Elijah Wood's having a dreadful day

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Elijah Wood and Leigh Whannell on "Cooties"

BY DONNA FREYDKIN

Ask Elijah Wood who he'd invite over for the ultimate fright night of debauchery, and he immediately reels off a list of names.

"John Carpenter would be great for a yarn. I'd throw William Friedkin in there too because he's hilarious. I've met him and he is incredibly present and vital as a human being. So much energy. He'll just run with a conversation," says Wood.

The actors knows of what he speaks. He's starring in the zombie comedy Cooties, about kids who turn into the undead after eating contaminated chicken nuggets – yes, really. The movie was co-written by fellow horror buff Leigh Whannell, who penned Saw and Insidious. Their film opens Friday, and is available for download on VOD and iTunes.

Wood's Clint is a floundering writer, who returns home after failing as a novelist in New York City; he's forced to teach summer school and winds up, through a food malfunction, dealing with pre-pubescent monsters.

"He's really awkward. He's got this thing where he has these aspirations and he doesn't quite get the world around him and how he might be observed," says Wood of Clint. "But he's got a good heart and means well, so I relate to that."

Both Whannell and Wood are well-versed in dramas of dread. Their recommendation to really get under your skin: the 1972 Wes Craven chiller The Last House on the Left. "It's such an unpleasant film," says Wood.

And even though both are industry veterans – Wood has starred in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as The Good Son and The Ice Storm – they both geek out when their meet their fellow architects of cinematic doom.

"I went to a dinner last night for Wes Craven. There's a little club of horror directors in LA, the Masters of Horror they call themselves," says Whannell. "It was insane to walk into this restaurant in Burbank and all these people I grew up with – Stuart Gordon, Bill Lustig, Robert Rodriguez, Eli Roth. It was so fun. They're such fun characters."

So are Wood and Whannell, who play off each other – especially when it comes to their mutual affection for a genre that's often the ignored bastard stepchild of Hollywood, much to their mutual frustration.

"What surprised me was how much of a horror fan and horror geek Elijah was. He was telling me about films. Elijah is the guy who'll tell you about the Bulgarian horror film that was released in one print in 1971 and 12 people have seen it. That was really cool, to find that out. Horror is such a marginalized genre in a lot of ways. It used to be my pet peeve when people make a horror film and call it a supernatural thriller," says Whannell.

Wood nods in agreement.

"That drives me (expletive) crazy," says Wood. "They think it means B movie."

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Elijah Wood's having a dreadful day
Wes Craven arrives at The Weinstein Company and Dimension Films AFM cocktail party held at Hotel Shangri-La on November 7, 2010 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 26: Wes Craven and his wife attend the Premiere of Magnolia Pictures' 'Life Itself' at the ArcLight Hollywood on June 26, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 11: Directyor Wes Craven arrives at the premiere of the Weinstein Company's 'Scream 4' Presented by AXE Shower at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on April 11, 2011 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 11: Actress Courteney Cox, director Wes Craven, actress Neve Campbell, and Iya Labunka arrive at the premiere of The Weinstein Company's 'Scream 4' Presented by AXE Shower held at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on April 11, 2011 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
(L-R) Actresses Neve Campbell and Emma Roberts, director Wes Craven, and actor David Arquette speak onstage during Spike TV's 'Scream 2010' at The Greek Theatre on October 16, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 16: Director Wes Craven (L) and Iya Labunka arrives at Spike TV's 'Scream 2010' at The Greek Theatre on October 16, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 16: Director Wes Craven arrives at Spike TV's 'Scream 2010' at The Greek Theatre on October 16, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Wes Craven visits the Apple Store Soho on October 4, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Dario Cantatore/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD - FEBRUARY 09: Director Wes Craven (right) and wife Iya arrives on the red carpet of the Los Angeles premiere of 'Friday The 13th' >> at Grauman's Chinese Theater on February 9, 2009 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Todd Williamson/WireImage)
Director Wes Craven onstage at SPIKE TV's 'Scream 2008' Awards held at the Greek Theatre on October 18, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/FilmMagic)
PASADENA, CA - JULY 10: Director Wes Craven speaks during the 2006 Summer Television Critics Press Tour forthe Starz Entertainment Group at the Ritz Carlton Hotel on July 10, 2006 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Iya Labunka and husband Wes Craven, director during 'Red Eye' Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals at Mann Bruin Theater in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by Todd Williamson/FilmMagic)
Wes Craven during 'Gangs of New York' - Los Angeles Premiere at The Directors Guild in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Sarah Michelle Gellar, Wes Craven & Tori Spelling during 'Scream 2' - Hollywood Premiere in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
A poster for Wes Craven's 1972 horror film 'The Last House on the Left' starring Sandra Peabody. (Photo by Movie Poster Image Art/Getty Images)
A poster for Wes Craven's 1977 horror film 'The Hills Have Eyes' starring Suze Lanier-Bramlett. (Photo by Movie Poster Image Art/Getty Images)
A poster for Wes Craven's 1982 science fiction film 'Swamp Thing', featuring Adrienne Barbeau. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
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Ask Elijah Wood who he'd invite over for the ultimate fright night of debauchery, and he immediately reels off a list of names.

"John Carpenter would be great for a yarn. I'd throw William Friedkin in there too because he's hilarious. I've met him and he is incredibly present and vital as a human being. So much energy. He'll just run with a conversation," says Wood.

He's starring in the zombie comedy Cooties, about kids who turn into the undead after eating contaminated chicken nuggets – yes, really. The movie was co-written by fellow horror buff Leigh Whannell, who penned Saw and Insidious. Their film opens Friday, and is available for download on VOD and iTunes.

Wood's Clint is a floundering writer, who returns home after failing as a novelist in New York City; he's forced to teach summer school and winds up, through a food malfunction, dealing with pre-pubescent zombies.

"He's really awkward. He's got this thing where he has these aspirations and he doesn't quite get the world around him and how he might be observed," says Wood of Clint. "But he's got a good heart and means well, so I relate to that."

Both Whannell and Wood are well-versed in dramas of dread. Their recommendation to really get under your skin: the 1972 Wes Craven chiller The Last House on the Left. "It's such an unpleasant film," says Wood.

And even though both are industry veterans – Wood has starred in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as The Good Son and The Ice Storm – they both geek out when their meet their fellow developers of doom.

"I went to a dinner last night for Wes Craven. There's a little club of horror directors in LA, the Masters of Horror they call themselves," says Whannell. "It was insane to walk into this restaurant in Burbank and all these people I grew up with – Stuart Gordon, Bill Lustig, Robert Rodriguez, Eli Roth. It was so fun. They're such fun characters."

So are Wood and Whannell, who play off each other – especially when it comes to their mutual affection for a genre that's often the ignored bastard stepchild of Hollywood.

"What surprised me was how much of a horror fan and horror geek Elijah was. He was telling me about films. Elijah is the guy who'll tell you about the Bulgarian horror film that was released in one print in 1971 and 12 people have seen it. That was really cool, to find that out. Horror is such a marginalized genre in a lot of ways. It used to be my pet peeve when people make a horror film and call it a supernatural thriller," says Whallen.

Wood nods in agreement.

"That drives me (expletive) crazy," says Wood. "They think it means B movie."


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