You may know him as Bo Duke or Jonathan Kent, but the prolific John Schneider has now started up his own studio. Writing and directing, this good ol’ country boy is looking to shake the clean-cut image and throw himself into the world of horror. With Smothered, Schneider has brought several genre veterans together for a humour-laden, sinister, gory and, most importantly, highly entertaining movie that can’t help but bring a smile to the face of long-time genre fans. I was lucky enough to chat to Schneider about his latest foray into horror, potential legal issues with “Teddy” and “Mason”, sequels, and why Smallville is better than Man of Steel could ever be.
How did the idea for Smothered come about?
Well a friend of mine, about 25 years ago, said wouldn’t it be fun to invert the horror/slasher model and have the large-breasted girl kill the serial killers. I said that’d be fun, but how in the world are you going to justify it – he was talking about real serial killers, like Son of Sam, Ted Bundy, and folks like that. Firstly, they’re dead, as they’d been killed by the state, and secondly, what reason would they have to go camping together. As a filmmaker, as a writer, I don’t think an audience ever gets over their first “Oh, come on!” And a lot of movies have a lot of “Oh, come ons!” The idea stayed in the back of my brain, until just over a year ago when I was in Dusseldorf, Germany with Richard Brooker [Friday the 13th Part III’s Jason Voorhees]. The horror icons were having a not-so-great show and the idea came back to me at the bar one night. I asked Richard and a couple of others guys, I said, “Hey, if somebody were to pay you $1,000 to leave this place right now and go haunt a trailer park for the weekend, would you do it?” They all said yes, so it was at that moment that the ‘writer guy’ inside my brain said that is the device that through a bunch of, not real serial killers, but a grouping of horror icons, that’s the reasons why they go camping. And I went up to the room and I started on page 1 of Smothered. I don’t think it was even 10 days later when I was done. Then it was 11 days later when we were financed!
In terms of the actors in it, was there anybody that you wanted be couldn’t get?
I went after Sid Haig. In the film there’s a big clown that looks like Sid, and Malcolm [Danare, from Christine] has Colonel Wilson, but when you’re making a movie at this budget, which we were fairly low, not low-low – we were at $1 million – people have to make quick decisions. Sid was busy and I couldn’t wait, so I turned around and got Malcolm. I’ve known Malcolm for years – we did a movie called The Curse together 20-something years ago – so I called him and asked if he wanted to do the Sid Haig role and he said, “Absolutely.” Originally Malcolm was slated to be Ranger Moochie because of Malcolm’s name in Christine. So that was the first one. The other one, I ran into a bit of a snag getting in touch with Robert Englund’s folks. Again, there wasn’t time to wait, plus my lawyer said to me, “You know, if you have Robert Englund playing someone called Teddy…” We managed to dodge a bullet many times with regards to copyright because many people played Jason, there were several Leatherfaces, there were several Michael Myers. My lawyers said that if you had Robert playing Teddy then you’ll just be getting yourself in trouble. So we had a snag as far as getting in touch with him and we had a snag as far as potential legal problems, so I dropped that. And Bill was wonderful; he did so great in it anyway, which added a layer to the very heart of the film. It added the sobriety layer, which is kinda cool. It adds heart to a film where you don’t necessarily expect it.
For the full interview, head over to Starburst Magazine.