HOLLYWOOD’S TAKE ON THE MOVIE “FEAR OF CLOWNS”
By Robert Long II ©2004
SYNOPSIS: Artist Lynn Blodgett (Jacky Reres) suffers from coulrophobia (“fear of clowns”) and is stalked by a murderous clown (Mark Lassise) resembling one of the ones she paints.
NOTE: Movie night in 2004 I got together with Hollywood friends (stuntmen, makeup people, actors, a Disney guy, MGM producer – a party populated by Hollywood men and women – about 15 in total) and watched “FEAR OF CLOWNS” on a wide screen tv. Overall everyone really enjoyed it, and thought that it would do well for director Kevin Kangas. They did have some constructive criticism, which is documented below. I sat back and took some notes while the others commented on FOC at the party.
Robert: Don’t shoot the messenger, Kevin. Here’s what my chicken scrawls turned up.
Kevin: Sure, even non-constructive criticism. I don’t expect everyone to like it. I’ve heard lots of bad stuff, some people can’t stand Frank, some people like him. Some people feel the movie is slow, others like that it’s not the typical slasher movie, ie that it seems to have a story. What did they have to say?
Hollywood Gang: Nice credits.
Robert: I’m “guessing” the nightmare we see is young Jacky coming home from the carnival and her parents die in an auto accident.
Kevin: Yes. It’s all kind of explained in the original 2 hr 45 minute movie. You’ll see a lot of new stuff in the deleted scenes, like 30 minutes worth.
Robert: The editor Harvey Glatman did an excellent job. Good work!
Kevin: Thanks. It’s gotten tighter over the past couple of months. I’ve even trimmed about another 60 seconds from the DVD one, so I think the final run time is 1:52:38
Robert: The camera direction was superb, and the creative shots you had your DP use were damn good.
Kevin: Thanks. Dave Mun came up with a lot of great ideas. Surrounding myself with talented people is integral to making me look good.
Hollywood Gang: Cool carnival footage – wondered if it was stock.
Kevin: No, I shot it at the Glen Burnie carnival last year, knowing I’d use it for the flick.
Hollywood Gang: Music throughout was excellent. More than one picked up on the “TERROR TRAIN” theme, while others picked up a little on Tobe Hooper’s “FUNHOUSE.” Music from band’s was nicely selected.
Kevin: Absolutely. Chad Seiter’s phenomenal, especially when you consider that he’s only like 25 years old. Chad’s in like Flynn on the next one.
Robert: Who is this old millionaire buying the painting? The actor sounds like he smokes 30 cigarettes a day!
Kevin: Rick called him George Carlin. That’s his regular voice. Caused some sound problems with his raspiness. Hard to get clean audio.
Hollywood Gang: They felt something was missing from Tuck, as in they couldn’t figure his character out. Stalker, admirer, obsessive, killer? They felt it was a character slightly unfinished.
Kevin: A good guy with some authority issues. A strong admirer who kept some little secrets that look much darker given the stuff going on around Lynn. He’s a little more polished in the screenplay.
Hollywood Gang: The actor playing the weasel rat bastard husband is good. They liked that he wasn’t the mastermind at the end.
Kevin: Nope. Shit turns bad for him. Yeah, he’s very good. Carl Randolph, teaches acting.
Hollywood Gang: Wondered what the doctor had been doing for 6 months.
Kevin: Yeah, it’s explained better in the longer version. Brainwashing Shivers to kill his wife–deciding it wasn’t going to work as Shivers was too hard to control, hiring Heston (the mugger) to do it. In my mind I also see him plotting a new life sans Lynn, but I never introduced it into the screenplay.
Hollywood Gang: Was glad this wasn’t a dumb teen slasher flick – that it had young adults and a story.
Kevin: Thanks, but I’m getting a little flak over that very thing, that this “horror” movie has too much story. Whoops.
Hollywood Gang/Robert: Production design overall was incredible for low budget. Cop cars and cop uniforms!
Kevin: Thanks, but we got screwed by the police department. Their public affairs wouldn’t return calls, so we had to half-ass those shots. Really pissed me off. In my credits you can see I have a special “The Director does NOT wish to thank the following” section where I don’t thank a couple of police departments.
Hollywood Gang/Robert: Great locations. So the abandoned Mother Gooseland kid park was in Ellicott City? We had one of those in my hometown. You put it to good use.
Kevin: Yep. The place scared me as a kid. It’s still creepy.
Hollywood Gang: Wondered how Amanda could afford such a big house as an assistant.
Kevin: Yeah, these little things are stuff I wonder about. Like, does the average audience think about it? It’s one of the reasons I left out some family pictures, like maybe she lives with someone else and they’re not there. Also, logistically it was just a matter of what house I had to use–some people don’t want naked chicks in their house…weird!
Hollywood Gang: Thought Mark Lassise as Shivers was great but was visible too much.
Kevin: I’ve heard this, yet it’s not like I could make him submerge (ala Jaws) and I didn’t want him to be the stock “always in the shadows” villain, which is why I have a couple of attacks during the day. Dunno. I think if I didn’t show him a lot people would be like…Are there any clowns in your Fear of Clowns movie? (picture Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park when he says “Do you have any dinosaurs on your dinosaur tour?”)
Hollywood Gang: Felt Shivers was a bit Yin/Yang at times. Comes off a little slow at times, yet smart enough to drive and steal phones and cut phone lines. In an abandoned basement with power and two phone lines. They enjoyed his “get better” axe sequence.
Kevin: Yeah, I wanted to show that he does think slow, but he can be clever at times (hence the note on the movie theater window, also a lot of people don’t realize it’s him, but Shivers is the one who called to hire the “happy clown” to go to the house to cause a distraction. Some people think it’s Heston, but if you watch his reactions when Happy shows up, you’ll see he’s just as surprised as everyone else).
Hollywood Gang: They thought there was more going on with Shivers story that never got resolved. Felt something was there that was not brought out.
Kevin: Yes. They are right.
Hollywood Gang: Frank Lama is a good actor! At his best when he was in serious mode. They liked the puzzle scene in his house.
Kevin: Yeah, he’s quite a character, even though he’s not the character I originally wrote.
Robert: The gang watching the movie thought he stole the show. Could be funny and serious.
Kevin: Yeah, but he came off as much more of a clown, a funny guy, than the character was written. Detective Peters, in the script, is a very smart guy who feels above everyone, so he throws out witticisms that many people don’t get, and he uses a lot of his wit to disguise where he’s taking his questions. Frank sometimes came off as a joke, like Detective Peters is some goofball. It’s okay, because it doesn’t appear that he’s acting, but he also isn’t the character I wrote. Peters’ thing is that he’s a puzzle solver. When he’s not solving cases (puzzles) he’s at home doing any kind of puzzles he can find. I’d tell you why he’s obsessive compulsive like that but it might ruin stuff from the sequel if I ever do it.
Hollywood Gang: They felt Jacky’s best scene was with Frank in the living room. Kevin: Yeah, she’s probably one of the better actors I’ve worked with.
Hollywood Gang: Found Jacky and Lauren’s tattoos distracting and felt they jarred the viewer away from the scene at hand. Tattoos are on their way out in Hollywood as a studio study showed that they take the viewer’s mind off the action. Many actor’s are getting them lasered off. Felt the ladies should have body makeuped over them for the parts.
Kevin: Hahahahahaha!! This is funny because I was always telling them I didn’t like them, and even thought about taking Jacky’s out digitally. Turned out to be too much hassle for what I deemed as a small problem. Funny though, that others thought this.
Hollywood Gang: The concealing of the axe within the balloons was clever!
Kevin: Would have been more clever if I could have gotten the shot I wanted, but the wind was blowing like a hurricane. You’ll see in the extended outtakes how many times he comes around that corner and the wind tangles the balloons in the axe.
Hollywood Gang: They liked JP Barry, and thought Ted Taylor did a credible job as well.
Kevin: Yeah, they’re both good, though Ted got nervous in front of camera so sometimes he seemed stiff.
Hollywood Gang: Thought the gore was handled well, could have been bloodier, but not ridiculous.
Kevin: I wish we coulda had a little more gore, but our FX budget was tiny. Okay, our entire budget was tiny…
Hollywood Gang: One guy thought the millionaire paid too much and that if he was going to give her a bonus, it probably would have been more like $50,000 total. Also felt the actors hadn’t whooped it up enough over landing 100 G’s.
Kevin: Clearly these aren’t very wealthy people you’re watching the movie with. People that wealthy only write checks in 100s. $50,000 looks very cheap compared to $100,000. I also thought this would add to his eccentricity.
Hollywood Gang: Felt that for such a gruesome murder, Julie should have been seen more.
Kevin: Yes, she is, but not a whole lot more. Had to be cut. Good info, but too much time passes before we see the clown if I let that opening diner scene play for its almost 3 minutes.
Hollywood Gang: Shivers is dragging the kid in a sack up cement steps. Ha ha!
Kevin: You should see one take where Mark improv’d and kicks the bag as he’s walking up the stairs, like to shut the kid up. It was funny, but I didn’t want comedy there.
Hollywood Gang: Jeff Volpe is a good actor! Nice death scene too. He looked like he knew what he was doing.
Kevin: Jeff’s not an actor, but one of the guys who works for me. He wanted another death scene (he’s the first guy who dies in the movie theater scene in Hunting Humans) so I gave it to him.
Hollywood Gang: Shivers having a tough time getting the axe out of Jeff was a nice touch.
Kevin: Love the sound. It’s a combination of breaking-a-tree-branch and the sound of someone pulling their shoe out of a muddy/watery ground.
Hollywood Gang: Felt James Fellows should have screamed or gasped or something as he was killed. It wasn’t like anyone was going to hear him. They loved the murder though.
Kevin: He’s not a real actor though. All of his reaction shots were pickups later, because he couldn’t keep from smiling everytime we did the effect. But he’s the whole reason we got access to the theater in the first place.
Robert: Yes, I did notice the sword from “HUNTING HUMANS” in the house, and the “HUNTING HUMANS” one-sheet behind Rick in that theatre shot. LOL! Nice in-jokes.
Kevin: Funny thing is that we didn’t stick it there, it was hanging there because my buddy James works there. I just decided not to take it down. I figure those in the know will laugh, and everyone else won’t notice.
Hollywood Gang: Thought there wasn’t enough tension from the two leads in the theatre. One guy in our audience said that due to everything they had been through, they should have been a little more on the basket case side by this point. Felt they were too calm.
Kevin: Hmmmm…When are they too calm? At what point in the theater?
Robert: They commented on this from the time Lynn/Tuck are behind the security door till they find Jeff. Perhaps not panicked enough.
Kevin: To me, they’re temporarily safe, so I’m not sure why they’d be panicked. Is there a ticking time bomb somewhere there?
Hollywood Gang: Our female audience felt Jacky didn’t look terrified enough when Mark was about to kill her.
Kevin: I know what she’s saying! But it’s not like our actors were working under optimal conditions—she was cold, it was like 5 in the morning, and we’d been working two weeks straight. Sometimes it just gets hard to get the best performances under those situations.
Hollywood Gang: The whole audience loved how Rick strangled Shivers back and Shivers knew he wasn’t dealing with a weakling. Glad you didn’t make Shivers superhuman. And he gets arrested! That is more realistic. They were puzzled by police with slacker goatees.
Kevin: Hahahahaha!! That’s what you get when you don’t have people show up who are supposed to. There was supposed to be like 8 cops, and one was an actor–none showed up. The cop out front is the assistant manager of that theater, and the cop inside who handcuffs shivers is a kid that works at the theater. I wanna kill myself just remembering that night! Yes, he was never meant to be superhuman, though I originally thought he’d get shot. Then we ran out of time shooting those scenes in the theater so we simply arrest him. Leaves the possibility of a sequel too.
Robert: A sequel would be good, but possibly hard to get Jacky back with her out here. Kevin: I’m sure I could get her back if I paid plane ticket and lodging. Course, the movie would have to do real well for me to think about it. I don’t have an idea (at least, not a very concrete one) for the sequel yet.
Robert: Hey! The end animation for your company was much smoother! I got a laugh that you gave J. Fellows in the stalls such a prominent picture.
Kevin: Yeah, I updated it and used a new render for it. I’m gonna start designing a new logo for Kangas Kahn Films, my new company.
Robert: While “HUNTING HUMANS” was more documentary-styled, this of course was more slick, and polished with a Hollywood feel to it. This time around I suspect there were tripods and dollies involved. Good stuff. It’s a shame. 20 some years ago crap like “House of Death” was making it to the screen with unknowns. Your stuff is so much better than that so it would have made it, and probably have made a star of Lassise as an 80′s horror icon.
Kevin: Yeah, he was really good, wasn’t he? I’m glad I found him–I originally saw his picture on a web site and said “That’s the clown.” The day he auditioned I told him he had the part. Yeah, we had a steadicam rig (the Glidecam Pro with the vest and all– it’s like a $3500 unit but I had to have it.) And still, we need some recognizable actors in it to even think theatrical. Hopefully on the next pic.
Robert: I hope they put deleted scenes on the DVD. We only had a hint of the deleted ones in “HUNTING HUMANS.”
Kevin: Yes, there will be around 30 minutes worth. The original ending is like 10 more minutes long. Hint: Bert isn’t actually the one who was pulling Shivers’ chain.
Robert: I’m going to take a wild stab that Tuck is a bad guy – the other guy on the other phone with Shivers. Maybe he was the molested kid and has an axe to grind. The group I was with had a hard time figuring tuck out. He’s rich, handsome, perfect at everything, but is obsessive, jealous, and definately has a dark cloud over him. A little like Billy from “Scream”. As so much was taken out to get to around 90 minutes, he had to come off more as a good guy.
Kevin: It’s not Tuck. Tuck’s obviously got authority issues, which is his main problem. Someone else in the movie has a link to Lynn’s past, and the reason she has coulrophobia–which is explained in the original movie. It’s what I now consider one of the film’s weak points–that you never find out why she’s afraid of clowns.
Robert: Pretty high body count in this. Something like 11 people I think.
Kevin: Funny part is, Brad Miska at Bloody Disgusting thinks it still didn’t have enough killing. He wanted to see Kill Bill but with Shivers. I’m like… if I had their budget, you bet!
Robert: Two last things – what’s this crap about single guys with cats? I’m a single guy with a cat! Oh wait, maybe I’d better check my crawlspace…
Kevin: Yeah, so was I. But I wasn’t exactly normal…
Robert: Unsung hero – your brother. He did a ton of work for the paintings which gave you great production value. Kudos to him.
Kevin: Yeah, he’s real talented. Weird part is that he doesn’t paint too much anymore–he got a job at NSA where he teaches people defensive tactics and stuff. It’s pretty funny that he’s almost wasting his art talents–he only pulls them out when I need them. (He’s helping me design what could be the “monster” in my next film, the screenplay I’m writing now. It’s kind of a good old-fashioned monster movie that will be the most unpredictable flick EVER). But I won’t shoot it for less than $100,000 and I want some SAG actors this time. That’s my stipulation, or I won’t do it. FOC almost killed me making it. Anyway, glad they liked it!