Actor/producer/screenwriter Tom Malloy gave Fango some more details on the upcoming Rob Schmidt-helmed THE ALPHABET KILLER. Malloy first got interested in the story while looking for a new project to do after Mary Lambert’s THE ATTIC, on which he served the same triple duty. “My wife and her family are originally from Rochester, and she asked me if I had heard of the Double Initial Killer from that area,” Malloy tells us. “Back in the 1970s, three girls aged 10-12 were killed there, and all of them had the same first and last initial. The killer then dumped the bodies in an area corresponding to that initial [i.e., victim Michelle Maenza was found in Macedon]. He was never caught and the case remains cold.”
It turned out that the story was closer to Malloy than he ever imagined. “My sister-in-law’s boyfriend’s mother was involved in the resurrection of the cold case, so right away I had a source. She was a retired detective named Heddy Williams, and I called her that day. We spoke for like three hours! Let me say that we’ve fictionalized the story a great deal for a few reasons. First, I didn’t want to shoot a movie set in the 1970s, so I updated it to the present day. Second, I wanted to make the story more about the female lead detective and less about the case. Third, I wanted to respect the fact that there are family members who still live in Rochester.”
But it was the fact that the killings remain an open case that first attracted Malloy to it. “I’m obsessed with unsolved crimes,” he says. “I’ve actually reviewed a lot of the facts from the Jack the Ripper case. It really strikes a chord with me to know a killer’s still out there, whether alive or dead.”
It was WRONG TURN director Schmidt’s involvement in the project that finally helped get it off the ground. “I was a big fan of WRONG TURN,” he says. “I really thought it was underrated. People thought it was just a TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE-type film, but it was more than that. I specifically sought him out for this because of his style. After we hired him, I watched CRIME & PUNISHMENT IN SURBURBIA, his film before WRONG TURN, and I was even more impressed. You can’t watch both those films and not say that Rob is an amazing director.”
As for THE ATTIC, a psychological/supernatural chiller also starring John Savage, Catherine Mary Stewart and Elisabeth (INVASION) Moss, Malloy can’t help but express his admiration for director Mary Lambert’s abilities. “I had been a fan of PET SEMATARY, but that was the only thing I had seen of hers. I got really excited when I found out she directed four of Madonna’s greatest videos of all time [“Like a Virgin,” “Like a Prayer,” “Material Girl,” “Borderline”]. Those were such genre-changing videos! She was great; as a director/actor relationship, it worked beautifully. Since I was a producer and writer on the film, she was worried that I wouldn’t give that up on set. But that’s exactly what I did—most of the crew had no idea of my other titles; it was actor all the way. I wanted to be as professional and as on as possible with every take, because I put so much into the role, and it worked out great.”
Once again, it was a true story that got Malloy interested in writing and producing this film. “I had heard about a girl in England who refused to leave her house,” he says. “No one knew what was wrong with her, and eventually she was just left alone and died in her house. Her parents tried to cover it up. That was the inspiration for writing the script. I wanted to dramatize it from the angle that there’s a force haunting the girl that only she can see.”
The actor had to undertake a great deal of research for his own role: a man with Asperger Syndrome. “In meeting with men who have that disease, I noticed that one of them had this neck tic. I put that into the character right away. Also, the way I walked and moved was jilted. Everything was going great until one day, Catherine Mary Stewart, who plays my mom, came up and asked me, ‘Isn’t your neck in pain?’ The next day I couldn’t move my neck and had to go to a masseuse! I told her she cursed me!”
For Malloy, the experience of shooting THE ATTIC couldn’t have been more rewarding, and he says the finished film won’t disappoint the Fango audience. “THE ATTIC is shocking, there’s blood, but it’s not a gore-type film,” he says. “I like scares and shocks, that’s what I go for. There are two scenes in THE ATTIC where people really go nuts, and they’re my favorite kind of distraction shocks. You’re looking somewhere else, and bang, there it is in front of you, and it will make you scream!” Look for set reports on THE ATTIC on this site and in the pages of Fango in the near future; you can see its official website here and ALPHABET KILLER’s official site here.