Hey everyone. Barbarella here, hoping you are doing well and taking care of yourselves. Usually around this time, I’m figuring out what to put together for a Halloween costume for the party I attend annually. With the virus, that party is not happening this year. However, I can always count on studios to release something for the spooky holiday season, virus or not. RLJE Films is releasing the ridiculously fun SCARE PACKAGE On Demand, Digital, DVD and Blu-ray October 20th. Created by Aaron B. Koontz and Cameron Burns of Paper Street Pictures, the anthology features multiple directors, including Emily Hagins (MY SUCKY TEEN ROMANCE) and Noah Segan (KNIVES OUT). I spoke with Jeremy King, who plays horror aficionado, Chad Buckley. Of course, I had to mention I live in Austin, where the film was shot.
“I love Austin. Always have a great time out there. It’s part of the reason why I love working with these guys; they always bring me out to Austin.”
(I could’ve talked more about the city, but I felt like it would only encourage more people to move here, and nobody wants that. Seriously, if you are thinking about moving here, don’t. It’s a great place to visit, but just to visit. At any rate, I moved on to my first question.)
In what ways are you like “rad” Chad Buckley?
“We both love mustaches, and we both own video stores. We're alike in pretty much every way possible. We both have an affinity for bolo ties, and we both want to be best friends with Hawn. We're basically the same person at this point, except for my wife makes me shave the mustache when I get home.”
Aww, That's a shame.
“Isn't that sad? She won't let me keep it. It's like this puppy I got from the pound, and I brought it home, and she made me get rid of it.”
What does she have against 'stashes?
“I don't know. You'd have to ask her. It makes me very sad, though.”
Do you prefer serious horror or B-level, cheesy horror and why?
“I like doing everything. I've done some action films. I've done some more serious horror. I absolutely always love doing comedy. I also love doing horror. The fact that we were able to put the two together on this one was just so fun for me. I mean, the whole thing was kind of like a dream come true.”
What is your favorite serious horror, and what is your favorite comedy horror and why?
“I think from a kid, I would have to go with NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. At least, the first few were pretty serious, I think. A more recent one actually was Z that came out on Shudder, and I really enjoyed that one. It has probably one of the best jump-scares of any movie I've seen in the last decade.
“I'm trying to think of horror comedies. The SCARY MOVIE series always did a pretty good job. There were parts of those that were always pretty funny, but I can't think of any one comedy horror...other than SCARE PACKAGE, I guess I'd have to go with SCARE PACKAGE as my answer.”
Chad learned a lot from horror movies. Have you learned anything from a movie, and if so, what'd you learn
“Oh man. Have I ever learned anything? I've learned stuff from making movies, especially on this one. Aaron Koontz, the director, is an absolute walking encyclopedia of horror films. I grew up loving horror movies, but I was never one of those people that would memorize every single actor and every single scene. It was so fun working with Aaron on this because there's so many Easter eggs and so many references to so many different films. Even on set, if I was improv-ing something, and I was even a little bit wrong, he'd come in and [say], "Actually that didn't happen in the second movie. It happened in the third. And it wasn't a hatchet.” So, I actually learned a lot from Aaron just on this one. And he had me do a lot of homework heading into production. He gave me a list of movies to watch for all the different references.”
Oh, that's fun. That's the kind of homework that would be nice to have.
“Yeah. It's not something you can complain about, right? It's like, “Oh, I've got to go watch these horror movies.” Such a good time. And then, just being on set, there were so many different Easter eggs. Like for example, one of the rooms that we’re in, all the numbers in the room were actually in reference to LOST. Or the GPS screen when we were in that second room was a throwback to ALIEN, and they actually used the same exact sound from ALIEN in that scene. And then every room listed on the map was a reference to a different movie, just little things like that. The cool thing about Aaron is there's always ten layers of things in every scene. You could probably spend a year trying to pick it apart and find everything.”
You guys have done a few movies together. How did you meet?
“We actually met on one of the first short films I ever did back in 2003. Aaron and Cameron had actually both gone to Full Sail, and they were producing a short film where I was playing a bicycle cop. Believe it or not, I had a mustache in that one, too. They called me about eight or nine years later, when they were doing their short film for Paper Street Pictures out in Austin, and they said, "Hey, man, we're putting together this production company, and we'd like you to come out and do this project with us. Can't really pay you much, but we have a place for you to stay and food and all that." And I wrote Cameron back this nice long letter telling him, "Look, I'm a serious SAG actor now. I can't be playing around with these low budget things." And then at the end of it, I'm like, "Dude, of course I'd like to come out." That was an absolute blast, and we've kind of been working together ever since.”
What do you think are his best qualities as a director?
“All of them. He is an absolute fan-boy of horror and of film, in general. And like I said, he's a walking encyclopedia. You would read a script and might get one of the references out of twelve that are on a single page. It's so fun to dissect his script with him and have him explain where he got all the nuances for all the different things. Even different shots he did, he would say, "Okay, this is in reference to," and he would list out some movie from the seventies or eighties and explain, “That's why we're doing this specific shot right here, where you're grabbing this book or grabbing a VHS.” Even if you look at the artwork on SCARE PACKAGE, it's a throwback.
“So again, you learn so much by working with somebody like that. Sometimes, you'll get directors that like being called a director and like being able to tell everyone what to do, but they don't really care about the art form of it. The thing about Aaron is he so deeply cares for the art form of what he does, and for horror specifically.”
Do you think you're easy or difficult to direct and why?
“I think I'm both. I think I'm easy to direct because I'm pretty easy going. I show up. I know my lines. I know everyone else's lines, but I also love to improv. If I'm given an inch, I'll usually take a mile, and sometimes they have to pull me back a little bit on stuff like that.”
What was your favorite thing about working on SCARE PACKAGE?
“Oh my gosh. I could probably give you a list of about fifty, but it was an absolute honor to work with Joe Bob Briggs. He was also just a really awesome guy, and same thing with Dustin Rhodes, who's the wrestler Goldust. Just class act, nice people to work with. And then you have the video store scenes where I get to work with Hawn and Byron. Literally, those guys were making me laugh so hard, I was having trouble making it through takes. Usually, it's the other way around. Like if it's a comedy, I'm definitely trying to make people not get through the scene. And then you get to work with Zoe [Graham] and Chase Williamson and Josephine McAdam. Just every day I showed up, it was like I got to go play, which is the best feeling ever when you're working on a project.”
How do you feel about the disappearance of video stores?
“It's sad actually. We used to have this little video store that we went to when I was probably in middle school. Then in high school, Blockbuster started taking over. If you didn't get there early enough on Friday night, all the new-released movies that you wanted to see would be gone. I loved just wandering around the store. It was a social experience. I think we really miss that nowadays, when you don't have that. It's not the same, cruising through Netflix and just getting frustrated that you can't find a single thing you want to watch, even though there's 10,000 movies out there. I think so many things are being taken away from actually being social experiences, like going to a movie theater. There's a lot of movie theaters closing down right now. And man, the absolute joy of going to see something, whether it's scary or whether it's an action film, especially comedy, where you can sit there and laugh with a couple of hundred other people. Seeing those things go away is kind of sad at the end of the day.”
Yeah. How would your 13-year-old self react to what you do now?
“I think he would be ecstatic. I loved acting since I did a play back in, I think it was fourth grade. We did a Hernando de Soto play, and I ended up playing Hernando de Soto, and I loved it so much. I used to interview myself in the bathroom mirror when I was in middle school and stuff. It was ridiculous. It’s one of those things that at the end of the day, the ability to be able to go out and do projects, especially like this where every day, it's not work. You're going out, and you're playing with other fun people. I mean, my 13-year-old self would be absolutely ecstatic that I was still doing this.”
Were you able to keep any props from the set?
“Well, my bolo tie, I brought with me. So, the bolo tie, which is a funny [story]. The short we did originally, called THE EL CHUPACABRA. I'm like, “What would my character, who was called “El Padre,” be wearing? So, I showed up to set in this pink polo shirt with a bolo tie, and Aaron and Cameron Burns basically went like, “What are you doing?” I'm like, “Hey man, I'm here. This is what I'm wearing. Let's go do this.” I don't think I kept anything really cool from [the set of SCARE PACKAGE], which I probably should have.”
How do you stay motivated, or what motivates you?
“I don't always stay motivated. There are times where I'll wake up, and I'll be like, “Man, I've got to get my stuff together. What am I doing?” And then sometimes, I'm really motivated. I guess the times I'm really motivated, it's just that sense of wanting to move forward in your career and kind do bigger and better things.”
What surprised you the most about acting when you first started?
“I think when I first started getting to film acting, I took a class over in Orlando called Art’s Sake with a teacher named Yvonne Suhor. The first day I met her, just to drop off my check to get into the class, I was kind of nervous, but I'm the type of person that when I'm nervous, I'm smiling. I'm still acting like I'm having a good time. And she called me out within five seconds of meeting me. She goes, "Oh, you're wearing your smile mask." I said, "What are you talking about?" She goes, "Smile mask." She goes, "You're smiling right now, but you're kind of nervous." I said, "Yes." And she was the first person that really taught me that acting is not adding things. It's not putting on more. It's actually peeling layers away of even your own protections. So I mean, film acting, especially, is about being vulnerable and about being real and about being in the moment. I think things like that you think are supposed to be about adding things on or making a character seem a certain way, but if you don't experience it, it shows right through. So, I mean, that was probably the most surprising thing.”
What would be the title of your memoir?
“Jeremy King: Holy shit. Am I Done Yet? Why Am I Writing A Memoir Right Now?” It would be a very long title. I still feel like I'm like 20 years old, as far as my maturity level. I think even when I'm in my seventies and eighties, I'm probably still going to feel that way.”
I think that's good. It's better to stay mentally young, right?
“I think so. I've really seen it with older people. They either seem to get really happy and more childlike later in life, or they get really miserable, and they just hate everything. I'm hoping [that] I'm shooting in the trajectory of being happier and more laid back when I'm older.”
I’m pretty sure if I make it to old age, I’ll be running around acting like a 15-year old, well, maybe not exactly “running,” and you know what? I’m okay with that. SCARE PACKAGE starring Jeremy King will be On Demand, Digital, DVD and Blu-ray October 20th.