Richard Chandler is an actor, writer, and director whose horror film Parts Unknown revolves around one of his life-long interests — wrestling.
Parts Unknown is a film about a family of wrestlers known as the Von Strassers. Their days of glory in the ring are behind them. Patriarch Hermann Von Strasser (William DeCoff) is looking for a new way to satisfy the lust for violence coursing through his family’s veins. The solution comes from an unusual place and sets off a string of violence.
PopAxiom spoke with Rick at the center of the ring to talk about the road to showbiz, Doctor Doom, and Parts Unknown.
Richard’s IMDB resume includes 58 acting credits, plus 27 directing credits, 25 as a producer, and another 23 as a writer. What came first? “I wanted to be a writer as a teenager. I wrote books … crazy literature … that would probably be better suited to comics. Then I wrote screenplays.”
Writing was the motivating passion, but it wasn’t long before Richard “jumped into the fire and transitioned into trying to direct and produce … super low budget films.”
Richard considers himself, “… someone who is tenacious,” which is a valuable personality trait in showbiz.”
About Parts Unknown
Richard says he’s “Always been a big wrestling fan.” He continues, “It’s something that people like to talk about as having this super dark side to the business. It’s showbiz. There’s always messed up stories.”
Richard’s other favorite thing is horror. The birth of Parts Unknown was a natural connection between the two. “What if I try to put this lifelong thing that I’ve watched and put it into a horror movie vibe.”
If you’re a wrestling fan, then the Von Strasser family in the film might feel familiar. “It’s a family of wrestlers … loosely based on the Von Erichs.
Hermann Von Strasser is “… a harsh patriarch who wants everyone to be good, but he’s not exactly a loving character. He beats them if they fail.”
In Parts Unknown, the family is “… down on their luck now,” Richard says, “They’re all on drugs or involved in other bad habits. They’ve all lost their jobs with the big federation.”
“Herman,” Richard says, “ends up finding this demon creature that may or may not exist in his head. He talks to the creature, and the family slowly devolves. They become sort of this cult that uses the demon to satisfy their craving for blood and the spotlight.”
Making Parts Unknown
Earlier in life, Richard did work “… a little in local wrestling promotion, not as a wrestler, but as the evil general manager type characters. I was good at that and getting the fans upset.”
The experience let Richard see “… how things work backstage, but not a tremendous amount.”
Parts Unknown isn’t a super-budget feature from a major Hollywood studio. What was a challenging aspect of production? “Getting the ring and places to put it was a challenge. We had to film a lot in one day. It was a ridiculous amount to cram in there.”
Fortunately, casting made it a little easier. “Most of the leads did wrestle. But,” Richard adds, “finding actors who could wrestle was a challenge too.”
Our talk turns to other artists and creators who inspired Richard. “Oof, that’s tough. There are so many.” Richard ponders before answering, “John Carpenter.”
Outside of horror, Richard loves old-school action films. “Death Wish and Cobra and Commando. I grew up obsessing over that stuff.”
Who does Richard want to play? “Doctor Doom. When Fantastic Four is created for the third time, I want to play Doom. I want to give him a weird, modern spin.” What about a slasher? “I think the obvious answer is Freddy.”
Richard writes and directs. If he could only do one, which one would it be? “Probably writing. But if we throw acting in there, I’d choose acting. I have fun as an actor. As a writer or director, people constantly love saying, ‘I would’ve done this or that. It’s too reminiscent of this or that.’ They can all do it better.”
Richard explains, “But it takes so long to write a movie, and most don’t understand how frustrating it is to have comments thrown at you.”
The time spent with the project is a big difference that isn’t brought up often enough. “As an actor, you come in for a few months, train to play your character, and then you’re out. A director might have worked on the film for four years.”
Parts Unknown is available on Amazon Prime and other streaming services. You can find more information by following @BostonUndead on Instagram. What’s next? “We managed to shoot a short called Rats. It’s about 20 minutes. That’s the project that’s in post.”
Is Parts Unknown on your watch list?
Thanks to Richard Chandler and October Coast
for making this interview possible.
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