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Deserts, Death and Denise: Director Tom Nagel Talks New Horror Movie ‘The ToyBox.’

“When we went back for pick ups in the summer, it was 118 degrees in the desert.” Film-making is a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of hard work and dedication. No one knows that better than Tom Nagel, whose latest feature film, The ToyBox, is currently available on digital and Blu-ray courtesy of Skyline Entertainment. Based on the screenplay by Jeff Denton, The ToyBox follows an estranged family who take a trip through the desert in a recently acquired, somewhat vintage RB. Soon they become stranded in the scorching hot terrain, only to learn that their RV houses haunting secrets from the past. One by one the family falls victim to mysterious deaths in a clever mix of Christine and Poltergeist. The ToyBox is the second full-length title from Nagel, and most horror enthusiasts are familiar with his previous work, ClownTown. While ClownTown was a total work of fiction, Tom’s new movie is somewhat based in reality. He explains, “The ToyBox is best described as a haunted house on wheels. The RV is basically a haunted house that moves. However, there is also a real serial killer named David Parker Ray, and his story definitely inspired us. We didn’t want to do a ‘based on’ story, but I can say that reading about him helped create some of our ideas.” For the record, David Parker Ray, known as The ToyBox Killer, was convicted of kidnapping, rape, torture and murder in 2001. Though his number of victims is anywhere between 3 and 60, he was never formally convicted of murder.

Before capitalizing on his talent as a director, Tom Nagel was an up-and-coming actor. He co-starred in a number of SyFy channel favorites including The Beast of Bray Road, Dracula’s Curse and Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter’s Cove before appearing in Man of Steel and episodes of “Monk.” While returning to his career in front of the camera isn’t out of the picture, Tom’s main focus currently lies with directing. “Acting will always be a love of mine. I think it’s just always in you, but as I’ve grown in my career, I feel like directing is where I’m most comfortable. I have really come to love it. I enjoy working on the whole creative process of film-making, and directing vies me a chance to be a part of it all.” During his many acting gigs in the past, Tom worked alongside celebrities including Thomas Downey (The Karate Kid), Alan Ritchson (The Hunter Games), and Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead), but when he produced The ToyBox, he had the pleasure of directing another Hollywood Legend – Denise Richards. He gushes, “It was absolutely incredible. Denise is such an amazing person, a true professional and an absolute sweetheart. I would work with her again in a heartbeat!” It was recently announced that Richards has joined the cast of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” in its ninth season.

Getting back to the recent release of The ToyBox, Tom had this to say about its home media debut. “I am so excited that it’s finally out there. After working on a project for so long and putting in so much work, it’s extremely exciting to get it out to the world. It was a little nerve racking as well, of course.” Speaking of nerves, filming in an RV in the desert must’ve been difficult, to say the least. Mr. Nagel confirms that filming inside the cramped corners was challenging, but also rewarding. “When I saw the RV, I thought, ‘How am I going to make this interesting?’ There was no room, but that was part of the fun – having to be creative and come up with different angles and shots was a great time. And when we finally got outside, it was absolutely beautiful. I love being outdoors, so being in such a beautiful place was really cool. Seeing The Milky Way every night was nothing short of incredible.” Despite the desert’s natural wonders, filming in the desert was rough on at times, too. The elements were an exterior antagonist for the characters in the movie as much as the film’s crew. “It wasn’t too hot out there because we decided to shoot in the Spring. Although, when we went back for pick ups in the summer, it was 118 degrees. It was brutal. During principal photography, the biggest problem we had was the wind storms! It would blow 60-70 miles per hour some days. We would have to stop production completely, and we were so far away from anything else that we had to take shelter for a bit and wait it out. We were out there for 21 days, but I will say it was very rewarding to accomplish what we did.”

The challenges, the accomplishments, the drama and the horror are now available to own on home media in The ToyBox. Read my very positive review of the movie here. Then, buy it on Amazon Video here and on Blu-ray here. Also, find Tom Nagel’s full resume on IMDB here.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, Tom!

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)