R.A. The Rugged Man is almost as comfortable behind a camera as he is behind a microphone.
In Hip Hop, R.A. is cult-hero lyricist who worked with the likes of the Notorious B.I.G. and Mobb Deep before giving major labels the finger and taking the independent Rap game by storm. He dropped one of the most critically-acclaimed projects of 2013 with Legends Never Die—his long-awaited new album featuring appearances from Tech N9ne, Talib Kweli, Brother Ali, Hopsin, Krizz Kaliko, Masta Ace, Eamon, and more—and he’s currently on a 40-city tour across the U.S. alongside Potluck.
In film, R.A. is a talented writer/director/producer/critic who knows horror movies inside and out. R.A. co-wrote and produced the Frank Henelotter film Bad Biology, directs many of his own music videos, hosts the MTV web series "Film School," and has interviewed the likes of William Friedkin, John Carpenter, and Wes Craven, to name a few. His gruesome new music video "Sam Peckinpah," featuring Vinnie Paz and Sadat X, is currently making the rounds online, and with Halloween here, we caught up with the Rugged Man to discuss six scary movies that inspired the video.
Halloween III: Season Of The Witch
This was always the most hated in the Halloween series, but I always thought it was the most interesting one. Michael Myers running around with a knife trying to stab people got tired after the first two, so it was cool that Halloween III had nothing to do with that shit. The concept of this one was just so fucked up. Some rich dude with a toy factory is plotting to mass murder all the children in America, so he markets murderous Halloween masks to the entire country. When all the children put on their masks and watch his national TV special on Halloween night, snakes and bugs will come out of their faces and they all die. I wanted to do something along those lines where whoever watches Vinnie Paz, Sadat X and myself on TV will freak out and either die or go completely insane. So Halloween III definitely had a huge influence on the video
David Cronenberg is probably the most consistently twisted filmmaker working today. He's been a sick fuck for over three decades, and Videodrome is one of his classics. James Woods plays a sleezebag TV programmer who gets obsessed with a bootleg TV show that makes you bug the fuck out and poisons your brain…definitely an influence on the “Sam Peckinpah” video.
The store clerk in my video first puts on the VHS tape, and at the 1:10 mark, the first act of violence takes place: a girl is sniffing cocaine and a thug shows up and smashes her face against the counter, knocking the coke straw deep into her nostril. That moment is an homage to one of my favorite ‘80s action-exploitation films.
The Protector a.k.a. Tom Yung Goon
At 2:36 minutes into the “Sam Peckinpah” video, I snap somebody's leg backwards. If I had the budget, I would do an entire video of me just snapping arms and legs for five straight minutes like Tony Jaa in The Protector. Unfortunately, I don't exactly have the funds to do something that elaborate, so I figured I'd at least do one quick bone-snap scene. I had my prop guy Sam Fenelli build me a prop leg to snap backwards, and it worked well. Steven Seagal mastered snapping and bending back people’s limbs in his films, but Tony Jaa in this scene took it to the next level.
Crimes Of Passion
When cinematographer Sean Price Williams lit the set, I looked at the director Michael M. Bilandic and said, "Shit, looks like Crimes of Passion" and he was like, "Yup, Ken Russell." I understood right away the look they were going for. Ken Russell is one of my all-time favorite British directors. If you look at the over-the-top red and blue lighting in the basement scenes of my video, you'll know what I'm talking about…it's very '80s. In Crimes of Passion, Anthony Perkins (the original Norman Bates) plays a pervert priest who is obsessed with hookers, and Kathleen Turner plays a hooker who he tries to kill with a gigantic knife dilldo…really weird shit. You can see the lighting similarities in this clip.
Wizard Of Gore
At 3:42 minutes into the video, the lead actor grabs a box cutter and rips his own intestines out of his stomach. That was definitely influenced by the old-school Hershel Gordon Lewis, low-budget gore films from the ‘60s and early ‘70s. When I was a kid and this movie came out on VHS, they advertised the fuck out of it in every video store. And I rented it and watched it like five times before I had to return it. I was nine-years-old and felt like I was watching something I wasn't supposed to be watching. It made me feel gross, and it stuck with me all these years.
R.A. the Rugged Man is an acclaimed Rap veteran whose new album “Legends Never Die” is available for purchase now. R.A.’s been a regular contributor to Vibe, Complex and Mass Appeal magazine as well as landing a book deal with Testify books. R.A. is also the screenwriter and producer of the Cult Film Bad Biology and is working on his directorial debut; a documentary based on the life of his father Staff Sgt. John A Thorburn. Follow him on Twitter via @RAtheRuggedMan.