Exclusive: Director Paul Middleditch Talks the Apocalypse and Rapture-Palooza
You won’t confuse Rapture-palooza with other end of the world comedies, mainly due to the title and because it’s the only film where Craig Robinson plays the antichrist who decided to settle down in Seattle. The film’s director, Paul Middleditch, was in Los Angeles when we spoke last week.
Dread Central: Do you think this movie is more high profile maybe because it’s widely available on VOD and if it was a major release in theaters it might have been swallowed up by the onslaught of summer blockbusters? I’ve been a little surprised when I’ve mentioned it in passing, there seems to be an awareness of the film.
Paul Middleditch: Well, there’s two things. One, they put together a great cast and in particular the cast - when we made this film which was, I think, over a year and a half ago - the cast themselves and particularly Anna have such a high profile. I think a lot of people are interested in whatever Anna’s doing. And particularly Craig Robinson as well who’s been doing some great stuff. So, I think that, certainly, that’s one of the reasons the film has been seen a lot. And also I think it’s certainly one of those films that may not be everybody’s taste, but the people that it’s aimed at seem to really love it because of its inherently unapologetic, outrageous kind of quality.
DC: Yeah, you mentioned that some of the actors are now a lot more high profile, and if I would have been a betting man I would have thought that Craig Robinson would have had a hit single out but Anna Kendrick is the one that actually does. So, that’s nice timing for you guys.
PM: Yeah, it’s kind of bizarre, isn’t it? (laughs) But I think it’s interesting and I think that Anna was interested in doing it because it’s such a different kind of thing for her. She’s done some interesting stuff and she’s brilliant to work with. And it’s interesting, she has a very laconic, very dry, very blase´ kind of performance. She kind of grounds the whole thing because the insanity that’s sort of around her. And a lot of the ensemble of actors who came in all kind of came in and went a bit nuts.
DC: Sure. So, will Craig Robinson’s “Stick My Dick In Your Booty” be available on the soundtrack?
PM: (laughs) You know, the really interesting thing is there was talk at one stage, they wanted to do a music video. There were a lot of things like that in theory we thought sounded great, but then we looked deeply within ourselves and go, ‘Is our mother proud?’. I mean, he’s the antichrist so I think Craig really liked … he has a terrific sense of humor when it comes to the outrageous. A lot of it was inherent in the script. It was a crazy script, and from that point of view, when the actors got together - when you’ve got Craig and [Rob] Huebel and Rob Corddry and Anna and [John Francis] Daley - they’re brilliant actors and they love just playing and trying stuff. And I think from that point of view it kind of came through in the picture. It’s nuts. It’s quite a hard film to categorize in many ways.
DC: Now, I really want to see a Craig Robinson parody of “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke with a lot of naked wraiths.
PM: I think the interesting thing is that Craig has been doing a lot of stuff. Particularly playing the antichrist, it just gave him complete freedom to just go for it. One of the producers I remember saying the chances of making a film like this is very rare. It was made very low budget and there were a lot of reasons why we took the risks we did. It was shot in 18 days. We really had to go for it and the ambitions for the film were pretty enormous considering the budget that we had. Especially when you put Craig and Anna together. You know, she’s not the tallest actress in the world and he’s six foot two or maybe even six foot three, so it was kind of an opposite pair to put together and that was a lot of fun.
DC: Was it difficult for Craig to talk so crassly and be so perverted in his scenes with Anna? Was he apologizing after every take?
PM: Yeah, there was some stuff. I did say to him, ‘Look Craig, let’s do one of these where you just go too far and apologize to her.’ It was one of those lines, if you remember, in the hallway. And it gets a huge laugh. I think Craig found sometimes when he was saying things like, ‘Don’t forget to trim your bush’ and all that, he was barely keeping it together with some of that stuff. Naturally, he’s not that kind of person but when he had license to do it, he had a whole heap of fun doing that. And a lot of that stuff like that whole song, they all came up with that stuff, so it’s coming from somewhere.
DC: Well, just to ask a little bit of an aside, if I was on that set - you’ve got a script by Chris Matheson who’s written Bill & Ted’s 1 and 2 and you’ve got a good cast and a good director - were there any rumblings, obviously there’s been some buzz about a Bill & Ted’s 3, or did anybody talk at all about how great it would be to be in the trilogy capper of that? Would you ever want to direct a Bill & Ted’s 3 or a Rapture-palooza sequel?
PM: Well, this is the first film of this type and my other films are really quite different. And while I loved it, I really wanted to do it because I really loved the style of it and the cast. But honestly, it isn’t necessarily the world I love. I don’t know whether I would go back to that.
DC: To get a little deep for a second, not too deep...
PM: There ain’t nothin’ too deep about Rapture-palooza! (laughs)
DC: Right! Obviously, this is a horror comedy, but horror films usually tend to reflect the anxieties and politics of the time period they were released in: Invasion Of The Body Snatchers could be about the fear of communism, for example. What do you think this trend is of apocalyptic, end of the world films?
PM: You know what I think it is, Chris Matheson actually the first time he thought of writing a farce on extreme, fundamentalist Christian beliefs of the rapture, was when he was given a pamphlet at an airport. He sat down and looked at it and thought, ‘This is nuts. This is absolutely insane.’ And I think he kind of wanted to make a comment about it because people are wandering around like this is real, like this is a possibility. For instance, at the end of the film, he says, ‘Who’s in charge? No one’s in charge. We’re all in charge.’ He kind of wanted to kill God and kill all the moral stuffing. I think [Matheson] was very much wanting to say it’s really down to how we live our lives as opposed to necessarily how we feel we need to judge people, or that we need to use God and Jesus and all of these quite ancient kind of teachings to rule our lives. I think Chris was really trying to make something quite subversive, ultimately. A lot of these films have come about I think particularly because of a lot of the dates. For instance, when they have big posters up in Los Angeles about, ya know, the date is coming, the 21st of May. While we were shooting was one of the days when the rapture was supposed to happen. This was for real and I said to the guys on the Friday, because I believe the 21st was the Monday, and I said, ‘Look guys, we might not be here on Monday to keep shooting. We might have all got this wrong. We’re all going to hell.’
Rapture-palooza is available now on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD.
When the apocalypse actually happens and a billion people are raptured to heaven, Lindsey (Kendrick) and her boyfriend Ben (Daley) are left behind in suburban Seattle. Amidst talking locusts, blood rain showers and pot-smoking wraiths, the young couple attempts to live a normal, everyday life. When the Anti-Christ (Robinson) settles down in their neighborhood, things quickly take a turn for the worse, especially after Lindsey finds herself as the object of Satan's affection. With the help of family, friends and a lawn-mowing zombie, the duo set off to stop the Devil from taking an unwilling bride, and they may just save the world in the process.
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