BILL OBERST JR Tells Prometheus WTF He Just Watched, Talks “GREATLAND: LIFE AFTER COVID-19”
Plus, creepy phone calls, trained cockroaches, and… Epstein?
Hey there, fellow horror geeks and monsterphiles! Prometheus here with some more of the macabre! You might recall, a short while back I wrote about a trailer for a film titled “Greatland: Life after Covid-19.” You remember. My original description was that it “looks like ‘Mad Max,’ and ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ had a love child, while extremely high on crack.” My exact words. Here, watch the trailer below to catch up to speed. Be warned, it’s very… colorful and could possibly induce seizures.
The title of my article was “WTF Did I Just Watch?” A question you are now undoubtedly wondering, I’m sure.
Well, one of the stars of the film, horror genre icon and Emmy award-winning actor, Bill Oberst Jr. reached out to me to try and answer that question for us! Bill is always a blast to talk to and we may have got… slightly off-topic a bit. Check out our conversation below! We talk about the film, creepy phone calls, and darkness, plus a bunch of other weird stuff!
Bill Oberst Jr = BO
Joshua Scafidi = JS
JS: Hi, Bill!
BO: Good to talk to you.
JS: Yeah, you too! It’s been a while, how have you been since we last talked about “Handy Dandy?”
BO: Oh man! I remember that! I was just talking to (Bill) Moseley about that film.
JS: Yeah, that was a fun film!
BO: Yeah, we’re hoping to get to do another one together with a slight increase in quality, you know how it goes.
JS: Right, of course.
BO: So, did you see the trailer for this thing that we’re talking about tonight?
JS: Oh yeah... “Greatland: Life After COVID-19!”
BO: Yeah. Okay, so what did you think it was about after seeing that?
JS: Um... So, to me, it looks like essentially... this film is about… dystopian government overreach? But that was my thing, I felt like the trailer didn’t get the point across. I feel like I know what they were trying to do, and then I saw you were in it and I’m like OK I’m going to watch this. So, I wrote something up about the trailer and then your agent said you wanted to talk about it. I was like yeah, hell yeah! Let’s do that! I want to know more about this crazy film!
BO: It's bonkers! It’s absolutely bonkers (laughing). So, the world that its set in is a world of perpetual fun. The rulers are really corrupt. There’s a pedophile ring who’s in charge of the world and I’m one of them, and then there’s a pandemic. And this is shot in like 2018.
JS: Right, I saw that!
BO: This teenager, him and his girlfriend, she’s in some danger and she’s been taken into this frontier that regular people can’t cross, (but) the elites can. So, he gets in there and is trying to find her. And my character, one of the rulers of Greatland, lives on Repentance Island. All the places have these bizarre names. I spend all my time sitting in a bathtub full of blood with lotus flowers in front of me with real cockroaches, like real live cockroaches.
BO: Yeah, so I talk to the roaches in half nursery rhymes, half Shakespearean gibberish and then this boy who is trying to find his girl comes in and I give him some clues… but in kind of a roundabout way. Some people I filmed the movie with, we were all talking like, are we really sure what this is about? Which I think is a good thing because I’m really tired of movies that are this happened, this happened and then this happened. The world is so messed up now that I’ve gotten more into things that are taking a more artistic view of the world.
JS: Yeah, absolutely! Watching the trailer, it's very dystopian that’s for sure.
BO: Yeah, Dana Ziyasheva the director works for the United Nations UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization). She was an international civil servant and she worked all over the world with indigenous peoples so, she’s really into myths, symbols, and symbolism – things standing for other things. She reminds me of the very early expressionistic, silent filmmakers we had, the very first ones, really artistic.
JS: It’s very colorful, the trailer. A lot comes at you very fast. It’s a lot to swallow at first. It’s a lot of colors, a lot of noise. It made me a little bit dizzy.
BO + JS: (Laughing).
JS: But… I am very intrigued. I like dystopian type movies, movies that say things without necessarily saying them. You know what I mean?
BO: Totally, man. I like movies that surprise me and leave me wondering what it was I just saw. I really like that.
JS: After I watched the trailer, I wrote something up titled, WTF Did I Just Watch?
BO: I saw that! That was the best headline for the trailer that I saw.
JS: I’m definitely going to check it out. Now, what was it like filming such an insane film?
BO: Really bizarre. We filmed up in Malibu, and oh! Oh, oh! Jeffrey Epstein was alive at the time and he was in the news with all the things that he was doing and as an easter egg, they had CGI’d in Jeffrey Epstein’s house from Little St. James Island, which was called Pedophile Island. So, people that know about Epstein, they’ll recognize his house on Repentance Island. It’s like he’s not even dead, he came to live there on Repentance Island and I thought it was just absolutely bizarre.
JS: So, this is a movie with a dystopian future, with an overreaching government a…
BO: And completely corrupt. Really corrupt, like all the elites are pedophiles.
JS: OK, so we have the corrupt government, the pedophiles, Epstein possibly not being dead, it almost seems like someone was trying to say something. (Laughing)
BO: It seems that way.
JS: I’ll leave it up to the viewer to decide but…
BO: Filming for me was really strange because I was in a bathtub full of blood. I was never told who’s blood it was in the truth of the movie. Not my own blood, of course. So, I guess I’ve got my victim’s blood, I don’t know, but the cockroaches were like trained cockroaches.
JS: Trained cockroaches?
BO: They’re supposed to sit in one place, and they did pretty good. Some of them would jump off into the water and then we would have to get them out of the water before they like, started crawling on me. So in movies, let’s see… I’ve had snakes crawling on me, I’ve eaten worms, but this is the first time I’ve ever worked with cockroaches.
JS: Yeah, I don’t know if I could do the cockroaches. I own a snake, I love snakes.
BO: Oh yeah? What kind of snake?
JS: Just a little Ball Python. My girlfriend will move out if I buy a bigger one so… (Laughing.)
BO: How big will he grow?
JS: He’s about four feet, and that’s about as big as he’ll get.
BO: And she can deal with that?
JS: Yeah. She said if I get anything that can eat her though, she’s out.
BO + JS: (Laughing)
BO: Yeah, that’s love.
BO: She loves you, but not enough to live with something that can eat her.
JS: Eh, it’s understandable. What can you do? It’s a give and take. So, all I could find is that it’s coming out in 2020. Can you give us any more info on a release date?
BO: No. I don’t have any info Joshua, but I’m hoping they get it out before the next election because throughout the whole thing there’s this very absurd election coming up and it factors heavily into the movie. So, I’m hoping they get it out before the election.
JS: This movie gets even eerier the more I hear about it.
BO: It’s really weird. It’s almost like all this crap we’re going through now is floating the ether and creative people just pluck it out. You know before the Titanic sank, there was a book written about an unsinkable ship.
JS: I did hear about that.
BO: It’s almost exactly the story of the Titanic. So, that’s one of the theories about that, is that creative people can sometimes reach out into the atmosphere and pull out these things that are hanging around about to happen.
JS: Yeah, the Akashic Records. Wild stuff.
BO: Have you ever heard of the old idea that dead spirits can get trapped inside the telephone?
JS: I mean, I’ve heard of them getting trapped in white noise and such.
BO: Yeah. I think that was one of the early fears of the telephone. Disembodied voices led to all these theories about spirits being trapped inside the telephone, and dead people calling you. I’ve often wondered, it’s completely off the subject of the movie, but since you like to talk about weird stuff…
JS: (Laughing) I do.
BO: If you got a call from somebody that’s deceased, that you loved and really wanted to talk to again, would you take the call?
JS: Absolutely, I would. It’s a little creepy, but I think I would live the rest of my life wondering what if, if I didn’t take the call.
BO: Would you take a call from your older, or younger self?
JS: That’s a good question. Again, I think I’d always wonder what if, and why? I’d have to answer it, I think.
BO: My grandmother was at a carnival when she was just a little girl and there was a fortune-teller who said “Why don’t I read you your fortune, and I can tell you the day you’re going to die.” She never forgot it. I remember her telling me about that many times. It’s like would you want to know? If your younger self called you, would you hang up immediately?
JS: That type of stuff gives me goosebumps.
BO: Me, too. There are too many stories of stuff happening, I think, for it to just be… You know people will like, wake up at the exact moment when somebody dies.
JS: Right, like stuff you can’t explain.
BO: Yeah! Things like people have gotten a phone call from their grandmother of something saying that I just wanted to tell you I love you and then they find out that she died right before that.
JS: Heavy stuff.
BO: I think all that stuff is more on people’s minds now, with everything that’s going on.
JS: Absolutely. More time locked down inside thinking about things. Speaking of lockdown Bill, what have you been up to?
BO: Well, I shoot a podcast featuring gothic literature. It’s called “Gothic Goodnight” and it’s a bedtime podcast, so it's about twenty minutes. I read some Poe and some other gothic literature in a soft voice and kind of put people to sleep.
JS: I love me some Poe. We talked about that last time. I’m going to check that out!
- Writer’s note - I did check it out, and it’s awesome. Fell asleep to it last night! Check out the link above! It’s also available on several platforms if you Google “Gothic Goodnight!”
BO: Yeah, check it out! They’re all short because I can’t stand long-ass podcasts. I’m writing a book, too.
JS: Are you?
BO: Yeah. So, I’ve been trying to use my time creatively.
JS: So, you’ve done a ton of horror Bill. What attracts you the genre?
BO: Everything in my soul, man. To me, I can’t think of anything better to do with any little bit of talent that I have then to try and be a dark mirror. I don’t want to reflect to people that everything’s great and wonderful, and everything’s fine. I want to reflect to people that there’s real darkness in the world, and there’s some real dark ass stuff in us. I think it’s really important to recognize that and not pretend that it isn’t there. I think that’s what I can do. That’s my little bit, to be a dark mirror.
JS: There is definitely some dark stuff in the world. I saw you have a ton of stuff in pre and postproduction. Anything you want to talk about specifically?
BO: There is! A movie called, “Pain Killer.” The director is Mark Savage. He’s a cult director in Australia. So, I did a movie with him called “Stressed to Kill,” with Armand Assante about a guy who’s Dr. tells him to get his blood pressure down, so he starts killing people because it helps him relax.
JS: Makes sense.
BO: So, this is the sequel to that called “Pain Killer.” I play a guy who’s daughter died of opiates and he sees nobody doing anything about it. The government’s not doing anything about it, and everybody's just giving him lip service about it so, he decides to do something about it. He’s going after anybody who was connected with his daughter’s death. Kind of like “Deathwish.” It’s in that genre. It’s Mark Savage, so it’s really dark. He’s also really into darkness.
JS: I’ll have to check it out!
BO: We wrapped it before COVID. The killer has a really great look. He’s got a mask with an American flag but it’s really decayed and cracked. The subtitle for the film was “Pain Killer: Making America Great Again.”
BO + JS: (Laughing)
BO: I think it will be out before the election.
JS: Well, I’ll be keeping an out for “Pain Killer” as well as “Greatland,” this crazy-ass movie.
BO: “Crazy-ass movie,” I think should be their official marketing line. You should sell that to them.
JS: Pass on my number.
BO + JS: (Laughing.)
BO: From what I shot; I’m interested to see how it comes out.
JS: So, you haven’t watched the film yet?
BO: No. All I’ve seen is the trailer and one still of me in the bathtub. Which brought back pleasant memories of the cockroaches.
JS: That must have been a fun time, I can imagine.
BO: Well, you know what? Yeah… Once you get used to them, they’re okay. You’re willing to drown in the blood, you know?
JS: See, the blood doesn’t bother me, it’s the cockroaches.
BO: I’m just worried… I don’t want the cockroaches to drown.
JS: That’s… That’s really commendable of you, Bill.
BO: Awe, thanks!
BO + JS: (Laughing)
JS: Well, it’s always a pleasure to talk to you, a fellow horror geek such as myself!
BO: Yeah, you too, Josh. Thanks, man.
JS: Anytime, Bill.
That’s it for now folks! Be sure to check Bill Oberst Jr. out in “Greatland: Life After Covid-19” when it releases, and keep an eye out for him in the upcoming Mark Savage Film “Pain Killer!” Comment below and let me know what you think!
Until next time, keep on geekin’ on, my friends!
Joshua “Prometheus” Scafidi