Exclusive interview: On the road to terror with Ted Raimi

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 23: Actor Ted Raimi speaks on stage during the "Ash vs Evil Dead" panel during Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center on July 23, 2016 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for STARZ)
SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 23: Actor Ted Raimi speaks on stage during the "Ash vs Evil Dead" panel during Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center on July 23, 2016 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for STARZ) /
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Ted Raimi
BEVERLY HILLS, CA – SEPTEMBER 14: Actor Ted Raimi at the The Paley Center For Media’s PaleyFest 2016 Fall TV Preview – STARZ’s “Ash Vs. Evil Dead” held at The Paley Center for Media on September 14, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images) /

Ted Raimi chatted with us recently about his love for horror lore, history, road trips and his latest spooky project, the Route 666 podcast.

Ted Raimi is a familiar face for fans of popular culture. With an impressive resume spanning decades in movies and television, he is a talented character actor who traverses genres with ease.

An adventurous soul, he is always willing to take the path less traveled. This time, he embarks on a new journey into the world of podcasting with Route 666, a virtual road trip filled with horror lore and haunting atmosphere. The first episode will be released on May 2.

We were fortunate enough to speak with Raimi about his love for history, his personal influences and what lies ahead for the Grim Fabulist. So, let’s hop into his Chevy Impaler.

It’s story time, ghouls!

Ted Raimi
View of Delicate Arch sandstone rock formation at Arches National Park, near Moab, Utah, 1960s. (Photo by Harvey Meston/Getty Images) /

Back to the Past

1428 Elm: Hey Ted, glad to finally catch up with you. We know that you are a fan of the old-time radio dramas and in the 70’s, you grew up listening to E.G. Marshall on CBS Radio Mystery Theater. What made you decide to create Route 666?

Ted Raimi: I love history so much that it is really the only academic subject that I excelled in. I pretty much bombed out of everyone except history because it was the only thing that interested me. When I get stuck in web search rabbit holes, I’m always looking through history ones so I thought, well, I really wanted to create a podcast.

It’s something I wanted to do for a long time and now because of our isolations, we have nothing but time. So, I can’t make movies now but I can do this podcast. I’m going to do this really for me and I also needed to find something I could do essentially by myself.

I would have preferred to do a dramatic one initially but realizing I couldn’t bring anyone over to my house of course, I decided to do this and I recorded the app and researched it. It all came together very fast, this first one.

After I had done that, I sent the episode to a friend of mine, Brian Rozman, he’s a musician and a producer who also has his own techno/punk band called, Carjack. I love his stuff so much so I sent it to him. He is doing the final mixing for me and all of the music. Its sort of a collaborative effort. He and I have wanted to work together for a long time now.

Most of the show is a response to how much I love history and also haunted history of America.

1428 Elm: Are you familiar with the lore of the real Route 666? Last year, you did a road trip through the Four Corner states.

Ted Raimi: Yes, I am familiar with some of that lore. There’s a lot of great stuff especially through Arizona, naturally. There is a loneliness and a solitariness to all of that history. I think that’s part of where my podcast began because when you are driving along it, you have so much time to think and frequently, you’re thinking can turn dark and sometimes morbid.

This can lead you to begin to think about all of the strangeness along Route 666. You know it was never intended to be that way. Of course, Route 666 was one of the first intercontinental roads in the United States. It predates all of our highways.

I believe Route 80 ate a lot of that road up. There are still parts of it around and they are quite abandoned. We have a duty as Americans to take a road trip, you know. I suppose its like you can’t be a Frenchman unless you sit at a café for a while. You have wine and coffee. Its just part of the culture. You can’t really consider yourself a Parisienne if you don’t do that.

So, I guess, you can’t really consider yourself a Spaniard if you don’t really practice Siesta and making paella. You most certainly cannot be an American at some point or other in your life if you don’t make a road trip.

That is a dangerous thing but that’s part of the journey. It’s in our psyches and all of our subconsciousness, getting in a car and going somewhere. There is also a much darker side to that and I thought I might explore that in this show.

Ted Raimi
LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 15: Actor Ted Raimi attends the fuse Fangoria Chainsaw Awards at the Orpheum Theater on October 15, 2006 in Los Angeles, California. The awards will premiere on fuse October 22, 2006. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images) /

The Lure of Horror History

1428 Elm: You are always traipsing through graveyards and doing stuff like that. Were you always attracted to the paranormal?

Ted Raimi: Yes, I always have been! Always. I don’t know why. I’m not sure why it attracted me but it always did. Graveyards are some of the most life affirming places, oddly enough.

You realize like looking at the ocean or looking at a mountain how finite your life is. When you leave a graveyard, which I like to visit frequently, you are more affirmed, thinking, “Damn! Making that phone call doesn’t seem so hard.” Or doing that thing that is scary isn’t really so scary at all.

It frightens me because there are thousands of dead bodies all around me and that’s scary. I do believe in ghosts and I do believe in certain supernatural things. I’m afraid of graveyards but I am also incredibly attracted to them as well.

1428 Elm: I know on the podcast you talk about the tunnel at the end of your street that you don’t want to go through, ghost trains and haunted hospitals…are these paranormal legends or are you the creator?

Ted Raimi: In this show, everything is researched and researched again. It really is history. I was thinking about doing fiction and I may do a horror podcast next but right now this is me exorcising all my historical demons and all of the horror ones therein.

I have a friend who I was very inspired by, her name is Lindsay Fitzharris and she is a wonderful, impressive writer who wrote a book called, The Butchering Art. If you buy a copy of this work and read it, its about this guy Joseph Lister who worked in the London Medical Hospital in the 1800’s where at that time, the only way to cure infection was to remove a limb.

But Lister wouldn’t have any of that. It was right after Louis Pasteur discovered germs and Lister thought if we could just convince these doctors to wash their hands and to keep these wounds clean, its possible they could heal on their own. But what is so obvious now, was not then.

After reading this book, I thought the story was told very well and there was good gore too. Just great amounts of zest and gusto for all this gore.

More from 1428 Elm

Besides historically being incredibly accurate, that’s when I thought I would like to do something like that. That’s where a lot of this idea for my podcast came from.

I wanted it to be historically accurate with a good amount of research. There’s no reason why you can’t have authentic history and factual history and also, incredibly good scares. I try to combine all of those.

1428 Elm: You definitely give off a rock and roll Rod Serling vibe. Is your podcast influenced by his work to a certain extent?

Ted Raimi: A little bit. Its really the classic narrator idea. Serling had a wonderful presence and voice. Also, he could really tell a tale. He’s a good guy to emulate for sure but I’m really just doing me. Mostly, I wanted a good, fun beginning as well.

You know, the beginning where I invite you, the listener into my car because its raining. Because there is no way you are going to wait in the rain for hours. So, you come in only to find that the car has no door handles and you can’t get out. There’s no way out of the car. It’s pretty frightening.

1428 Elm: The music in the teaser definitely added to the terror level.

Ted Raimi: I had initially thought that I would have a lot of droning, spooky music behind my voice. That is how I originally planned it. Once I gave it to Carjack to score, it became this strange techno/rock drone stuff behind it. And it gave the show a whole different feel.

1428 Elm: Will Route 666 be a weekly or monthly podcast?

Ted Raimi: At this point, I’m releasing the show on Saturdays, so the first episode will be on May 2. This first season will be at the moment, 10 episodes long. Recording it is quite quick and easy. All of the research and factual data takes days and days to do. It is hard work.