Read on for our full interview with Trick or Treat Studios owner and president Chris Zephro, as we discuss Halloween, Trick ‘r Treat, American Horror Story, Rob Zombie, and much more!
Getting the Halloween license in 2016
“Unfortunately, they (Halloween producers Trancas International) locked themselves into a three-year deal (with Rubie’s Costume Company), I think not knowing what the standard is. They got stuck in there. Meanwhile, we’re winning every award. We won the 2014 Most Creative Licensing Partner from Universal, and a lot of that had to do with Halloween II.
“This licensing deal that they (Trancas) are in (with Rubie’s) finally ends at the end of 2015, and I can guarantee you that they are not going to re-sign it. They were not very happy with the relationship. I know they didn’t make a lot of money. The way for them to go to best represent the fans is to go with Justin (Mabry, Trick or Treat Studios art director).
“This year we only did the Ben Tramer, but it is killer. It came out really nice.”
|‘Halloween II’ Ben Tramer|
With Trick ‘r Treat, Michael (Dougherty, writer/director) was not happy with what Rubie’s came out with as well. At the time, licensing rights for Trick ‘r Treat were with Warner Bros. and they had a (prior) relationship with Rubie’s.
“Legendary got the rights to Trick ‘r Treat because they’re making (Trick ‘r Treat) Part 2. He (Dougherty) wanted to be really involved with the production of the mask, and the costume for that matter, plus we’re also coming out with the lollipop, because he was not happy with what was out there. We were happy to have him help, and he provided some amazing references.
“He went over to Russ’s (Lukich, sculpter) house, and to Bruce’s (Fuller, sculpter), and he gave them the actual screen-used mask. So they were sculpting right there with the original, and Michael would come over and check out the sculpture, then he’d check out the painting. He was really helpful with the costume design, as well as the lollipop, but for all intents and purposes, both of those masks are virtually identical to the screen-used masks, because we had them.
|‘Trick ‘r Treat’ Sam|
“Yeah, we totally are. A lot of those are original designs or designs they bought on the aftermarket, but yes we are planning on doing those. I’m also looking forward to seeing what stuff looks like in Part 2.
“We’re also doing another of Michael’s movies called Krampus. Krampus is supposed to have a bunch of minions, so we’ll be able to see what those look like too. I’ve seen conceptual drawings, but I haven’t seen anything from production, but I’m sure we will shortly.
|‘Trick ‘r Treat’ Sam “Unmasked”|
“Rob has been intimately involved in everything. We have every one of his pictures, including the new one 31, with the exception of Halloween I and II, which we will have hopefully in 2016. There’s rumors going around that they’ve re-signed it, but I’m not sure that’s true. I’ve got to get up with the main licensing guy for that.
“Rob was involved with all of the approvals. I pretty much email him once a day.
“We’re doing a shitload of stuff for House of 1000 Corpses. We’re doing Otis, Tiny, Ravelli, and Captain Spaulding, and we’re doing Otis for Devil’s Rejects.
|‘House of 1000 Corpses’ Captain Spaulding|
“I’m excited about American Horror Story. That’s one that Rubie’s lost. They had it for two years, and the only thing they came out with was the worst Bloody Face mask I’ve ever seen in my life.
“I had known that that license was going to expire, so I got on 20th Century Fox very aggressively. A lot of my guys work on Freak Show, so I knew that there were some really bitching characters that were going to be popping up in that series. We signed that, and then after we signed it, it aired, and then Ruby’s was trying to get it back, but at that point sorry. (laughs)
“I know that 20th Century Fox is just completely blown away. We couldn’t get a lot of references, because they didn’t have a lot of references, so we worked directly with the effects company that does all the work. I made a deal with them that I would give them all masks in exchange for reference images, which made the approval process a cinch.”
|‘American Horror Story’ Bloody Face|
Halloween Daily News: I can imagine it’s going to be a huge seller this Halloween.
“I think it’s going to be as big as Michael, although he tends to always be the number one.”
|‘American Horror Story’ Twisty|
“Everything goes through (The Walking Dead executive producer) Greg Nicotero. I’m really excited about the Charred Walker.”
|‘The Walking Dead’ Charred Walker|
“We’re doing the Nazi demon from An American Werewolf in London, and the wolf.
|‘An American Werewolf in London’|
“I’m also excited about Rocky. We’re doing the boxing shorts for Balboa and Apollo Creed, and a really cool appliance kit, so you can look like a busted up fighter.
“We also did Jody the Pig for the new Amityville Horror, which I’m thrilled to find out just got pushed to June from the original release date in January, which only means one thing. It means it’s a good film.”
|‘Amityville: The Awakening’ Jody Pig|
Clash of the Titans
“We got the licensing rights to the original Clash of the Titans. We’re doing Calibus this year, and next year we’ll do Medusa and the Kraken.”
|‘Clash of the Titans’ Calibus|
“We’ve got Frosty the Snowman. He turned out really well.
“Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Texas Chainsaw, and then there’s of course the original Halloween. It would be nice to not have to explain to my retailers when they ask me, ‘I thought Rubie’s has Michael Myers?’ It’s good from a consolidation point of view.
“I think that Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th will be a little harder to get, but I think eventually it will happen. It’s just that they’ve had a relationship with Rubie’s for so long. You know they (Rubie’s) also have the DC characters, and they make a fortune on those. If you think about Freddy and Jason, their stuff is so bad that it hasn’t really sold well anyway, so what’s the point? They might as well give it to somebody that can refresh it, but there are a lot of politics involved.”