The Funhouse Massacre – Exclusive Interview with stars and writers Renee Dorian and Ben Begley
Appropriately released theatrically in the USA on Friday 13th November The Funhouse Massacre mashes up just about every American teen horror franchise you have ever seen, but it does so with a good deal of love and reverence for the genre which is why I found myself chuckling while simultaneously wincing at all the right moments, unlike so many of those smart-arsed parodies that fall flat on their face. And yes I do mean you Lesbian Vampire Killers!
The movie stars Renee Dorian and Ben Begley who also wrote the screenplay and the Hothouse tracked them down to their LA lair to have some words. Having really loved the movie we thought we’d let them tell you what The Funhouse Massacre is all about.
Ben opened the proceedings: ‘The Funhouse Massacre is a horror comedy love letter to our favorite 80s/90s slasher films. In our film, six of the world’s most deranged maniacs escape from their super max asylum and descend upon a funhouse based on their crimes. They take it over and start picking off lone victims so everyone else thinks it’s all part of the show, until it’s too late and they’re all trapped inside with these colorful lunatics and the hilarious blood bath ensues! The only ones hip to what’s going on are a potpourri of college kids that work at the local diner, a tough-as-nails sheriff, and her bumbling, but well-intentioned deputy.’
We saw nods to Scooby Doo, Harley Quinn and The Silence of the Lambs, amongst other influences so we wanted to find out, who and what have inspired both Ben and Renee as filmmakers when crafting The Funhouse Massacre?
Ben continued: ‘This film was really inspired by our favorite slasher movies- Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Scream. Halloween, because it’s still super scary to this day. Nightmare and Scream, because those movies make you laugh one minute and terrify you the next. We love that the jokes surprise you just as much as the scares in those two. Glad you caught the Harley Quinn nod, we based the villains as a mixture of our favorite baddies. From movie killers like Freddy, Michael Myers, and Jason, to real life maniacs- Dahmer and Manson, but also a heavy dash of Arkham Asylum. We really felt that if we made the killers too realistic in their sadism and killing styles, it would take away from the fun of the film. If there’s a comic book element to it and a slight over the top nature, it makes for a more fun escapist ride, for instance, we all know it’s impossible to rip someone’s face off with your bare hand, but it looks awesome on screen!’
Renee added: ‘That was always our barometer when writing this, we wanted to figure out a way to make each villain stand out and have their own style, but make sure they’re all super fun to watch too. You should be creeped out, but also cheering and laughing along the way. For example, we wanted to play upon people’s fears of going to the dentist,
but then amplify that by having him use a giant drill and crunch it through someone’s head entirely. There definitely is a Silence of the Lambs vibe to the opening, that was our goal. To have this really fun scene of exposition that shows you all the maniacs we are going to unleash on these unsuspecting funhouse goers. And as for Scooby Doo? I don’t know if that was a conscious influence, but there are definitely the physical humor moments where I could see a real life Scooby Doo scenario, especially with Gerardo (aka Machete) and Deputy Doyle.’
The movie looks like it was a lot of fun to make, but the Hothouse wanted to know if anything spooky happened on the set?
Renee continued: ‘This movie was a blast to make! We got to work with friends we’ve known for years and added new friends to our lives that we still hang out with. It was like summer camp, only freezing and night shoots in Middletown, OH. We were all on the same crazy sleep schedule and staying at the same hotel, so on our days off, we’d start the evening at Applebee’s, then go get some beers from Walmart and play drinking games till 6am. It was a bonding experience and so much fun!’
Ben added: ‘The main diner gang clicked right away, it was like they’d all known each other for years. I was only jealous I didn’t have more scenes with them, which is my own fault since we wrote it that way, haha! But I got to have a lot of fun with Scottie Thompson for most of my scenes. She’s great to work with and the perfect straight woman to my dopey deputy. And all the villains were so fantastic too. We couldn’t ask for a better cast- Robert Englund, Jere Burns, Clint Howard, every single person who came on set was there just to have fun and play. There were no egos. We really feel like we were spoiled on this one.’
Renee continued:’As for spooky things on set, other than the fear of the sun coming up and us having to cut more pages? That was the most terrifying! But the main group of kids and Ben and I, would sneak off during lunch (which was almost always between 1 and 3am) and go into the haunted mazes at Land of Illusion in the dark. There was no one in there but us and it was super freaky. You start to think, what if some maniac is hiding in here and murders us all? The AD is going to be so pissed!’
Ben went on: ‘There was also a day where Scottie and I shot on location at a motel that was known around town for some shady activity and we roll up dressed as cops with guns… luckily all the people at the motel were super cool and thought it was fun to have a movie shooting there. I envisioned some Breaking Bad style shoot outs, but it ended up just being a lot of selfies, not anything crazy like my paranoid mind built up before getting there.
So what’s next for the Funhouse crew?
Ben: ‘We are working on a super secret script right now, that is in the vein of The Funhouse Massacre that fans of this film are going to love, but we are sworn to secrecy on it. But aside from that, we’re both working on several scripts, I’m working on a couple of horror comedies, an action comedy, and Renee is working on a romantic comedy at the moment. We pretty much love all genres, as long as you can add a hint of comedy to it. We have a few of our scripts currently being considered by various production companies, so we are hoping to get something else off the ground very soon’.
Renee: ‘The goal is to write and make movies we can act in, and work with our friends. Do the whole Judd Apatow thing. Filmmaking can be hard and very stressful at times, but it makes it so much easier when you’re with people you care about. And this film was just that, a group of friends having a blast, making a movie’
Ben: ‘Now we’re just incredibly grateful and excited that The Funhouse Massacre is being unleashed in theaters!’
Renee: ‘It really has been a horror fans dream come true.’
Renee and Ben thank you.
Cringe in terror while you laugh out loud I give The Funhouse Massacre a big 666/666
The Funhouse Massacre is on theatrical release in the USA. Watch the Hothouse for more release info.