John Schneider has done it all. He’s found success in television, music and film. Most recently he decided to try his hand at something he’s always loved: horror movies. With his new film Smothered being released soon, Schneider sat down with us to talk a bit more about the project.
As John Schneider isn’t a name we normally associate with the horror genre, the writer and director of Smothered explained what led him to make the movie. “I’ve always been a horror fan,” Schneider said.
“My mother used to subscribe to some magazine I remember seeing when I was a kid that had Frankenstein on the cover,” he said of his early influences. “And when I was growing up in New York, there was a thing called ‘Chiller Theater’ and I’d watch that every week. I can still see the hand and the ‘Chiiiillller’ thing. So I’ve always been a fan.”
In Smothered we see some of our favorite horror icons in a whole new light, playing wonderful variants of themselves. “How great was it to see R.A. Milhailoff being afraid of the dark and carrying around his cute little dog?” Schneider enthused. “But the big surprise for me was… How good is Kane Hodder?! He’s fantastic! He’s really a romantic lead. Who would have thought that?”
When embarking on the project, Schneider was gambling that the group of horror icons he cast would be able to play much different roles than they were used to. We asked Schneider how confident he was that they would be able to pull off these parts. “I hoped that they could,” Schneider said. “Kane was the only one I’ve known. I knew Kane way, way back when. He was a stuntman on ‘Dukes’ shortly after he got burned. I was hoping he could pull that off. I heard about Don Shanks for years and years but never had met him either. I depended upon Kane to suggest the different people after he had read the script. When he read there was an older guy in great shape, he said, ‘You’ve gotta have Don Shanks.'”
And truly Shanks is one of the most entertaining characters in Smothered. “He was great, like a native American James Bond,” Schneider said. “He’s just so cool. One of the reviews said you’ve got to see this movie so you can realize that Don Shanks is indeed the coolest person in the world.”
In addition to Hodder and Shanks, Bill Moseley also appears in the movie, as does Malcolm Danare, who played Peter ‘Moochie’ Welch in Christine. “I’ve known Malcolm for a long time,” Schneider said. “I originally wrote that to be Sid Haig, but Sid was unavailable. Malcolm was going to be the ranger, so things got kind of shifted around. Rowdy Roddy Piper was going to be in it , but he got ill and couldn’t travel so that’s why I’m in it. Michael Berryman was going to be one of the guys out camping, but Michael can’t be out in the heat because of his condition. I think it was a series of very fortunate accidents… Better than unfortunate accidents like in the movie.”
Fans of “Tales from the Crypt” will catch a quick phone call from John Kassir, who voiced the Crypt Keeper. It was one of several “Holliston”-like nods to horror fans. “I have Kane say, ‘You’re not my keeper, Kassir.’ So it’s dropped in there,” Schneider said. “And you see John in the very end. He’s standing there with the mayor. I’m hoping the real horror fan is not only going to get it, but embrace all those little subtleties.”
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