Mandatory Credit: Photo by Jaume Sellart/EPA/REX/Shutterstock (8028156p) Us Film Maker Larry Fessenden Poses For the Press at the Sitges International Film Festival where He Presented His Latest Movie 'The Last Winter' in Sitges Spain 05 October 2007 the 40th Edition of the Festival Lasts Until 14 October Spain Sitges Spain Sitges Film Festival - Oct 2007

Interview With Master Of Horror Larry Fessenden For ‘Dementer’

Dementer (read our review here), the latest film from Jug Face filmmaker Chad Crawford Kinkle (read our interview with him here), really took me by surprise. I went into it mostly blind as the only thing I knew was that he had cast his sister, who has Down Syndrome, in it. I was afraid the film would come off exploitative or insensitive, but it was anything but. Kinkle really took his time and used a soft hand to make this film and really shone a light on its stars. I spoke with horror king Larry Fessenden about why he wanted to be a part of Dementer, why he loves horror, what’s up next, and of course, horror movies.

Read another PopHorror writer’s interview with Larry here regarding his film, Depraved.

PopHorror: Hi Larry! I watched Dementor last week, and I really liked it. It’s such a unique horror movie. It has quite a different plotline and point of view. I thought it was really good.

Larry Fessenden: Cool! That’s great. Chad [Crawford Kinkle] is a great, very thoughtful director, and obviously, this project is quite personal because of his access to the Down Syndrome community. So I think it is very special. 

PopHorror: I’ve heard some really great things about him, as well. So what intrigued you about the movie and made you want to be a part of it?

Larry Fessenden: I had worked with Chad on another film called Jug Face, and we had a really good experience. That was also what we call Southern Gothic, but he was always saying, “I don’t know what that is.” Maybe when you’re producing it yourself, you don’t know what genre you’re doing. But Jug Face was a cool experience, and I really like Chad. He called me and said he was thinking of doing this intimate portrait of his sister [Stephanie Kinkle], and of course, still working within the horror genre. He said, “Do you think I’m crazy?” And I said, “No, I think that’s awesome.” We should always push the envelope of horror to be personal so that it isn’t just genre, that it’s also dealing with some of the freaky things in life. So I was a big advocate, and then he invited me to come down, and I said, “Sure.”

PopHorror: I love that he cast his own sister and made this film around her. I thought that was amazing.

Larry Fessenden: Well, yeah. And it’s something that if it wasn’t his sister, there’d be accusations of exploitation. But at the same time, the same culture that wants representation… That’s what’s cool. It’s really above reproach, and I think all the guys and gals at the home were really excited to be a part of the project.

PopHorror: That’s awesome!

Larry Fessenden: Sometime unusual in their day! And what I love is, it’s not just a documentary about Down Syndrome. It’s a full on narrative with other ideas as well. So it’s a cool blend.

PopHorror: Yeah, absolutely. You are no stranger to horror. What is it about the genre? Why do you love horror?

Larry Fessenden: I’m just very tuned into the horror and deep melancholy of life and loss and all those things, so I always want other people to think about life and how tenuous it is. I think horror stories are able to express all those anxieties that some people repress, and I just like to put them out there. I think it’s therapeutic. All horror is cathartic in one way or another. Some of it is reactionary, and we have to be aware of that, but some of it is so enthralling. I always say I love horror fans because they’re actually tuned into the poignancy of life, and there’s a certain amount of fun to certain horror tropes, but there’s also a great anguish that’s being expressed.

PopHorror: I completely agree with that. You’ve had an impressive career, and you’ve worked with some horror royalty, being one yourself, but if you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?

Larry Fessenden: Well, in the horror world, who’s left? I mean, Romero’s gone. Maybe David Lynch. It’s hard to say. I guess Carpenter is still around. There’s horror, and then there’s a greater world of cinema with people who tell dark stories, so I’ve always had a foot in each door.

PopHorror: Doesn’t have to be horror! Anyone.

Larry Fessenden: Oh, well then. The only guy to mention is Scorsese. He’s my favorite living filmmaker. Hitchcock’s gone. 

PopHorror: What is one piece of advice you wish someone had given to you when you first started your journey?

Larry Fessenden: Well, one thing I would say is that you can’t go it alone, which is sort of what I did. And you realize that you don’t have people invested in your future. All I have are the fans, and I’m so appreciative. But I don’t have an agent or a manager or people who would have my best interest at heart, so you know, it’s important to build a team. I’ve built a unity of filmmakers, and we benefit from our association with each other, but I would advise youngsters to take the infrastructure of showbiz seriously.

PopHorror: That’s some really great advice. And I agree. It’s a lot easier to have someone backing you up and by your side than having to navigate everything by yourself.

Larry Fessenden: Yeah, I’ve done that for others, and I enjoy doing it. But it’s kind of a response to my own sense as the lone wolf. My style is telling others, “Look, you’re going to need help to do this.” Of course, the art is its own thing, but there’s also the business of getting the work out there.

PopHorror: So I know that you have Jakob’s Wife coming out with it premiering at SXSW.

Larry Fessenden: Yeah!

PopHorror: Are you working on anything else? Is there anything else up next for you?

Larry Fessenden: Well, I’m very private, which is part of the problem I was just telling you about. So I have a movie that I’m hoping to make in the fall which I haven’t gotten the money for, but I’m pretty determined. I’ve decided to work fairly cheaply and quickly just because I’m running out of time, but also because I’m very excited about things. I’m working on that, and I have a couple of acting roles that will come out.

I have another movie at SXSW called Spine of Night, which should be fun. It’s an animated film, and I have a small role in that. I’m trying to get my recent film that I’ve produced, called Foxhole, out there and into the world. I’ve always got some stuff going on.

PopHorror: That’s exciting! I’ll have to keep my eye out for those. One last question for you, Larry. What is your favorite scary movie?

Larry Fessenden: That’s a great question. I always answer the same, because I just think it hits every aspect of horror, and that’s Night of the Living Dead. It’s social commentary. It’s very scary. Now it feels a little goofy, because we’ve had so many zombie movies, but we have to honor the movies that began it all.

Thank you so much, Larry, for taking the time to chat with us. Be sure to check out Dementer, available now on digital platforms.

About Tiffany Blem

Horror lover, book worm, foodie, dog mommy.

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