The new comedy horror film You Can’t Kill Stephen King had its world premiere on Saturday as part of this year’s Lewiston Auburn Film Festival (where it’s nominated for best director and best film).
Featuring the typical horror movie gaggle of friends traveling to meet their idol King, the movie was filmed right in King’s backyard of Bangor and other locations all over Maine (including Portland). The trailer (see below) promisingly pokes fun at essentially every horror cliche in the book while delivering buckets of fake gore.
Dennis Perkins, a Portland freelance writer, spoke via email with two of the film’s three directors – Center Lovell native Monroe Mann and Ronnie Khalil – about the challenge of making a successful horror spoof, and why Maine’s master of horror was the only choice for the title.
Balancing horror and comedy is tricky business. What was your approach in finding the right mix?
Mann: Ronnie, (co-director) Jorge Valdes-Iga and I spent a lot of time watching old ’80s and ’90s horror movies prior to shooting in an effort to become comfortable with the genre.
Khalil: I think the secret is taking the hokey dialogue and ridiculous story with extraordinary seriousness.
The trailer indicates the movie is of the “pointing out horror cliches while engaging in them” school of horror comedy (a la Scream); what’s your strategy there?
Mann: Yes, the trailer (and the film) are very campy, tongue-in-cheek. It’s a fun, campy horror film, and we’re very proud of how it turned out.
Khalil: Our film is funny if you’re in on the joke, which we try to establish early on (and) then get away from. Our goal was to make a fun film that is also interesting to watch, ’cause if you’re just playing the same gags over and over again, no one ever cares about the characters or the story. It was a tough balance, and we had quite a few “passionate discussions,” aka “yelling at each other” about it.
Here’s the trailer:
Why did you pick Stephen King?
Mann: If anything, King picked us. Ronnie and I were vacationing in Maine (in the very lake house where we ultimately shot the film, and on the very lake where King lives), and it was raining the entire time. We couldn’t go out on the lake, so we decided to write a funny horror story about Stephen King, whose lore helped inspire the plot. Two days later, we had a rough draft, and very soon we were off and killing.
Khalil: We felt a horror film about Judy Blume wouldn’t be as interesting.
In naming it after him, was there any thought that King would champion it in some way?
Khalil: We were simply coming up with titles, and I think our sound guy suggested it, and everyone was laughing immediately. We knew it was a winner.
Mann: Any “championing” would be more an ancillary benefit than a purposeful strategy. In other words, should King decide to do some championing on our behalf, we’ll be happy to welcome him aboard.
Any word from the man himself so far?
Mann: He read the script years ago and politely declined a cameo appearance in the film. However, he did recently post the trailer and a short blurb about the film on his official website. So that’s nice. We’re hoping he will get a chance to see it – we think he’ll find it pleasantly amusing.