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RETROCRUSH WALKS BEHIND
THE ROWS WITH
"MALACHAI"


THE COURTNEY GAINS INTERVIEW

Courtney recently took some time to talk with us about his role as Malachai in the 1980's horror classic Children of the Corn, making love to Divine in Lust in the Dust, working with Crispin Glover in drag in The Orkly Kid, hanging in The Burbs with Tom Hanks and Carrie Fisher, his part in the upcoming Rob Zombie remake of Halloween, and life as a hard working actor.

How did you get the role of Malachai in Children of the Corn?

I had to audition. Linda Francis who was the casting director was somebody who took a liking to me before I got any breaks. She championed me to give me opportunities. She was the one who called me in for that role. The rest is history.

 

You originally wanted to be an actor?

Iíd been pursuing it. I had been in a professional workshop. Iím actually out here from LA so I had been in a professional workshop since I was 13.

Do you feel that the movie stayed true to the short story?

I read the short story once I got the role. No, I think theyíre fairly different. Malachai was a very small character in the short story.

Was the parent killing scene tough to film?

You know youíre in character and youíre just doing your thing. It doesnít really occur that way. For me I had been studying for years and waiting for my chance to show what I could do. I was all business just like my character was all business. I had no idea it would go on to be such a big movie. I certainly felt I needed to prove to myself and everyone else that I belonged. That was the mission.

Do you still play pinball? Where there other videogames you played at the time.

Itís funny you see me in You Canít Buy Me Love I play that motorcycle game. Iíve never been a big videogame kind of guy. A little bit here and there. Not like people I know who have their game boxes and all that stuff. Itís not my thing.

Did you have a stunt double for your fight scenes?

No, that scene between Peter Horton and I was all choreographed. We did it all ourselves. The guy did a really good job with that. What they didnít do which I learned later because I didnít know better, they didnít dig up the ground a little bit for us. Usually when stunt guys have falls theyíll dig up the ground a little bit just to give it a little cush.

That ground was real hard and cold. We were shooting at 2 oíclock in the morning and it was chilly. I definitely got banged up a little bit. I felt myself banged up the next day. When youíre doing it youíre all geeked up. You donít notice. I learned my lesson. Letís dig up this ground a little bit. You learn a lot of the tricks to make things easier.

Where was the movie filmed?

Sioux City, Iowa. That was so we could find the best corn. Youíd think Nebraska, but for some reason Iowa was a little better. Itís right on the border of Nebraska anyway. Itís a real small town.

 

Did you talk much with Linda Hamilton at the time?

Sure, she was very nice then and Iíve certainly seen her since. Sheís just a very nice person. Sheís very down to earth with it all.

What about the other kids or the guy who played Isaac?

John Franklin and I remained friends over the years. I havenít talked to him recently, but I can kind of update you. The last couple of years heís stopped pursuing his acting career and started teaching English in school out here in LA. Itís gone well and heís having a good time doing it.

Sometimes people change gears.

It was time for him. He needed to get a steady. Just get something that he was doing that he was happy with. Itís been good for him.

 

Are you disappointed that Isaac came back, but you didnít?

Well, yes and no in that John Franklin and his cousin wrote that script. They generated that idea. Hats off to him for getting a movie green lighted. Iíve thought about the idea, Iíve never really pursued it. I actually am doing a bit of producing now. Last year I co-executive produced a movie called National Lampoonís Dorm Daze that MGM put out and just recently I did two films and a short of a film called The Phobic which is a thriller that Iím in and a rock and roll road comedy called Benny Bliss and the Disciples of Greatness which weíre working on the distribution on all of those right now so I am down there on the producing side. I have considered it. Theyíre strongly talking about re-franchising Children of the Corn right now because prequels are really hot. I donít know how theyíll do a prequel.

Theyíll be doing Children of the Corn the original again. Theyíll re-bring it back with a new Malachai and all that. If Iím going to do it, I think theyíve done 7 or 8 now, it would have to be very soon because I think theyíre going to re-franchise the whole Children of the Corn series.

I bet you had no idea that a movie like that from a short story would breed 6 or 7 movies.

Back then the whole concept of sequels was not done. Certainly no one knew in terms of horror you could do so many. Theyíve done 10 Halloweens or whatever. It was a new frontier. Teen cinema in the 1980ís was a fairly new frontier. Thatís what I ended up being a part of without knowing it. Doing a horror movie and also movies like Canít Buy Me Love which was sort of like the first 16 candles teen sort of thing. I did all the genres of teen cinema. I didnít realize we were forging that whole frontier.

People always mention Secret Admirer and Hard Bodies.

Hard Bodies is that whole T&A, Porkies, those kinds of films. Whole genres were being invented in the 1980ís for teenagers.

I noticed with Hard Bodies there was a musical aspect to that movie too.

There was a girl band called Vixens. They were fine. There was a lot of music driven in that movie. There was another band too. I canít remember the guysí names. There were two or three bands that performed in that movie.

I saw Children of the Corn with Sleepaway Camp as a double feature way back in the 1980ís.

Oh my God. The funny thing is that twenty years later everything is cool again. So the 1980ís right now are cool again. Itís not just people from my age range who saw it in the theaters, but actually a lot of 20 somethings are all over it again because they love 80ís movies. To them itís like the 1960ís were for us. Itís really bizarre.

They say, "They donít make movies like that anymore." And youíre like, "Wow". You just donít think itís going to be like that. Thatís how it is. This is my 20 year cool period so Iíll enjoy it for the next few years. Iíve been doing some convention stuff so Iíve been out there now seeing who the fans are. Itís people from my age range all the way to people in their 20ís.

Movies on cable never die.

Thatís true too.

I think Children of the Corn was on a week or two again.

It always plays.

What about the The Orkly Kid with Crispin Glover?

Thatís digging deep. That was the first film I ever did. It was a short for American Film Institute. First of all I think Crispin is fantastic. So I go in to do the rehearsal and Iíve never done anything before. Iím some long haired kid smoking out in the boysí room kind of deal. They say letís cut to rehearsal. Crispin comes out dressed as Olivia Newton John. He does this whole Crispin thing of, "Hey guys how are you doing? Whatís going on?" He does that whole thing that he does and Iím thinking this guy.

First Iím like, "What the fuck is this?" I didnít know what the story was. Then Iím thinking this guy is interesting. So we did that scene. He still says that to him it was one of the most favorite things heís ever done. Itís some of the best work heís ever done. I recently got a copy of it. I havenít seen it yet, but he was always, "You have to get a copy. Theyíre all over the internet." I did a little with him in Back to the Future as well and that was a year after we did The Orkly Kid. Again, he was very gracious. He remembered me. Heís a great guy. Heís a very interesting, eccentric person.

What was it like making love to Divine in Lust in the Dust?

That was totally interesting too. I had never seen anything like that. I was a young, naive kid. I was certainly a little nervous about the whole thing, but he made it very easy and comfortable. He was actually a great guy. He was starting to break into his own when he passed away. He was doing a crossover thing. He was HUGE in Europe. America was just sort of discovering him as he passed. It was a great experience. I got to shoot a movie in Santa Fe, New Mexico and all these veteran actors. I was the young kid. I was absorbing everybodyís talent. People like Geoffrey Lewis. It was a very, very good experience.

Watching that movie again I realized the set must have been crazy.

I think that movie is very funny. It depends on your kind of taste, but I think itís a pretty funny feature. Iím definitely proud to be a part of it. That was one of my favorite films. I went from Children of the Corn to Hard Bodies to that.

It also had Cesar Romero and Tab Hunter.

Yeah, I met Cesar Romero. My God at one point that guy was a huge star. To watch someone who had done as many movies as he had. Tab Hunter also was a huge star at one point. You have to think veteran actors. I was in awe.

 

You did a pretty big budget movie called The Burbs with Tom Hanks.

That was during the writerís strike. A lot of people donít remember that. It was dead in LA. We were on the Universal lot. There was us and Fletch 2. That was it. It was like working in a ghost town. We were working nights too so it was even more like a ghost town. We had the whole lot to ourselves. It was weird.

It was all filmed on a set.

It was the same cul de sac where they shot Leave it to Beaver. Tons of movies have been shot on that cul de sac.

Was Corey Feldman partying like crazy at the time?

Thatís what they say. I wasnít with him.

When you play Malachai in Children of the Corn youíre menacing and creepy with The Burbs youíre more reserved.

Joe Dante was great in terms of what he wanted. He really helped to create that character quite a bit, everything from knowing what kind of haircut to the kind of clothes to the teeth. He kept laughing and saying youíre never going to work again. He was just going to make me look so hideous. He was very cool. He helped shape what I was going to do.

Again, the chance to work with a ton of veteran actors, people like Bruce Dern took me under his wing and gave me a lot of great advice career wise. He encouraged my work. Tom Hanks is a super nice guy. He is how he seems. He is a very genuine man.

 

Was Carrie Fisher smoking nonstop?

I donít remember her smoking. Sheís got a very strong personality in terms of knowing what she wants. With Joe Dante his hair was kind of long and he kept wearing the same shirt with this Felix the Cat tie. She couldnít take it so she took him shopping. When he came back he had a haircut and a new shirt on. I was like, "Wow, how does she do that?"

Sheís Princess Leia. She can do anything.

Yeah, sheís definitely a sparkplug. Sheís a little fireplug for sure.

You have a small role in the movie Colors too.

It is, but it has an impact. There were three main gangs: The Bloods, The Crips, and then the other fictitious gang which is the 21st street gang. That one was kind of mixed. I was the only white gang banger in the movie. I was very excited to be a part of that because having grown up in LA I know there are white guys in the gangs. At that time nobody knew anything about what was going on out here. When they would make movies before that they totally had it all wrong. The way they dressed. Everything was very in-authentic.

Dennis Hopper going on to make a real movie about the gangs I was like I got to be a part of this. I knew they were looking for a white guy and of course they were going to have a hard time finding him. My acting mentor Virgil Frye, he helped Dennis make Easy Rider so I had an "in" to that whole thing. I just went into that meeting and said, "I grew up in the neighborhood. I know the deal." He was like, "Cool. Give it your all." It wasnít a huge role, but it stood out because like I said Iím the only white gang banger in the movie. That gang had a big storyline so we were in the movie a lot, our unit of guys.

That movie caused a lot of controversy when it came out.

That movie was huge. It essentially broke East Coast Rap. Gary Goetzman who runs Tom Hanks company Playtone was the music supervisor on Colors. People like Ice-T broke off of that movie. It had a huge impact on a lot of levels. It was the first real movie about gangs. Nowadays they hire real gangster to play gangsters. Back then people werenít even thinking like that.

 

What about Pat Morita in King Cobra?

I didnít have any scenes with him. My character was the scientist who caused all the problems to create the snake. I had a scene with the guy who was the doctor and Iím in the opening sequence of the movie. Unfortunately, I didnít get to meet Pat.

I was watching a funny clip that looked like a guy in a snake suit.

It was animatronics. It wasnít CGI. It was right before CGI. It was a pretty low budget project.

Tell us about your role in Rob Zombieís remake of Halloween.

I did a cameo. There are a lot of people not happy about the idea of a remake of Halloween because itís considered THE quintessential horror film. Rob Zombie is taking it on and what heís done is a prequel/sequel because prequels are hot right now. The first half of the movie is Myers as a kid and how he gets to the institute. The second half is basically Halloween from that point on, from when he gets out. My scene is right in the middle. Myself and Lew Temple who was in The Devils Rejects, we are attendants who bring a girl into Myers room and kind of provoke him. That starts him on his terror and escape and all of that.

Thereís a ton of cameos in the movie that are all recognizable horror people. When I heard the movie was going to be made I definitely wanted to be a part of that and pursued it. Rob found a spot for me. It was a great cast period, but every small role is somebody that if youíre a horror fan you will know them from another movie.

Especially if you love 1980ís horror.

I was glad Rob was willing to include me in the process. We did our two days and it was pretty intense scenes. Everybody thought it was pretty disturbing so I guess thatís good and the movie is coming out the end of August, Labor Day weekend. Itís going to be a big release. Iím excited to be part of it and it was great to meet and work with Rob.

Have you seen The Devils Rejects and House of 1000 Corpses?

I have not seen House of 1000 Corpses, but I have seen The Devils Rejects. What I think is interesting is that heís making horror films for adults. I mean generally speaking horror films are geared for a teen audience. Heís making horror films for people 30 and over. Not that teenagers canít watch it, but theyíre more adult in their content and the characters are not always teenagers. The Devilís Rejects that was not young people which I think makes it more gritty, interesting, and a little more mature. Itís maturing horror if you will.

Do you like the horror genre?

Iím not a huge horror fan. No, Iím not real big into blood and guts, but something like Halloween thatís significant to do a remake of that movie. Itís a big deal.

People have reservations about remakes. There have been so many bad ones. I think of Amityville Horror which I loved as a kid. I thought they didnít do a very good job with the remake.

I think somebody like Rob putting his name on it has a lot of pressure to deliver something very, very good. Whether thatís going to happen or not I canít say. Iím saying thereís more at stake than just some company making a remake of Amityville Horror. Heís such a brand himself. Thereís a lot on the line for him. I know heís doing certainly the best he can. Their last day of shooting is today so theyíre almost done. We saw a trailer and that looked pretty good.

I read Dee Wallace is even in it.

There are tons and tons of cameos. Thereís like 60 characters in the movie and every one of them youíll know who they are if youíre into the genre.

 

What about the movie Discipline?

You saw a trailer for that?

It was on YouTube.

Thatís an interesting story. This filmmaker named Martin Mayo, years ago we started to make this movie and heís still finishing it. Itís like 15 years in the making or something. Heís almost done I think.

Heís putting a lot of time and effort into it.

You have no idea what this guy has been through. Itís been a long, crazy journey for him to get this film done. Hopefully, heíll finally get it out. Itís a movie that delves into S&M and all of that. It was a long time ago for me.

I saw you spinning around on something and a woman was whipping you.

If the movie comes out and does well it could be an embarrassment. Who knows? It could be something I canít live down. For his sake all the years heís tried to get this done I hope he gets it done so he can kind of move on. Thatís a lot of years of your life to try to get a movie out there.

You must know the secret to being a working actor.

I feel fortunate that Iím still in the business working 20 years later. Thatís really the deal. You have to keep reinventing yourself. You have to look in the mirror and go, "What can I do now? Whereís the industry now?" Hopefully, I have enough chops that I can do a wide variety of things. I think thatís probably been the key.

Being able to look at yourself and figure out what you want to do and where you want to go with things.

Yeah, and being able to execute that when other people think you can. In the 1990ís I played a lot of bad guys. Mainly like guest stars on TV and a lot of movies going straight to DVD. I had long hair and a goatee. There were teenage movies and you had to be 30. I had done the teenage movie thing so I had to look older. I did that.

I had cut off my hair and itís time to do other stuff and I want to get into theatrical performance. My agents where like, "What are you talking about? You do bad guys." I was like, "Man, go back to my 80ís films. I can do comedy." Basically, standing for that and I stopped going up for bad guys. After awhile I finally got a break and did Sweet Home Alabama playing the sheriff in that. That opened up a whole nother door.

The 2000ís Iíve done a variety of things. Comedy has been back on my slate. Iím playing guys with ties for a change. Iím not a teenager anymore. You have to figure out, "What can I do now? What kinds of roles are available now?" Sweet Home Alabama was a huge film a couple of years ago. Whatever you did last is what they remember for the most part. Something like Children of the Corn is the exception. As long as thereís horror theyíll be Children of the Corn to be talked about.

Those fans are intense.

The horror fan base is very strong which is why thereís so many horror films being made and why the studios are now investing in horror films. Theyíre trying to remake and prequel every decent horror film thatís ever been made.

I wonder what brought it on?

Thatís a good question. I donít know what exactly caused it either. I think the fact that there are all these conventions and the fact that people show up to those. They started to realize thereís a core fan base they could rely on.

Whatís the craziest fan that youíve had? You ever have a woman want you to sign their breasts?

Oh sure. Iíve had that happen. I recently put a MySpace page together because somebody posed being me and the fans found out and they got mad. They asked me if I wanted to take it over. Now Iím reaching out to people. Iíve got a little of a stalker person going on right now. A stalker girl, stuff like that so thatís a little weird.

That must be hard if you have a family.

Thatís why you have to make sure people donít know where you live.

I think thatís part of the problem with the genre of horror is you occasionally get strange fans.

For the women in horror I think itís very intense because if youíre a horror scream queen youíre not going to be a billionaire or even a millionaire most likely. Youíre going to be somebody whoís known, but youíre not going to be rich enough to have a house in Bel Air with a giant gate. So, if you get a stalker and youíre going to get somebody who is obviously a little twisted they can find you. Itís not that safe. I know someone who has had some very close calls.

That would almost make a good movie.

Iíve actually thought of that.

Itís such a creepy subject.

It is a creepy subject, but perhaps one of these girls wants to come out with their true story and play it. It would be based on what they went through. Itís something Iíve thought about. I havenít really approached anybody with it. I do think itís kind of an interesting story. Thatís the sick thing about being in the business. Somebodyís true life tragedy youíre like, "Oh, that would make a good story."

What about growing up who did you have a retroCRUSH on?

You remember that movie called Scandal with Joanne Whalley. You know who Joanne Whalley is? An English actress? Youíd know her if you saw her.

Iím probably too gay to know who she is.

She was married to Val Kilmer for a minute after they did Willow. She was HOT in that movie. That movie was directed by Michael Caton-Jones who eventually directed me in Memphis Belle. Iíd say when I was younger she was my retroCRUSH.

She was very hot in that movie. She plays a very sexy character in the movie anyway. Itís based on a true story, she gets in a relationship with a very powerful official in England and it all comes out in the press. It was the first kind of thing to come out in the press like that. It was in the 1950ís. She plays a very hot character. She was steaming in that movie.

Are there other movies that stick out during your career?

I think you talked a little about the stuff thatís coming out. Hopefully, people will keep an eye out for that. Weíll be putting out Benny Bliss and the Disciples of Greatness. Weíve actually cut a deal where weíre going to include the CD and DVD in one package which will be kind of cool. I wrote about three or four of the songs. I front the band. The music is all live in the movie which is sort of cool.

You have your whole singing career too?

Sort of kind ofÖthatís whatís great about this movie. I have a CD I put out in the past. These are all pro musicians and Iím a character, but I front a band. Itís a bit of a platform where I get to rant about weíre way too addicted to our technology.

-Randy Waage
randy@retrocrush.com 

Be sure to check out Courtney Gains official website: www.courtneygains.com
Or add him as a friend on MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/courtneygains

 



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