Encountering an unpredictable new situation that they never expected to contend with can be both a frightening and liberating experience for anyone. That’s certainly the case for the characters, cast and crew of the new horror film, ‘Primal Rage.’ Led by a first-time feature film writer and director, Patrick Magee, who has several decades of experience as a master special effects, creature creator and practical FX artist, actor Marshal Hilton and his co-stars prove that the legend of Bigfoot will never be seen in the same light again, through terrifying and freeing stunts and storylines.
‘Primal Rage,’ which was co-written by Jay Lee, had its World Premiere last November during Cinepocalypse 2017. Fathom Events and Blue Fox Entertainment are now releasing the thriller to nearly 350 theaters nationwide for one night only, tonight at 7:00pm local time. A complete list of theater locations is available on the Fathom Events website. The feature will be followed by an exclusive Q&A and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movie with Magee and producer Angela Lee, which will be hosted by a special guest. Attendees will also receive a free commemorative mini poster, while supplies last.
‘Primal Rage’ follows the recently-released ex-con and his estranged wife, Max and Ashley (Andrew Joseph Montgomery and Casey Gagliardi), who find themselves cast ashore in the wilderness. They initially believe they’ll be rescued when they come across a group of gun-toting locals, who are led by B.D. (Marshal Hilton). But the head of the group guides his team to become the hunted, instead of their usual turn as the hunters, when they discover they’re being chased by Bigfoot. So the spouses must do whatever it takes to not only save their marriage and protect themselves from B.D. and his friends, but also the animal they previously only thought was a myth.
Hilton generously took the time recently to talk about starring in ‘Primal Rage’ during an exclusive interview over the phone. Among other things, the actor discussed how he was drawn to play B.D. in the horror film because not only does it present a new idea about the legend of Bigfoot, but he also enjoyed the process Magee took while creating the special effects practically on the set. The actor also noted that his character is a passive-aggressive villain in certain ways, as he likes to play mind games with everyone in his life.
The conversation began with Hilton explaining why he was drawn to play B.D, and how he became involved, in the drama. “Well, ‘Primal Rage’ is a new offering on the Bigfoot legend. The movie shines a completely new type of light on the idea that Bigfoot is a big, fuzzy ape-type thing that hides in the forest, and is more passive. This story completely blows that idea apart,” the performer revealed.
“When I heard it was a Bigfoot film, I thought, oh, okay, it’s based on Bigfoot. But then I went to meet with Patrick and his producer, Angela Lee, at his studio here in Southern California,” Hilton shared. During that meeting, “Everything changed, because I wasn’t aware of Patrick. He has an almost 20-year history in special effects…I saw his work, and he also showed me the Bigfoot creature. I then just looked at him and said, ‘I’m in,’ without even reading the script.”
When the actor did read the screenplay, everything made sense. The story is told from the perspective of ancient Native American lore. Bigfoot has been around for centuries…The only thing that I can really compare the style of this film to is Arnold (Schwarzenegger’s) ‘Predator.’ It’s a different presentation of Bigfoot, and he’s shown to be intelligent, but can also be brutal!,” Hilton admitted with a laugh. “If you get in his face, and he sees you, he’s probably going to be one of the last things you see!”
The performer also admitted that he hasn’t seen a lot of Bigfoot movies. “What I think will make this film different from other ones is the level of detail in the practical effects. There isn’t any CGI in this film, as Patrick’s a practical effects guy. The (Bigfoot) suit was made by hand, and took about three years to make. It had three animatronic heads, and the facial features could move,” Hilton revealed. “The special effects are remarkable. People who have already seen the movie think it’s excellent. There’s definitely a suspension of reality; it doesn’t feel as though it’s a guy in a suit running around.”
B.D. isn’t the ultimate villain in ‘Primal Rage,’ but he does lead the protagonists into danger at times, as he tries to help the young couple escape from the forest. The actor reveals that his character does cause harm to the main characters, as he’s “the alpha male. There wasn’t a whole lot written about the character in the script, but by reading the type of things he does and says, I figured he maybe owned the local car dealership or theater, or maybe was the mayor at one time. His hunting band is probably a bunch of guys who work for him, and they’re also bullies. B.D.’s not the type of guy to have one-on-one conversations; he’s always preaching to a group.”
Hilton also noted that his character is “passive-aggressive, and likes to play mind games. So you think he’s going to be the overall bad guy, but you then find out that there’s actually something far more sinister and threatening in the forest. I like playing guys like that, because it’s like mental gymnastics.”
Further speaking of the rest of the characters in the thriller, the actor actually hadn’t known his co-stars before production began. “They all knew each other, and I think I was the last piece of the puzzle. They had all had a relationship with Patrick for awhile, and I was the last one” who joined the cast.
“So I met everybody when we arrived at the the hotel in Crescent City, California, which is about 15 miles from the border of Oregon, and is where we were based. We didn’t really have formal rehearsals after that…But as (I met) the rest of the hunters, I could see why each and every one of them were cast. Patrick did a great job of picking quirky individuals,” Hilton divulged.
The performer also described his experience of collaborating with such an experienced effects artist like Magee on a horror and action-driven story as “amazing, especially since he had never directed a movie before…He worked on, and thought about making, this movie for almost 15 years. He kept going up to the location where we filmed, which is on the border of Oregon and California, on this private, 1,200-acre redwood reserve, for about 10 years. He figured out where almost everything was going to be filmed” before principal photography began. “He also knew how everyone was going to be killed,” Hilton divulged.
Magee also knew how he wanted the actors who portrayed the men on B.D.’s team to look “well before I became attached to the film. He made casts of them and how they were going to look when they died. I remember seeing a table when I walked into the studio, and I stepped back and thought, oh sh*t! There were five casts of the upper body that were already painted with skin tones, and had glass eyes, eyebrows and hair. They looked so real, and it was so stunning,” the performer shared.
“When someone knows exactly what it is they’re going to shoot, it works out amazing. So it was super great to work with a filmmaker like that,” Hilton noted. “A film set can be complicated and chaotic…but Patrick knew what he wanted. From that perspective, it was amazingly easy to work with him.”
The actor added that ‘Primal Rage’ “was one of the most enjoyable sets I’ve been on in 20 years. But this was a small movie, compared to Hollywood, big studio standards. But this movie has heart…and everyone on the set was passionate about the project.”
Further speaking of shooting the horror thriller independently, Hilton noted that as an performer on the production, he “was synthesizing a script as the character, and saying the words as truthfully as I could. That process is the same on a small or large film. It’s really about the complexities of the shot, and the time you have to shoot the entire project.”
But with the experiences that the performer has had, “indie films are more fun to work on. Generally speaking, they tackle subjects that studios don’t want to work with, due to the politics and their corporate sensibilities. They may like the subject matter in the privacy of their own office, but they then have to pitch it to investors, who are thinking on a merchandising and economic level…So the stories for the studio films end up being lighter in fare,” Hilton explained. “Indies tend to be a little more honest with the kind of people they put in them, and the subjects they discuss. So that’s the benefit of independent thriller horror films.”
While ‘Primal Rage’ is set to screen in theaters nationwide tonight, Hilton has already seen the drama with an audience on a big screen. “I went to a friends and family screening about a year ago. It just so happens that there were about 350 friends and family members there, as well as a lot of people who are involved in the business, whether as cast or crew members. A lot of Patrick’s friends were also there, and they’re also involved in special effects. So there were definitely some moments where even those folks couldn’t believe what they were seeing,” the actor revealed. “So when even people who are in the business and know how gags are made are frightened, you know you’ve made something good!”