‘Grave Conversations’ Takes Talk Shows Out of the Box and Into a Casket

Some jobs leave a lasting, profound impression. That was true for David Dastmalchian, the star of “Late Night with the Devil,” who found he wasn’t quite ready to abandon his talk show host duties after filming ended.

Now, he’s hosting an actual talk show but with a mordant twist: Dastmalchian conducts the interviews in Titan Casket coffins for “Grave Conversations.”

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“After playing a talk show host in my most recent film ‘Late Night with the Devil,’ I felt myself longing to take the interview format phase of my career one step further… with caskets,” Dastmalchian said in a statement. “The opportunity to interview my friends and colleagues presented itself with ‘Grave Conversations,’ a hilarious, heartfelt, and personal exploration of some of the things that matter most in life. And death.”

“Grave Conversations” was developed by Elan Gale (Titan Caskets’ creative director). Bill Dixon wrote the episodes, and Jacob Strunk directed them. The series premiered August 24 on Instagram with “The Fall of the House of Usher” star Kate Siegel and Dastmalchian in adjoining caskets. Mike Flanagan, the horror auteur behind “Gerald’s Game” and “The Haunting of Hill House,” will slide into a casket with Dastmalchian for the episode premiering May 1, while Matthew Lillard will lie in state May 8.

As the host, Dastmalchian is worlds away from the desperate character he played in “Late Night with the Devil. As David Ehrlich wrote in his review, “Dastmalchian’s nimble performance as a talk show host who wants to push the envelope without losing his audience’s goodwill allows ‘Late Night with the Devil’ to walk the line between horror and satire without losing its balance until the final minutes. Dorsey’s neediness is scary enough that the movie around him can largely survive on the strength of its atmosphere — on the disquiet created between the playful danger of live TV and the dawning realization that Jack is in over his head.”

Instead, Dastmalchian asks offbeat, probing questions in the hushed voice of a priest of an accomplished ASMR performer. “Do you think George Washington knew about the dinosaurs?” he asks Flanagan in Episode 2, and suddenly, a whole new world of possibilities for talk shows emerges. Sometimes it just takes the specter of death to liven up a tired genre.

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