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Q&A: Dylan Baker Reflects on “TRICK ‘R TREAT” and Halloween Hijinks

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TRICK ‘R TREAT is well on its way to tradition. A film reverent of Halloween, it captures the holiday’s dark, mischievous air like so few have been able. This means it’d probably fall in the good graces of Principal Steven Wilkins, a standout of the film’s great ensemble thanks to the work of Dylan Baker. Presiding over and hewing close to the roots of Samhain, Steven Wilkins is unhappy with those who are disrespectful and there is grim delight in watching him deal with one such youth.

As Beyond Fest in Los Angeles closes with a very special screening of this new favorite on Monday, October 28, one that will see both the film and Q&A (featuring director Michael Dougherty and actors Baker and Brian Cox) livestreamed over Facebook, Baker spoke to Fango about his very great love of TRICK ‘R TREAT, Principal Wilkins and his own mischief on Halloweens past.

FANGORIA:  How do you reflect on TRICK ‘R TREAT? Do you think of it often, fondly?

DYLAN BAKER: Well first of all, I had a ball doing it. It was a lot of fun, it was a good group of people who were up in Toronto before the new year and then came back again afterwards. I remember it very fondly. Brian Cox and Anna Paquin, Leslie Bibb; it was a really lovely little community. And because of the cyclical nature of the different stories and how they wove into each other, it was interesting. The work schedule left you with being able to hang out with each other. It was a lot of fun!

Once Michael Dougherty started taking us around to Comic-Con and different showings and what not, and we started getting a sense of what TRICK ‘R TREAT meant to the horror film audience, it was a renewed excitement about the movie. I’m not surprised at all that Legendary saw the potential in opening it in theaters around Halloween because I think it could be a huge tradition of every Halloween, “going to that midnight showing of TRICK ‘R TREAT.” It’s one of those that belongs in that tradition.

FANG: Do you find a lot of fan interactions related to TRICK ‘R TREAT?

BAKER: I have to say when people stop me on the street over the last five years or so, about 70% of the time it’s for TRICK ‘R TREAT. It’s got a huge following of DVD watchers and however else they get it; the media these days. A lot of people, they want me to know that they know about TRICK ‘R TREAT.

FANG: When you approach a character that’s hiding this dark nature, do you have to put aside whatever judgment you yourself would make about that person?

BAKER: Usually, yes. I would say that I didn’t worry about it with this guy, because I kind of feel like he was all wrapped up in the family business, that he was a great believer in traditions, that he felt it was his job to keep the Halloween tradition going. There’s a part of me that just says, “Well, dad did this and now I’m doing it.” What’s hilarious about Michael Dougherty’s script and about the film is that the family business is kind of tough for my guy. It’s a little difficult to carry this whole thing on and I think he’s a little exhausted with having to put up with the various breakers of tradition in his community. So, he’s a busy guy on Hallowen [laughs].

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Principal Wilkins “works on the Septic Tank”

FANG: Are you a Halloween enthusiast, yourself?

BAKER: I’ve got to say, I love it. Before I had a child, I used to do pretty elaborate things. I remember one year, we did a thing where a friend dressed up. His face was all white and he wore a wig of white hair and he had white gloves. He would just dance around the end of hallway where our apartment was. We propped the door open and left it nice and dark, with just a little light. I sat in a chair and covered everything with a mask. I could just look out the eyeholes. It was one of those scary masks, that was kind of an old person, but I wasn’t moving. You couldn’t tell whether there was really someone there or not, and the bowl of candy was in my lap. As anybody would come for it, I would, “Rughrr,” just a little bit. It would freak these kids out! By the end of the night, they were all like, “Go up to 42! There’s something crazy up there!”

Then I had a child and I went, “I can’t believe I did that!” If anybody did that to my kid, I’d want to slug ‘em [laughs].

FANG: Have you passed on that mischievous air?

BAKER: Yes, she’s definitely got a joy of scaring people and tricking people, so I guess have passed that on just a bit [laughs].

FANG: With the upcoming screening, have you gotten to see the film with a crowd a number of times?

BAKER: I think I’ve done it a couple of times. I saw a screening in New York and a screening in LA. But it’s a few years back, so I’ll be very interested to see it at the big theater in LA with a whole group of people who are excited for a nice, scary movie. Hopefully some of them are going to be surprised by it, but I bet a lot of them will be return guys just waiting for the good stuff.

FANG: Do you plan to sit through?

BAKER: Oh, yeah! I’m gonna watch again, I love the film.

FANG: It seems a lot of actors don’t enjoy rewatching films they’re in.

BAKER: Ahh, I enjoy it. If I can’t enjoy what I do, at least I can watch what other people are doing. It’ll be fun, I’m really looking forward to it!

FANG: Are you a fan of horror?

BAKER: Yea, I have to say I love the horror films of Sam Raimi, specifically his last DRAG ME TO HELL.

FANG: What a great, undervalued movie.

BAKER: I think so, too. I just thought it was done so well and it was just hilarious and incredibly moving and funny. I think he’s a master.

For more on Beyond Fest’s screening of TRICK ‘R TREAT, see our talk with director Michael Dougherty and check out the Odd City poster made for the event here

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About the author
Samuel Zimmerman
Fangoria.com Managing Editor Samuel Zimmerman has been at FANGORIA since 2009, where fresh out of the Purchase College Cinema Studies program, he began as an editorial assistant. Since, he’s honed both his writing and karaoke skills and been trusted with the responsibility of jury duty at Austin’s incredible Fantastic Fest. Zimmerman lives in and hails from The Bronx, New York where his pants are too tight and he’ll watch anything with witches.
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