Actor David Dastmalchian is in horror heaven. Dastmalchian, who you might’ve seen recently as the villainous Murdoc on CBS drama MacGyver and who is set to appear in two of this year’s much-anticipated HBO Max flicks The Suicide Squad (August 6) and Dune (October 1) is virtually hosting the 2021 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards on Shudder.
The ceremony, which honors the bloody best in the genre, will be televised globally for the first time exclusively on AMC’s scare-tastic streamer, Shudder. Presented by Fangoria magazine, the awards show first started in 1992 with host Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead franchise). And even though the Chainsaw Awards are being produced virtually, this year signals a real push to make it a true happening once again. To do that, along with Dastmalchian, producers brought in horror icons like Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween), Keith David (The Thing), and Kevin Smith (Clerks) to serve as presenters. Joining them are the likes of Blumhouse founder and CEO Jason Blum, James Jude Courtney (Halloween) and more.
Nominated films include The Invisible Man, Freaky, The Dark and the Wicked, Host and Possessor as well as actors Vince Vaughn, Kathryn Newton, Clancy Brown, and Elisabeth Moss.
Below, Dastmalchian previews the spooky show and lets out a teaser that will leave you in utter suspense.
As someone who has hosted panels and written extensively about horror hosts (including in the latest Fangoria issue), what does this opportunity mean to you?
David Dastmalchian: It is still hard for me to believe it is really happening. That is how big a deal it is to me. I grew up with Fangoria magazine being one of my guilty pleasures, but also something I loved so much, even though it was forbidden in my house. My introduction to horror cinema was through my local horror host in Kansas City. Getting this opportunity to be the person who is emceeing a night of recognizing incredible horror is a dream come true.
What was the movie that opened the door to this world to you?
I remember sneaking downstairs to watch [the local TV’s] Crematia Morton’s Creature Feature. It was the first time I saw the film The Curse of the Werewolf. it really did something to me. It simultaneously scared the pants off me, broke my heart, and just enraptured my fascination with those old-time cinema sets you got from the magic of Hammer Films or Universal. It’s still a favorite. I love that movie so much.
Speaking of sets, where did you film for the awards show?
I filmed in my own living room. The team from Fangoria Studios put all the equipment completely set up on my front porch, or the production designer would drop off stuff. My wife and I worked together to put the set together in our living room. She worked the cameras. My friend did my makeup. That was it. I got to just be myself in my own living room getting to geek out about horror. Who can ask for anything more?
What kind of impact do you think streaming services like Shudder have had on horror in terms of giving creators a new platform?
Growing up, for me at least, pre-dating cable television and the internet, Fangoria and a handful of media outlets were the only way I was able to discover up-and-coming artists. With the digital revolution, what has happened is not only is the quality, I believe, is continuing to elevate, but we’ve seen an expansion of all the micro-facets of genre filmmaking. Now, there are more artists getting the chance to create.
Horror never really gets its due on mainstream awards shows celebrating movies and TV. How important do you think the Chainsaw Awards are to the genre?
It’s important to celebrate what the fans are grabbed by. If you look at the way Fangoria put together the voting process for this, it was all done by online balloting from fans around the world. It’s an opportunity to write about and shout out, even, these microfilms that might not have gotten attention otherwise.
Hosting is just a part of your working relationship with Fangoria. Is there anything you can tell us about this collaboration?
*Insert minaicale cackling here.* The fact I’m even in the pages of Fangoria magazine this month and host the Chainsaw Awards is such a horror hounds’ heaven for me. I feel lit’s just the beginning. I’m so close to being able to talk about the things we are cooking up in that lab. All I can say now is that they are very exciting projects. And they are unexpected projects that are very near and dear to my heart.
As a big fan of Halloween, how was it making the upcoming Batman: The Long Halloween, which was also Naya Rivera’s last project?
It’s so heartbreaking. We are so blessed her talent was lent to this incredible project, which is based upon one of the greatest Batman stories ever told. Getting to play the Calendar Man, who is such a fantastically weird and wonderful character was an exceptional experience. I’ve always tried to break into the world of voice acting and animation, so when this opportunity came about, I was so over the moon. I’ve seen Part 1 [out June 22 on Digital and Blu-Ray], and I can tell any of the fans out there it’s going to really put a candle in their jack-o-lantern.
What else can you tease about what will be going down at the Chainsaw Awards?
I tried very hard to secure my home surroundings where we were filming. Unfortunately, a very strange and unusual character managed to trespass onto the filming location. It presented us with some very interesting, unexpected moments that started happening as we were filming. Be ready for things to happen you don’t expect. It’s going to be super shocking and wonderfully weird!
2021 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards, April 18, 8/7c, Shudder