A Scary Good Time
Interview with Director Andy Palmer
By Jessica Dwyer
Funhouse Massacre lives up to its name. It’s a crazy bloodbath of slashstick (what happens when you combine slapstick and slashers.)
The movie never takes itself seriously and just has a good time which translates to one for the viewers. Director Andy Palmer and writers Ben Begley & Renee Dorian have created a geek one liner filled gore galore which features horror legends like Robert Englund, Clint Howard, and creepy performances by actors like Jere Burns as a Charles Manson wannabe.
Begley and Dorian themselves are also showcased in front of the camera alongside other fun performances by Matt Angel and Erick Chavarria as part of the group trapped in the middle of all the chaos on Halloween.
I had a chance to pick the brain of Andy Palmer about the film and how this mixture of genres and geekery came to be.
JD: I’m a huge Doctor Who fan. I love the amount of geekery in this film. So I guess this is a two part question. Where did you pull the pop culture references from and how did you pick them? And Doctor 7 never gets a lot of love, how did he become the one you chose to homage?
AP: Thank you so much for the kind words Jessica, and thank you for checking out the film. I am definitely a self-pronounced geek, but I don’t even hold a candle to Ben Begley who wrote the screenplay. He is the Encyclopedia Britannica of Nerd. Which is what I love about him and the script. The Funny thing about the Dr. Who costume is that was really the moment that I felt like I had to try and get the film made. Not so much because of the costume, but because of the “Who’s on First” routine between Morgan and Charlie, I just thought that was so clever. I was really in love with the script at that point.
JD: The cast in this was spectacular. I love Jere Burns from his days on “Dear John” and Carlos Alazraqui is always fun and well…Robert Englund is a legend. Can you talk about how the cast came together for this?
AP: I really feel like casting is a directors’ most important job. In almost every other aspect of the filmmaking process a director has help. Whether from the DP, the Production Designer, or AD, you surround yourself with talented people who have your back at all times to make a good movie. But the final casting decisions are all on the director, finding the perfect players to set the tone of the film. Our casting director Emily Schweber was fantastic, and brought in some amazingly talented folks in. Robert was our first choice for the Warden. He just has that amazing gravitas to his voice that I felt would serve as the perfect vessel to set up the story. Carlos and I have worked together on a few projects over the last few years, and I just love the guy. Emily was able to get the script to Jere, Clint, Courtney and Scottie etc. and once they read it, we were lucky enough to get them on board.
JD: There seemed to be quite a number of extras in this. Can you give some insight into filming and what stood out for you as the challenges of filming with such a number of victims?
AP: We did have some amazing background performers who came back night after night in the bitter cold of Middletown Ohio to get killed, run, jump, get blood poured in every crevasse of their bodies. A lot of credit goes to my 1st AD Elliott Barker who is able to make 75 background performers look like 200. He does a great job creating organized chaos. The biggest challenge with that many folks is time. We only had two days to shoot the big crowd scenes, but thanks to an amazing cast, crew and background crew we pulled off some crazy stuff in a short amount of time.
JD: How difficult was it to balance the comedy with the horror element in this? I think you did great job finding the right mix.
AP: Thanks so much. It’s a tricky thing I think to find the right tone and ultimately I think you have to lean one way or the other, rather than going for a true 50/50 split. I think that’s a huge emotional range you are asking the audience to make to go from horrified to laughing in a split second. Tonally I really tried to get the comedy right and then pepper in some great old school gore gags and some fun creepy moments, but for me, I wanted the humor to be center stage so to speak. And it really broke down that way on set as well. I relied heavily on my DP Filip Vandewal, Beki Ingram my head make-up artist and Ben Miller my production designer to create the scary and gory moments, while I was free to work with the actors more on playing with the comedy.
JD: How did you come up with the main crew of psychos and did you make up more detailed histories of each one before you began filming and would you ever want to do a film or possibly a fiction follow up about each of them?
AP: Ben and Renee created our house of crazies and I think they did a tremendous job. They basically mashed up real serial killers with some fun Arkham type villains. They just jumped off the page when I started reading it. And then it really was working with the actors to kind of make the characters their own. We had this great mix of seasoned veterans with some relative newcomers and it was amazing to see them all come together and create their own mythology to the characters. I think a great prequel idea would be a flick where Warden Kane tracks down all of the psychos in some sort of Sam Loomis road trip type horror film. But I would love to see some fan fiction go in that direction as well.
JD: Just how much blood did you go through?
AP: Not sure the exact gallon amount, but I will never forget after wrapping a very long day and walking into the make-up room and seeing one of Kurtzman’s amazing artists, David Greathouse, look up to me his arms covered in fake blood say, “I’ve never done this many gags in one film, ever”. It was a crazy roller coaster of a movie to make
Funhouse Massacre will be hitting VOD and DVD this year. Check out the trailer below
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