The roar of a chainsaw, and a splattering of blood and gore fill
the screen. The first thing one might expect to see is a wild
eyed maniac with a mask made of human flesh, stalking more
unsuspecting teenagers. When the camera reveals the killer, you
may be surprised to see a beautiful woman wielding bloody power
tools. She’s Chainsaw Sally, the internet phenomenon who manages
to combine sexy with psycho in a way that is both fun and scary
to watch. She’s a fan favorite at horror conventions and has
been the subject of a
comic books, and even
show. But who is the woman behind the saw? April Burril puts
down her lethal implements for a few minutes to talk about her
character Chainsaw Sally, her thoughts on the horror industry
and why you shouldn’t trust a guy in an oxford shirt and khakis.
April, you’re probably best known for your alter-ego Chainsaw
Sally. How did she come about?
April - The character actually began before
the movie or the Chainsaw Sally Show.
and I together created her to be a sort of spokes-slasher
for our live show, "Silver Scream." We made her with the
brutality of Leatherface (whom she's known to have a huge
crush on), some of the intelligence (not to mention
appetite) of Hannibal Lecter, the wisecracking gleefulness
of Freddy Krueger, and the all-out punk rock spirit of Tank
Girl. Later, when we left stage and started venturing into
film, Sally had already gained a completely unexpected
popularity, so we ended up giving in to fans’ requests to
make a Chainsaw Sally movie. Years later, with a lot more
filming experience under our belts, we decided to create The
Chainsaw Sally Show as a fun sitcom-type series of
webisodes. As opposed to previous projects, we purposely did
not go searching for investors or distributors, but kept the
project completely independent. We've had really great
audience response to it so far, and there will definitely be
a Season 2 on the way.
Nic - Why do you think
Chainsaw Sally is such a popular character?
April - Hard to say... could be that, although
Sally is a sexual character, she doesn't completely rely on that
sexuality to carry out her bloody work. She's strong in other
ways - in brawn and brains. Her main victims are usually the
kind of people that annoy us all in minor ways on a day to day
basis, so there's that little bit of satisfaction as well. We
strive to keep her both light-hearted and fun, while at the same
time disturbingly brutal and cruel.
Nic - THE CHAINSAW SALLY
SHOW was done as a webisode sitcom. Why did you and JimmyO
decide to do it in that format instead of as another feature
April - It was an experiment really. We have a
script for Chainsaw Sally 2 that has been awaiting investment
for a long time now (every time we find an investor, we then
hear about the things they want to change...), so we both
thought it a shame to let this character go to waste. We didn't
want to simplify the CS2 plot to meet a lower budget, but we
didn't want to do a different feature that would interrupt the
anticipated storyline of the movie. Somehow, the webisode idea
Nic - Chainsaw Sally
isn’t the only project you’ve been working on. I understand that
you’ve completed work on a new feature film as well: THE GOOD
SISTERS. Can you tell us about that project?
April - It's quite a departure from the black
comedy of Chainsaw Sally. THE GOOD SISTERS is much darker and
more psychological in nature. It stars
Rochon and myself as two sisters who are descended from
Sarah Good - a woman accused of and executed for witchcraft
during the Salem trials. The sisters are
witches of a very dark nature that believe they - as well as
their ancestors before them - are constantly being hunted by the
descendants of witch hunters. A series of bizarre instances,
coupled with a strange new neighbor in the large house their
apartment is in, leads them to believe the noose is drawing
tight and that the time has come to retaliate. The thing I
really enjoy about this film is that it's not clear as to
whether the sisters suspicions are justified or if they are
simply succumbing to self-induced paranoia. Also, as an
interesting side-note, the rituals and chanting used in the film
are all based on actual research into the occult conducted by
JimmyO, Debbie, and myself.
Nic - As an actress what
do you find to be the most challenging part of a new project?
April - Usually, the toughest part is just
getting back into the swing of acting if there's been a long
hiatus between projects. As far as what kind of acting is the
toughest, I'd definitely say that the wilder the character, the
easier it is to portray. "Normal" characters require much more
subtlety in order to come across as natural and convincing.
What do you think is the reason that horror is such a popular
April - I think it's popular for the same reason
roller coasters are popular. You get the adrenaline rush of a
good scare, (or the rush of a good kill if you side with the bad
guys...) but it's safe and no one really gets hurt in the end.
There are other facets to it, I'm sure, but that seems to be the
gist of it for most people.
Nic - Herschell Gordon
Lewis was one of the producers on the Chainsaw Sally Show and he
also appeared in the CHAINSAW SALLY movie as well. What is it
like to work with the “Godfather of Gore” and how did he get
involved in the project?
April - JimmyO and I actually met
Herschell several years back when Jimmy called him to invite him
to appear at a friend’s horror convention. Jimmy left a message
and almost fell over when his call was returned! I rarely see
him stuttering and starstruck - it was pretty amusing. After
that, I interviewed Herschell for the Chainsaw Sally site, later
we all met for dinner when he was coming through town... and
eventually, after a year or two of exchanging friendly emails,
we were making the "Chainsaw Sally" movie and invited Herschell
to appear. We were so thrilled when he said yes. He was an
absolute joy towork with.
Really, any chance to hang out with Herschell and his lovely
wife, Margot, is a real treat. They are a couple of fascinating,
Nic - Some people are
critical of the horror genre for its depictions of violence and
women. What would you say to them on the subject?
April - I would tell them that they
obviously don't need to be watching horror movies, then.
Violence is going to be inherent in a genre that plays on fear.
There can be horror without it, but it's just the way some
stories are going to be told. The few times when it becomes
"glorified" I think are a good way of letting off
steam for some audience members. Repressed urges just grow and
distort. Look at two guys: one is tattooed and pierced and
wearing a Leatherface t-shirt, the other is quiet, clean cut, in
a button-up oxford and khakis... which one is gonna be the
serial killer that keeps his mom's corpse in the basement? My
money's on Mr. Oxford.
As far as the portrayal of women in horror
goes... the female villains are often the most sinister. And
that runs true through most of the history of horror film. The
woman as a victim, however, has changed enormously over the last
20 years or so. More and more often, the girls are punching,
kicking, and saving the day just as much as their male
counterparts. Grrrl Power!! Nic - So what
does April Burril like to do for fun?
April - Aside from movie-making? Draw, paint, dance, practice
guitar, learn tae kwon do, play with my kids, cook, watch good
movies, watch bad movies, drink wine, have sex, eat chocolate,
drink coffee, laugh, and read. Read, read, read. Especially
You're really good at scaring other people as Chainsaw Sally. Is
there anything that scares you?
April - If there was, I certainly wouldn't share
it in an interview!