Tearing Through Horror With April Burril aka Chainsaw Sally

There is a horrible lack of female serial killers in our beloved genre.

If Michael, Jason and Freddy can do it, why can’t Michelle, Jasmine or Freida?

April Burrill does, as the punky Chainsaw Sally, and she does it with the sort of piss and vinegar that we horror hounds love from our serial choppers.

Burrill’s portrayal as Chainsaw Sally has drawn a cult following that has seen her through a feature film (with original Leatherface Gunnar Hansen as her father and a kick ass cameo by the legendary Herschell Gordon Lewis) and two seasons of a beloved web-series. The brains behind the operation have already begun penning Season 3.

Burrill has thirteen acting roles under her IMDB page, as well as three producer roles, two costume designer roles and a handful of other notches under her belt that make it known fairly quickly that the fantastic Mrs. Burrill is here to stay in the world of gore, lucky for us.

She’s an artist, a dancer, a singer, a mother and a wife- and one helluva interview! She also has some advice for ladies who feel the need to starve themselves for attention- and I will speak for the majority of men when I say, damn skippy, April!!

Sit back, relax, and put the poncho on- it’s about to get bloody!

1. Chainsaw Sally has really taken on a life of her own. How’s Season 2 of the show going so far?

Wonderfully!  We aired the show on our website in February and released the DVD collection this past April.  Everyone seems to love it as much as we do.  This season’s plot is great – I get a fantastic nemesis played by JimmyO Burril who, before deciding he loved sitting in the director’s chair, had several years experience as an actor and does a super job being someone the audience will all love to hate.  Just steals every scene he’s in.  All the old characters – Sally, Ruby, Busy Bee, Poe, the Lark Lady, the luscious Greta Morehead, even the hilariously inept Zeke and Earl – are back with new depths of depravity to parade before the viewers.  This season takes all the elements of Season 1 – the comedy, the bit of drama, the brutality and the horror – and push them much much farther.  Great stuff!  We will again be airing online, but with a new site that promises extra goodies to subscribers (don’t worry – we will still air episodes one at a time for free viewing, but I strongly recommend getting the subscription! I’d hate for y’all to miss out!)

2. Are you surprised with how successful and popular Sally’s become?

Yes!  Very!  But not one day passes that I’m not extremely thankful for it.  The amazing enthusiasm and support of all our fans and fans-become-friends that we’ve accumulated over the years is such a gift!

3. With Chainsaw Sally now having a chance to see the mainstream via cable, have you and Jimmy already begun delving into a season three?

Writing has already begun on season 3, but it’s still in it’s preliminary stages.  The biggest change fans will see is that Sally (along w/ pet Bee) will be leaving Porterville… at least for a while.  Porterville and it’s odd residents will still be in the story, however.  Sally will be delving into darker and darker depths.  And some excellent cameos are predicted… but that’s as much as I can say at the moment.

4. Your next slated project is ‘Darlin’ Clementines’. Can you tell us a little about that project?

“Darlin’ Clementines” will take place in the wilds of Appalachia (where we may actually be able to film on location).  A mother and three adult daughters live a very isolated existence in the mountains.  The mother has raised her children in a strict and somewhat perverted version of extreme fundamentalist Christianity.  They avoid the sinning world, but now the time has come for the girls to fulfill their Christian duty to procreate.  And, of course, in order to do this.. they need men.  And because all men are sinners anyway, those men don’t necessarily need to be willing.  Meanwhile… a family is camping on the mountain…. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.   I will say this script has some of the most absolutely disturbing scenes JimmyO has ever written.  It is NOT a campy tongue-in-cheek adventure like the Chainsaw Sally features have been.  This one is rough and violent and written to horrify.  But JimmyO does seem to be keeping to his pattern of powerful female roles.

So far, we will definitely have myself and Debbie Rochon in the cast. (yes, sisters again… ) We have other actors in mind for most of the remaining roles, but I don’t want to announce those until we have it all in stone.   Currently we are scouting locations in Virginia and Tennessee for shooting.

5. Why do you feel women are still viewed as ‘the weaker sex’, particularly in horror, particularly in this day and age?

Well…. I don’t feel that way, really.  Certainly, women and men are treated differently in film and on TV, but we ARE different creatures.  I don’t WANT to be treated like a man.  I’m not a man. I’m a woman and I’m very happy about it.  I think the key is having roles that carry equal importance in a storyline without belittling either sex via overemphasis on stereotypes (unless it’s done with a sense of irony or parody).  I think with the recent trending towards more and more powerful female roles – both as heroes and villains – women’s roles are starting carry equal weight in the media.  There are always moments of inequality.  That’s going to be a fact as long as humans aren’t robots.  And I am VERY glad we are not robots.  Certainly, women are under more fire to “stay young, thin, and pretty”.  That is annoying.  Men get to “age gracefully” and women just get “old”.  I haven’t seen much change in that area.  I find it interesting that Hollywood seems to place such emphasis on girls and women being so thin that they look anorexic.. yet almost every man I’ve spoken to on the subject prefers to be with women that have curves.  That’s right, ladies, CURVES ARE GREAT!!!  Don’t starve yourselves for the screen!  Be healthy, be happy.  Age gracefully. Be curvy. 

6. Who are some of your women in horror heroes?

Debbie Rochon most definitely.  I think she gets overlooked because she appears in many low-budget features, but make no mistake, she’s an intense presence on the screen.  I also have great admiration for Marilyn Burns’ performance in ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’.  Ellen Burstyn and Linda Blair do an amazing job in ‘The Exorcist’.  Angela Bettis’ performance in ‘May’ (and, really just anything else she does!) is totally captivating.  Lots to admire out there…

with Debbie Rochon on ‘The Good Sisters’

7. What are some of your favorite horror films? 

‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ (original!!), ‘The Exorcist’, ‘Exorcist III’, Todd Browning’s ‘Dracula’, ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street VII: New Nightmare’, ‘2,000 Maniacs’, ‘Gruesome Twosome’, ‘American Psycho’, ‘House on Haunted Hill’ (remake and original), Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’ (the newer miniseries), as well as the mini-series of ‘Salem’s Lot’, ‘Creepshow’, ‘The Mist’ (minus everything after the gas runs out), ‘Return of the Living Dead’, ‘Dead Alive’… oh I could go on and on and on…

8. You’ve dabbled in a number of areas, both in theatre and film. What is your most favorite aspect of the filmmaking/television process? What is your least favorite?

 I love doing something creative together with a group of people I like.  I really enjoy when we are actually DOING the filming – which means while I am DOING the acting.  I guess because it’s a lot like playing pretend!  In post, my favorite part is definitely coming up with foley noise.  SO FUN to wander around the house trying to find things to sound like punches, stabs, crunching bones, spilling entrails, and so on…

My least favorite… the corporate business side – drumming up funds ahead of time, dealing w/ distribution or incorporation, etc etc.  BORING.  But oh so very necessary.  For this reason I am very grateful that we met our current producer, Jeff Meek, who is not only good at that stuff, but actually seems to enjoy it- go figure!

9. ‘The Good Sisters’, with Debbie Rachon, deals with some deep, dark stuff. Is there a subject or taboo you won’t touch? 

I won’t do anything involving harming children.  I don’t mind a story where kids are in danger in some way, but I won’t go near anything that SHOWS them being hurt.

10. If so, has your thought process on what you will or won’t do on camera changed since becoming a mother?

Only that my taboo against harming kids is much stronger now.  And now, if I see a child being hurt in a show or movie, and especially if it’s a little kid too young to know how to “act” that is crying… which means the kid is unhappy in real life – I find that completely infuriating now.  Though I’ve always felt that way to some degree, now it’s enough to make me change the channel.

11. You illustrate for kids books as part of your day job. Being a mother and obviously having a great sense of humor, you’re the cool mom on the block, aren’t you? It’s OK to boast.

Yep.  We hold the distinction of being “cool” parents to the friends of our kids who’ve met us,  as well as being the “creepy family on the corner” to those who have not.  Best of both worlds!  We’re both fascinating and a little scary.   I’ve illustrated several published books now… a couple of recent pieces were actually a sort of crossover between my horror world and illustrating world.  Author Mike Gutridge contacted me via my Chainsaw Sally facebook page and now I’ve illustrated two of his horror tales – which, I think, read as good young adult / teen fiction horror – “Devious Dead Girl” and “Isabella Tiehouse”.  The Tiehouse piece is actually a full picture book.

Also, JimmyO and I have now started working together on some children’s books of our own.  The current series is about The Fabulous Spooky Sisters – Creepy and Boo.  Basically inspired by our own daughters.  All of the characters are monsters – cute, fuzzy, slimy, funny… monsters.

12. What’s a ‘true historic horror story’ that fascinates you?

The stories about Elizabeth Bathory are fairly fascinating.  I think it’s amazing what depravity some humans can sink to when they isolate themselves with sycophants or others who are as depraved as they are… i.e., without any grounding influences to say “hey, bathing in the blood of virgins… don’t you think that’s kind of nuts?  really? you want to send a girl out into the freezing cold and pour water over her naked body till she drowns and freezes?  Are you insane??”… from what I read during some research we were doing when considering making a Bathory film, much of the more mad events occured because this woman and her entourage were isolated in a castle for extended lengths of time while men went off to war.  Boredom and loneliness developed into outright madness.  Interesting.  And, of course, very tragic for the victims.

I also enjoy stories with no satifactory explanation – like the disappearance of the settlers of Roanoke.  

13. What projects are you currently working on?

Currently…. I am in rehearsals for a production of Cabaret at the Milburn Stone Theatre in Northeast, Maryland.  I get to be a Kit-Kat Girl! I LOVE IT!!… and working on illustrating….  Film-wise – my next gig will be either season 3 of The Chainsaw Sally Show or ‘Darlin’ Clementines’… whichever we get to first!

I can’t thank April enough for her time with this piece. As with every interview on this blog, it is sincerely appreciated.

Be sure to check out The Chainsaw Sally Show website!

Show some love to the original Chainsaw Sally site, too!

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About Justin Hamelin

I am a freelance writer, mostly of horror and everything macabre. As a die hard fan of the genre with a particularly deep affinity for Women In Horror, I write film reviews, short stories, screenplays and conduct as many interviews as I can with the fantastic people who make the horror genre my absolute favorite!
This entry was posted in Chainsaw Sally, horror, independent filmmaking, Women In Horror. Bookmark the permalink.

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