Q&A: “CABIN IN THE WOODS’ ” Fran Kranz Finds Work Sucks in “BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS”Fearful Features,Home,Movies/TV,News Abbie Bernstein No Comment
BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS, the new horror/comedy directed by Brian James O’Connell and written by the improvisational comedy troupe Dr. God and Ryan Mitts, stars Fran Kranz—Marty in CABIN IN THE WOODS and Topher in DOLLHOUSE—as Evan, the only person in his boring sales office who cares about his job. His workplace becomes more professional and productive, as well as considerably more dangerous and gore-filled, when Evan’s old college nemesis Max (GAME OF THRONES’ Pedro Pascal) gets the promotion Evan thought was his.
Max is as smarmy as ever, and now he’s also a master vampire, so the sales office starts to fill up with both corpses and the living dead. As BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS (reviewed here) hits theaters and VOD today under Shout! Factory’s Scream Factory banner, Kranz is on the verge of his real-life wedding, but still got on the phone to discuss the film with FANGORIA.
FANGORIA: How did you get involved with BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS, which may be less scary than wedding planning?
FRAN KRANZ: The offer came out of the blue, because I didn’t know these guys. The initial meeting was with Brian James O’Connell and Justin Ware, who’s an actor/producer in it and did revisions on the script. I read the script and loved it, but I was reluctant, because I’d done a horror/comedy and was a little scared of being a horror/comedy guy. It’s a genre I love, but I obviously want to do other things. But the script was so good, and the role they wanted me to play—the leader/office Everyman—wasn’t like Marty, the slacker/stoner. There were so many different challenges to BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS that by the end, it was sort of a no-brainer.
Then I met the guys, who have this Dr. God improv group, and they were so funny and we really hit it off, and this great cast started to come together, like Joey Kern. I love his performance, because his [character’s] indifference to everything that’s happening is so above and beyond—he’s like this anarchist. Joey took it to another level, and I think he steals the movie.
FANG: Dr. God is one of the credited screenwriters, so did they work any of the script out in their group before you got it, or after?
KRANZ: They had the script and did their own revisions, and there was a lot of improv on set. The camera was always rolling long after the takes ended, but in addition, the scenes themselves were full of improvisation. Certain lines were always changing. That’s the way these guys like to perform; nothing’s ever the same. It was probably the most ad-libbing I’ve had on a set. But luckily, they’re so good. I see a lot of movies where you can kind of mark the moment where they go off script; it can be great, but sometimes it feels a little indulgent or becomes an inside joke. You can imagine that that day, those guys all thought it was so funny, but watching it on a screen, you start to feel left out. These guys are really careful with that. Every other week, they do shows at IOS in Los Angeles, so they’re very used to knowing how a scene works in terms of beginning, middle and end, so a lot of the improv in BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS is seamless.
FANG: Did you do BLOODSUCKING before or after Pascal became a sensation for playing GAME OF THRONES’ Oberyn Martell?
KRANZ: [Pascal’s episodes] had not come out. He had already shot it, and I’m a huge GAME OF THRONES fan, but I haven’t read the books. When I told my brother who Pedro was playing, he was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s one of my favorite characters in the whole series.’ Pedro would tell us stories, and he was aware of how cool his part was. He and I hit it off, just a total man-crush on each other. We saw each other shortly after we wrapped BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS: It was pilot season, and we both mentioned this one pilot [EXPOSED] we really liked and we both ended up on it, so we did back-to-back jobs together. We’ve remained good friends. When that one particular, fateful GAME OF THRONES episode of his aired [the heroic Oberyn gets his head crushed], I said repeatedly, “No, no, no, no, no, that did not just happen.” I was so disturbed. He’s the coolest, and he’s great in BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS. He’s such a fantastic actor.
FANG: How was it doing the action sequences?
KRANZ: There were the issues of having a small budget and limited sets and shooting, days, but we still got to do some cool action. It had to be choreographed pretty tightly. Emma Fitzpatrick, who plays my ex-girlfriend, and I literally do dance moves in some of those sequences to combat the vampires, and a lot of that was in the script, but it was also useful, considering the time and money restrictions. But I’m sort of proud of the 80 frames where I’m a bad-ass.
FANG: Did you get to do your own running and staking?
KRANZ: Yeah. The space we were in was sort of limited and constricting, so we had to just go for it, and that’s why the action is so frenetic. A lot of movies have a way to cover your ass [with coverage and editing], but I feel we did a great job on that stuff, and the action’s really good.
FANG: Evan gets tossed around a lot, especially in the latter portion of the film. Is that actually you, or is it a stunt double?
KRANZ: It was me, definitely. I was actually banged up, because Pedro really went for it, and sometimes there’s just no other way to do it. The one time we had a stuntman, we had to do some high kicks and punch-like-a-man kinds of things, but I’m fairly certain we were under such a time crunch that we never really got to use him.
A lot of it was as real as we could make it without hurting ourselves. [It was enhanced with] sound effects and editing. We had a big, empty room, and the production team did a great job of creating the office. A lot of stuff was breakaway and not very painful. I’m not sure what you can see or can’t see in the final cut. We had the benefit of flimsy material sometimes [laughs], you know what I mean? But there weren’t a lot of choices by the end. We just threw ourselves in there.
Joel Murray plays the boss, Ted, who has a collection of figurines on the wall. It’s never even talked about, but in one scene, I was determined to hit the wall hard enough to make them all fall down on me. At a certain point, I was thinking, “Well, you’ve just got to hurt yourself. It’s one day.” It was toward the end of the shoot; we shot almost chronologically, so there was very little [left] to do, because we were covered in blood and couldn’t really afford to go back and forth [between clean and gory clothes]. The only thing left after that day was to get completely drenched, and at that point, we were home free. But I remember it was painful; I’m sure there are other ways to do it. We had our basic pads and whatnot, but for that one, I just took a running jump into the wall in order to knock all the figurines over [laughs].
FANG: You are indeed pretty bloodsoaked by the end. How was that applied—by makeup artist, by bucket dump…?
KRANZ: When the janitor explodes, they propped up a dummy and blew it up. I think that was the last shot of the production, and everyone hung around to watch the explosion. On our end, the coverage basically just involved a bucket of blood. There was a pressurized machine to spray us with blood, but for that one, they really wanted to get the drench effect. The idea was to cut late enough with the exploding dummy that we would already have some of the blood on us. It’s one thing to have a pressurized blood explosion and another to literally pour a bucketful on someone. It just flies differently, obviously. So they tried to get just the moment of splatter, as opposed to the blood in the air.
I believe they pulled it off, although between Joey and I, there was one of us who did not get touched at all [laughs], and didn’t have a drop of blood on them, so I think they had to cheat the editing a little bit to leave him out until we could get through the take and cover him with blood. Otherwise, we pulled it off pretty well under the circumstances.
FANG: Can you compare the splatter in BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS to that splatter in CABIN IN THE WOODS? CABIN obviously had a little more money.
KRANZ: Yeah, [CABIN’s underground lobby] was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen—walking into that room that was covered with blood and gore. That was moviemaking heaven for me; I have so many photos of me posing in there, smiling. It was unlike anything I’d seen. But honestly, I was personally more covered in blood in BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS than I was in CABIN IN THE WOODS. On, CABIN, it was painted on each day very carefully, with pre-fab bloody clothes. On BLOODSUCKING, there was a moment with Emma and I before “Action” when they walked up with cold buckets of gooey blood and dropped it on us [laughs]. That was another level of being soaked.
FANG: What would be scarier to you—vampires or working in an environment where people cared very little about what they were doing?
KRANZ: Let’s see… I’m going to go with vampires. Let’s be real: I feel like most people work in environments where they care very little about what they’re doing. I’m friends with a lot of those people.
FANG: What would you most like people to know about BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS?
KRANZ: We’ve heard some critics say, “It’s OFFICE SPACE meets SHAUN OF THE DEAD,” but it’s unique and fun. The low budget added this wonderful element of creativity to it, and I’ve seen it with a couple of audiences and people just love it. They eat it up, so I think it’s for anyone with any sort of interest in comedy or horror.