John Schneider of Smallville and Dukes of Hazard fame is here to talk about his latest movie Smothered. Billed as being the horror version of The Expendables it stars many famous horror movie icons such as Kane Hodder and R.A. Mihailoff! You can read my review of it here! As to the interview, read on…
Congratulations on Smothered! I’m not a horror fan really and so was surprised by how well the movie worked for me, despite it clearly being primarily aimed at genre fans. Was it difficult to achieve both an accessible, fun movie for people like myself whilst also loading the film with horror icons and references for fans? Was that a concern of yours?
My belief was that as long as I included a fair amount of humanity in the character development that audiences would respond to the people, regardless of the situation they found themselves in.
Well it worked! So how did you come to the idea for the movie?
I was so tired of the same old college pretty girl getting killed by the man in the mask that I thought it was about time for it to be her turn!
As the actors were often playing versions of themselves here it surely must have been difficult to strike a balance between generating humour out of these characters, and also presenting their relationships as real and believable in the way that you did. How did you approach the writing and development of these figures?
I’ve known several of these actors for quite some time so felt comfortable in asking them to stretch their comedy. As far as their internal relationships I let that take care of itself on the set. The result, I believe was magical!
The actors were not involved in the writing process however I did listen to their suggestions as we went along. And also paid close attention to how they related to one another in the dressing rooms and at meals. I got to be a fly on the wall and gleaned many moments for the film from that perspective.
As to Brea Grant’s DeeDee, how did you approach the writing of her character? Clearly the over sexualisation of her is both intentional and knowing, but regardless did Grant have any qualms about playing her?
My goal with that character was to present a woman who is trying to hide the fact that she is emotionally damaged. Brea did a wonderful job of portraying an overly confident yet frail beautiful woman hiding behind the mask of those enormous breasts. I don’t believe she had any qualms about playing the role. I would love to hear her perspective on it however.
You know what… I’ll try and get her on and ask her!
In my eyes the fact that she smothers men to death with her ridiculously sized breasts is such a clear message from you about repositioning the horror trope of a sexualised female into being the scary killer that I wonder whether you ever considered a different signature murder method for her to use?
She actually does arrange for their demise and several other ways. However, the smothering of them will serve to inform both the prequel and the sequel to this film.
My team and I actually didn’t have to scrap anything from the script. The final cut of the film is only missing one scene that lasted about 35 seconds. That had one word in and Trixie did a ballet move by firelight at the TP. When all was said and done it just didn’t seem to fit in the narrative. It is beautiful however and will be part of the special features on the DVD release.
Sounds interesting! Can you tell us a little about those sequels and prequels that you mentioned?
Sure. The prequel explains how DD got so damaged in the first place. It will be called Suffered. The sequel is the story of what happens to Kane and Chunks after Smothered. Of course both Agness and DD will appear in that film as well. It will be called Striper after Kane’s new horror icon character. It is hinted at in the end of Smothered.
Yeah I remember, sounds good! Do you have your hopes set on bringing in some new horror icons in these movies?
There are several horror icons I would like to include in both of these films. But I’m going to hold off on saying who they are until I’m sure I can get them!
My only concern was that some people would feel the same way I felt about non-linear storytelling! However, once I started showing it to people who are fans of puzzles, I saw that it had great value and that it could in fact become a character itself…
– John Schneider
Fair enough, do you think that those two will also have nonlinear timelines?
I would have to say that my gut tells me the prequel and the sequel will be linear. The nonlinear timeline of Smothered is a device to include a first time viewer in the development of the franchise. I consider it keeping the audience’s weight on the balls of their feet rather than on their heels! I don’t believe this will be needed since both the prequel and the sequel will be answering questions raised in Smothered. Time will tell however.
I have read that you aren’t a massive fan of how the technique was used in Pulp Fiction due to being used primarily as a puzzle for us to solve, is that how you feel this technique is most often used/abused?
I don’t find it abusive I find it over used as a device. I feel that non linear storytelling is usually used to distract an audience from a less than interesting a story. I never thought I would use it in Smothered but made that decision based on the early death in the linear version of one of the most endearing characters. The special features on the DVD will include a linear version of the film. At that point I will be soliciting the opinions of all those who have seen it both ways.
My only concern was that some people would feel the same way I felt about non-linear storytelling! However, once I started showing it to people who are fans of puzzles, I saw that it had great value and that it could in fact become a character itself or an important part of a story telling process. I am now a fan!
And finally, I understand that you want your career to be marked by Smothered as a turning point towards a different perception of you. You certainly seem to be out to make your public image a little less clean here! Are you going to be focusing on horror movies from now on? Or will you be taking on a mixture of projects?
The other films we are planning on doing are all visceral in nature. I would not call them horror films but I would call them very different, very unusual and very unsettling ways to tell stories that are usually given the light of day. For example: stories about grief, about hospice, about dementia, about justifiable homicide. These are the kinds of stories in the areas that I will be jumping into in the future. Yes there are some legitimate horror indie stories and in the perspective that I will take in order to tell them, but I don’t believe people will consider them horror films. I’m anxious to see what category the audience decides to put them in!
I look forward to seeing what comes next. Many thanks for speaking with me today. Congratulations on the movie again, I really hope this new direction works out for you!
Thanks for your time and for the ink! I look forward to many of these in the future, perhaps one on one! Onward!
So there you go! Let me know what you thought of the interview in the comment box below!