By MICHAEL GINGOLD
The Amazon Prime Video series LORE, based on the podcast by Aaron Mahnke, returns with a second season October 19. And it’s coming back with a horror star in its cast: Doug Bradley, who gave RUE MORGUE some words on his part. We got some exclusive pics of him from the show as well.
LORE, which counts genre veteran Gale Anne Hurd among its producing team (she’ll be part of a panel previewing the new season at New York Comic-Con tomorrow at noon), explores enduring real-life horror stories, and Bradley is part of one that has inspired numerous genre features in the past. “I play Dr. Robert Knox, the Edinburgh surgeon who commissioned Burke and Hare, the infamous graverobbers,” he tells us; their notorious case inspired movies titled after them in 1971 and 2010, along with the Boris Karloff/Bela Lugosi classic THE BODY SNATCHER, Hammer’s THE FLESH AND THE FIENDS and Freddie Francis’ THE DOCTOR AND THE DEVILS. “It was a period when, in order to further scientific and anatomical understanding, the only way to do it was to dissect corpses, and the graverobbers were notorious for digging up buried bodies to provide them for these purposes. Because Knox promised them that the fresher the corpses, the better they’d be paid, Burke and Hare took it one stage further—cut out the middlemen, just bumped them off and brought them straight to the doctor, who didn’t ask too many questions about where they came from.
“Unfortunately, in the process of dispatching one or two of their victims, the bodies were a bit messy,” Bradley continues. “This was displeasing to Knox, in particular the damage around the face and head, because back then they had literal operating theaters. Dissections were performed for audiences of medical students, who would pay to be in attendance, so the fresher the cadavers and the more interesting your presentation, the more people would come to your performances, and the more money you would make.”
Playing out this grisly historical tale, titled “Burke and Hare: In the Name of Science,” took Bradley to Prague, which he says “has been on my bucket list for a long time. It’s an extraordinary city, and it’s claimed to be the most intact medieval city in Europe. The theory is that Hitler loved Prague, and intended it to be the Eastern capital of the Reich, so there was never any artillery damage there; it didn’t get bombed and survived pretty much intact. It’s a beautiful city, and I had a great time filming that episode.”
On top of that, he enjoyed being part of a multinational cast and creative team: “There’s me, an Englishman transplanted to America, the writer [Carlos Foglia] was born in Argentina, the director [Christoph Schrewe], is German and now living in L.A. and the actors playing Burke and Hare [Emmet Byrne and Emmett J. Scanlan] are Irish, so it was very much a polyglot thing.” Bradley does admit one tiny bit of regret, though: “They were planning on doing an episode on Aleister Crowley, which I looked at with just a little envy, because I’ve always thought I would be particularly good casting for him!”
Beyond LORE, Bradley has been busy with his SPINECHILLERS series of audio CDs on which he reads classic horror tales. “We’ve now put a complete Edgar Allan Poe series together,” he reveals, “which is the stories and poems of his we’ve already done, plus those that got missed the last time, including “Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “Berenice,” “Never Bet the Devil Your Head” and others that didn’t get into the original 13-volume series. That will be available on CD and to download very soon. I’ve also recently recorded the audiobook of Barbie Wilde’s THE VENUS COMPLEX, so that will be available as a download on Audible, iTunes and Amazon, I believe.”
And in a career twist even he finds astonishing, Bradley has entered the world of pro wrestling, portraying a character called The Preacher as part of Blackcraft Wrestling. Having previously worked with Blackcraft on their T-shirt and whiskey brands, he recalls, “Bobby Schubenski, the main guy behind Blackcraft, suddenly contacted me and announced that they were preparing to launch Blackcraft Wrestling, and they wanted me to be involved. I’ve always said that part of the joy and the frustration of being an actor is that when you finish a job, if you sit down and make a list of the 100 things you think you might do next, when the phone rings, it’ll be the 101st—the one you didn’t think of. This was so far out of left field; it was the 1,005th. The last thing I ever expected to be doing in the seventh decade of my life is being involved in professional wrestling. Not, I should stress, as a wrestler; you won’t see me running around the ring in a Speedo, you’ll all be relieved to hear.
“We created this Preacher character,” he continues, “and I had to put the elements together very fast, with a very, very heavy nod to Robert Mitchum in NIGHT OF THE HUNTER, which is basically how I look, sans finger tattoos. I was excited and terrified at the same time; I’ve never done anything like this before, but the response has been huge so far.” The next show, titled “Reaper’s Revenge,” takes place in Anaheim, CA tomorrow, October 5, “and they have a third show set for Buffalo, New York in December, and they’re planning more shows through the new year. It’s so far out of my experience, but I’ve really enjoyed it.”