Roger Conners is a widely popular, Ohio based actor who’s most known for his roles in Hellementary: An Education in Death, Chill: The Killing Games and The Colours of Desire. When he’s not hard at work on his own project, a queer-based remake of Night of the Living Dead, Roger is a frequent collaborator of writer/director Eddie Lengyel; the creator behind Scarred and Voodoo Rising. So, of course it was only a matter of time before Mr. Conners joined Lengyel’s upcoming feature American Poltergeist: The Curse of Lilith Ratchet and that’s what got us talking today. Well, Roger and I talk every day, actually. As with the triumphant return of ‘Leave (Get Out)’ singer JoJo, Roger and I spend hours a day – no, seriously. HOURS. – chronicling pop singer Kesha as she rises from the ashes of obscurity. Before we tackle American Poltergeist, we touch on that subject briefly with:
As a gay man, I can honestly say that if Kesha’s new album entitled Rainbow were to NOT debut at the #1 spot on the Billboard 200, I will literally throw myself from the highest building within a ten mile radius. That will likely be the Terminal Tower in Cleveland. That specific building is 52 stories high. Luckily, that won’t be the case because Kesha WILL be claiming the number 1 slot, so I think we’re all good. In closing, if you have not listened to her single Praying, I don’t want you in my life.
For horror’s sake, it should be noted that Kesha has a very small role in supernatural-drama A Ghost Story, which is currently in theaters nationwide. Anyway! Getting back to the new movie, American Poltergeist: The Curse of Lilith Ratchet, I wanted to start things off with a little clarification because a quick search lists Ratchet as ‘the next entry in the series’ and another quest for information sees over eight American Poltergeists registered and released on IMDB. While some entries are completely unrelated – like the fact that Kesha’s promo single Woman hit #96 on the Billboard Hot 100 – Ratchet is part of a series being built by ITN Distribution. Though each movie doesn’t relate to one another, they still exist within the same world. Conners elaborates on this with:
ITN Distribution is producing this film and it will be an indirect sequel to the previous entries in the American Poltergeist series. If you’ve ever seen Urban Legends 3: Bloody Mary, you’ll remember that they took a totally different approach with that film. They basically ignored the first two entries in the franchise and created an all new villain and backstory. Lilith Ratchet is a brand new character with her own original backstory that is in no way related to the other films in the series.
According to Roger, American Poltergeist: The Curse of Lilith Ratchet will follow the mystery surrounding a creepy shrunken head discovered inside a sinister looking, wooden box. Somewhat similar to the Dybbuk Box legend, a curse befalls anyone who handles the items. I’m guessing that holding the head (stroking the head?) will unleash the vengeful spirit of Lilith Ratchet. Roger was sure to keep any major plot details under wraps out of respect for his professional work relationship with writer/director Eddie Lengyel. Ratchet marks their third collaboration together, as cast and crew, and the actor divulges on their long history by saying:
I’ve been working with Eddie since 2006, and I’ve had the privilege of watching him grow and evolve as a director. Spanning from his earlier films Hellweek and Voodoo Rising, to his most recent endeavors such as Scarred and The Naughty List, you can see just how far he’s come in regards to translating his unique visions onto the screen. When it comes to American Poltergeist: The Curse of Lilith Ratchet, I’m finally getting a chance to really just focus on my acting instead of spinning multiple hats all at once. When you’re helping out behind the scenes, it can make it difficult to really focus on your character and can thus be a major detriment when the cameras start to roll. I appreciate that Eddie has made it a point to let me focus on my craft with this one. Acting is my main passion, and I need to make sure I am bringing my A-game every single time I’m stepping onto a set. I am thankful that this project is finally giving me a chance to prove exactly what I’m capable of as an actor!
Eddie Lengyel is known for his independent slasher flicks, but Ratchet is gearing up to be a completely different monster. Mr. Conners explains:
I feel that, when it comes to Eddie’s films, people have certainly come to expect an excessive amount of blood and gore. That being said, I think it’s pretty clear that he’s genuinely trying to step up his game with this project and take a fresh new approach to the whole thing. That means taking more time with certain sequences and gradually building the suspense over the course of the film. I feel that we will see a very even balance between the in-your-face violence that fans of the genre look forward to, and the slow-burn suspense that we’ve come to see from some of the more unique and mature horror films over the last few years.
And with principal photography taking place as we speak, there’s certainly a lot to talk about behind-the-scenes. It seems as if the process is going smoothly and the actors are getting along swimmingly… which always sucks because then they go and get killed off and don’t see each other until the next event, premiere, film set or Kesha concert. Burn the call sheets, Eddie! Just burn them! Everyone can come and go as they please, right? Roger gushes:
I’d say that, as it stands, we’re about 25% of the way through principal production. Being on set has been an absolutely fantastic experience thus far. Everybody is so positive and determined to make this little indie the best film it can possibly be. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been on such an enjoyable set. I’m very grateful to the cast and crew for making it such a constructive, supportive, and professional environment!
Roger caps off our interview by speaking directly to the horror fans, and he says why YOU should look for this film in the future.
I think fans will be surprised by this entry to the American Poltergeist series because it is genuinely a very fun and well-written supernatural thriller with a fantastic villain. The characters portrayed in this film don’t feel wooden or stereotypical, and they handle each turn of events with a sense of realism and believability that is often missing from many projects on this level. I’ve appeared in a lot of films that have suffered from that problem and it can really put a damper on the whole experience. Sure, the storyline might be far-fetched, but that doesn’t mean the characters can’t be relatable. I think we’re all a bit tired of the cliché character tropes we’ve seen in countless films before this. Watching relatable actors portray realistic individuals, even within the horror genre, is truly refreshing.