Interview: Judd Nelson Talks 'Bad Kids Go to Hell,' Written by: Karen Benardello
The children of rich, powerful and influential leaders in the community, particularly those dealing the emotionally confusing time of adolescence, can often feel like they deserve to get everything they want, and they don’t have to suffer the consequences of their actions. But in the new independent, low-budget comedy mystery thriller ‘Bad Kids Go to Hell,’ which is based on the popular 2010 graphic novel of the same name, the spoiled students are forced to finally contend with their conflicts on their own. Described as a mix between ‘The Grudge’ and ‘The Breakfast Club,’ ‘Bad Kids Go to Hell’ shows how ill-prepared the teens are to cope with the ghosts of their past.
‘Bad Kids Go to Hell’ follows six students, including Tricia Wilkes (played by Ali Faulkner) and Matt Clark (portrayed by Cameron Deane Stewart), from the prestigious private high school, Crestview, as they’re placed in detention on a stormy Saturday afternoon by Headmaster Nash (played by Judd Nelson). While Matt must contend with not letting his parole officer find out he’s in detention, he must also deal with the other five students fighting over a shared secret. However, during the eight-hour incarceration, each of the students fall victim to a horrible accident, until one one remains. They try to figure out if one of their classmates is secretly evening the school’s social playing field, or if one of Crestview’s ghosts if finally coming to punish them.
Nelson generously took the time to speak with us over the phone recently about filming ‘Bad Kids Go to Hell.’ Among other things, the actors discussed why he wanted to play the role of Headmaster Nash in the comedy mystery thriller; what it was like working with first-time feature film writer-director Matthew Spradlin, who co-wrote the graphic novels, and his younger castmates; the experience of shooting a movie based on a graphic novel and what it was like promoting the movie at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con.
ShockYa (SY): You play Headmaster Nash, who gives six students, the spoiled offspring of society’s elite, from his prep school Crestview Academy Saturday detention, in ‘Bad Kids Go to Hell.’ What was it about the character and the script overall that convinced you to take on the role?
Judd Nelson (JN): Well, I read the graphic novel, and I thought it was a lot of fun. I thought, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. These are horrible kids, and they get the justice they deserve. It seemed like a fun thing to be a part of, and it was.
SY: Speaking of the graphic novel, were you familiar with the novel at all before you signed onto appear in the film? Did you reference the novel at all when you were preparing to shoot the movie?
JN: I was familiar with it. But you don’t necessarily reference it, because on a certain level, a graphic novel has to answer to a different higher power. I was worried that we were going to do the graphic novel a disservice by making the film live action. But they kept it very true to the graphic novel.
We don’t necessarily look like the artwork, because we couldn’t match it exactly. But it’s pretty close to the story. The bad kids get punished for what they do. There’s nothing funnier than that.
SY: While ‘Bad Kids Go to Hell’ is a comedy, it also has horror and thriller elements in the story. Were there any horror or thriller films that you like, or referenced, while preparing for this movie?
JN: Well, I didn’t watch any to prepare for this. But I love scary movies. When I was a kid, I would love to scare the crap out of myself. To this day, I still think ‘Jaws’ is the scariest movie. I don’t think I’m alone when I go in that water, I’m hearing that music. (imitates ‘Jaws’ theme music)
I really like scary movies and zombie movies and gory movies and suspenseful movies. I’ll tell you, I was very impressed when I saw the first ‘Saw.’ I was like, wow, that’s a great film. ‘The Exorcist’ is also incredible. It’s a horror film, but also quite a drama.
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