Response, Haunting Fear... how is working with Fred Olen Ray?
Michael: I like working with Fred! He’s so easy going, he can come up with a solution very quickly, he’s happy all the time... we just had a great time. Armed Response with David Carradine was delightful.

Spoon: One of his best movies.

Berryman in 'One flew over the cuckoos nest'

Michael: It is one of his best movies, yeah. I got to work with Mako. It’s a good action movie, I enjoyed it very much.

Spoon: You were also in ‘Teenage Exorcist’, which was supposed to be a Fred Olen Ray movie, I think.

Michael: It was, yeah.

Spoon: But then it ended up being directed by somebody else?

Michael: Yeah, there were some... issues. But it’s always fun to work with Brinke Stevens.

Spoon: She’s great.

Michael: Yeah, she’s sweet.

Spoon: I think we have to talk about Wes Craven as well, who recently passed away unfortunately.

Michael: Sure.

Spoon: You worked with him a few times early in his career, and what I find interesting about Wes Craven he makes these violent horror movies, but as a person he’s very sophisticated...

Michael: Very much so. I was very impressed by him. I worked with Wes four times, on ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ Part 1 and 2, we did ‘Deadly Blessing’ with Ernest Borgnine and Sharon Stone, and we did a Movie of the Week called ‘Invitation to Hell’ with Susan Lucci and Robert Urich. Wes was very intelligent; he was a really good guy; it was a joy to work with him; he was a wonderful friend; He was a Professor at a University... I went to his services at the Director’s Guild in Los Angeles a couple of months ago and it was beautiful. They showed pictures of him throughout his life, they told stories... He loved to collect wood-working tools, like planes and hand-working tools for furniture, he also enjoyed bird watching... and the president of the Audubon society for watching birds told this story, where he said to him “Wes, come out with me to do some bird watching” and the gentleman has binoculars and says “Aw, there’ a fantastic eagle, take a look” and Wes goes “Okay!” and takes out his opera glasses. The guy goes “No no, try these!” and Wes looks and goes “Oh, these are fantastic!”

Both laughing.

Michael: Wes understood the human condition very well. He wanted to put people on the edge of the decisions you would make which would define your humanity. Which I think is what horror film is really about.

Spoon: Yeah! ‘Hills Have Eyes’ is a prime example of that.

Michael: Yes, exactly.

Spoon: Like, what would you do in a certain situation, and who really is...

Michael: Who is the real brut. Yeah, exactly.

Spoon: Did you know or did anyone ever tell you that in the German version of ‘The Hills Have Eyes’, they dubbed it in a way that makes it look like all of the villains are actually from Outer Space?

Michael: From Mars, yeah. I heard rumors in the United States that they were doing ANOTHER movie called “The Hills Have Eyes on Mars” and I’m like... “Okay, I’d like to see that script!”. But the adaptation was, because we had planetary names, we were aliens, I’ve never seen that version. Has it been released?

Spoon: Yeah. That’s how it came to theatres in Germany.

Michael: I think I signed a dvd of that today but I haven’t seen it.

Spoon: There was even a little theory that it was a conspiracy, and somebody had contact with aliens and that’s how they tried to tell people.

Michael: Wow. (laughs) I’d like to see it!

Spoon: But maybe they just tried to market it as a different kind of movie than it was.

Michael: It’s possible! There once was a movie called ‘Mortuary’ that was so bad they didn’t have enough footage for the teaser. My agent called me up and says “Hey, you’re gonna go to a studio, and you’ll play a grave digger and you’re burying someone” and the tagline is “When you’re dead and buried, make sure you’re really dead”, and this arm comes up out of the grave and grabs me and pulls me in.
And that little short teaser was interesting enough to distribute and sell the movie. The movie was so bad, they didn’t have the footage to do a little commercial for it.

Spoon: Was the movie fully shot already??

Michael: Yeah. But it was terrible, just not interesting at all. You never know what’s going to happen!

Berryman in 'Cut and Run'

Spoon: You also did two movies with Ruggero Deodato, who is also here today, ‘Cut and Run’ and ‘The Barbarians’, which are two movies I find very entertaining. Do you have any stories about working on them?

Michael: Oh yeah. On ‘Cut and Run’ we went down to the Amazon, all the way to Canaima. It was beautiful. The rain forest is fantastic. With Ruggero, you always wind up at some beautiful location. We did ‘Barbarians’ in Rome, which was fantastic. We worked long hours, sometimes under difficult conditions, but at the end of a long day it’s like family. We would get all cleaned up and we’d sit down and have a nice long dinner for an hour or two. It’s nice to work with people you’ve worked with before. We had a close bond. Sometimes Ruggero can be difficult, you know, but...

Spoon: Yeah, that’s what I heard.

Michael: But if he’s too difficult, I strangle him. (makes strangulation gestures)

Spoon: I think a lot of these Italian directors are just loud and like to blow off some steam, but they don’t mean it.

Michael: Hopefully not. (laughs)

Spoon: Last but not least – do you have anything to say about ‘Weird Science’?

Michael: Oh, sure!

Spoon: A movie that I totally love.

Michael: I love that movie! John Huges – miss you, John! – He had the pulse of youth. And I’ll tell you this – on ‘Weird Science’ I realized very early on that Robert Downey Jr. is one of the most paramount, most fantastic actors we have, period. He’s incredible.

Spoon: It was one of his first films, right?

Michael: Very early one, yes. He’s a tremendous talent... ‘Weird Science’ was just a lot of fun. John said at the last scene “You roll out, you’re humble, you say you’re sorry...”

Spoon: Get back to your day jobs... That’s great. You can tell when you see the movie that everybody just has a great time.

Michael: We had a wonderful time.

Spoon: That’s why watching the movie is such a good time, too.

Michael: It’s always an upbeat movie. Weird Science, man. *Weird Science!* (hums the theme song) I had a blast!

Michael & Spoon

Spoon: Alright, thank you!

Michael: Okay. We are here in Bottrop. Wish you were here, too. I’m Michael Berryman – thank you very much! Have a lovely day!


Der beste Movie-Mad-Scientist aller Zeiten ist…
Dr. Arcane
____(Das Ding aus dem Sumpf)
Dr. Banzai
____(Buckaroo Banzai)
Dr. Brown
____(Zurück in die Zukunft)
Dr. Brundle
____(Die Fliege)
Dr. Caligari
____(Das Cabinett des Dr. Caligari)
Dr. Catheter
____(Gremlins 2)
Dr. Evil
____(Austin Powers)
Dr. Flamand
Dr. Flexi Jerkoff
____(Flesh Gordon)
Dr. Frank N Furter
____(The Rocky Horror Picture Show)
Dr. 'Frankenstein'
____(Day of the Dead)
Dr. Frankenstein
Dr. Fu Man Chu
____(Ich, Dr. Fu Man Chu)
Dr. Hastings
Dr. Heiter
____(The Human Centipede)
Dr. Hfuhruhurr
____(Der Mann mit 2 Gehirnen)
Dr. Jekyll
____(Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde)
Dr. Lorca
____(Mad Doctor of Blood Island)
Dr. Mabuse
____(Die 1000 Augen des Dr. Mabuse)
Dr. Malic
____(U 4000 - Panik unter dem Ozean)
Dr. Moreau
____(Die Insel des Dr. Moreau)
Dr. Phibes
____(Schreckenscabinett des Dr. Phibes)
Dr. Po
____(The Vineyard)
Dr. Pretorius
____(Frankensteins Braut)
Dr. Pretorius II
____(From Beyond)
Dr. Strangelove
____(Dr. Strangelove)
Dr. Tyrell
____(Blade Runner)
Dr. West
Dr. Vornoff
____(Die Rache des Würgers)
Prof. Crowley
____(Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer)
Prof. Gangreen
____(Die Rückkehr der Killertomaten)
Jeffrey Franken
John Carradine
____... period!

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