SID HAIG: TEN DIFFERENT ACTION FIGURES!
Noted in one biography for his ability to supply “hulking menace,” Sid Haig is one of cinema’s great heavies. He will be honored at a tribute screening at the Grindhouse Film Festival this month and will be programming some of his own favorite films as well. He will appear in person at the New Beverly tonight. This interview by Nolan Knight.
Thanks to the Captain Spaulding role in House of 1,000 Corpses, what does it feel like to be cast as an action figure?
I was really taken aback when it all first happened. I just didn’t know what to think of it. Now I’m extremely grateful and appreciative. I take care of that confidence that was placed in me, you know—that’s kind of drilled in to make the action figures. At this point I think I have ten different action figures!
After you did THX 1138 with George Lucas, were you asked to audition for any parts in Star Wars?
No. I don’t know why! But we had a good time together and it was a good experience but things just didn’t work out.
What was it like working with Lon Cheney Jr. on Spider Baby?
It was amazing. The first couple of days, I was just awestruck. As a kid, I used to go and see all of his films as soon as they came out. So to be able to actually work with him was great.
I was at the Wonder Women screening a while back at the New Bev and you were sharing stories of your time spent living in the Philippines, making movies. How long were you staying there and what was that time like in your career?
I first went there in ’69, I believe, to do The Big Doll House. That was pretty rustic, to say the least—downtown Manila in a little apartment-hotel kinda set-up—bare bones. There weren’t a lot of amenities around but the work was kind of all-consuming. And all-time-consuming. There wasn’t a lot of time for diversion. I had been back and forth so many times to do so many films over there—at one point I was down for six months straight, living in an intercontinental hotel in Makati, which at that point in time was like Beverly Hills—first class, all the way. When it was finally time for me to leave, I had been there so long that the staff threw me a party. It was pretty wild—not the party but the whole experience. It was good and I came back a couple of times after that—once to do Wonder Women and a second time to do Beyond Atlantis.
The Grindhouse Film Festival is having a tribute screening for you with Spider Baby and The Big Bird Cage—two Jack Hill classics. How did your relationship with Jack begin?
I did Jack’s student film at UCLA called The Host, which is actually on the backend of Switchblade Sisters. It’s a half-hour short. When you look at it, it’s something that actually could have been a Twilight Zone episode. It kind of has that feel to it, you know? They way that I actually got that job was he was having a hard time casting the role and so his instructor at UCLA, Dorothy Arzner, was a friend of one of my instructors at the Pasadena Playhouse. He called and said, ‘Can you send somebody over?’ And they sent me over. That’s part of my association [with Jack] that’s gone on for almost 50 years.
Do you see Jack Hill making another film and you being in it?
I certainly hope so. It’s time he did another film and it’s time we did another together.
You’re going to be programming some upcoming nights in March at the New Beverly Cinema, what are some of the films you’ll be screening?
Well, I don’t know exactly what films they have been able to secure—I gave them a list of like twenty different films. I know that we are doing Lawrence of Arabia, which is my all-time favorite film. The closing night we’re doing Pit Stop, a Jack Hill film, and Little Big Top, which is a film I did about three years ago—something I’ve always felt really passionate about—it’s one of those breakout roles that defies everything that I have done up to that point. It’s a character-driven drama with some light moments in it and I’m really proud of it. I believe the original House of Wax will also screen. I know they’re trying to secure Winchester ’73, which is one of my favorite westerns along with Ride the High Country. But I haven’t gotten the schedule yet, so I can’t really say besides those films what’s really going on.
Is it true that you are a certified hypnotherapist?
Yes, it sure is. A hypnotherapist is basically a behavior-modification specialist. A client will come to you and say that he or she has a problem that they want to correct and through direct access to the subconscious mind you help them get through that situation—whether it’s fear, phobias, anger management, or whatever the situation maybe.
Do you have any aspirations to direct film yourself?
Yes, I do. I’ve been close a couple of times to direct films—people have had no problem getting a party together. It’ll happen. I’m not a quitter.
SID HAIG IN PERSON WITH PAUL PICERNI PLUS HOUSE OF WAX AND THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD ON FRI., MAR. 27, AT THE GRINDHOUSE FILM FESTIVAL AT THE NEW BEVERLY CINEMA, 7165 BEVERLY BLVD., LOS ANGELES. 7:30 PM / $8 / ALL AGES. MYSPACE.COM/GRINDHOUSE. VISIT SID HAIG AT SIDHAIG.COM.