I had discovered Sid Haig during my Drive In/Grindhouse days. The Big Bird Cage, Savage Sisters, Busting Coffee, and his frequent TV appearances during the 70’s. Then he just vanished off the map. When I was involved with The Chiller Theatre Convention, I often brought up his name as a potential guest. But no one knew how to contact him. Then Sid resurfaced with a short appearance as a judge in Jackie Brown

His big comeback role would be Captain Spaulding in House of 1000 Corpses. Sid became the “new” horror star. He was booked into the Chiller Convention at the same time I was involved in the documentary Unconventional. Sid had a huge line all weekend and we struck up a friendship there. It was then I found out what a humble, charitable man Sid was. It was when that tsunami had hit parts of Asia, and Sid was raising money at his table to help the victims. Chiller had an auction then, and I put some stuff in for the tsunami victims also. I handed Sid I think $90. I said, “It’s for the cause.”

 Sid returned for the next show and we had more time to talk. I left Chiller when he appeared a third time. I was now at Monster Mania, but that would be short-lived.  Sid was booked there.  Myself and a couple of others usually booked a suite so we could party.  We got in Thursday night before the show started.  Sid was there too.

There was a lame event put together, something like “Coffee & Cookies with the Stars.”  It was embarrassing.  A geek would announce each guest as they entered the room. Sid took one look and said to me, “ You guys have a suite? I’ll meet you there.”  So we hung out with Sid and his wife, Sue. We smoked weed and drank until half o’clock in the morning.  Sid told us stories of working in the Philippines with Pam Grier, Jack Hill, Vic Diaz and others.

Monster Mania became another case of the promoter becoming the star of his own show.  I left and was done with conventions at that point.  But Sid stayed in touch.

I started a podcast on Jackalope Radio with Todd Sheets.  Sid was now having problems with Monster Mania.  I think it was over money owed.  I know there was a lot of shit going on. I invited Sid to be on the show to tell his side of things. He was livid and wanted to vent. Before the show, he called me. “Look, I took the booking because I didn’t want to disappoint my fans.”

I said, “No problem, I get you.” Sid was one guy who really appreciated his fans and always kept his prices low.  When others were charging fans to take pictures with their own cameras, Sid didn’t.  I said, “We don’t have to do the show.”

Sid came back with, “I still want to do your show, but not talk about the Monster Mania situation.” I agreed.

When we did the show, it crashed. Not being a tech guy, it had something to do with bandwidth.  We got so many hits that it crashed the system.  Luckily we taped it so we could fix the problem and air it again.  At the end, proving that I was a better man, I put over his MM appearance.

Sid appeared on my show a couple of more times, then asked me for a favor. He was doing a con called Rock & Shock in Massachusetts.  He had two stalkers. He wanted me as his “security” for the weekend as the promoters didn’t take the threat seriously.  I told him no problem until I found out one stalker was a woman.  I don’t hit chicks, so I brought an old friend of his wife, Dana, with me.

I didn’t think anything would happen, but the guy showed up Friday night.  Sid was livid.  The promoters tried to calm him down, but he wasn’t having it.  I told him, don’t worry.  You have to go to the crapper, I stand outside the door.  You go eat, I stand and watch.  He pretty much told the promoters that if the guy showed up Saturday, Sid would walk out.  Thankfully he didn’t.

Here I saw first hand Sid’s love for his fans.  He was right to next to Bill Mosely.  I played photographer for any fan who wanted a picture taken with Sid. 

The running gag for the weekend was when fans would ask if there would be a sequel to The Devil’s Rejects.  Sid would turn to Bill and say, “You know why there won’t be a sequel?”

“Why is that, Sid?” Bill would ask.  “Because we’re both fuckin’ dead!!” Sid bellowed.

Around that time, I pitched an idea to Sid about doing a “shoot” interview.  The “shoot” interview was created by RF Video, a DVD company that puts out wrestling DVDs.  In wrestling language, a shoot is real and a work is fake.  Wrestlers doing a shoot interview usually tell the truth about the business. So Sid was interested.  I sent him some of the shoot DVDs I had so he could see what I was talking about.

He was down for it, we tried to do it at this con, but we were all too tired to make it work.  Sid was booked at a new convention, Saturday Nightmares.  It was to be held at The Sheraton Hotel in East Rutherford, NJ, former home of the Chiller Convention. The promoter remembered me as the announcer from Chiller, so he hired me to announce his show.

I also did a great interview with Sid. We wanted to focus on his entire career, not just the Rob Zombie films.  So what do you think the first fan question was:  Are you doing a sequel to The Devil’s Rejects?  We had stated early on that he wasn’t, but it obviously didn’t sink in. 

We decided to do his interview after the con shut down.  We went to the Tick Tock Diner on Route 3, a place Sid liked on his previous trips out here.  Then we went back to his room where we did this interview for almost four hours.  We had it edited and we sent Sid a copy for his approval.  I had high hopes as this was the ultimate piece on his career.  Then something happened.  A miscue of sorts and we lost contact. 

The miscue was that Shock Stock, a con in Canada, wanted Sid as a guest. They didn’t have his contact information, so they asked me. I called Sid and told them what they wanted. I put them in touch.  Sid had certain requirements to get there. Two things happened, his flights were really at a late hour and he was pulled aside by customs.

He wasn’t happy.  And he was upset with me because I set it up.  I didn’t make a nickel on his appearance, I thought I was doing him a favor.  But, as you’ll read, this is a brutal business and friendships sometimes take a back seat.  I ate the project, but losing a friend was worse than losing the time and money spent on it.

I did try to reach out, but Sid went with a manager who didn’t treat him right.  He was appearing at cons that I didn’t frequent and always had a project going on.  He wanted, I was told, to come back to Cinema Wasteland, but that didn’t happen either.

This was almost ten years ago.  I knew Sid was having major health issues.  He reached out to me on Facebook under his real name.  We were cordial as I asked him how he was doing and hoped he was well.  I found out he had beaten colon cancer, but it came back.  Then he had an accident and we lost him.

I along with the rest of his fans, was devastated.  I had enjoyed my relationship with him and considered him a friend.  This is a fucked up business we are in. I had total respect for the man and he is a legend.

I knew I had a copy of what was meant to be a Sid Documentary.  I know he had done a ton of interviews since this one, but we covered things that usually didn’t come up in other interviews.  I will transcribe this to the best of my ability as a tribute to Sid and his many fans. 

The Interview

Pete:  Right now as we talk, you are celebrating 50 years as an actor.

Sid:   Right, this is my 50th year in the business. I just turned 73 and I feel like I’m 25. Going to keep on going.

Pete:  What got you into acting?

Sid:  Well, I was an only child and had made-up friends. Not only was I an only child, I was the only kid in a four block area. So I created my own world and actually, I didn’t know it at the time, I was acting.  It came naturally to me. So I signed up for dancing lessons and I really took to it.  At the age of 7, I was getting paid to dance.  Then I got into music, then acting, it sorta just evolved.  It just took over my life.  So here I am 50 years and still doing it.

Pete:  Talking about the music, you actually had a band, The T-Birds and you were the drummer.

Sid:  I played with some bands, then friends put together a band, first called The Spades. We were picked up by a small label, Dice Records. We got airplay. Then Sam Cooke’s label, Keene Records, offered us a contract. We took it, changed the band’s name to The T-Birds and it just took off from there. The problem with that whole thing was that we were working our asses off and not seeing any money. I was practical then, even as a kid. This music thing isn’t working, so I dropped it.

I was acting though college and a friend suggested I go study acting at The Pasadena Playhouse. So I enrolled and it was pretty cool. A lot of great actors came out of there, Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman, etc. It was actor’s boot camp for two years. We started at 7:30am and didn’t finish until after 11pm. Then go home and do homework, then be back at 7:30am to do it all over again. This prepared you for working 16-18 hours straight as a professional actor.

Pete:   what are your memories of Spider Baby and your character, Ralph?

Sid:  Every five years that film gets a new group of fans. Ralph was the oldest of the Merryman family and the older he got, the more he regressed. So Ralph was almost there, he didn’t speak, he grunted. So to prepare, I went to the zoo and watched how the primates behaved, interacted with each other, etc. Then I’d go to the playground and watched the kids and see how they interacted with each other. So I put the two together and that became Ralph. Jack Hill, the director, wanted me to come in and meet the producers. Remember, I didn’t have any lines, so I went in, picked my nose, picked at my toes, started drooling . The producers were like “What did we get ourselves into, this guy is a total looney.” But it all worked out

Working with Lon Chaney Jr. was an amazing thing for me as I grew up watching his films. The first couple of day I was just in awe of him. So we are shooting and Jack asks me to go get Lon. So I go to his trailer and say, “Mr Chaney Jack is ready for you. He says to me “Knock off the mister, I’m Lon, you’re Sid and we are working together.” That’s the kind of guy he was. Then I met Mantan Moreland who I remembered from all the Charlie Chan movies. He was a great guy and fun to be around. He was just so happy to be working. After the Charlie Chan stuff ended, he sorta fell off the planet. He was thankful that people remembered him.

Pete:   Spider Baby was on the Drive In /Grindhouse circuit for over 30 years. Bunch of different titles, The Maddest Story Ever told, The Liver Eaters and others. Then it was restored for its 30th anniversary.

Sid:   That was amazing. Johnny Legend was instrumental in getting some lost footage together and cleaning some other stuff up. We had it play at the New Art theater in Hollywood. When I got there, there was a line around the block.  I was freaked, I thought how do people even know about this? I expected maybe 50 people, not a sellout. There were people in their 40s, 50s, teenagers, it was amazing to me. Every five years we get a whole new audience as people keep rediscovering this film.

I did Pit Stop for Jack after that, another amazing experience. It was a grindhouse film about stock car racing, pure guerrilla film making. Not just stock car racing, figure eight racing. Roger Corman gave Jack Hill 35K to make the film. We had over 100 cars and drivers. Now, you might ask, how did we get that? Well, I’ll tell you. We got Ascot Park, by making the owner of that race track the announcer for the races. We made the doctor of the clinic, where they took the injured racers, play the doctor in the film. The racers would hang out at the bar across the street, so we made the owner the bartender. George Barris, the custom car guy, we used his shop. Then we called a brewery and told them that we are making a movie with five party scenes in it. They said “Where do you want the beer?” So we had a beer truck on set. So add all this together, and that’s how we got the film done. There was a young woman in the film, Ellen McRae, who we now know as Ellen Burstyn. It was her first film.

Pete:  Weren’t you supposed to be in those Boris Karloff films that Jack Hill shot?

Sid:  Jack was offered four films starring Boris Karloff from a Mexican company. Jack called me and wanted me to co star with Karloff in all four films. I was like, “Where do I show up?” It would have been amazing to do that. We were all set and ready to go, then Karloff’s doctor said there is no way that he is going to Mexico, he won’t come back alive.

So they decide to shoot Boris’s scenes in the states. Then I get a call from the union telling me that I may not do this film. I said “Why?” they said because the Mexican film company is not signatory with the union.  So I said “Karloff is doing the film, right?”  They say “Yes, he is.” I say “Stop me if I’m wrong, but his union card is exactly like mine.” And this idiot at the other end of the line says “Do you want him to die?” I say “Of course I don’t want him to die, I just want to work with him, it would be an honor to work with him.” They say “No. You’re off the film, we are making special compensation for Karloff only. If you show up on the set, we will fine you $2500 and suspend you for a year.”  So I couldn’t even visit the set, it really pissed me off.

Pete:  Damn, that really sucks.

Sid:  Yeah, that unionism gone bad. 

Pete: After Pit Stop, you did a big film, Che!

SidChe! Was an interesting film as we had advisors who were actually with Castro and Che. They both said that Che was a monster, an absolute monster. When he finally took power, he had his “hit” list and he was killing people left and right. Then he wanted to take over Bolivia.

I played the leader of the Bolivian communists, Antonio. We were actually supposed to go to Bolivia to shoot this, and I was going to meet the character I was playing, who was in prison there. I was going to get his story. But unfortunately, Malibu Canyon looks exactly like Bolivia, so guess what?

I loved working on the film. Richard Fleischer, an all time classy director, the year before, he won the Oscar for Doctor Dolittle. Very understanding guy, I did a scene at the end where I become disillusioned by Che as a leader. He turned into a total maniac. It was staged with Omar Sharif, who was playing Che, lying in a hammock, and I was standing on a rock looking over him. 

We were setting up the scene and I was uncomfortable. To show you how astute Omar was, he said “Sid, what’s wrong?” I said “Nothing.”  He said, “No, what’s wrong, what’s going on?” It was that my character, Antonio, had so much respect for Che, like a brother, and now he was disillusioned. Omar got it. He said, “Richard, can I see you for a second ?” So the director comes over. Omar said “I have an idea.” He knew that coming from me it wouldn’t carry any weight, but coming from him, it would. Omar said, “What if Sid were closer, we start out softly and build it up to when it explodes.”  Richard said “Damn, you learn something new every day, let’s do it that way.” So we reblocked the scene and shot it that way.

Pete:  Memories of Diamonds Are Forever?

Sid:  That was another great experience. Working with Sean Connery, a great guy, very easy to get along with. No big star attitude, he hated the wig, when a scene wrapped, he’d pull it off and toss it in the air. We got caught up in that whole political thing with Great Britain and Canada about only having so many American actors coming in. The Slumber Brothers were supposed to go to London, but that got written out. Funny how everyone can come here to work, but we couldn’t go there. I hate getting political, but this just pisses me off.

I did Point Blank with Lee Marvin, who was a great guy and I loved hangin’ out with him. So I go in for the interview with John Boorman, the director. He wanted to see if I had a feel for the part. So he asked if I was going to be a sniper, what would I do. Well I told him that I would follow the target, get a feel for his patterns. Then set him up with maybe a car broken down with the hood up. Then I would dum dum the shell. He asked what I meant by that. 

I said I would cut a star on the shell, that way it would go in the size of a dime and come out the size of a cash register. Well Boorman loved that line and put it in the film. I didn’t get to say it, but it wound up in the film. I had a nice little role, it wasn’t big, but it was just cool being with Lee Marvin.

Pete:   What was it like hanging out with Lee?

Sid:  He got me in three fights in one night. He was, you know, an instigator. At the wrap party, one of the crew was coming on to this girl. Well she wasn’t having it, so he threw a shot glass at her. It missed her by a mile, but went whizzing past my head. So Lee says, “Did you see what that guy just did, are you going to let him get away with that?” So that was fight #1. Fight #2 was another one, I forget how that started, but fight #3 was this guy making improper advances to this young lady who was just there to network with people. I told him to knock it off, but he told me to shut up and went back to bothering her. So I threw him against the wall and pinned him there. Later I found out that the guy was Sergio Leone. Then I was never, for some reason [Laughing] cast in a Sergio Leone film.

Pete:   I know a lot of actors were going to Italy to do spaghetti Westerns, did you ever get an offer to go do one?

Sid:  I was sort of slated to fall into that spaghetti Western slot as Lee Van Cleef had taken over for Clint Eastwood as the #1 guy there. I would have been the #2 guy. But the director got nervous because he didn’t have the actor he could reach out and touch. Van Cleef was already living there, so because he couldn’t sit down and talk with me on a daily basis, he got panicky and hired someone else. But a week after this, Jack Hill called me and said “I’m going to do a movie in the Philippines, want to come?” So that started my career in the Philippines.

Pete:   I know John Ashley did those Blood Island films for Hemisphere. I know he had contacted Roger Corman and told him how cheap it was to film there. So I’m guessing Corman contacted Jack Hill, Jack got you and it was on.

Sid:  Yeah, you’re right, the first one was The Big Doll House and that was Pam Grier’s first film. Jack said we got this girl, she’s amazing and I think she’ll be a big star. I’m like “yeah, ok,” then I met her and found her to be electrifying and she did become a huge star. We did six films together, Big Doll House, Big Bird Cage, Black Mama, White Mama, Coffey, Foxy Brown and Jackie Brown.

I lived there for six months, I did four films in six months and became practically a native. It became just like home to me. We were living in the Intercontinental Hotel. Being a kid from the streets, I caught on quick. I got a fistful of 5 peso notes and took care of people. After that, I never had to lift a finger to do anything. They’d shine my shoes, do my laundry, I had my own table at the coffee shop with a newspaper waiting for me every morning. It was amazing.

Pete:  That sounds like head and shoulders above the first place you told me you stayed in which was a complete shithole.

Sid:  It was a converted insane asylum. I thought I’d go insane staying there. This guy took me down to a room where all the women went upstairs. They had those old jalousie windows. Mine was missing the bottom pane. When he opened the door, I saw a rat carrying a kitten out the window. It had just killed the kitten and was going to eat it. I said “I don’t think so.” Then they put me upstairs. That wasn’t the best situation either. We had to run the air conditioners all night to keep being eaten alive by mosquitoes. We had to keep the lights on so we wouldn’t be over run with cockroaches, it was just terrible. Finally the girls sort of mutinied and were going to leave, so that’s how we wound up in the Intercontinental Hotel.

The Big Doll House was this crazy kind of women in prison movie where I played the guy who supplied the prison with produce. But at the same time I was smuggling in mail and other stuff in return for sexual favors. Pam and I had a scene where we were groping each other between the bars, it was a pretty hot little scene. So we staged this crazy break out where I used my produce truck to get them out of prison. It was a crazy film.

The Big Bird Cage I was playing this character called Django, a revolutionary, who was just kind of lazy. We had a group of men and we were going to stage this prison breakout because my men needed the women. So I figured if all these guys were getting laid, the would keep it together and stay in line. At least that was the plan. All of the guards in the prison were gay, so I had to impersonate a gay guy to get hired. When we did this breakout scene, there was a moat surrounding the prison. They were putting rubber cement on a guard to set him on fire. He was supposed to jump in the moat to put it out. So I’m looking in the moat and see a snake in it. I tell a guy there’s a snake in the moat. He tells me to shut up or the guy won’t jump. So they set him on fire, he jumps into the moat, someone yells “snake” and the guy just about walked on water to get out. That was the kind of stuff we were doing.

The Filipino stuntmen were crazy. It was a badge of honor not to wear pads or have airbags. They just fell out of trees and hit the ground. I was supposed to shoot this guy out of a tower. All there was is hard ground. I said I’m not going to do it, the fall was like two stories. I said someone has to get a net. So, reluctantly, they get a net. They have ten guys holding it. I know what was going to happen. They broke the guys fall, but had a ten person head butt. Now we have bodies all over the ground. At least we saved the guy’s life.

Pete:  During our little Q&A yesterday, you told a story about running into real headhunters and cannibals.

Sid:  Jack had seen pictures of this place, the highest point in Luzon. It was beautiful, there were rice paddies cut into the side of the mountain. We were going to go up there and shoot. The only way to get there, because a car ride was 17 hours, was to go by missionary plane that could only take 3 people at a time. There was no runway, they just shaved the top of the mountain.   The pilot came in sideways and sort of just skidded to a stop. A miscalculation would have us fall off the mountain.

So Jack, Pam and I were the last to go up. So we are waiting for our guide, surrounded by jungle and jungle noises, it was pretty cool. So we are going down the trail and I see this little guy, about four feet tall, wearing a loincloth and carrying a spear. So I tap Pam on the shoulder and say “Check this out.” She took one look and I think she beat everyone to the bottom of the mountain, it was pretty bizarre. 

So we are shooting, Jack and I are walking with a guide. The guide tells us that over this hill is a pristine village, but you guys don’t want to go there. Well, that’s an invitation if we ever heard one. So we said how do we get there? He says “Well, there’s a path.” So we get a couple of cameras and take a skeleton crew up the mountain and down the other side. And there it was, a quite little pristine village. There were little huts surrounding a bigger hut. There was a lot of activity at the bigger one. The guide said it was planting season for the rice. And this was a headhunter’s village. He said if contracts aren’t honored for the rice, you lose your head. If I say I’m going to marry this guy’s daughter and I back out, I lose my head.

So we were there at the right time because they had started planting the rice. So the guide tells us to wait while he sees if it’s ok for us to come in. So he waves us in, I duck to get into this hut on stilts and come face to face with the chief. Here’s this guy, no cartilage in his nose, meat kinda flopping around, one tooth in his head. He hands me this bowl, it’s blood with betel nuts floating around in it. The stuff is like peyote, a hallucinogen. 

So I look at the guide and say “What am I supposed to do with this?” He said to drink it. “I said, C’mon, what are you talking about?” He says, “You better drink it.” So I drink it, I find out later that it’s chicken blood, can you spell salmonella? Jack is behind me and he blurts out “Holy shit!” So I turn to see what he’s looking at and the entire eaves of the hut are lined with skulls. Now this is some serious business. So we shot a couple of scenes and the betel nuts kicked in. I walked seven miles in the jungle, barefoot, and didn’t know it. The next day my feet were the size of a couch. I got really fucked up.

Pete:   You did a really obscure film called Woman Hunt, any memories of that one?

Sid:  It was more than obscure, [Laughing] maybe six people have seen this film. It was a Most Dangerous Game take off, rich guys hunting down captured women. So they would capture these beautiful women and hunt them down. It was bizarre, they had used horses, but had very small horses over there. I got the biggest horse, but my feet were almost touching the ground. I’d get on, the horse would steady itself, give a loud grunt and pee for a couple of minutes. Then it would get to work. We had a campfire scene, we were all bedded down, then there was this water buffalo, laying on its side. Director, Eddie Romero, says to me it would be great if you used the buffalo as a pillow when you go to sleep. So I said “Yeah, ok.”

So I’m doing this scene with John Ashley, I throw my coffee away and lay down. Now the buffalo gets up. So we try it a couple of more times and the buffalo keeps getting up. So Eddie asks how do we get him to stay there? He says if I reach back and massage the bull’s testicles, he’ll stay there. I say “What!!”  So I’m one of those guys, whatever it takes to get it done, let’s just do it. So there I am, massaging the bull’s balls and what really pissed me off was that they cut that shot out of the film. But the bull and I were engaged. [Laughing]

Pete:  You did Black Mama, White Mama, a grindhouse style remake of The Defiant Ones, how did that come about?

Sid:  I got offered that after Woman Hunt. They said there was no point in me going home, then turning around and fly back. So they paid my per diem and kept me in the good hotel. Five weeks later, I’m still there and we haven’t filmed a thing. So I called them and asked what the hold up was. They said they hadn’t cast the picture. I said you know you’re going to use Pam Grier, so find a blonde and let’s get this thing done. So the blonde was Margret Markov, who was a year behind me at The Pasadena Playhouse. So we knew each other. So it became this big family reunion. We had a lot of fun with that film.

Pete:  You were really over the top in Savage Sisters. No Pam Grier, but they brought in Gloria Hendry.

Sid:  It was a crazy and I thought how am I going to do this? So I made my character as a homage to Mexican actor Pedro Armendariz. So I got the accent down, remember Pedro was the guy who said “Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges.” So everything I said was stinking. Stinking this, stinking that. So at the end when the girls subdued us. They buried me and Vic Diaz up to our necks in sand. So I go off on this diatribe that I chased these stinkin’ girls all over this stinkin’ island and what do they do, they bury me in this stinkin’ sand and piss in my stinkin’ face.  That was my finale, I thought it was too over the top. Eddie Romero said  “No it’s really great, let’s keep it in.”

Pete:  Eddie did all those blood island films, then with you in Beyond Atlantis, he had to bring that in with a PG rating.

Sid: Yeah, I think that was because of Patrick Wayne’s involvement in the film. He is John Wayne’s son, so there wasn’t that much over the top violence.

Pete:  Didn’t you buy property there at one point?

Sid:  Yeah,  I found this beautiful, peaceful little cove. A friend hooked me up and I got it for $5000. I enjoyed it for a couple of years. Then Marcos came into power and I lost it. The regime changed a lot of things, and not for the better for the Philippines.

So after that, I go back to Los Angeles and where it sort of rained for like 20 minutes a day in the Philippines, I walked into the smog in LA and my skin actually burned from it. The air is cleaner in the Philippines. Jack Hill sort of created the whole blaxploitation thing with the Big Doll House, The Big Bird Cage and now Coffey. But Bob Minor couldn’t find many black stunt people, so he had to teach people how to throw a punch, how to take a fall etc. So now we had more work for black actors, more films for black stunt people, and I really think Jack Hill was the guy who really got this thing going for black performers. 

I was in Foxy Brown too, with Pam and Antonio Fargas. I was playing this whacked out pilot, crazier than shit. I’m in the plane with Pam and she starts getting “frisky” with me, so I drive the plane into a shack. They had this “stunt” pilot to do this, but for some reason, he veered off and the wing took out a $250K camera and gave the operator a black eye. It was a complete mess. They had to get a new camera to finish the film.

Pete:  What are your memories of Beyond Atlantis?

Sid:  That was a very interesting film. The underwater photography was amazing, I mean it was great work. We were filming right were the Bataan Death March took place. In one scene, we are walking though this village and I fall into this booby trap, a pit full of crabs. So I go over where they are digging the pit and it’s a hole about two feet deep. I said “How do you expect me to fall into this, it’s crazy.” So I ask, “Does anyone know how to dig a grave?” So one guy does. So I say “Good, make it six feet deep.” So I ask “Did you spike the claws on the crabs?” They didn’t know what I was talking about. You have to stick a sliver of bamboo under the crab’s claws so they can’t open them. It doesn’t hurt the crabs and it prevents them from eating me. So they bring out these two burlap bags full of crabs. It sounded like a flamingo dancer’s convention in there because they did not spike the claws. So I tell them to take them back and do what I said to do. It took three days to shoot a scene that should have taken three hours.

Pete:  You were paired a lot with resident actor, Vic Diaz. Sometimes you were partners, other times you were at each other’s throats. How was it working with Vic?

Sid:  Vic was an amazing guy, he was the staple character actor of the country. He played everything from cops to bad guys, he’d play whatever was necessary. He lived though the Second World War. He found this big sack of occupation money as a kid. He thought he was a big hero, but the war was over and the money was worthless. He was funny, he was obnoxious and vulgar, but he came off as really funny. 

We were filming on Rojos Blvd, it’s a very busy place. All the embassies are on Rojos Blvd, it was known as Embassy Row. We were in front of a casino. He turns to Patrick Wayne and says “Patrick, have you seen the German helmet of Vic Diaz?” So Patrick says no. So Vic whips out his penis and I say “Vic, put that thing away.” Patrick Wayne was flabbergasted, he didn’t know what to say. But that was Vic.

We were there to make movies, have fun and if we made a couple of bucks, cool. We had no idea that years down the road that anyone would care about them. If they ran a week or two at the local theater or drive in, we were happy. Some of these just took off and became cult classics. We weren’t doing it for the paycheck because the money wasn’t there, believe me when I tell you that.

Pete:   You also did a lot of TV.

Sid: I did 350 television shows.

Pete:  Wow.

Sid:  Some were series like Jason of Star Command and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, plus I was a regular on several shows. I did nine episodes of Mission Impossible and that was pretty spectacular. I felt great there because of the people I was working with and I was the only actor to be on that show nine times. 

Pete:   Memories of Jason of Star Command?

Sid:  I was playing this Ming the Merciless type character, Dragos, looming over everyone. Craig Littler was hired to play Jason. We were both the same height, so I was fitted with six inch platform boots that I wore as part of my costume.

Pete:  Didn’t they have to make a sort of unique helmet for your character?

Sid:  Yeah, I had to come in and they made this helmet which had to be form fitting. So I lay down on a table, they put this empty paper tube holder in my mouth so I can breathe. Then they mix these two chemicals together and poured it over my head. I looked like I fell asleep under a cow. Then they had to cut it off of me. So the appliance weighed about two pounds. I was part computer, I had a laser beam eye. Then they went to a toy store and bought all these models. They took pieces from the model kits and glued them to the helmet, then painted the whole thing gold. That’s how the character was born. This was the most expensive kids show on the air.

It was a CBS show and it went crazy, we got a 47% share on the ratings. It was doing well, we had 15 episodes, but not 15 scripts, we had only one script. So we had all 15 episodes in one script. So we had a five week shooting schedule to get it all done. So we shoot some in the control room, some in the gangway, etc. You had to keep in your head what episode you were working on. But we were getting it done and everyone was loving the show.

The guy that was head of children’s programming at the time, well CBS decided he was entitled to a reward for this great work. So they switched him to night time programming. So they give his job to this woman. So she comes down to the set one day with her kid, rat kid. So I’m walking down the hall to get a cup of coffee or something. So she and her kid turn the corner and her kid walks right into my knee. Well the kid starts crying and the show was cancelled. That was the end of the show because her little booger eater cried when he ran into me.

Right after that, I was brought in to do Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. It was going to be just one episode. A couple of weeks later, they asked me if I wanted to do more. I said yeah, as I had fun doing it. 126 episodes later, they killed me. Actually when I was doing Mary Hartman, they wanted me to do McNamara’s Band with John Byner. It was a take off on The Dirty Dozen, really a comedy version of The Dirty Dozen, but with just five guys. I wasn’t under contract for Mary Hartman, I worked independently on the 126 episodes.

So I told them about the pilot, so they said when do you have to do it? I gave them the date, so I had to do all my dialog for the next eleven Mary Hartman episodes in one day. So I’m doing McNamara’s Band and the Mary Hartman people are calling every half hour. “When is he going to be done, when can we use him,” stuff like that. So I told them put me in a motel close to the set. Wake me at 8am because I have to be on the set at 9am. So I finish Band around 2am, now I need sleep to wind down from that. So I go to the studio and find out that I have to do five episodes worth of dialog in one day to get them back on schedule. It was brutal.

Pete:  A lot of your stuff would be classified as grindhouse, drive in films. Two that stand out were a couple of biker films. You played Pillbox in Trained to Kill USA and your were in C.C. and Company with Joe Namath. 

Sid:  I was prepared not to like Joe Namath because I had this thing about pro athletes walking into starring roles in films. You know they come in with no training, have egos, shit like that. But Joe was such a charming guy that I couldn’t get pissed at him. It was a cool film to work on because I knew Bill (William Smith) and Ann-Margret was such a sweetheart, her husband was the producer and things went smoothly.

Pete:   I remember you telling me about an incident after hours, you and Bill Smith went into a bar in costume. 

Sid:  When you’re working in the Southwest, it’s hot and there’s a lot of dust and dirt in the air. So it winds up in your throat. So the first thing Bill and I would do after shooting was to go to the hotel bar and down a few longnecks to cut the dust. We were always in “wardrobe” and wardrobe was a little stale, like we smelled like dead goats. So the bartender was used to us coming in and had the beer ready. So one day this guy in a three piece suit is next to me. He has no idea what we are doing and blurts out “Why the hell did you guys come in here? So Bill reaches across me, grabs this guy by the throat and tells him, “We’re selling tickets to an ass kicking, you want one?” The guy threw all kinds of money on the bar and ran out.

So another night, we get a little “tipsy.” We decide to break into the trailer, grab a couple of bikes and go for a ride. We didn’t because we would have wound up dead. But Bill and I always had a great time together. 

Pete:  Didn’t you do an episode of Wildside with Bill?

SidWildside was sort of Disney, it didn’t last a season. Terry Funk was in it, great guy. He’d tear your head off in a wrestling ring, but otherwise wouldn’t hurt a fly. It didn’t have a real lot going for it. It had some young guys who were new, but good looking kids. It was a shame because Bill was really good in it. It just didn’t catch on with viewers.

Pete:  Something a lot of people don’t know is that you appeared in two Bob Hope Christmas Specials.

Sid:  No one was more surprised about that than me. I was with my family and I was supposed to pick up a script at CBS studios. So we went to a restaurant, I left the family there, grabbed the script and came back. There are two guys there that don’t look like they have two nickels to rub together. Unshaven, clothes rumpled etc. So one guy turns to me and says “Are you an actor? I said “Yes I am.” “What’s your name?” So I tell him. “Do you have an agent?” he asks, I say, “Yes I do,” and give him my agent’s name. 

The guys say, “We are writing skits for the new Bob Hope Christmas Special and you’d be perfect for a role in one of the skits that he’s doing.” I’m like “Ok, heard all this before.” So we go off to do what we have to do. I get home and there’s a message from my agent. “In a restaurant?” He says. I say “What do you mean in a restaurant?” “They want you for the Bob Hope Special, they want you for the job.” I’m like “Ok, that’s fine, I’m in.” That really drove home the don’t judge a book by its cover thing, like I did with these two guys.

And what was so cool about it was that I had just done Point Blank with Lee Marvin. Lee was also in the same Bob Hope Special. So Lee is like me, he likes to get to the set early. So I walk on stage for rehearsal and Lee is there reading a newspaper. He looks up and says “Sid, how are you doing?”  I was like, “What a memory, it’s been four years.” It was just great working with him again.

Bob Hope was very nice to me. We were done rehearsing and he says “What are you doing?” I say, just hanging around.  So he invites me back to his dressing room, a guy makes us a couple of drinks and we shoot the breeze for like 20 minutes. Then he had to talk to some people, so I excused myself and left. He was a very gracious man. 

Pete:  You did another film with Lee, Emperor of the North, also with Ernest Borgnine. That fight scene was pretty brutal, how much of it was stunt men and how much of it was Lee and Ernie?

Sid:  Part of it was them and part of it was stunt men, but yeah, it was a great fight scene. Both great guys to work with. The hobo camp scene, where Lee steals a turkey and hands it off to me, well the camera man yells to me, Sid, the turkey’s head is blocking your face. So I hypnotized it, put my finger on its head, and yelled to the camera man, tell me when the shot is good. It worked, turkeys are stupid. 

Pete:  Memories of Trained to Kill USA aka No Mercy Man?

Sid:  We shot that in Patagonia, Arizona which was 26 miles from the Mexican border. Small town, maybe 400 people. We heard later that they shipped all the women under 30 out of the town while we were making the film. They thought these Hollywood types are crazy and are going to rape our women. It was just nuts. It was a rural area, they had a town Marshal and a federal marshal. Paul Sorenson was the federal marshal and he was so good at what he did, marksmanship wise. Firing 2000 rounds, only four wound up out of the black, the bullseye. That was impressive. So impressive that when Queen Elizabeth came here to visit, she requested Paul to be on her security team. 

So here he is in this small border town. We became friends and we are having dinner one night. He gets a call at the front desk. There’s a fight at THE bar. Yeah, it was THE bar, THE Gas Station, THE hotel, etc. So he says “Keep my food warm, I’ll be back in a couple of minutes.” So he is back in two minutes. I said “I know you’re the tough guy in town, but you just broke up a fight, put them in jail, and you’re back here in two minutes?” He says “You are from the city, ain’t you?  I walked in, pulled out my club, knocked them both out and it will be a month before they try to do that again.”

 Pete:  Oddly some of the films you have done have sort of disappeared thought the cracks. Busting! Was one of them.

Sid:  Yeah, that was cool, I’ve never seen it, never. I got the job, plus I wanted to work with these guys, Robert Blake and Elliot Gould. So when I get there, they had been filming for a couple of days. So I say my lines and someone starts talking. So I say “Excuse me, are there any pages that I didn’t get, did I miss something?” “No,” they said, “we threw that script away a week ago.” So most of that film was improvising. The skeleton of the script was there, like this has to happen, that has to happen, but the dialog, 90% was improvised.

Robert Blake, for the whole time I was doing this film, wouldn’t talk to me, wouldn’t even say hello in the morning. So I’m thinking this guy is a little asshole. So we are done filming. A couple of weeks later, I’m in Hollywood and at a stoplight, there’s a car behind me honking the horn. I’m thinking “What a jackass, I’m at the stoplight. So out of the car jumps Bobby Blake, he runs up to me and says “How are ya doing, it’s great to see you.” Then I got it, Blake was such a method actor that he wouldn’t break character until the film wrapped. 

Pete:  You were telling me about something going wrong with a blood squib when they shot you at the end.

Sid:  Oh, [Laughing] I actually shot myself. They set it up with a little aluminum foil on my head, then covered it with mortician’s wax and ran the wire down the back of my neck and down my arm. It went to the gun I was holding so that when I pulled the trigger, the squib would go off. So basically I was shooting myself in the head.

Pete:   You were in Galaxy of Terror for Roger Corman’s New World Pictures, I think it was ‘81 or ‘82.

Sid:  It was ‘81. Roger Corman wanted me to do this. I said I’ll do this on one condition. He said “You’re not getting any more money.” I said “I don’t want any more money, I want to do it silent, you know, mute.” He says “Why?” I said “ Have you read that shit?” He says “Oh, yeah, ok, do it silent.” So I did it silent, except that director made me say that stupid line “I live and die by the crystals.” Please. [Laughing]

Pete:  What are your thoughts on Roger Corman?

Sid:  Roger is the greatest movie genius that there is. He is the best at making and marketing films. He taught me, and he doesn’t know this, he taught me everything I know about marketing. He’s a genius when it comes to that. We were doing a film called Wizards of the Lost Kingdom Part 2. There was no Part One. He said if the film worked, we could make part one and release it “due to popular demand.” Everything he does has that stamp of something different on it. 

Hollywood is a place that will typecast you immediately. If you do a credible job say as a bank robber, you’ll be playing bank robbers for the rest of your life. It got so bad with me, that I had had it. I just flipped Hollywood off. If you guys can’t figure out that I can do more than just stick a gun in someone’s face, then I’m though. I just walked away, 1992.

Well I had to do something for a living and I was doing a lot of self studies in psychology to develop my characters, so that was the field I was looking into. But I couldn’t go back to school for 10 years to be a psychiatrist. So I found the Hypnosis Motivation Institute. It was the only accredited college of hypnotherapy in the country. So I applied, I went down and took a test to prove that I’m not nuts because you’ll be working with other people. So I wasn’t nuts. I enrolled and at the age of 58, I took out a student loan and went back to school. About 1700 hours of instruction, I did my internship, and then started my practice. Everything was going smooth, then Quentin Tarantino called me.

He called me at home, who knows how he got my phone number. He said I know you don’t want to play stupid heavies, but I’ve written this role for you, you play a judge and I won’t take no for an answer. So I’m like “ok, boss.” So there I am in Jackie Brown as a judge.

Pete:  And we heard that Pam Grier didn’t know that you were going to be there and she lost her shit when she walked onto the set.

Sid:  On purpose he did not tell Pam that he cast me. She literally hit the floor. We hadn’t seen each other in like 27 years. It was like we just had lunch the day before, the relationship just picked back up. We had fun, and Quentin Tarantino is the complete movie buff. All during the film, he kept quoting lines from every movie that I had ever done. I said “How do you remember all this shit?  I don’t even remember what I said.”

Pete:  You said you got offered four different roles in Kill Bill?

Sid:  I don’t know what the deal was there. I was supposed to be the orderly who was pimping the unconscious girl, Uma Thurman. Then somebody else got that role. Then he gave me another role, somebody else got that. So then I got the bartender, which was fine. I just wanted to work with him because he’s so cool to work with. 

I got a call from my agent, who I hadn’t heard from for a long time. He said “I have a deal for you.” I said “What deal?”  He said you go to this office on Wilshire Blvd, you sign a non disclosure statement, you get a script, take it home and if you like it, the part is yours. I said ok, well somebody’s got it right. So I picked up this script for House of 1000 Corpses. So I took it home and read it. I said to myself I could really have fun with this, it’s completely crazy. So I said yes, I really want to do this. So there you go, my career got started all over again.

I likened the film to The Wild Bunch. It was rough, it was raw, and brutal at times. I thought it was a really good script and I wanted to do it. So after we filmed it, I got a call from Rob. He said “I can’t really talk now, but I have a reporter here from Variety and he wants to know if I do a sequel, will you be in it?” I said “Definitely.” And that’s how The Devil’s Rejects was born.

Pete:   That film had one hell of an ensemble cast. I said once before that everyone tries to make an ensemble cast movie, but it only works if the audiences feels for the characters. You get to know the characters, actually care about them and feel bad when they die. I mean you, Bill Mosely, and Sherri Moon get shot to pieces at the end and the audience was visibly upset by that. 

Sid: People have told me that they cried at the end of that film. There was a turning point in the film where people actually started siding with us. It was the ice cream eating scene. I know there were people thinking that my family would also argue about ice cream. At that point ,they all were on our side.

Pete:   Let me ask you something about your co-stars. There were so many great people involved. Let me throw out a couple of names, Michael Berryman.

Sid:  Michael is such a cool guy and he played that role perfectly, a simple dunce, stumbling though life and doing whatever Ken Fore told him to do.

Pete: Bill Mosely, your son/co-star or whatever he was supposed to be.

Sid:  He wasn’t my son, in the biography we were in jail together. When we got out, we staged a couple of unsuccessful bank robberies. So I took off, he stayed at the Firefly Ranch and became the patriarch of all the wackos. Both women Karen Black and Leslie Easterbrook had their own takes on the character and both were right for what they were. I, personally, liked Leslie’s take on it better. She was this hard assed woman lording over this houseful of crazies. She took a lot of shit and gave it all back. I thought she did an excellent job. 

Pete:   How about the two bounty hunters, Danny Trejo and Diamond Dallas Page?

Sid:  I love Danny, he’s a great guy and Diamond and I get along really well. The 2nd Spike TV Scream Awards, Danny Trejo and I were presenters. The way we would pick out the winner was this plexiglas box with the envelope in it. They wanted Danny to pick out the winner. The thing was that the box was full of Emperor Scorpions. Danny says “I’m not putting my hand in there.” I say “Danny, don’t worry about it, they are Emperors, not poisonous.” He looked at me and said “Why does everybody think that Mexicans are stupid?” So I stuck my hand in and they all scattered when I picked up the envelope.

Pete:  Bill Forsythe, who played the sheriff actually wound up being the bad guy in the film.

Sid:  Bill works very much like I do, sometimes he’s a loose cannon, which is ok because that brings another dimension to the character. It was good working with him.

Pete:  Sherri Moon.

Sid:  Sherri is a sweetheart, a genuinely nice person. I love her, she’s like my own daughter. House was her first film. When we did the table read, she was sitting across from me and I could feel the heat coming off her body as she was so nervous being in a room full of accomplished actors. Karen Black sort of took her under her wing, calmed her down and helped her get into her role. So by the time we did Rejects, she was really rockin’ it. 

Pete:  Matt McGrory.

Sid:   Matt was such a nice guy and left us way too early.

Pete:   I met him once at a convention, he was a really nice person, but seemed to be in a lot of pain.

Sid:   Terrible pain daily, 24/7 in pain it’s such a sad story because he met this girl, they fell in love. She moved out to California to be with him. She came home from work one day and found him dead. It was a very sad time for all of us, we loved Matt, he was just great.

Pete:  I first met you at the Chiller Theatre Convention. Four or so years prior to that I kept asking “Why don’t we try to find Sid Haig, he’d be great here?”  Then bang, you come in, you break the bank and also find the love of your life.

Sid:  Yep, we were called into this place, Gentle Giant, to get full body scans done for action figures. I said What? Action figures? So I stood on this platform and they scanned me and though a computer, it turned a block of foam into you. So I was thinking about this whole 15 minutes of fame stuff. I thought I better make this work. I was friends with Eric Caiden of Hollywood Book & Poster and asked him how this convention stuff worked. Then I asked if he could get me into one and did he think I could do something there. 

So he said Yeah, no problem and he got me into Chiller, which was the huge horror convention at the time. House of 1000 Corpses had just been released, so I came in not knowing what to expect. I had this huge line of people that wanted to meet me, have a picture taken with me and buy whatever I was selling, it was crazy. So I said yeah, I have to keep doing these. 

I was talking to this girl on my message board, well at Chiller she walked into the room and now she’s my wife. She has done so much for me, not only as a person, but as an actor. I’m totally amazed and in love with what she is. 

Pete:   After that, you sort of exploded. You did two Chillers, and like 10 Monster Manias, and you sort of put that show on the map. Now we are back here to a huge response at Saturday Nightmares.

Sid:  It’s amazing, sometimes I don’t get it, but I am certainly not going to snub my nose at it, the fans are the most amazing people around. Horror film fans, they are the best. They are there for you all the time. They buy the tickets, the DVDs, the T-shirts, they support everything that you do. I love ‘em, man they are the best.

This is the message I try to give to everybody, I don’t care what it is that you do, try to make it fun. Try to make anything you do fun. Because if you’re having fun with it, you’re doing it well. Now it’s something that’s joyous, it’s not labor. Just have fun with what you are doing.

In the 51 years that I have been doing this, I had to reinvent myself at least four times. When I was doing all that television, it was Jesus, no we’ve seen enough of Sid Haig. So I’d have to back off and start over again. So I’ve restarted my career at least four or five times. But I like what I do, and it’s worth going though a little bit of pain to get the gain. The typecasting comes into play again because I do a lot of horror. But I’m doing other things too.

I did something called A Dead Calling where I played a straight up Norman Rockwell dad. And people were pissed off about that because I didn’t kill anybody [shaking his head]. I did a film called Mimisis about a film maker at a convention doing a panel. I was a psychiatrist in Infliction. Even though I’m still in the horror genre, I’m spreading out and doing different kinds of things. The last film I just did was Zombex, where I play the commander of a special forces unit.

Pete:   How do you feel about these films that had you in them for maybe 10 minutes, they throw your name on the DVD cover as the “star” of the film?

Sid:  That’s merchandising, I have become in the ultra low budget film business, the poster child for horror. I don’t like the idea that, and I hate to get into this thing but I will, the perception is that they can’t afford to have me in the entire film, but they want me there for marketing purposes. I get a minor role, they do all my scenes in one day, and get me out, because all they can afford me for is one day. They should get it together with the financing and give me more time so it would be more legitimate to have me on the cover.

Pete:  So where do these guys make their mistake with these films?

Sid:  you have to engage the audience, you have to make them care about the characters. Look what Rob Zombie did with these sociopaths, the Fireflies, he made the audience care about them. That’s what it’s all about, you have to study film. You can’t just go buy a camera and say I’m a director. It’s crazy, it’s like someone going out and buying a scalpel and saying I’m a doctor.  You have to get your audience before you make your film, that’s the way it works now.

Pete:  If you had your dream project, what would it be?

Sid:  Ok, I’ll get political.

Pete:  No problem, go for it.

Sid:  I feel the need and responsibility to make a film around the Armenian Holocaust. It was the first holocaust of the 20th century, it was brutal, mean and vicious. I just feel that this story needs to get told. It’s part of my culture in the same way that the Jewish Holocaust is part of Steven Spielberg’s culture. I’m not comparing myself to Spielberg, but he had a passion for that and I have a passion for this. I just want to get it done.

Career wise, I would have liked to have a career like Brando did, like Olivier did, and the reason I’m saying this is because they had a wide variety of roles that they played. When it comes down to it, I think the only genre I have not touched is romance. I have regrets about some of the things that have gone on, I have to take a true evaluation as to what’s been going on, and for most of my life, I was in second place. I have never been in first place. I would really like to be there someday. I just keep working and maybe someday I’ll get there. 

Pete:  What advise would you give someone trying to get into the business besides “Don’t quit your day job?” [Both of us laughing]

Sid:  Just be sure you want to do it. There are a lot of hardships. You can’t be thin skinned. If you are, get a retail job. This business is brutal. I’ve done all this film and TV work, been on 2000 interviews, so you have to get used to people saying “no.”  And if that crushes you, you’re probably in the wrong business. You have to be tough, you have to be passionate about what you are doing and be willing to starve. I know that’s and old cliche, but it’s not a cliche, it’s the truth. There are a lot of lows and down time in my career. 

I was living in a dormitory and we had little lockers to put our food in. So one night I open it and all I had was a box of rice. So I pick it up and there’s maybe a spoonful left in it. So that’s all I had to eat. But I didn’t quit, you can’t quit. This brings me to something that I have said before, never quit. My friend, David Carradine, said that there are no failures in Hollywood, only people who quit too soon.

This past year, I received an Igor Award from Universal Studios. They knew a horror actor would never get an Academy Award, so they came up with the Igors. Rob Zombie presented me with a lifetime achievement award, it couldn’t have been a bigger highlight. So I counted and reflected all my struggle, getting my first job, then my second job, then trying to get more money, then trying to get better roles. Then after 50 years, maybe a little respect. That’s it. 

Pete:  I would think that you have that right about now.

Sid:  If that’s true, I’m just so appreciative of it. Sometimes it makes me speechless, I mean people would stop by my table and say things that are so flattering that I don’t know how to respond. The only way I can respond is to say thank you. As far as I’m concerned, I haven’t gotten there yet. I haven’t earned my own respect, let’s put it that way.

When people start to respect what you’ve done, it is a motivator because people are paying attention. Thank you, I’ll move on and do better the next time.

Pete:  Well here’s hoping for another 50 years.


All I can add is that I hope he is at peace. We were all devastated by his passing, but anyone who every met Sid walked away with a good feeling, Sid, I know I’ll see you in the hereafter, and save a seat for me at the bar. Vaya con Dios, my friend.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *