Sidesplitters: “WORKAHOLICS” actor Anders Holm on “ECHO ISLAND” and “CANNIBAL FEROX”
Horror and Comedy go together like masks and murderers, as both set out to evoke reactions from even the most immovable of audiences. Therefore, it’s no surprise that so many funnymen are ardent fright fans. In our new column, Sidesplitters, FANGORIA chats with comedians who love horror as much as they love humor.
There are few shows on television today that embrace just how twisted comedy can be as much as WORKAHOLICS, which often finds humor in gross, terrifying absurdity. While the crude, hilarious show occasionally dives into bizarre and bloody material, including a rat-killing rampage in the most recent season, little did we know that WORKAHOLICS co-creator/performer Anders Holm was a longtime horror fan and FANGORIA reader. Fango recently spoke to Holm about his horror graphic novel, ECHO ISLAND, and what horror films he finds to be funniest…
FANGORIA: What was your first exposure to horror as a genre?
ANDERS HOLM: I think my first experience with horror was watching the FRIDAY THE 13TH movies as a kid. My buddies and I would rent all of them to decide which one was the best. I think we started watching them when PART VII came out, whatever year that was.
FANG: Did you have a favorite horror movie while growing up?
HOLM: I remember FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI: JASON LIVES was the most violent of those movies, so that was my favorite one until my buddy said, “If you wanna see a violent movie, you gotta see DEAD ALIVE.” That took it to the next level. Also, I don’t know if this counts as horror, but the Stephen King movie CAT’S EYE was one of my favorite movies. I watched that over and over again. It’s got the stories with James Woods trying to quit smoking, Robert Hayes on the ledge trying to save his girlfriend and Drew Barrymore as a kid with an evil cat who’s trying to steal her essence. That was pretty cool.
FANG: Have you always leaned toward gorier horror? Is it at all on the same level as psychological horror for you?
HOLM: I think as a kid, I really liked gore, but as I got older, I opened up to other types of horror. When SCREAM came out, I was in high school and that was amazing to me because it was like, “Whoa, here’s a crazy slasher movie but it has a smart story and has a lot of twists and turns.” SCREAM was smarter than the viewer, and that was a huge for me.
FANG: Have you ever had an exceptionally memorable in-theater horror movie experience?
HOLM: The two scariest movies I’ve ever seen were [in theaters.] The first was EVENT HORIZON, and that may have been the scariest moviegoing experience I’ve ever had. It was terrifying and THX sound had just come out, so now there was surround sound and you could hear something in the back of the theater for the first time. That was fucked up.
The other one, which is sort of a sci-fi/horror hybrid, was FIRE IN THE SKY, which was essentially three men recounting having been abducted by aliens. That movie was too real. The way the movie was shot made the story seem real in some way as opposed to being “just a movie.”
Recently however, I remember seeing THE STRANGERS with my wife and we were breaking each others hands with how hard we were squeezing. It was almost like a contest between us; with who could squeeze harder during every scary moment. That movie was real freaky.
FANG: Is there a particularly endearing cliché in horror movies that you can’t help but love?
HOLM: When people are running and they fall, it’s great. Like, this fucking killer guy is walking 2 miles an hour and you’re running at full speed, so of course you fall or else he’s not going to catch you.
FANG: Conversely, is there any horror cliché that you can’t stand?
HOLM: No, I like every horror movie cliché. I don’t mind the jock dying when he’s working out or the hot chick getting murdered in the shower. I think it’s cool because you know what you’re going to see in a horror movie. That’s something that people dig about them.
FANG: Is there a legendary horror film that you’ve yet to see yourself?
HOLM: I haven’t seen the original versions of THE HILLS HAVE EYES or THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. Those are the two major gaps in my horror knowledge.
FANG: Do you have a favorite horror franchise?
HOLM: I’ve definitely been through a lot of Freddy Krueger gloves as a kid, since I’d always buy them and wear them out. I’m a big Freddy fan. My favorites of the franchise are DREAM WARRIORS and NEW NIGHTMARE, which I thought was awesome. I tweeted about NEW NIGHTMARE the other day. [NEW NIGHTMARE] stepped outside of the movie into the actual people’s lives, and that kid is the freakiest kid of all time, since he’s the same kid from PET SEMATARY.
FANG: Being on WORKAHOLICS and a comedic actor, is there any horror movie or horror movie moment that stands out as exceptionally funny?
HOLM: Well, the EVIL DEAD movies are hilarious, but one that is unintentional would be CANNIBAL FEROX. There was a screening of it the other day and that’s a movie that’s pretty dumb, but hilarious at the same time. The writing is especially hilarious because there’s one guy who keeps calling all of the girls “cunts” out of nowhere. It’s just so not cool that it’s hilarious. He’ll say, “Listen here, cunts…” and I’ll be like, “Whoa! What?!”
FANG: Do you still keep up with recent horror projects or are you moreover rooted in the older films?
HOLM: No, I still try to see them. I actually don’t like a lot of them, like the slick remakes. They don’t get me as excited as they once did because back in the day, the packages were dirty and you had to go to the back of the video store to find them. They felt scarier because you had to discover them. Now when they revamp these franchises, they’re slick and there are stars attached. Everybody looks like their hard-bodied instead of like an actual teenager.
They also rely on editing, gore and sound more now than they had to back in the day. Back then, I think the smaller budgets made the filmmakers more creative about they created tension. Now they’ve got budgets out the asshole because they are huge franchise revamps. I do, however, give an exception to the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY movies since they do find creative ways to build tension. In the third one, when they put the camera on the oscillating fan, that was really creative and I really appreciate those kinds of moments.
FANG: Are you a fan of found footage horror? Is there anything you’d like to see come back to the horror genre from the old days?
HOLM: I do like found footage. I watch the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY movies and THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT was fucking awesome when it came out.
It’d be nice to see iconic horror characters come back, though. I’m not saying things like LEPRECHAUN, although that’s a classic character. But Freddy, Jason, all those guys; I thought they were real when I was a kid. If I was on a playground and someone told me about Freddy Krueger before I saw the movies, I’d say, “Is this based off of something real?” I don’t think they have that [dynamic] anymore. I don’t know if they’re gone or if they’re just missing. Who would you say is a new horror icon?
FANG: I think that depends on who you ask. Jigsaw, probably, The Governor from THE WALKING DEAD and The Firefly Family. Some people might say Baghuul from SINISTER, Victor Crowley, Leslie Vernon, but they don’t have as much exposure as the other guys.
HOLM: Yeah, they did try to do it with Jigsaw but that didn’t really work all the way. I’m not like, “Oh, it’s that guy!” It’s not like, “Hockey mask, boom! Hat, bright sweater, bad jokes, boom!” You remember those guys.
I think it’s the same thing as with guys like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sly Stallone and Jean Claude Van Damme who are all muscle and don’t get the kinds of movies that they used to because people want a “smarter” hero. I think it’s the same way with modern horror. The fans don’t want just some guy chasing people; they want a bigger story! But it’s like, “Who cares? Make these characters have a story and then put that after the horror.” There doesn’t need to be a big backstory or thought process behind evil.
FANG: Have you ever considered dipping your toes in the horror genre?
HOLM: I actually had written the first installment of a graphic novel called ECHO ISLAND, and that’s like a summer camp slasher. I self-published it with my buddy, John Lawlor; I wrote it and he did all the art. It’s based on the story we told growing up as camp counselors, and we’re working on the second issue right now.
We want to get it out there and we’re looking to pitch it as either a mini-series like TRUE DETECTIVE or as a feature film. It’s pretty awesome and it’s a throwback to those iconic murderers. It’s kind of like STAND BY ME as well, but there’s also other stories, like capers and stuff but at summer camp.
Anders Holm can be seen in the upcoming film, NEIGHBORS, with his WORKAHOLICS co-stars Adam DeVine and Blake Anderson on May 9th. You can also check out his horror graphic novel, ECHO ISLAND, at its official website.