By DEIRDRE CRIMMINS
The wraparound segment in the new Shudder original anthology SCARE PACKAGE goes after every horror fan’s heart. Directed by Aaron B. Koontz (The Pale Door), it centers around a video store, “Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium,” owner Chad (Jeremy King), and new hire Hawn (Hawn Tran) as they deal with a relentless customer (Byron Brown). With Chad’s horror knowledge flowing like a bloated river and the duo’s rapid-fire dialogue, it feels a little like hanging out with friends. We were able to talk to both Tran and King about bolo ties, jumpscares, and the value of the theatrical cinematic experience.
Is Chad rad?
HT: He’s oddly rad. He’s a weird boss, but he loves Hawn. We have this bromance.
JK: I think Chad is rad. As far as Chad knows he’s living the dream. So I think Chad is rad. He’s, he’s got everything he wants in his life. Yeah. He’s running what he sees as a successful video store, even though other people may not see it that way. He’s got a suite room set up in his mom’s basement that, you know, he has free reign over, so he’s good.
How do you feel about Chad’s bolo ties? Do you think they’re going to make a comeback?
JK: I love bolo ties! Aaron Koontz and Cameron Burns from Paper Street Pictures and I did a short film together about seven or eight years ago. I played this ridiculous character called El Padre in a short called El Chupacabra. It was about a pug that we adopted and if you fed it marshmallows, bad things happened. My character, stupidly at a barbecue, feeds the dog marshmallows and horror ensues. I showed up in a pink polo shirt with a bolo tie to the first day on set. I remember Aaron going, “Dude, what are you doing?” I’m like, “I’m rocking this out baby. This is what El Padre wears.” He’s like, “Oh my gosh. Okay. Whatever.” And that’s actually the same bolo tie that I wear in SCARE PACKAGE.
So it was BYO-Bolo?
JK: It was BYOB. I tried to wear it in THE PALE DOOR and the wardrobe girl stopped me. I’m like, “Oh no, it’s fine, me and Aaron have this thing. It’s fine.” She followed me out there and talked to Aaron. They discovered that bolo ties didn’t come about until the 1930s, and this was set at the end of the 1800s. So I was not allowed to wear it in THE PALE DOOR, but I wanted to.
Are you a horror fan?
HT: I would say I’m an average horror fan. I’m one of those people who closes my eyes whenever I watch a horror movie. I’m kind of like a chicken.
JK: I am. I grew up with all the classics. I can’t compare myself to Aaron because he’s like a walking encyclopedia of horror. I really love horror movies, but I don’t memorize them. I’m more of a general lover of horror movies. I don’t research them.
Is Chad more like Aaron?
JK: Chad is very much like Aaron. He has a lot of time on his hands, and he also doesn’t want to be outdone by anybody that comes into the store because he’s the absolute end all be all, know it all of horror. And he is much like that because he takes after his father who he’s always looked up to and never met: Mr. Joe Bob Briggs.
I didn’t know that!
JK: Well, in Rad Chad’s mind.
He’s his spiritual father, right?
JK: Sure, sure. Sort of like a Yoda type character.
Did the script that was shot differ from the one that was originally written?
HT: I would say 80% is scripted and then 20% is improv. Aaron left space for us to try lines to see if we could make it funnier. A lot of the action was improv.
JK: It differed greatly at many times. We hit all the main parts and most of the horror references were kept, but a lot of the shenanigans that go on were more than likely improvised. The great thing about Aaron is when you’re on a project with him, especially a comedy like this, he leaves plenty of time to let it play. Things between me, Hawn, and Byron got a little insane and ridiculous at points. It was great having Aaron there because he has this encyclopedic knowledge of everything horror. So even if we were improving and we got anything even close to not being exactly correct, he would stop us and reset. So it was a good combination.
How was it working with practical effects on set?
HT: There’s a lot more blood than I thought. That was the first time I had fake blood in my mouth. Let’s just say, fake blood doesn’t taste very good. It’s what I would think acrylic paint would taste like. It’s bitter but edible.
JK: For the most part, my stuff functioned like it should. The treadmill scene they pulled off was absolutely insane. That’s a real treadmill. I love hanging out on set, watching all the different stuff they were doing. They really pulled off some unbelievable stuff.
Did you get a chance to see SCARE PACKAGE in the theater with a crowd?
HT: Yes, I did. The Austin premiere was my first time seeing the whole movie. I didn’t realize how big my role was until the premiere. I didn’t know I was one of the major characters until the screening. I didn’t realize how big horror culture is. We completely sold out multiple screenings.
JK: Thank goodness I did. It played out Sitges in Spain last year, and then it was playing at the Telluride Horror Show. Those were the two premiers. Sitges is the number horror genre festival in the world, and then the Telluride Horror Show is basically one of the number ones in the United States. It was so awesome getting to see it with audiences. I’m so thankful for that.
What scares you?
HT: Honestly what scares me are sudden loud noises. I think that’s what makes horror movies so scary too. There’s a lot of like jumpscares where there’s like a loud noise pops out of nowhere.
JK: There’s not a lot that scares me. I love jump scares in movies. It’s that thing that just jolts you out of your space for a minute.
RLJE Films will release SCARE PACKAGE On Demand, Digital, DVD and Blu-ray October 20th.