Actor Simon Bamford talks Hellraiser and his upcoming role in the zombie horror The 4th Reich
Originally written and published for zombietraining.com on February 11, 2013.
To horror fans British born actor Simon Bamford is most well-known for appearing in several Clive Barker vehicles. He played the Butterball Cenobite in Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II, Ohnaka in Nightbreed, and in 2009, he played a character named Derek in Book of Blood. However, there is more to Simon than just playing monstrous characters on film. For over 30 years Simon has performed in theatre all over the world, and has also designed and directed several international tours. In 2000, he won the actor of the year award for his portrayal of Pip in Great Expectations at the Vassa Theatre in Stockholm.
In August, Simon appeared at the Monster-Mania Con horror convention in Cherry Hill, NJ to promote the “Cabal Cut” of Clive Barker’s 1990 film Nightbreed, and to discuss the “Occupy Midian” campaign that he and other cast members are supporting in hopes of getting Morgan Creek to release the film the way Clive had intended it to be seen. As excited as he was to meet and talk with his fans, he was equally as enthusiastic to talk about his upcoming film project The 4th Reich. “I get to do my first zombie film,” he excitedly told me, as we chatted over drinks at the convention’s opening party. “I’d love to do an interview,” he confirmed. I was thrilled to meet up with him Sunday afternoon and talk about his upcoming project and, surprisingly, the Hellraiser stage play.
ZOMBIE TRAINING [ZT]: You have an upcoming film project called The 4th Reich, directed by Shaun Robert Smith. Would you describe this project as a war film with zombie elements or a zombie film with war elements?
SIMON: I think Shaun would definitely put it down as a war film—a historical war film. He’s very keen that the details are historically correct. A historical war film that has zombie elements, definitely. It’s an interesting project. The zombies are almost incidental. They are part of the story, and I can’t say too much, but they are incidental to what is happening during the war. Tom Savini, Doug [Bradley] and I are all playing Nazis. Interesting enough, I’m the lowest one. Doug is the senior Nazi, Tom is the next one down, and as usual I’m the sidekick.
ZT: Let’s talk about your role. Your character is a member of the Nazi Schutzstaffel, the equivalent to a corporal—
SIMON: [Interjecting] Yes. Unterscharführer Kraus. Ich bin ein schauspieler. Ich spreche nur ein bisschen deutsch [I am an actor. I speak only a little German].
ZT: Can you tell me something about the character? Who is SS Unterscharführer Kraus and what’s his part in the film?
SIMON: They’ve been really, really good on the back story. They’ve sent me two or three pages on where this character came from, what has happened in his life…In his life there have been some really cruel things happen to him. And one of the reasons he is such a monster and a cruel, hard, nasty man is because what has happened to him. And this back story goes way back into his childhood when he was growing up and why he became the way he became.
ZT: The 4th Reich will re-unite you with actor Doug Bradley, who you last appeared with on screen in the 2009 film Book of Blood. I understand you have two scenes together. Without breaking any confidentiality agreement, can you tell me the context of those two scenes?
SIMON: We are discovered by the Allied Forces in a town…with a pile of corpses. And we’re creating a funeral pyre with these corpses. That’s kind of all I can really say.
ZT: There have been horror films in the past several years that have merged re-animation with a Nazi theme: The Bunker, Outpost 1 & 2, Dead Snow, and most recently the Finnish film War of the Dead. What do you think about mixing the real horrors of war with a supernatural element?
SIMON: That’s another interesting one. When they asked me to do this, I wondered about how politically correct it would be to mix real history, and a horrific part of history, with horror elements. But then actually, I watched Doctor Who of all things, and there was an episode with the Nazis. Okay, if they can do it then I think anyone can get away with it [briefly laughs, then grows serious]. But I think that is why they [Smith] wanted to be politically correct, historically correct with all the details, so that anyone who sees it from that time or studies WWII will see that they’ve put in a lot of thought and intelligence into making the movie, and there not just throwing stuff together and using the war as the backdrop, that they’re taking it seriously and having respect for everybody who fought and died in that war. That’s the quandary, I think. A lot of people suffered. A lot of people died. You know by making something like this, are you gaining financially from something that maybe you shouldn’t be?
ZT: Have you seen any of the films I have mentioned? If so, did you have a favorite?
SIMON: I haven’t [laughs]. It’s easier.
ZT: Do you believe in the possibility of a zombie apocalypse?
SIMON: Yeah! Nobody’s asked me that. I suppose, yeah. Mother Nature is an interesting beast. We are the plague. Human beings are the plague on the planet at the moment. She could easily create a virus that could make us wipe our self’s out. So yeah, I think it could happen. That’s kind of scary isn’t it?
ZT: If a zombie apocalypse did happen, who would be in your zombie survival group?
SIMON: I’d have to have a really good chef…There’s an English chef that swears a lot and is quiet violent, Gordon Ramsey. So he’d be quiet handy to have, because he can swear and cook very well, but he could also be quiet aggressive if things were getting out of hand. Clive Barker, obviously. You need someone to tell you amazing stories to make it interesting. Maybe Clive can then tell you fairy stories and nice things to keep the horror at bay. You have to have someone useful as well [thinks]. I don’t know. Just those two to start.
ZT: Would you plan on bugging out or stay and fortify?
SIMON: Bugging out to a nice tropical island, and maybe you could put mines all they way around it. Bugging out, definitely.
ZT: What would be your firearm of choice?
SIMON: AK-47, maybe.
ZT: What would be your edged or blunt weapon of choice?
SIMON: With zombies you have to behead them usually. A machete or maybe what the Grim Reaper has, a scythe.
ZT: My final question: You have worked a lot in theater. Do you prefer it to film?
SIMON: It’s completely different. I love working in theater because you get an instant reaction, and you get three weeks to rehearse it. So when you show it to the public, you’ve rehearsed it so you know exactly what you’re doing and where you’re going, you’ve made a lot of decisions with the other actors, and you know precisely what you’re doing. With film, the films I’ve worked on, you get sent the script, show up on the day you start shooting, say hello to someone you’ve never met and ten minutes later you’re doing a scene with her. And once you’ve done that scene you’ve basically set the character, so unless you’ve done a lot of pre-thought, you’re tied into what you’ve just done. [Smiling] It’s obviously much more glamorous, cause it seems more glamorous, but the reality is, it isn’t when you’re filming it. I like the glamor and to say I’ve made films is lovely. But I think I prefer theater. I feel safer when I do theater. It’s scary doing film.
ZT: It would be great to see you on a Broadway stage.
SIMON: I’d love to do some theater here. There was talk of doing Hellraiser on stage. It got quite close. They brought in this amazing set designer…As the audience would come in they would see this huge puzzle box spinning on the stage, and when it started [show] the puzzle box opened out and became the house [on Ludovico Street] where everything happens. Each room of the house came forward, so you would get a close up feeling as each scene was going on. And it had these blood tubes in the walls, so when she [Julia] hits him [first victim] over the head, blood would spurt out of the walls. It was very close to being done on the West End. I was going to do it and so was Doug [Bradley]. Maybe in the future. Hopefully.
In September of 1998, Doug Bradley stated in a magazine interview that if things came together as planned, the play would be in the West End by May 1999. However, even with Oliver Parker [Dorian Gray, Johnny English Reborn] on board to direct, the ambitious project never made it passed the design stage. Perhaps, the project will be resurrected and be brought to Broadway, as well as the West End, but for now we’ll have to be content with seeing Simon in the soon-to-be released horror thriller Dead of Nite, and hope that one day we get to watch blood spurt from a stage wall as Julia bludgeons her first victim to death with a hammer.