William ‘Bill’ Moseley was born November 11th, 1951 in Stamford Connecticut, before relocating and growing up in Barrington Hills, Illinois. Bill went onto Yale before graduating as an English major in 1974.
With his degree under his belt, Bill operated as a journalist for a period of time before landing a small role of a cab driver in Alan Rudolph’s Endangered Species at age 29.
Three years later, Bill would take on the role of Quilt Face in Osa, a film later released in 1986. That same year he appeared as arguably his most well-known role; Chop Top in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.
Without a doubt it was this performance that put Bill on the horror map, launching him into cult icon status, even if that did take several years after initial release. Unnerving, yet humorous, Bill brought the sadistic Chop Top Sawyer to life, giving fans of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre a new villain to root for.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 stands as one of the greatest sequels not only within the franchise, but within the history of horror. According to reports Bill got the role of Chop Top by creating a parody entitled The Texas Chainsaw Manicure where he played a small role of the Hitchhiker. Upon seeing the parody Tobe Hooper vowed to use Moseley should he ever make a sequel. And from that, horror history was born.
From that point it seemed as though Bill and the horror genre were made for each other. Bill appeared in the 1988 remake of The Blob as well as the terribly horrendous horror/thriller Mamba.
After two brief appearances in the TV series Tour of Duty and Freddy’s Nightmares, Bill found himself in Pink Cadillac (1989) alongside Clint Eastwood. That same year, Bill returned to the horror genre in the straight video third installment of Silent Night, Deadly Night entitled Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out. Taking over the role of Ricky Caldwell, Bill showcased his outstanding talents by tackling a character that was almost polar opposite to that of Chop Top.
Speaking with Broke Horror Fan, Bill reminisced about an emotional moment during filming. “I remember that was the first movie I ever cried in. I could slice and dice people, but when I was asked if, need be, would I ever be able to cry on screen, I was afraid that I couldn’t. I was the son of marine, a tough kid growing up in the country in Illinois, not a very emotional person. But in Silent Night, Deadly Night 3, I actually cried. There’s a moment where I was getting fed by a very wonderful grandmother character, who gives me soup even though I have this brain cap with my exposed brain and a bunch of orange juice. Everything says, ‘Don’t let this guy in your house.’ But I ate a spoonful of her turkey soup, and I started crying. Monte Hellman was deeply touched. [laughs] That was my happy reminiscence.”
As a whole, the longer Silent Night, Deadly Night went on, the stranger the sequels got. But if you haven’t seen Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out, Bill is the sole reason to do so. His performance as Ricky is nothing short of phenomenal.
As the 90’s began, Bill found himself quite busy. End of Innocence and The First Power were both reasonably successful. But it was the 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead that surprised audiences the most. Bill channeled his inner Russell Streiner and brought new life to the role of Johnnie.
In 1991, Bill starred in one of my favourite films of all time; White Fang. I may be Australia’s ultimate scream queen, but I do have a soft spot for Disney, and White Fang has been a staple of my movie collection since its release. If you haven’t seen it, do yourselves a favour and grab a copy. A true masterpiece of both literature and cinema. Keep an eye open for Bill in the role of Luke. A performance, and a film, that’s sure not to be missed.
The following year, Bill joined the Evil Dead franchise with an appearance in Army of Darkness alongside Bruce Campbell. This film is a must for horror fans. Campy horror at its finest.
In 1994, Bill loaned his voice to the SEGA video game Corpse Killer, a cheesy FMV game that, if you haven’t played it by now, you most likely won’t. It has monotonous game play though still managed to be enjoyable.
That same year, Bill showed off his softer side with appearances in Prehysteria! 3, before returning to a gritty crime thriller in Blood Run.
The late 90’s saw Bill appear in a string of made for television and straight to video movies. As the millennium drew near, he returned to horror with The Convent (2000). An unoriginal, yet highly entertaining splatter film that follows the formula of a group of dumb teenagers awakening a demonic force that they cannot deal with.
Minimal tension but plenty of over-the-top laughs. Plus you get to see Bill alongside Coolio as well as Adrienne Barbeau. If you’re looking for some background noise, The Convent is highly recommended.
In 2003, Bill channeled his inner Chop Top for the role of Otis for Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses. I’m not going to lie, I do not like this film in the slightest. I found it to be a mixture of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre meets Top Secret with no likable characters and no memorable scenes. In saying that, I do appreciate what this film did for the horror genre and despite my dislike for the film, there are many who like the over-the-top gore and violence.
While I’m not a fan of Rob Zombie’s films in general (I personally think they’re all interchangeable, usually with poor storytelling and almost a ‘need’ for mainstream rape sequences), I can appreciate the performances of those involved and the cult status that this film now has, along with its 2005 sequel, The Devil’s Rejects.
Speaking of The Devil’s Rejects, I have to say I actually enjoyed that far more than I did House of 1000 Corpses. It’s not an easy film to watch as the savagery of it makes torture-porn films like Hostel and the Saw franchise look tame by comparison.
I believe the reason I enjoyed The Devil’s Rejects so much more than House of 1000 Corpses was the ambiguity as to who we were supposed to sympathize with. On paper it’s clear cut; psychopathic killers = bad. Sheriff on a vigilante mission = good. But in this, the lines are blurred, making for compelling storytelling. Or as compelling as Rob Zombie stories can get.
The dark, twisted humour works well to lighten the mood of an otherwise extremely gritty film. Without it, you get a sense that the film would just be too much for most audiences.
Bill’s performance as Otis in both House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects is nothing short of phenomenal. Gritty, powerful, and frightening, the moment he enters the frame, he commands the attention of the audience. The fact that he was without a shirt for the most part held my attention (In my defense, I am female and a sucker for older men with blue eyes). He made crazy and creepy look good while providing chills and thrills at the same time.
Sticking with dark humour, Bill appeared in the comedy-horror Evil Bong in 2006. The plot is ridiculous but if you’re into movies that are so bad they’re good, Evil Bong is for you. Also that year, Bill starred in Fallen Angels, A Dead Calling and Thr3e.
Horror may have been Bill’s forte, but did you know in 2007 he had a guest appearance on Days of Our Lives? It’s true.
That same year, Rob Zombie came knocking again, this time offering Bill a chance to appear in one of the horror genre’s greatest slasher franchises; Halloween.
For those of you who are familiar with my work, you’ll know how apprehensive I was about seeing this remake. Despite my dislike for all things Rob Zombie, there are some elements of this remake I do like. Danielle Harris returning to Haddonfield for starters. Brad Dourif as Sheriff Leigh Brackett and even Malcolm McDowell did me proud with the material he was given. But it was the cameos by a number of horror icons that really intrigued me, and Bill’s cameo was no exception. Bill appeared as Zach ‘Z-Man’ Garrett who, no surprises, found himself on the end of Michael’s reign of terror.
The following years came an array of horror movies. House (2008), The Alphabet Killer (2008), Babysitter Wanted (2008), Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008), The Devil’s Tomb (2009), The Graves (2009), Dead Air (2009), and Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet (2009) dominated Bill’s career.
I want to take a moment to mention Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet. While critics were… well, critical of it, I loved it. An urban legend slasher film that saw Bill team up with Danielle Harris again. For those Friday the 13th fans, Bill’s character known as Graveyard Gus is a nice homage to Crazy Ralph. If you’re after a teenage-slasher film with a hint of an urban legend, this is the film for you.
In 2010, he took over for fellow horror icon Robert Englund in 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams as Mayor Buckman. That year he also appeared in The Tortured. The Tortured is about the kidnapping of six year-old Benjamin Michael Landry and the subsequence torture of his killer, John Kozlowski (Moseley). This film was quite the surprise as I found myself on the edge of my seat. It’s a short film in comparison to some others, but worth the watch. This horror-thriller is the perfect time-filler.
The Devil’s Carnival (2012) is a fantastic horror-musical. It moves your imagination by giving a great story as well as a lesson in morals. The performances from all involved are truly magical but keep an eye open for Bill as the Magician. If you haven’t seen this, get your hands on a copy ASAP. Definitely one of my favourite Bill Moseley performances to date.
Paying homage to past films and actors usually has a drawback, but for Bill it seems to be second nature, with horror fans lapping it up. In 2013, he returned to the franchise that put him on the horror map and appeared in the new reimagining of Texas Chainsaw as Drayton Sawyer.
Texas Chainsaw 3D is a weak installment in the franchise, with some arguing that it is the worst film so far (though I still maintain nothing could be as worse as Return of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre with Renee Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey), but the opening ten minutes where we meet the entire Sawyer clan, including Boss Sawyer (played by the original Leatherface, Gunnar Hansen) is an intense standoff.
The film may be a flop, but watching Bill take on the role made famous by Jim Siedow is a real treat.
2014 saw Bill land on my turf of Queensland for the Chris Sun film, Charlie’s Farm. Forget Jason, Michael, and Freddy. Charlie Wilson is the new slasher on the block. Bill played Charlie’s foul-mouthed father John Wilson, a farm owner who “hires” backpackers to work for him before raping and killing them.
Despite being in the film for a few minutes, Bill certainly left his mark as a sadistic torturer.
I might be a little biased, but Charlie’s Farm is a fantastic independent Australian film. Brutal with a twisted sense of humour, there’s talk now about a potential sequel to this sleeper hit.
Ever wanted to see Bill Moseley team up with Kane Hodder as a sadistic pair of brothers who kidnap crash victims to torture them while riding around in a beat-up old ambulance? Old 37 (2015) gives us exactly that.
Thrilling and captivating, Old 37 was refreshing. Plenty of blood and gore for those who enjoy that kind of thing, while the story is fleshed out and pretty decent. Creativity abound, the opening sequence will churn your stomach while the final scene will leave you aghast.
In 2016, Bill reprised his role as the Magician from The Devil’s Carnival for the sequel, Alleluia! The Devil’s Carnival. Returning to the horror-musical sub-genre, Bill and the rest of the cast bring this tale about Lucifer and his carnies plotting against Heaven to life with whimsical joy. If you’re a fan of Repo! The Genetic Opera, you’ll fall in love with both The Devil’s Carnival and Alleluia! The Devil’s Carnival.
The Possession Experiment (2016) has a wonderful premise. Brandon Jensen has always loved horror. So when he has the chance to study exorcisms, he decides he’s going to go all out. He starts a fund raising campaign online that goes viral overnight. With the help of two people he meets along the way, Brandon shows the whole world The Possession Experiment. Unfortunately, the story was quite weak, despite a solid idea. Watching Bill as Father Mark Campbell in the opening flashback sequence encouraged me to continue with the film. The atmosphere surrounding Bill and his performance as he tries to exorcise a demon from a woman was suspenseful.
That atmosphere didn’t seem to last the moment we’re introduced to Brandon Jensen. It was almost as though two different directors were working on the same film.
It’s a shame that Bill isn’t in this film longer because he really was the stand out star. Unlike the other actors who seem to struggle to make their characters believable, Bill is Father Mark Campbell. He sucks you into his performance. He is the only shining light in this otherwise forgettable film.
Bill certainly isn’t short of work. With upcoming films like Dark Roads 79, I Am Fear, Boar (another Chris Sun film), and the newly announced return of the Firefly family in 3 From Hell, the horror genre can rejoice knowing that Bill Moseley will be gracing our screens for years to come.
Ahlephia’s Top 5 Bill Moseley Movies
1: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) – This gave Bill his jump into the horror genre. Long live Chop Top!
2: White Fang (1991) – I can’t help it. I’m a sucker for this film. A fantastic story with a sublime cast. Bill is outstanding in his role of Luke.
3: The Devil’s Rejects (2005) – Otis is chilling and malevolent. Also kind of hot… yeah, I’ll seek help for that last statement. But this is a case where the sequel outweighs the original. Be warned, it is a long movie.
4: Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out (1989) – Considering these films aren’t supposed to be taken too seriously, I can’t help but admire Bill’s performance as Ricky Caldwell in this third installment. A fantastic performance that has to be seen to be believed.
5: Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008) – It was a toss-up between this or The Devil’s Carnival for this position, but Repo! The Genetic Opera is a powerful film and Bill’s performance will leave you in awe.