'E.T.' actress plays protective matriarch in just-released terror tale -- watch an exclusive clip

By Clark Collis
October 20, 2017 at 01:03 PM EDT

Dee Wallace has starred in some of the greatest horror and science-fiction films of all-time, including The Hills Have Eyes, The Howling, E.T., and everyone’s favorite rabid-dog movie, Cujo. The actress’ new movie is writer-director Craig Anderson’s just-released Red Christmas, in which Wallace plays the matriarch of a family living in Australia whose brood is threatened by a hooded intruder over the holiday season. “It’s not typical,” says Wallace of the film. “That’s one of the reasons I was really drawn to it. It handles things that you would never think would be in a horror film. Then, of course, there was this wonderful character that Craig wrote an wanted me to do. I thought, Wow, I would have the opportunity to do another Cujo-esque great emotional performance. I don’t think there’s anything in my career that I’ve ever phoned in. I don’t think my integrity would allow me to do that. But in this I really really did want to be on my A-game and serve this script and this character — and Craig — in the highest way that I could as an actress. I’m very proud of my work in it and everybody’s work in it.”

What can you say about your character, Diane?
I’m playing a very very strong mother. I don’t want to give it away, but she needs to defend her family. There’s a lot of dark story from her past that comes out during the film that all the different family members deal with in a very very different way. They all have their different agendas as to how this might affect them and yet we all have to come together in order to survive, literally. It took a lot of physicality. I actually added more physicality. Craig looked at me at one point and said, “So, Dee, you know I don’t have a stunt woman for you here.” I said, “No, I can do this!” I was just happy, at this stage of my career, that I could meet those physical demands, and the emotional demands, and it was just a joyous, fun, full acting experience for me.

Tell us about the shoot.
[Laughs] Well, there are some very very big spiders [in Australia]. And we were out, like, way out back. They did arrange this delightful little bungalow place for me, but the bathroom had been added on, so you had to go out, and cross over this little pathway, to get to the bathroom, which at three or four in the morning was a little disconcerting, with the spiders and everything! But, I’ll tell you, I love Australia. I love the people there. [The shoot] was a real family affair. We shot with a skeleton crew and then, at night, we’d finish shooting, and we’d all take turns cooking for each other. One night I cooked beef stroganoff for everybody. We’d all have breakfast together. It was a much different vibe than it is here in the States. And I found that when I shot The Frighteners in New Zealand too. I like it. It’s a little more humane and not so corporate.

You’ve got a couple of more horror movies coming out: Ouija House and Death House. But you also recently appeared on the FXX sitcom, You’re the Worst. What was that like?
I did, I had great fun guest-starring on You’re the Worst and of course my series for Amazon Prime, Just Add Magic, is still airing. It’s great if you want to introduce your kids to really well-done magic that’s suitable for kids, six through fourteen. It’s a great show.

Watch the trailer for Red Christmas below and an exclusive clip from the film, above.

Red Christmas is now available to watch on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD.