Dedfest: Henry Rollins Talks ‘He Never Died’
Written by: Erin Shaw
Want a few days full of splattery, spooky horror goodness? Then Dedfest is the place to be here in Edmonton Alberta. Hosted by our historic Garneau Theater, it’s a tiny little film festival packed full of cool vendors, media guests, popcorn made with coconut oil and lots of cold beer!
This year we had some great films and some not so great but the atmosphere and the camaraderie of our homegrown horror fans is worth the admission price by itself. A good time is had by all. Best of all, this year we had awesome guests Henry Rollins and Jason Krawczyk respectively the star and writer/director of the new and stupendously cool film He Never Died. Dedfest goers got to see the film first and then Henry and Jason were kind enough to discuss the movie and filmmaking in general for us.
He Never Died is a fantastic film! It is a five out of five gritty noirish horror comedy. It has chills, gore and laughs and a surprising amount of depth. And I swear I’m not saying this just because Henry and Jason are so cool and downright kickass.
It’s hard to talk about the movie at all without giving away the goodness so I’ll just say this: Henry plays Jack, a morose, monosyllabic man cursed with a particularly unsettling type of immortality that he copes with by keeping his life small, predictable and solitary. All this goes along smoothly until he inexplicably attracts the affection of a sweet and lonely waitress while at the same time his previously unheard of daughter makes an appearance. Hugely entertaining shenanigans ensue and the film leaves the viewer with many questions and a major hankering for more. Our audience all agreed – we want more Jack!
Henry and Jason took the stage to answer audience questions after the film and the love was huge for fifty-five year old Henry Rollins. Henry has quite the loyal following among fans of horror, cult film, heavy metal and counterculture. Throughout his life, Henry has taken the bull by the horns every time and has always thoroughly killed it. Whether it was singing in iconic band Black Flag or his own Rollins band, acting, writing or doing speaking tours; Henry is always doing something interesting. As he said to us from the stage, he takes anything that comes his way and is always looking for adventure.
During the Q&A it came to our attention that the clearly innovative, visionary and very easy on the eye Jason Krawczyk had written the part of Jack specifically for Henry and as the movie replayed in our minds, it was obvious why. Henry’s own wry sense of humor, famously muscular physique and almost devilish stare played perfectly into the role of Jack. Henry said he thought of his character as a ‘pleasant sociopath’ and he took inspiration from other performances such as the Terminator and Robocop for his emotionless, efficient tone and body language – but with a twist of sympathy and pathos that comes out as the film goes on. Henry likened this evolution to Jack Nicholson’s character arc in As Good as it Gets. In both cases there is a character who the audience has every reason to dislike but who ends up being almost relatable by the end of the film; except instead of the love of a woman (in Nicholson’s role), Henry’s character has a love interest and a daughter but most importantly he has the unfathomable burden of living forever.
Henry noted that we all have ‘bucket lists’ in life and plans that include retirement preparation so we can ‘be comfortable before we die’ and that these things take up a good deal of our time and make us feel an urgency to live life to the fullest while we have it. Henry was fascinated by someone who doesn’t have that; who just goes on and on without purpose – a man who endures rather than lives. Henry thought it was fabulous to then see what would happen when love and its resulting humanity wormed their way into his structured, simple life.
Henry, Jason, and I will say nothing more about this awesome movie and let you see it for yourselves. One way to do that is to help with Henry and Jason’s indiegogo campaign (right here) to bring He Never Died to wider audiences and maybe develop a mini-series too – and trust me, after watching this film you’ll be chomping at the bit for more just like me.
In closing, I have to say that Henry Rollins is one of the most interesting, dignified ad adventurous people I have ever met and to convince you of that a little further, I’ll just add these tidbits of information on my way out.
- Henry once got an (accidental) black eye from Dolph Lundgren while filming Johnny Neumonic thus earning the man’s respect.
- Henry says Canadian film crews are the best to work with. They’re efficient; don’t have any B.S. or any cynicism. Fellow canucks, we rock!
- Henry says that the best acting advice he’s ever gotten was from Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea who said of playing a role “I just believe it like it’s the biggest truth there is”. Good wisdom, I reckon.
Okay, I lied I do have some more Henry Rollins sexy goodness and that’s because I was able to grab a short interview with him specifically for horrornovelreviews.com. So here it is:
Four Questions with Henry Rollins:
Disclaimer: I apologize to Mr. Rollins if I got some of this a muddled, ten seconds into the interview I realized I forgot how to write shorthand. My bad.
- What’s your favorite horror novel? I don’t read a lot of horror but I read some books by Stephen King when I was younger and they scared me pretty good.
- What film scares you the most? When I was too young, a babysitter took me to see Psycho and the shower scene scared the shit out of me.
- What frightens you most in films? I like the unseen, when the director trusts the audience to make the leap. It’s the same with gore and love scenes. Sling Blade is a perfect film because some things are artfully left out.
- What’s your favorite thing about the movies? I like sitting in a box with a bunch of strangers and being taken on a journey to another place. I hope to come out thinking about myself a bit differently.
Thanks for your time Henry, we love you!
Awesome, man! I got a chance to do an interview with HR about 15 years ago for my punk/horror zine Cornflake Overdose. Since then we’ve traded emails several times..usually on our birthday because we share the same one. He’s a standup guy. I did a handful of watercolor portraits of him and have a Black Flag tattoo on my wrist…Yeah, I’m a bit of a fanboy 🙂
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I’m with you. The man is an absolute beast, and I’ve just got to say, Erin did a GREAT job with this piece.
I like the “unseen” as well. That to me is true mystery. I love stories and movies where you don’t know exactly what the evil power is.
There’s a certain charm in the ambiguous approach, no doubt about it!
Like the movie very much and its really nice to see Henry on film once again. Silly question …what boots is Henry wearing in the film, i like them really much ?