Thommy Hutson has written and produced the most well-known horror film documentaries, including Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy, More Brains! A Return to the Living Dead and Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th. These documentaries, among others that he has worked on, have become iconic for horror fans and helped breathe new life into popular franchises. Now, Thommy Hutson takes on his first directorial role in his new film, The Id, starring Patrick Peduto and A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Amanda Wyss.
Recently, he took time to speak with HorrorGeekLife about his impressive career in the horror genre, his new film and exciting upcoming projects! Also, be sure to check out our interview with actress Amanda Wyss, as well as our review for The Id!
HorrorGeekLife – Thanks for taking the time to talk with us! How did you get into filmmaking and what made you gravitate towards the horror genre in particular?
Thommy Hutson – I’m from a small town in upstate New York and, like many people who loved movies as a kid, I thought to myself that this is something I really want to do. I would love to be a writer, director, producer. I actually fell into the horror genre because of A Nightmare on Elm Street. It was one of the first movies I saw in the movie theater that I can really remember, in terms of seeing a horror movie that affected me so deeply. I realized how powerful it can be, and at the same time how fantastic and real. I thought that those kids are just like me and when I grow up, that’s what I want to be like. It also felt so real and it was one of the first movies that I was both so captivated and terrified by. I had seen other horror films when I was kid, but I was so scared and covering my eyes. ‘Salem’s Lot comes to mind, American Werewolf in London terrified the heck out of me. But I remember with A Nightmare on Elm Street, it really made me, more than anything else I had seen, want to watch through my fingers and see what was going to happen to these kids. That really helped solidify my love of movies and the genre. The power of what one could do creatively.
So, I packed my bags and moved out to California and I went to UCLA. I did not go to film school; I went into communications studies and business. I just still had that bug to do things, so I interned at different companies and met a lot of different people. I worked as an assistant for a talent agent. So, most of my career has been in the business in some way, shape or form and led me to where I am today. My love of movies started when I was young and never really went away.
HorrorGeekLife – Your passion for film, and the horror genre, is evident in your documentaries. They’re loved by fans of the various franchises and mentioned often on social media. What made you want to take on documentaries about horror franchises?
Thommy Hutson – I’m so glad that people are still talking about not only the documentaries, but the movies. I think these movies that I’ve been so lucky to explore have really been the catalyst for so many fans who have become filmmakers. Some of the people who are becoming the new classic horror filmmakers grew up watching Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street, so I’m just so glad that we were able to peak behind the curtain and really get a bird’s-eye view on how the films that they grew up watching were made.
HorrorGeekLife – They’re so great to watch because we think, as hardcore fans, that we know everything there is to these films we’ve loved for three decades. But so much was uncovered in your films that most of us never really knew.
Thommy Hutson – There’s sometimes so little time in the documentary to really peel back the layers and that was one of the reasons I ended up writing the book on the original A Nightmare on Elm Street. There was so much material that didn’t make it into the documentary. So much material that I found out when I re-interviewed everybody. There was enough to write an entire book on Wes’ original film. I think you’re right, you think you know everything and we end up finding all of these little gems and these wonderful little stories and it’s just really fun to do that.
HorrorGeekLife – Most definitely. During your new film, The Id, the first half shows what it’s like as a full-time caregiver- the stress, emotional turmoil and even abuse that sometimes comes along with the role. Although it isn’t a documentary, I saw parallels with that style of filmmaking. Was that intended?
Thommy Hutson – It was definitely something that was a conscious choice. I wanted the film to feel very real. It is not a true story, per se, but it is absolutely a story that could be true. I think it was important to showcase this woman’s life and the ins and outs and the drudgery and the dread that she feels every morning. She wakes up and has to do the same exact thing and hear the same awful words from her father. One of the things I wanted to put in the movie is just the idea that at some point, in the beginning, it’s all out of love. She’s doing it because ”Yes, I can do it. I can sacrifice, I’m young enough. I can give so that he can have a better life.” And then, a year goes by. Five years. Decades go by. In the case of Meridith, she realizes she has given up her life. Not just to take care of her father, but taking care of a father who, at this point, and probably for a long time before, does not really love her the way that she needs to be loved. It builds this awful tension in this awful relationship that I wanted to make very real.
One of the things the Director of Photography and I talked about originally was to have the camera on sticks and more fluid. But then bringing into my documentary thoughts was no, let’s have it handheld. Which not only was a great decision for the film, but creatively it allowed us to have that realism and to have that feeling that you’re sort of a voyeur into this terrible life of daughter and father. I think that the documentaries that I’ve done actually did help me think of the film in that way where this is not a true story, but let’s peak in on it as if it were. It’s a train wreck and you don’t know what’s going to happen next and you feel bad for Meridith, but at the same time you sort of feel bad for the dad.
The lines that we wanted to crisscross and something that I think the writer, Sean Stewart, did so well was seeing these characters as good and bad. Meridith is doing things that she shouldn’t be doing but you understand why she is doing those things. And on the flip side, the dad is sick, probably suffering from dementia. You have to sorta forgive him for the things he does, but then there’s the moments of clarity where you realize he knows what he’s doing and that’s what makes him evil in an instant. I was so happy with the way that Sean crafted these characters in this relationship. I always told the actors, Amanda and Patrick, that you’re always doing a dance and you’re both deciding and fighting for who wants to lead. They’re back and forth and the movie was amazing. I think people are really responding to the power of their performances against each other and why they’re doing what they did.
HorrorGeekLife – Their performances were outstanding! We were able to talk with Amanda Wyss recently and asked what she hopes the audience takes away from The Id. I would love to ask you the same thing.
Thommy Hutson – I wanted to create a movie that had a realism to it. I’m not all about wrapping everything up and having the hero and a villain and the hero overcomes. I really wanted this to be nebulous and I wanted people to understand the good in both and the bad in both. I feel that sometimes things do not have a happy ending, or they have melancholy endings and that’s okay. I’m hopeful that audiences latch on to that concept and they come away from the movie really thinking about “What did I just watch? Why do I feel the way I feel? I can’t believe that happened.”
HorrorGeekLife – The film was powerful and I think your vision came across the way you intended. This next question is just to satisfy my own curiosity with one of the scenes. Of course, Amanda Wyss became well known after her role in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street. There was a bathtub scene involving Amanda that was very reminiscent of Nancy’s famous bathtub scene. Please tell that me that was intended and I didn’t just imagine it!
Thommy Hutson – I would say that it was definitely influenced by A Nightmare on Elm Street. Even before I specifically made my thoughts known on that scene, there were more than one crew member who said “This is going to be just like Nancy in the bathtub!” It was impossible for crew to separate A Nightmare on Elm Street because of Amanda. There was certainly a wink and a nod to the incredible Wes Craven.
HorrorGeekLife – It was a great scene and it was a fun little Easter egg for fans. Lastly, are there any upcoming projects you’d like us to know about?
Thommy Hutson – I’m excited to be working on a documentary about Clive Barker. I’m partnering up with Clive’s company to produce, direct and write. It’s exciting because it’s not going to be like all the other documentaries in a sense that it’s a movie by movie, scene by scene breakdown of how they made it. This is going to be more about Clive Barker as a person, Clive Barker as a creator, Clive Barker as an artist and just really looking at how someone of his artistic caliber and creativity functions and brings things into the world. Why we love those things so much and why the things that he’s created have clearly become iconic. That’s going to be a really fun project to work on. I also have a novel coming out this summer. The first novel I’ve ever written. It’s a fictional teen thriller and it’s book one of a trilogy. I’m super happy about that because writing a novel and getting more into books is something I’ve wanted to do in the fiction world.
HorrorGeekLife – As a fan of all things Clive Barker, the documentary is very exciting news! We can’t wait to hear about the new book, as well. Thank you, again for taking the time to talk with us. It has been great getting to know you and The Id a bit more!