Death Valley: Charlie Sanders Interview

Sanders plays bumbling cop Joe in the bonkers, gory new horror comedy on MTV. But he’d be a Doctor Who companion given half a chance

If there’s something weird in your neighbourhood, who ya gonna call?


Yeah, ’cos Ghostbusters are little, well, limited. What you need when your neighbourhood is overrun by all manner of supernatural creatures is the Undead Task Force, the LAPD squad at the heart of outrageous new horror comedy Death Valley , which premieres in the UK on Monday 30 January at 10pm on MTV.

SFX talked to one of the show’s stars, Charlie Sanders, and we’ll let him do the introductions…

SFX : Could you fill us in on what the show is about and who your character, Joe, is?

Charlie Sanders: “Yeah, Death Valley follows the adventures of the Undead Task Force. The premise is that the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles is overrun by zombies, werewolves and vampires and the UTF are unleashed to fight the monsters. My character Joe Stubeck is the by-the-book family man of the characters.”

So, is there is a deep, underlying social message to this show?

“Uh no, I don’t think so. Any social commentary is just after-thought. (laughs) But the fans are welcome to extrapolate anything they like.”

You’re paired up with a brash new partner.

“Billy is a bit of a loose cannon – he just wants to shoot first ask questions later. He loves chasing chicks while I think we should do everything by the rules.”

The other main aspect of the show is that it’s a mockumentary in style.

“That’s right. It’s about this camera crew following them around to make a news special.”

It looks like a great chance to act like a bunch of grown up school kids playing with big weapons.

“That’s totally true. Me and Bryce, who plays Billy, every chance we’ve got, we go into the arsenal room. It is only really featured in one episode, but it was built at the very beginning, so any chance we got we went in there and grabbed the biggest gun we could find to play with.”

Are you a fan of the genre?

“Oh yeah. Me and my brothers as kids used to watch all the universal horror movies: Frankenstein and The Wolfman and Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman . And I’m a comedian, so getting to do both at the same time is so cool.”

Do you primarily consider yourself an actor or comedian?

“I’ve always considered myself a comedic actor. That’s what I would call myself. I started off doing improv comedy in Minnesota where I’m from and I ended up doing theatre in New York and LA. When I started doing both on Late Night with Conan O’Brien that started me off on TV.”

Next page for more interview and a sneak peek at episode one



Death Valley looks like a show with a lot of improvisation…

“Yeah, we’ve got a lot of improv. We have great scripts and really good writers, but we’ll ad-lib and do some improvisation during the takes as well.”

What kind of form might that take?

“We’d do a few takes just how the script is written, then do a few takes where we’ll be a bit looser and do whatever we want. Especially with Bryce and I. Over all the months shooting the show we got a rapport. A lot of the time once we’d done shooting the scene, they would keep the cameras rolling as we improvised to see where we’d take it.”

Do you enjoy the outrageous gore in the show?

“Oh I love it. There’s all types of crazy stuff that happens with monsters and things getting shot and exploding. I’m regularly covered in fake blood.”

What does the blood taste like on your show?

“It was kind of sweet, some sort of corn syrup base. It didn’t taste like blood.”

What was the weirdest moment for you? Were there any moments you were thinking, “What am I doing here?”

“Yeah, when you go to the catering line and sit down to take your first bit of some pile of steak and you look over and there’s a man with his face falling off eating across from you.”

What does your mum think of the show?

“She likes it! She fast forwards through some of the grosser parts but she likes that I’m on a TV show. My brothers love it.”

If you had to make a Frankenstein monsters out of the other cast members, which bits of them would you use?

“What a great question! Wait, let me answer this carefully. Well, the most obvious one would be the body of Tania [who plays Officer Carla Rinaldi] with the head of Bryan Callen [Captain Frank Dashell].”

Yeah, we can see that. Whose brain?

“ The show creator Spider’s brain, because he can come up with some weird stuff.”

What part of you would you donate?

“I guess, my improvisational skills.”

An improvisational man-woman monster.

“Yeah, exactly. This could be a series of its own!”

What about the future? What are your ambitions?

“I’d really like to do a second season of Death Valley . I love writing and acting, so at some point I’d really like to have a show that I make, I write and I’m in. And I’d love to be a companion on Doctor Who . That’s been a dream since childhood. I think it would be awesome if the Doctor ended up with a bumbling American side-kick somehow!”

Death Valley


Dave Golder
Freelance Writer

Dave is a TV and film journalist who specializes in the science fiction and fantasy genres. He's written books about film posters and post-apocalypses, alongside writing for SFX Magazine for many years.