FANGO FUNHOUSE: Paul Scheer on the horrifying, the hilarious and the horrible!
As any true fright fan can tell you, horror and comedy go together like monsters and sequels, often bleeding into one another in such iconic genre offerings such as the EVIL DEAD sequels, SHAUN OF THE DEAD and GHOSTBUSTERS. Whether it’s an unexpected kill after an inspiration speech or the supernatural indulging in macabre mischief, few can argue that the subversive nature of both genres compliment each other with relative ease. Therefore, I welcome you, dear reader, to FANGO FUNHOUSE, a look into the co-dependent world of horror-comedy through those who know it best.
Those accustomed to the comedy scene probably know Paul Scheer best from his prominence in the world of alternative and improvisational comedy, having gained notoriety on VH1’s BEST WEEK EVER and MTV’s sketch show HUMAN GIANT before branching off into roles on FX’s THE LEAGUE and Adult Swim’s NTSF:SD:SUV::. However, horror hounds probably know him best as Andrew in PIRANHA 3D and its sequel, PIRANHA 3DD, as well as his popular Earwolf podcast, HOW DID THIS GET MADE?, where he’s lampooned such notorious horror flicks as the WICKER MAN remake, JAWS: THE REVENGE and SLEEPAWAY CAMP. So it was a no-brainer to invite the always-funny Scheer into the FANGO FUNHOUSE to talk about Piranhas and the hilarity of horror.
FANGORIA: You’re one of the three cast members who appeared in both Alexandre Aja’s PIRANHA 3D and John Gulager’s PIRANHA 3DD, along with Ving Rhames and Christopher Lloyd. How was the experience of working on the sequel as compared to the first?
PAUL SCHEER: It’s tough to say exactly. I only worked for 1 day on Piranha 3DD, so I really didn’t get to see what the full experience of that movie was like. I was a fan of Gulager from PROJECT GREENLIGHT and he definitely loves making these movies, so it was fun to see him in his element. Alex Aja was one of the most interesting directors I ever worked with. I think he really knew the type of movie he was making and did it perfectly. It’s so hard to do a genre film that winks to the audience but also pays off on all the genre elements. Aja basically set out to make a movie that would be the dream movie for a 15-year-old boy, and he totally did that and more!
FANG: PIRANHA 3DD drastically cranked up the insanity factor from the first. Having seen it theatrically at a midnight screening, there definitely is an audience for the film. Do you think 3DD has the chance to be a potential cult midnight movie?
SCHEER: Totally! I think that there should be more of those movies. Not every movie needs to have an afternoon showing. It just doesn’t fit PIRANHA 3DD. Midnight movies are the best; I saw THE ROOM and BIRDEMIC that way. The entire experience makes it more special and fun. I feel like you could get a bunch of people to the theaters if you programmed more niche viewings of those types of films across the country. It would give people a reason to leave the house.
FANG: In PIRANHA 3D, you shot a death scene for your character that was unused due to incomplete effects, which allowed you to come back. Have you considered appearing in any other horror films, and if so, would you want to go through a death scene again?
SCHEER: I actually just shot HELL BABY, a horror comedy written and directed by [RENO 911’s] Robert Ben Garant and Tom Lennon. It stars Rob Corddry, Leslie Bibb, Keegan-Michael Key, Riki Lindhome, Rob Huebel and myself. We actually went to Sundance with it where played in competition with V/H/S/2. I don’t want to reveal if I have a death scene, but hell yeah, I’m open to being killed again! I think on HUMAN GIANT, we killed each other a few times. We used more fake blood on that show than anything I’ve ever done… besides PIRANHA 3D.
FANG: How was your experience shooting HELL BABY?
SCHEER: Shooting HELL BABY was the most fun because it was working with my best friends. It’s the same mentality that we have with NTSF:SD:SUV:: where you just gather a bunch of good, funny people and bang something out super quick. We shot Hell Baby in less than a month in New Orleans, so the entire experience was blast. We actually met a local storyteller who knew everything about the ghosts of New Orleans. A bunch of nights we would go out with him and he’d just scare the shit out of us.
FANG: On HOW DID THIS GET MADE?, you’ve shown a comprehensive interest in the horror genre, having covered horror films on various occasions. Have you always been a horror fan?
SCHEER: I went from being absolutely terrified by it as a child to loving it now. I vividly remember being like 12 and having nightmares about Freddy Krueger. I never even saw a Freddy movie because I was so scared he’d kill me. Nothing more embarrassing than a young teen seeking refuge in his parents room because he thought Freddy was in the house. I think the first horror film I saw was Psycho, and that set the bar high. I never really enjoyed the more schlocky horror films till later in life, though now I can’t get enough of them.
FANG: Sometimes on your podcast, you, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas will cover a film that has seemingly been forgotten throughout time, like Dan Aykroyd’s horror-comedy NOTHING BUT TROUBLE. Is there any horror film that you think has been criminally underrated or forgotten?
SCHEER: That’s interesting, I feel like many people forget about HALLOWEEN III, without Michael Myers. So bad…so, so bad. Also, I feel like CHILD’S PLAY doesn’t get as much love as it should. That movie is super fun. I’d say THE RUINS is a horror film that is way underrated. It’s very scary, but no one seems to talk about it. Also RARE EXPORTS, the Santa horror film, is amazing!
FANG: If you could take a role in the next installment any classic horror franchise, what franchise would you choose and why?
SCHEER: Oh man, that’s a great question. I will say that my favorite franchise of late has been the Final Destination films. I really dig them. They have the fun of old school horror films without the somberness of some more recent gorefests. Though, I think that if I had to pick, I’d say the Alien franchise. I love those movies (at least the first two) and they are so scary. I actually just wrote a comic, ALIENS vs. PARKER, which is like SHAUN OF THE DEAD meets ALIENS, just to kind of explore that world. It’s a 4-episode miniseries that starts on March 13th. You can get that at your local comic book shop or digitally from BOOM! Studios.
FANG: Sometimes, the scariest part of a horror film is what’s happening in front of the screen. Have you had any memorable theatrical experiences with horror films?
SCHEER: It’s always fun going [to horror films] with my wife, because she’s so locked into the movie that it’s like being with a mental patient. She jumps, screams at every scare, covering her eyes and yelling at the screen. So I really love going with her just because it’s like being on a rollercoaster for the entire movie. It’s why I insist on bringing her to all the Haunted Houses in October for Halloween, just to watch her get scared.
FANG: Horror and comedy has been ingratiated for decades now, ever since Troma, Roger Corman and the slasher films of the 80’s responded to the atmospheric chillers of the 60’s and 70’s. As a comedian/genre actor, why do you think horror and comedy blend so well together?
SCHEER: I think that they are ultimately appealing to the same audience. These films create tangible, fun reactions. Laughter, or sometimes screaming, makes you feel good. You leave these movies lighter than you entered. That’s why I think there is a lot of horror-comedy hybrids. At the end of the day, people want to try to draw connections to comedy and you name it. But the one universal truth is everyone likes to laugh and thinks they have a sense of humor, so you’ll always have an audience for that. And even if you say you don’t like getting scared, chances are you secretly do.
For more from Paul Scheer, you can download his podcast, HOW DID THIS GET MADE?, on iTunes or at Earwolf.com, or you can check out NTSF:SD:SUV:: when it debuts its third season this July. For more information about his comic, ALIENS VS. PARKER, or to preorder the 4-issue series, visit www.aliensvsparker.com (You can also buy Aliens vs. Parker on the Comixology App on smartphones and tablets). He can also be seen in the upcoming ensemble apocalyptic comedy RAPTUREPALOOZA, coming out on VOD and in theaters May 10th. Keep your eyes out for future news on that film and HELL BABY at Fangoria.com!
You can follow Paul on twitter: @paulscheer