Thom Mathews Returns from the Living Dead and Goes to Camp by Greg Tiderington

For a long time I wanted to interview Thom and I was totally stoked when he accepted this interview since he is a major cult icon in which he is known to millions as Freddy in the 1985 cult classic zombie spoof 'Return of the Living Dead' as he got to act as wild and as crazy as he wanted to be. He also starred in the film with other celebrities like Clu Gulager, James Karen and Don Calfa.
It was for sure a film that blended tongue in cheek comedy with horror and a great one to watch close to Halloween or right on Hallows Eve in fact.
Plus he had another feather in his cap by playing the role of Tommy Jarvis in 'Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives' a year later with Paramount Pictures as he really brought alot of excitement into his roole and trying to put an end to Jason bringing him back into the lake where he belongs.
He once again starred in a non sequel 'Return of the Living Dead: Part II' as a similar character named Joey working alongside with James Karen once again as well as with other cult icon Suzanne Snyder which she was famous for her work in 'Killer Klowns from Outer Space' and 'Weird Science'.
He appeared in many other cult flicks like 'Dangerously Close', 'Down Twisted', 'Alien from L.A.', 'Midnight Cabaret', 'Bloodmatch', 'Born to Ride', 'Nemesis', 'Kickboxer 4: The Aggressor', 'In the Living Years', 'Heatseeker' and the list goes on and on since he really moved up into the world with the work that he's done.
He also tours around the world appearing at the horror autograph circuit and is great to his fans including myself.



At what age did you see yourself as an entertainer ?

I never saw myself as an entertainer. I decided to become an American actor after high school. I hope it was entertaining for some!

Did you see yourself acting in horror films?

I was an actor looking for acting roles. I was very fortunate to what has become two iconic roles in the horror genre.

I understand your first horror gig was Freddy in 'Return of the Living Dead'. What was it like to audition for it?

The audition process took 9 months. As I understand it took so long to start filming due to some legal issues with the title or the rights to the name. I auditioned again 9 months later. I was hired and auditioning began  to cast Tina my leading lady.

What scene did you enjoy doing the most?

The office scenes with James Karen was one of my favorite scenes to film. It sets up or relationship. The progression of our slow deterioration throughout the film was fun to play as well.

What was the most struggling scene to do?

The 6am call time to shoot the scene when the yellow corpse in the freezer escapes and we followed Burt's suggestions to remedy the situation!

What was it like when you were working at the mortuary as well as later on slowly changing into a zombie? Do tell us the experience here!!!

I loved the whole process of Jimmy and my transformation into zombies. It was a wonderful acting arch and fun to play.

What was it like trying to chase after Beverly D’Angelo's (Randolph?)character when you already turned? This looked like you had a lot of fun doing

It was a blast playing a full blown zombie with an attitude! I'm a very physical guy so it was fun for me to bust through the chapel doors and tear ass down the hallways even though I couldn't see well through the acid prosthetic glued to my face.

Who did you enjoy working with?

The whole cast was wonderful to work with. We are all good friends to this day. I have great memories of my scenes with the veteran actor James Karen. The talks we had during our make up sessions before shooting I'll never forget.

Did you see the film during it’s theatrical run?

My friends and family went to the opening night at a local theater in Los Angeles. What a night. The theater was packed and the movie did not disappoint the fans!

I understood you got a lot of good feedback from fans. What was it like to be noticed?

Being a private person and a young actor I wasn't quite sure how to accept the fans response to my work. They never discussed that in acting class. I'm thrilled my work was well received.

Due to your fame in 'Return of the Living Dead' I understood you were offered to play Tommy Jarvis in 'Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives'. What was your reaction that you were going to be doing a studio based production by Paramount down in Georgia?

I don't know what role my part in 'ROTLD' had to do with me being cast in a Jason Lives. But it might have something to do with it my coming off a major role in the same genre. I was thrilled being a young actor going on location for another major role in a film.

I enjoyed the graveyard scene how did it feel to dig up Jason’s grave as well as working with Ron Palillo whom we all remembered as Horshack in 'Welcome Back Kotter'?

The opening sequence of the movie is one of my favorites in the movie.

Was it really raining when Jason rose from the grave?


What was the environment like to shoot on?

It was a great experience shooting 'Friday the 13th'. Our wonderful director Tom McLoughlin set the tone for the entire shoot.

What scene was fun doing?

I like opening sequence of the film. The water scenes as well. I had never done any under water acting prior to that or since.

What was it like planning the trap for Jason on the boat on the pier at Camp  Crystal Lake?


When you were struggling against the Jason character in the water were you really in a lake or was this shot at a studio?

We shot the underwater scenes in a pool in the City of Industry in Los Angeles. The boat scenes were shot on location in Covington Georgia.

How long did it take to shoot the film?

6 weeks.

Did you ever see the previous sequels to get a feel of your role?

Yes I did my research.

What kinds of feedback did you get from your fans?

We didn't have the social media  outlets we have today to get an immediate response. But the feedback was positive with the fans and within the Hollywood community.

Now you played Joey in 'Return of the Living Dead Part II' in which this wasn’t a sequel at all. What did you think about this one and were you confused at first wondering why you were playing a different role?

The genius behind 'ROTLD' was lost in the sequel. The only reason James Karen and I were brought back in the sequel was because  the Japanese distributors wanted us back in some way because of the Hugh success of part 1 had in their country.

What memories do you have to share with us all by doing this one?

It was great being together again with Jimmy Karen.

I heard you did the voice for Tommy Jarvis in a 'Friday the 13th' video game which excited me. Do tell me about this one?

Gun Media contacted me after they were well into the making of the game. The outpouring of fans of Friday the 13th had requested I be a part of the game. We went back and forth serval times for my approval on my image as Tommy Jarvis. The first image they sent over of TJ had dark hair and a 5 O'clock shadow beard! It took sometime and I'm not completely happy with the end results but what you see in the game is the final image. After that I went in and added tracks of my voice. The game looks great and yes it's fun to play! I've played on my son Miles PS4 console. I've played as myself and as Jason as well as a camper. It's a blast.

Are you in any upcoming horror films?

Nothing scheduled as of yet.

What have you been up to these days? Are you still acting?

I'm still involved in SAG. Would love to get back into acting now that my kids are grown and more independent. I've always, enough before I started acting, been into construction. I'm president on my own company Hammer & Trowel Construction, Inc. based in Los Angeles area. We have a Pinterest page set up of past projects and a place for clients to visit to get some direction of what they might want on their Residentual projects. I work with a talented team and have been lucky to been involved with creative clients, architects and designers.

Now here’s some fun stuff: What are your favourite horror films?

I haven't seen them all but I like "I am Legend", "Zombie Land", "Army of Darkness", "The Revenant", "Re-Animator" to name a few.

If you were a scream king for a day whether he was alive or dead who would he be?

Vincent Price.

What show were you in that you cherish to this very day?

'ROTLD' is by far my most cherished working experience to date. Due to the generosity and great direction from Dan O'Bannon. His ability to use his actors, listening and encouraging and allowing  us to bring our thoughts and ideas into his film. It truly was a collaboration HE allowed even though he wrote the script and was able to deviate from the printed pages and let it flourish.

What are your ambitions in life?

To leave the world in a better place then when I came into it. To show up. Be considerate to others. Be a good father to my 3 wonderful talents kids. And last but not least be a good husband to my unbelievable wife Karla.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Perfect happiness seems fleeting but a slice of happiness would be to be loved by people who know you and being able to invite them to your Villa in Italy for some good food and wine! Heaven on earth.