Thirty years ago Caroline Williams brought the character of Vanita ‘Stretch’ Brock to life in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2. Since then the film and the character of Stretch have become fan favorites in the genre. Caroline has built a career in the industry and continues to shine in a wide array of roles. I had the chance to pick Caroline’s brain at Days of the Dead:Indianapolis on the topics of the legacy of TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2, the upcoming remake of BLOOD FEAST, working with up and coming directors, and more.
Terror Time: This has been a big year in regards to the anniversary of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2. What about the film has surprised you the most in regards to its growing fan base and staying power?
Caroline Williams: That’s an excellent observation and one that I make often. Chainsaw 2 is owned by Sony and they aren’t giving away the rights to be remade. I think the uniqueness of the character’s is so substantial. That’s what makes it an enduring classic. All the others have been redone repeatedly and after all the remakes the other movie loses its punch. Chainsaw 2 is standalone and I’m really proud of it.
TT: You’re in the upcoming BLOOD FEAST remake and you’ve also starred in independent films such as CONTRACTED and HATCHET 3. When looking at the script for an independent film what is it that attracts you to the project?
CW: I like a really well scripted story and I like pitching in with young up and coming directors who are establishing their reputations. I don’t do a lot of speculative first director stuff. Those aren’t really attractive to me. I prefer someone with a little bit of a track record so that I can see if they have a creative vision that I want to follow. I do rely on the director. His direction determines the course of the film. I want to look good. I want it to be something that will sell and something that the fans can embrace.
TT: Over your career what’s been the biggest change in the genre from the 80’s to present day?
CW: Green screen and CGI. When you have practical FX you have something that you can respond to and react against. There’s lovely challenges to green screen as it can help you develop your imagination a lot more but I vastly prefer art direction, set design, wardrobe, makeup all of which contributes so definitively to the way you play a character.
TT: You mentioned practical fx and I’m a hardcore supporter of practical makeup fx. You’ve worked on set with greats like Tom Savini, Robert Pendergraft, Ryan Nicholson. What is an effect that shocked you like wow I didn’t know that could be pulled off?
CW: The stuff that Ryan Nicholson pulled off on BLOOD FEAST absolutely knocked me out. The level of blood and gore. It’s a very 90’s level of blood and gore. Some of the appliances and fx that he came up with for this movie left me speechless. When I read the script I knew what was coming but I wasn’t prepared for the way Ryan pulls off his fx. This movie is a blood soaked gore fest and I haven’t worked on that level with practical fx in a very long time. Clean up was extremely challenging but we had a good time. It’s like playing with paint. Ryan came up with some inventions which are truly Savini-esque. It truly reminded me of what Tom pulled off with Chainsaw 2.
TT: Wow. BLOOD FEAST has skyrocketed to the top of my most anticipated now. What is your dream role outside of the genre say a musical or a Disney film?
CW: I’m glad you mentioned musicals. I love the stuff Darren Bousman is doing with THE DEVILS CARNIVAL films as I started out as a singer. To be able to work with him would be wonderful. I also love noir films. My new favorite film is THE GRIFTERS. I’ve been watching it almost on a loop as of late because the women’s roles in that film are outstanding. For me I love being surprised and I love the level of invention that screenwriters are using to come up with scripts currently. The biggest challenge most of these young filmmaker’s face with their creative vision is coming up with the money to make the film look good. They really come up with some incredible ideas. It really is a source of frustration for them to try and gather the funds.
TT: What would you recommend an up and coming actress avoid in order to prolong her career?
CW: Avoid doing too much gratuitous nudity. It really limits your career. Once you take your tits out as just a casual ordinary thing that’s it. That’s your career. I’ve yet to do nudity. There could be plans in the future but I never got naked early in my career. If you are going to be nude in a film, make sure it’s a nicely budgeted film with a prestigious director. If it’s in the horror genre make sure it’s someone with a great reputation like Adam Robitel, Darren Bousman, BJ McDonnell, Dave Parker, Neill Marshall, Tom Holland, Mick Garris and the like. They’re going to be the ones who know how to use your body in a way that enhances the quality of the story in the film and make you look good. Be judicious and exercise good judgment. Don’t off your top just because you can.
TT: Exactly. You’ve been a force on the convention circuit as of late. What is the most surreal thing you’ve seen at a horror convention?
CW: My consciousness has been altered by being a part of the genre to the point that nothing truly surprises me too much. The only thing that seems kind of odd to me is when people want you to sign your name on their body so that they can have it tattooed. I’ve said no more often than I’ve said yes. If the person is drunk I will not do it. If the person is sober ok, I’ll go there but not often.
TT: Where can people go online to find out about the work you having coming up?
CW: Follow me on Twitter @willicaroline and on Instagram willicaroline. BLOOD FEAST will be opening at Fright Fest UK in August and Anothony C. Ferante the director of the SHARKNADO series is a big Chainsaw 2 fan and in the new SHARKNADO film he’s celebrating the 30th anniversary by mashing up Chainsaw 2 into SHARKNADO 4 with Gary Busey, Tara Reid, Ian Ziering, David Hasselhoff, and yours truly and we hit the air on July 31st on Syfy.
TT: Thank you so much for the time and conversation Caroline. I truly appreciate it.
CW: Thank you it’s been a pleasure.