Monday, September 25, 2006

This Is One SHIVER You Don't Want Running Down Your Spine

Tis the season for sequels. The Grudge 2, Crank (Come on, it's really just The Transporter 3), utility companies crying for rate increases and most of the crap on the fall schedule for network television.

And Fear Of Clowns 2. Yup, Shivers is clawing his way back to a DVD player near you. For those of you who have no idea what the first film was like, go rent or buy it. Scary clown, severed head, naked blonde and big axes. Good for an afternoon of thrills. But the sequel offers more violence, more action, and, well, just more.

Kevin Kangas, the director/writer of both of these films, is currently wrapping up the editing and polishing on Fear Of Clowns 2. As much as I'd like to say that we here at The Dog Pile ran into him at the local Supercenter as he was buying large amounts of cold medicine and sulfur matches in a bid to finance his next project, it just wouldn't be true. He's at home working around the clock (the man doesn't even have the time to watch an episode of Family Guy). So, we pestered him through emails until he threatened lawsuits to get this interview. Thankfully, he has dropped the lawsuits, but he did mumble something about still having that huge axe Shivers used in the first film.

Dog Pile: What prompted you to revisit the Fear Of Clowns concept? I mean, I know Lion's Gate asked, but beyond the simple answer, what do you want to achieve in this film that you didn't in the first one?

Kevin Kangas: Well, when they indicated they were interested in a sequel, it was the furthest thing from my mind. So at first I balked -- I didn't really want to jump back in, especially since the entire experience wasn't exactly a good one. But then an idea hit me, and I got excited. I thought it was something I could get behind, and, at the same time, I could answer some of the unanswered questions from the first movie -- things that got cut out of the final version of the movie. I started writing the script, and things fell together. I was pretty happy with the final script -- after the set up it's pretty fast paced.

D. P.: You seem to have Shivers and the leading lady from the first film back. But Rick Ganz is absent. Why is that? Are you saving him back for that sequel to Hunting Humans? Since he doesn't seem to be on screen, is he on the crew? What did you do with his body, man?!? We know what you did last summer!!!!!!

K.K.:Well, I don't want to go into the specifics of why Rick's not in the film. I haven't talked to him in about eight months. Eventually I'd love to get him back for a Hunting Humans sequel, but for now I'm done on the sequels. From a story vantage though, this is actually Detective Peters' story now -- it's not even Lynn's anymore. So Tuck(Rick's character) didn't really fit into the picture anyway.

D.P. : From what I've been able to figure out from the message board postings and from your casting, this film sounds like it will be less suggested horror and more action horror. Is this the direction the film is going, or do you have something sneaky in mind using a group of beefy guys going after Shivers? Brokeback Carnival, maybe?

K.K.: Damn -- you leaked the subtitle of FOC2: Brokeback Carnival--well, I guess it's out there now. But seriously, yes, this is a faster horror film -- more killing. There's burning cars, gunfights, action scenes, stunts and, oh yeah, CLOWNS.

D.P.: What can you tell me about the story without ruining things for anyone who stumbles across the interview on my blog site?

K.K.: It's two years later, and Shivers has escaped from the asylum with two other psychopaths -- and he's once again on the hunt for Lynn Blodgett. Frank Lama returns as Detective Peters, the sarcastic cop with an attitude. He's diagnosed with a rare disease that's going to kill him within a year (not a spoiler -- it's the first scene of the movie), and he decides that rather than try to catch Shivers and put him away again, he's going to kill him. Only problem: Shivers is not that easy to kill.

D.P.: You torched a car in this film. Is this the one you mentioned on your message board ( you were saving back for just such an event? What history does this vehicle have? Why sacrifice the poor thing? And what was up with the freaky clip of the torching on YouTube? Anyone get hurt?

K.K.: Yes, it's the car I was saving for this event. It was my old car whose engine died. It still looked great, so I never got rid of it. I knew I'd either burn it or blow it up or crash it, and it would look like I'd ruined a perfectly good car. So it sat in my driveway for three years -- neighbors offered to buy it from me because it looked so nice. But I knew one day it would come in handy. The Youtube clip ( shows Johnny, the pyrotechnics guy, lighting the car. It was supposed to be a small, controlled fire, but you can see from the clip that all that went out the window. The car blew up, and the fire burned out of control. Johnny got some pretty bad burns and then, later got arrested. All in all, another perfect day of low-budget filmmaking.

D.P.: How did the production go this time? I mean, no hurricanes or tropical storms got in your way. And this is your third film. Did it go smoother? Do you feel more confident as director? Any new challenges (don't ya just hate those damn Yuppie buzz words?) this time around? Anything happen that honestly made you want to throw your hands up and walk away?

K.K.: It didn't go any smoother. We were denied permission to shoot in a park that originally gave us permission, and it was too late to change the schedule. So I found another hole in the fence, like I did in the first movie, and we snuck in. We had to post crew to watch for the security trucks -- every time one came by, we'd all hit the ground. And this was the first day of the shoot -- and I'm using an actor who appears regularly on One Tree Hill and was on Dawson's Creek. I was completely embarrassed. And also that day Mark had problems with the contacts -- he couldn't get one of them in. So all day long I have to shoot a movie about a black-eyed clown when he only has one black eye. We're shooting all sorts of weird angles so we don't show that eye. Another day we had police shut us down because we had two fake police cars with real police light racks driving around, lights blazing. Without permission or permits, I found out -- I thought our producer had all that stuff. Then the police tell us there's a local ordinance that says no one over the age of 12 can wear a mask or costume within the city limits. And I'm shooting a movie there with three clowns. The good news is that we had a behind-the-scenes guy shooting during this movie, and he got some great footage of all that stuff (including the cop shutting us down), so even if you don't like the movie you're gonna LOVE the Making Of. As far as directing, I get more confident after each movie. It used to be that if things went wrong I wondered whether I'd be able to make the scene work -- now I'm not so worried. I can always make it work. The question now is: How well can I make it work? But there were plenty of problems, believe me.

D.P.: You openly said you weren't completely happy with the last FOC film. Did this one give you a better feeling? Any one thing in this film that made you think, "This is why I got into filmmaking."?

K.K.: Yes -- this is going to be a much better movie than the first. I had more time to devote exclusively to the script, and I designed it from the get-go to be faster, much more action and killing. I set out to write the kind of script that I would have loved when I was twenty, and I think I got close. How close the script comes to the movie is still to be seen...

D.P.: Not to get into the budget, but did you bring this film in on the money? Have you discovered ways to cut corners without cutting yourself or the film short? Any one scene or event in the film that you can point at and say, "That is the most expensive thing in the film."

K.K.: This film went over budget by about twenty percent. I didn't try to cut too many corners on this one; I really wanted to make sure this didn't suffer from sequel-itis. I wanted better than the first movie -- and for the most part, it is. It still has a few problems -- indy shooting is all about compromise, but I hate compromise. As for the most expensive thing -- I spent a lot on FX this time around. There's thirteen deaths in this movie that involve FX as opposed to the four or so from the first movie. And then props and costuming cost a fortune. One of the new clowns is 6'8" and that costume had to be specially designed. They just don't make them that big. Then we had to get duplicates made of the other costumes since they're vintage, and you can't find them anymore.

D.P.: Are you done with Fear Of Clowns for the time being, or is Shivers going to be your trademark character, like Craven's Freddy or Paul Naschy's Waldemar Daninsky (a German/Polish name for a latino character in a series of Spanish films -- now THAT takes balls)? What is next for you as far as films go?

K.K.: I am DONE with Shivers--DONE with clowns. My crew tried to get me to commit to a third movie, but I've had enough. Even thinking about doing a third one sends images of the word "SELLOUT" through my mind. FOC2 is a self-contained movie. If I never revisited it, the story stands, and as it is, I feel like I've completely told the story. That said, a writer buddy of mine did advance a story idea that interested me, but I wouldn't do it until I had another movie or two under my belt. That said, I'm thinking about doing a Fear Of Clowns comic book. As for my next movie, I'm mulling over a few things right now. I have to finish the FOC2 stuff before moving on to anything else.

D.P.: Totally off the wall, but have you EVER considered a gothic story reworked for a modern setting? I think something like that could work. Like Blood-Spattered Bride with Renee Zellweger as the young bride and Sharon Stone as Carmilla. But on a far smaller budget. Just throwing the idea out there.

K.K.: No. Gothic to me screams of women in castles. But as far as remakes go I had a chance to see Brigadoon again for the first time in years, and I gotta tell you: I'd love to do a horror remake and call it Brigadoom. And yeah, I'd probably still keep it a musical, but it would have music by Rob Zombie and Nine Inch Nails. It would rock. And I'm not even joking.

D.P.: Not to have you trash other filmmakers, but what is the WORST film you've seen in the last year or so. I mean, one that makes you want to physically hurt people.

K.K.: X-men 3. This movie sucks so hard, especially coming after a good sequel in X-men 2. I don't think I've been this offended by a movie since I saw Tomb Raider.

D.P.: Thanks for the interview!

K.K.: Anyone in the New Jersey/New York area is welcome to come meet me and see the first footage to FOC2 at Fango's Weekend of Horrors at the end of September. The details are below:

(As always, The Dog Pile would like to thank Kevin Kangas for being a good sport. And we'd love to be on the list for a screener for Fear Of Clowns 2, but suggesting such a thing would be rude. Hint, hint. Show your support by visiting Kevin at his web site:

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