Soul Searching with Bentley Mitchum by Owen Keehnen

Bentley Mitchum is part of a Hollywood dynasty. Though he is the son of actor Christopher Mitchum and the grandson of Robert Mitchum, Bentley continues to emerge from those long shadows and make a name for himself. His latest project is starring in 'Soul Searchers' which also marks his writng and directing debut. The cast of the film includes his father Christopher and his wife the lovely Jaime Anstead as well as good pal Bill Drago. And this is not Bentley's first foray into the horror genre. He's had significant roles in such chillers as Stephen King's 'Sometimes They Come Back' (1991) with Tim Matheson, 'Demonic Toys' (1992) with Tracy Scoggins , 'Shark Attack' (1999), 'Night of Terror ' (1999), 'A Crack in the Floor' (2000) with Mario Lopez, Tracy Scoggins, and Gary Busey; and 'The Borrower' (1991) with Rae Dawn Chong. In additon he has also appeared in numerous other features and TV series like 'Ruby in Paradise' with Ashley Judd, 'JAG', 'Delta Force One', 'Chained Heat 3', 'Different Strokes' (the lesbian film with the late Dana Plato), 'Meatballs 4', 'Baja Run', 'Nash Bridges', 'The Wonder Years', and many others. He's also a lot of fun. Recently we were able to talk to Bentley a bit about 'Soul Searchers', his prolific career, and life as a Mitchum in this exclusive interview. You can also check out these groovy sites Mitchum has been involved in:

A) the newest project "The House at Hell's Gate"  


Or More about Mitchum:


Bentley, why not start the folks at out with a visual and describe the room where you are answering these questions?

I am sitting in a dungeon that is lit by a single torch. The flickering flames dance off the damp glistening rocks. There is the continuous "Drip...drip" from the moisture, echoing... Driving me crazy like... like... Chinese water torture.

Actually, if the truth be told, I am sitting in my work area. A large comfortable room with two couches, a computer desk and computer. The walls are adorned with autographed photos of people in the "Business" that I have either met, respect or have affected me in some way. I have one section, I call it my "Hollywood Monster" wall. It has Kane Hodder (Jason), Robert Englund (Freddy) Linda Blaire (Exorcist), Doug Bradley (Hell Raiser), Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs), and OJ Simpson.

Tell me a bit about your new film SOUL SEARCHERS.

'Soul Searchers' is an old fashioned Horror/Thriller. Very reminiscent of the great '70's scary movies they used to make. It's kind of a cross between 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' , 'Rosemary's Baby' , 'The Wicker Man' and the recent 'The Prophecy' series of movies. It is a character driven scary thriller that has a couple of great twists and turns - Kind of like 'The Secret of Crow Haven Farm'.

Was there any specific reason that you choose the horror genre for your directing debut?

I have always loved good scary movies. As a very young child I was captivated by Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney and Boris Karloff. One of the first movies I remember as a young child was 'The Secret of Crow Haven Farm'. This movie had some images that stuck with me for quite awhile. As I got older, the slashers hit the screen for the first time. You know the Jason's, Freddy's and Michael Meyers'. I would go to the theatre and put my feet up on the seat as I watched. I didn't want the monster under the chair to grab my ankles. I was, and am, very interested in special effects make-up. I studied it for about four years - so I can make my own monsters if I have to. It is fascinating to create and put a horrible face on monsters that symbolizes what we most fear.

Also, I was involved in just about EVERY aspect of this movie and from a producer's point of view, it seemed like the smartest business decision. Everyone will always love a good scare.

You also wrote the screenplay for 'SOUL SEARCHERS' - how did the kernal of the tale come about?

It's a three part story actually.

Part One: As a young kid (probably too young to see this at the time) I saw 'The Secret of Crow Haven Farm' and it freaked me out. It stayed with me and haunted me for life...

Part Two: One day in the early 1990's, while watching an intriguing documentary about occult rituals, I saw a statistic that said something like "3000 people a year worldwide were assumed missing and/or dead due to occult rituals". I thought this is REAL man! It's scary but it is also REAL! That's a huge amount of people!

Part Three: I dated an older woman that I think was involved with some really dark energies. As I got away from her, I realized just how dark and sick the relationship was. I felt like I needed some kind of a rebirth.

Add all of those things together, mix it with a sprinkle of some really fucked up thoughts and experiences I've had, top it with my influences and there you have "Soul Searchers".

So you wrote, directed, producer and starred (as John Bender) in the film. Which of those roles brought you the most pleasure and which of those tasks did you find the greatest challenge?

I love the writing experience. I love going into, what I call, 'The Zone'. This place where you disappear into the lives, to the reality and personalities of the characters and story you are creating. I would sit down to write and the next thing I knew the sun would be coming up. I also really enjoyed Directing. I teach acting and actually was able to cast many of my students. It was quite extraordinary to work with such a talented group of people that were all there to help make my vision come to life.

The greatest challenge would have to be the producing aspect. I enjoy the creative side, not the numbers side, of the business. Luckily, my wife is excellent at this aspect.

The other challenging aspect was the editing. WOW! That can take some time. It is many long, hard nights that leave you with sore eyes and a sore butt from sitting on it all night.

In 'SOUL SEARCHERS' you direct your wife (JAIME ANSTEAD) and your father (CHRISTOPHER MITCHUM) as well as pals like BILLY DRAGO. Was it tough to step into director mode with people you had very close relationships with?
Not at all. I chose to work with these people because I love and trust them. They all brought great ideas to their characters and we all felt very comfortable sharing our ideas with each other to make the best possible scenes. We shot the film very quickly - 18 days - and it was an asset to have people around me that were there dedicated to making this film happen no matter what it took. When you know someone well, and you have love for them, you can speak bluntly without worrying about hurting feelings. You also can develop a kind of shorthand language with them - this is a great time saver.

Do you have a favorite memory from making the film?

The whole thing really. I just remember one night, during a long a tiresome night shoot, stopping for a moment and looking around and really being happy and grateful that I was doing what I was doing that moment on this planet. Making a movie!!!!

Do you have any favorite memories of that film?
So I am going to name some of the previous genre films you've acted in and I want you to give me a quick memory of what it was like for you to make

'DEMONIC TOYS (1992)'.

Hot. 110 to 120 degrees in a warehouse with sticky syrupy blood mixed with sweat dripping down my neck. Now I get to be behind the camera when the actors are covered with blood! WOO HOO!


Great experience. It's a very good ghost story. Great friends made. Cold. Wish Stephen King came to the set. Wanted to meet him. Ate my first White Castle burgers while in Kansas City during this film.

Liked doing the character I came up with. Didn't like having a beard though. Liked working with Casper Van Dien. Enjoyed South Africa. I almost threw up at the smell of that shark I cut open. It was a real shark that smelled horribly of formaldehyde and three day old fish. I remember eating at a restaurant called "Carnivores" - They had an "every kind of animal buffet" there. Tried many meats that are not available stateside.


Long cold night in LA. Really liked the fun I had with that character. They gave me much freedom to create... Shot all my stuff in one night.


Like working with John McNaughton and Tom Towles very much. They had this HUGE fan that blew debris at Tom and me when the alien ship took off. I caught a twig in the eye and it cut my eye a little. Got my first real taste of night shooting camaraderie standing around the portable heaters telling stories and jokes with the cast and crew...


Gary Busey - Great guy and a nut. Liked him. Many night shoots. Cold. Dancing with Mario Lopez in the moonlight... I always thought they should have showed what the guy who lived under the floor looked like. Evil should have face if we are to be scared of it...

Do you have any other upcoming projects you would like the readers to know about?

Oh YES! Grab on to your seats for my next film. It is a scary slasher film called "The House at Hell's Gate". The characters are great - even the killer has a great back story. I co-wrote this one with my friend Justin McBride. There we were, two sick and twisted minds up late at night trying to come up with the best way to skin someone alive - Chainsaw or electric turkey carver - it's going to be great. Scary like the first 'Friday the 13th', 'Halloween' and 'Nightmare on Elm Street'. My wife, Jaime Anstead, has a role in this film as do I playing her boyfriend. Hmmmmmm I can't wait to film the love scene... Keep your eye out for this movie. It's going to fun, sick , twisted and bloody.

Do you feel like you have a certain passion in your blood for film as part of a cinematic dynasty with your father Chrisopher Mitchum and your grandfather Robert Mitchum?

Yes. I suppose it is in my DNA. Not only that, but I grew up on the sets of my dad's and grandfather's films. As a child I traveled around the world three times by the time I was nine, just to be with my dad. I went to 36 schools by the time my education was completed. I guess I mention this because to be in the film industry you not only have to have the passion, you have to also adopt a gypsy type of lifestyle and attitude. I suppose if I grew up in a family of plumbers I may have been more predisposed to be a plumber - but then again, maybe not.

Okay, we're pulling the Bentley in to the Bentley Mitchum Drive In. What three horror flicks are on the triple bill tonight and what goodies are they going to be serving up at the concession stand?

I have to change it to a sextuple feature: Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, The Shining (The original), Audition - (Dir. Takashi Miike), Jaws, Alien, The Secret of Crow Haven Farm,

Belly up to the concession stand for: Popcorn, Mountain Dew or a Coke, Hot Dogs and Burgers, For those that party, Jack Daniels will be available. Milk Duds

What makes you go psycho in real life?

People who say "Try and..." instead of "Try to..." , People who say "Anywho..." , "Anyways" and "coinky-dink", People who snort and drink their own boogers, Traffic when I'm late, Rudeness, Lies, People with lack of integrity, Self important ignorant people, Stuff like that

What scares you in real life?

Paper cuts on my eye ball, being buried alive, Having my achilles tendon cut by hedge clippers, Only being able to breathe out without being able to breathe in, Being paralyzed from the neck down and being thrown into a pool, A dog biting out the flesh from behind my knee, A 7 inch needle in my belly button, The veins in my wrists popping due to too high of an altitude, That scary bitch from the bathroom in room 237 in "The Shining".