The Gore Spotlight

An interview with Dave Campfield

Dave Campfield has been a busy man. He is well into a hilarious horror/comedy series following two fascinating characters named “Caesar and Otto”. He juggles writing, directing and playing Caesar in the films and shows his skills with each task. His latest film “Caesar and Otto's Deadly Xmas” hit shelves in 2012 and since then he has been hard at work with his upcoming feature, “Caesar and Otto's Paranormal Halloween.” Even with such a task at hand, Dave sat down with us here at HMS to talk a little about himself and excite us further with information on what's next for the comedy duo.

HMS: Dave, thank you so much for taking the time to meet with us. We at HMS are more than aware of how busy you are with your new film. It will be very exciting to see the next chapter in your series.

DC: Thanks! The idea is to always go above and beyond what came before.

HMS: Readers at HMS are quite interested in the film genre in general. First off, talk to me about what first got you into filmmaking?

DC: Everyone has their love or loves in life. The thing that drives you, the thing(s) you connect with. For me, that’s cinema. From the time I was a very young child, I just fell in love with the medium. When you think about it, it’s a fusion of so many art forms. Photography, acting, music, writing, editing. From the first time my family took me to see a re-release of Star Wars, I was hooked.

HMS: The Caesar and Otto series is packed with cameos by many loved ones within the horror/cult community. Are these people you were already associated with because of previous projects or did you reach out to them?

DC: It began with my friendship with Felissa Rose (star of Sleepaway Camp). We acted in a commercial together some years ago. Without knowing who she was, we clicked. We had the same priorities as actors and storytellers. Later I saw her work (I had heard of Sleepaway Camp but not seen it at that point) and learned about her involvement in the horror community. She believed in me and subsequently helped open doors to a lot of the actors you later saw in my features.

HMS: Your Co-star, Paul Chomicki, mentioned in the “Deadly Xmas” DVD commentary that you've known each other for quite a while. Did you two develop the characters off the bat together or did you create them yourself and ask him to play the role of Otto?

DC: When Paul lived in NY, we used to do on camera acting exercises. One day I suggested, I’m going to play an effeminate cabdriver/aspiring actor named Caesar, and you play my slovenly half brother Otto. Something clicked. And from there, the characters evolved.

HMS: “Buddy Comedies” are trendy now, but most of them fall into a familiar formula. Many people have favorably referred to the “Caesar and Otto” dynamic as a refreshing (albeit it very unique) throwback to the classic Abbott and Costello/Laurel and Hardy type of balance. Was any of this a consideration or inspiration?

DC: Completely. I grew up on those types of films, and miss watching them. One thing I’ve found absent, however, in our previous installments, is the wordplay Abbott and Costello would engage in (think of their Who’s on First routine). In Caesar & Otto’s Paranormal Halloween, you’ll see just a little more of that.

HMS: You write, direct, and play Caesar, one of the lead roles in your films. Do you consider yourself primarily as a specific creative type first and foremost? (Writer, actor, director, etc.) And did you always plan on playing Caesar yourself?

DC: I’m everything equally. Writer, director, actor. One doesn’t predominate. In my heart at least. But there was also a convenience factor here. If I’m the lead, that’s one less actor to have to worry about showing up. After my debut film (Dark Chamber/Under Surveillance) I found it difficult to co-ordinate with my lead actor’s schedules. So it’s one less headache. Plus the Caesar character is always such a blast to play. He just takes me over when action is called.

HMS: The Caesar and Otto films are full of references to other slasher movies. Were these films influences or were you more focused on doing a send-up of them?

DC: Horror and slasher film have trends. I love them, but they can have a by the numbers formula that makes them a little frustrating. You can see what’s going to happen a mile away a lot of the time. What I try to do is take the established conventions, and really toy with them, or at the very least, satirize them.

HMS: One of the subplots of “Deadly Xmas” is Caesar making his own movie. Did you want to genuinely analyze the slasher genre itself or is that element more of a loving tribute?

DC: I’ve seen so many indie slashers at this point, that sequence practically wrote itself.

HMS: Horror/Comedy is a very popular mix. As someone who's actually combined the two personally over the course of a whole series, is there anything you particularly challenging about doing so?

DC: The original draft of Deadly Xmas felt too far removed from the horror genre. It just felt like a straight up comedy. The challenge is to really root these stories in the horror film universe. Not always easy to do.


"Everyone has their love or loves in life. The thing that drives you, the thing(s) you connect with. For me, that’s cinema."

HMS: Do you feel that Caesar, Otto and the horror genre will be lifelong partners or will we be seeing them tackling other genres in the future?

DC: The Simpsons Tree House of Horror episodes have always been my favorites. I TRULY love comedy/horror. If someone comes to me with a budget and wants to do straight C & O comedies, I’ll be happy to oblige. But until that day, I’m content with rooting these characters in the world of horror.

HMS: I've heard praise from many crew/cast members involved on your films about how much fun they had on set. Do you like to keep a fun atmosphere to keep up morale or is that just a product of the humorous material?

DC: These films are so low budget, and so non corporate, our set just becomes like a camp for adults. The environment is just loose and free. It explains why the same people are willing to come back time and time again. I consider the cast and crew like my west coast family. Guys like the mega talented Rich Calderon (producer and FX), who traditionally works on MUCH bigger budget films, chooses to take part in this series, because of the on set experience.

HMS: You're working on a new Caesar and Otto film entitled “Caesar and Otto's Paranormal Halloween.” What spoilers can you dish out for us at HMS?

DC: I re-watched so many entries of the haunted house genre and picked up on the formula that applies to so many of them. Expect some of the conventions to be turned on their head. It starts off as an homage to Halloween then moves into Haunted house territory. The reaction that I’ve gotten is that it’s the best written of the series. And we’re only on the first draft. Expect all your favorite characters from the previous installments. From Jerry (Ken Macfarlane), to Roberta (Samantha Barrios, Drew (Avi Garg), Deron Miller (this time as very unique priest) to Caesar & Otto’s conniving father (Scott Aguilar). But this time, you’ll learn just who Otto’s Mother was, and why she left him. We’re scheduled to shoot in November. Star cameos to be determined. Producer Joe Randazzo was able to secure Linnea Quigley and Lloyd Kaufman to appear in Deadly Xmas, and this time appears even more ambitious.

HMS: The series has strengthened and evolved, finding it's groove, more and more with each film. What is the biggest thing about the new movie you would like to get across to fans?

DC: To hopefully make you laugh your ass off with our macabre brand of satire and slapstick.

HMS: The Caesar and Otto films have many reoccurring characters and inside jokes, but work quite well and still make sense on their own. I saw “Deadly Xmas” before “Sleepaway Massacre” and everything still worked out wonderfully. Do you feel “Paranormal Halloween” will also be approachable to people previously unfamiliar with the series?

DC: We’re taking on mainstream films this time. From the Shining to the Exorcist, the Amityville Horror and well beyond. Chances are, a lot of the audience have seen these films, but even if not, I hope they can see a simple story of brothers searching for their roots, and their battle for the heart of a woman named Gilda. It might be part spoof, but all good stories have to have their root in character. And I hope that’s what we’ve accomplished here.

HMS: Thank you so much for your time. Myself and everyone else at HMS know how much you have going on and are very much looking forward to seeing more from the hilarious duo you have created.

Follow Ceasar and Otto on Twitter.

P.J. Griffin, HMS

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