Horror Icon Amanda Wyss talks about her new film ‘The Sandman’ premiering on SyFy

The 'Nightmare on Elm Street' star continues to bring horror fans movies to help us lose sleep over!

“A little girl with formidable powers imagines into existence The Sandman, a terrible monster from her dreams who brings harm to anyone who wants to hurt her. That’s the premise of the newest nightmare on the block. One of our renowned “scream queens” Amanda Wyss (A Nightmare on Elm Street) shares with me the experience of landing a pivotal role in the Stan Lee produced movie, The Sandman. The original horror film will premiere on SyFy this Saturday, October 14th at 9pm/8pm (CT) and also stars Haylie Duff, Tobin Bell, Shae Smolik, Shaun Sipos and Mick Ignis as The Sandman!

The Sandman is written and directed by Peter Sullivan, who crafted the horror around eight-year-old Madison (Shae Smolik) who, when her father is found dead, goes to live with her aunt Claire (Haylie Duff), a struggling artist in a nearby city. It isn’t long before Claire realizes that the young girl has unusual powers, including the ability to manifest a frightening boogeyman she calls The Sandman. Claire quickly begins to suspect that the Sandman might be responsible not only for the death of Madison’s father, but many other victims across the country.


I got a chance to chat with Amanda to find out about her film The Sandman, talk about Nightmare on Elm Street and all of her newest projects. 

Los Angeles Zombie Girl: Hi Amanda- Thanks so much for talking to me! How did you get started in acting and horror movies?

Amanda Wyss: “Interestingly enough, when I first started acting, I was very young and was doing theater. I did two plays when I was a preteen, one was called The Innocents, and one was called The Bad Seed, both which are pretty much horror plays; they’re a lot about murder. So, I first got involved on stage, then really got into reading horror, and then I had the audition for Nightmare on Elm Street. Obviously, you know, it’s ten years later after the first play I did, so it’s sort of like, I understood the genre because I’d done it on stage and I loved reading it. I actually had a talk with Wes Craven about it because I was like, ‘I don’t know that I understand how, as a young actor, how this works in a horror movie.’ He said ‘You don’t do anything different, it’s just, you learn some tricks along the way about where to look to make it more scary. You just want to bring as much truth as you can to it.’ So, Wes Craven was sort of my guide on that path as far as the horror movies go.”

LAZG: What was your experience, over the years, to be part of such an iconic horror film like Nightmare on Elm Street?

AW: “You know what, it’s been great! I have to say, first of all, I had no idea, none, zip, nada, that it was going to be this thing that it’s become, you know. That it’s so iconic and legendary and I obviously had no idea. So, I’m super grateful, and so many good things have flowed from it. I mean, just even Wes putting in good words for me on non-horror things. And I have to say even in the television work I’ve done, there’s been people in the writer’s room that are like ‘we totally wanted you for this ‘cause we loved you in Nightmare and Better Off Dead.’ It’s interesting because obviously, I didn’t expect it, both those movies are just so loved by people, and to this day they’re on their third generation of fans. You know, in the last couple of years, I’ve worked with some really talented young filmmakers that the movie is their inspiration, therefore the actors in it. They love us, and it’s weird because it’s not something I think about all the time, but when you ask that question, it’s like, it’s really been an amazing journey and I’m super grateful that I’m a part of it. I like that the fans, that they love that movie and that they also stay in the present with me with new movies. I’m really grateful ‘cause I’m really lucky that that’s happening.”

LAZG: How do you compare the scream queens and women in horror from back in the 80’s when you played Tina, to horror movies today? Are women getting better roles? How do you feel about the difference between the 80’s and now?

AW: “You know, it’s a tough question because I think sometimes people mistake a big role for being a better role or being the least victim-y of all the victims is a better role. I feel that because, intrinsically, horror movies kill a lot of women and I do think that there were great movies made in the 80’s. I believe that people are putting out the effort to be more conscious about creating female roles that aren’t pure victims or, the slutty girl that has to get killed, or other sort of outdated archetypes. They still exist, and, you know what, they exist because there’s a market for them, sadly. But I think that people are trying to write more roles for older women, which is nice. You know, the last couple of years I’ve had the opportunity to play some really interesting characters that were written by young filmmakers, so I think people are trying to create more complete roles for women, in the sense that, you know, we’re all kinds of things. Just because someone’s pretty they don’t have to be the bimbo, and people are trying to show that a woman can be a hassled mother, and still be loving- that we’re many different things throughout the day, just like a man is. I think people are making an effort to write less roles where a woman is the bitch, she’s the slut, she’s the homely one, or whatever group that we fall into. I think people are really trying to kick that door open, which makes me happy.”

LAZG: Tell me about The Sandman. What’s it all about?

AW: “It’s so much fun! Okay, first of all, it’s super scary and a great script! Peter Sullivan is such a good writer and a wonderful director! Then, of course, I’m fangirl geeking over Stan Lee! It’s really kind of a story about family in a weird abstract way. Haylie Duff is fantastic, she plays an edgy fringe artist person, who is just guiding into motherhood. You watch this family sort of grow during this crisis. There’s a young girl who is somewhat the conduit for this evil, malevolent presence that comes and causes mayhem and destruction. And it’s so scary and the special effects are so good and it’s a really good story. It also kinda ties in some ancient mythology about children born En Caul they call it, or Children of the Caul. In ancient times there were some cultures that totally revered these babies as they were gonna be sages and wise people, and there were other cultures that killed them because they believed they were witches and evil. But they were born inside the embryonic sac. So, there’s that little bit of story that comes in too. I play a hypnotherapist who has been contacted by the young girl Madison’s (played by the wonderful Shae Smolik), father to help her. But things never work out, and then Claire, her aunt contacts me, brings the young girl to me and I am completely 100% sure that I can save her, you know, but then again things never go the way you want them to!”

LAZG: Do you have any interesting stories about the making of?

AW: “Well, you know, there is– shoot, I don’t know if I can tell it because it might give away too much. There were some really fun special effects things I got to do where I spent a lot of time giggling. There’s a funny moment, someone took a picture of us with the girls who do makeup and hair, and Haylie, myself, and Shae, we’re all sitting on a couch completely laughing, but we’re completely not talking to one another, we’re looking at our phones. And I went, ‘Oh that sums up modern day filming’; No one is talking, we’re on our phones. I just had a great time, even though it was so intense; a lot of screaming, murder and mayhem, everybody was so nice, and the director really set a fun tone. Mick Ignis, who plays the Sandman is phenomenal, just a great, oh my gosh, great monster. We took a picture together and Peter Sullivan was like ‘Oh, you can’t post that or anything’, and it was so funny, I was like, ‘First of all, it’s for Mick, he wants it. And second of all, I wasn’t gonna post it.’ And then we all started laughing because we’re all sworn to secrecy, especially Mick because his character is so frightening. You know what, often times horror films are just the most fun sets, I don’t know why. You’re dealing with such lizard-brain fear stuff. I don’t know if you’re just getting it all out, you’re running and screaming, you’re like all twisted behind some apparatus so they can see your head and everything hurts, and you know, it’s so ridiculous sometimes that I think that’s what makes it so fun, does that make sense?”

“Like, they need to see my head, but I’m literally behind this thing, contorted, and they say ‘Can you lift your chin up higher?’, and I’m like ‘No, not unless you cut my head off!’ So then we were all just laughing, and I say ‘Oh my god, you really need a contortionist for this!’ I’m just so happy, it’s so good, and I really want people to see it. I think they’re gonna be pleasantly surprised that SyFy is premiering this really great original horror film, that literally could stand alone in the theater, and I love that they’re doing it on SyFy. I think it’s really fantastic!”

LAZG: Do you watch horror movies? Is that something you like?

AW: “You know what? I’m actually a huge chicken, and I don’t watch a lot of horror films. I watch pieces of horror films because all my friends are in them, and I love seeing what people are doing and movies like Get Out, movies where they’re really just taking it up another notch. But I hate being scared, so I watch them, I fast forward. I’m a terrible horror viewer. And when I do go to a horror film, the audience hates me; I’m so loud, I can’t help it. I scream uncontrollably, inappropriately. I scream when nothing is happening and I scare people around me, and people are like ‘Get out, we hate you, do not sit here.’ So, Heather Langenkamp who plays Nancy in Nightmare on Elm Street, we’re really best friends in real life. She, every time we’ve gone to a horror movie, is like ‘Oh my god, I swore I’d never sit next to you again, you’re terrible!’ I can’t help it. I literally can’t. I yell at the screen. Things come out of my mouth, I’m just terrible. I’m a horrible audience, so I try to watch them home alone where I can fast forward, and not create a scene.”

LAZG: What are some of the other projects you’re working on?

AW: “I’m in the middle of filming a project called The Orchard that is fantastic, and we just shot in Kentucky and then we go back to LA to finish shooting. It’s kind of like a family story, but it’s an incredibly scary horror film, that literally, you will jump out of your skin. There are twists in it that, and I consider myself a little jaded reading horror scripts, that I did not see coming, and I’m thrilled. Jay Moore and I play the parents. Henry Rollins is in it- I mean, come on, it’s gotta be good if it attracted Henry to be a part of it, and Tom Sizemore! Just a fantastic cast. I’m over the moon for this movie. So that wrapped the other day and I’m about to start tomorrow to shoot a horror comedy from Chris Moore called Triggered that’s hilarious. I mean, it’s like Airplane hilarious. So hopefully it’ll come out that way. And then I have a horror western that I shoot at the end of this year called Contention that’s like a home invasion western, basically, it’s just brutal. It’s so violent, so brutal! But I couldn’t stop turning the pages because I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? What?’ So those are my three that I’m filming by the end of the year, that I’m super excited about. Oh- and I have a movie coming out called Big Legend. I don’t have a big role in it; I play a psychiatrist, but it’s a Bigfoot story, and I’m Bigfoot obsessed, so I said ‘Yes! I get to be in the Bigfoot movie!’ I think that’s coming out in 2018.”

LAZG: Is there anything else your fans should know about Amanda or about The Sandman since that’s why we’re here talking?

AW: “Well, first of all, they need to know that they can’t miss The Sandman, it’s gonna be really good! The people that love Nightmare on Elm Street, will see the inevitable comparison, but they’re completely different but equally scary and wonderful. The overlap of the nightmare thing and even the nightmares themselves are handled differently, and the creature comes through to the other world differently. They’re very different tales. Someone once told me and I believe this to be true- ‘All good horror is intrinsically sad.’ Wes Craven was a master at that, and this movie is that. It hooks you in your heart, and then it rips it out. If you’re a diehard horror fan, you don’t want to miss it.”

“As for me, I am so grateful that I still get to do what I love to do, and I am so thankful to the people that take the time to watch anything I do. I’m just super lucky and fortunate, I love acting, I love creating characters, and I’m so glad people want to see me do it. I feel like I won the lottery!”

The Sandman premieres Saturday, October 14th 9pm/8pm on SyFy.



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