Now available on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD, Slay Belles is the debut feature film from effects artist and established horror blogger Spooky Dan Walker. In a sea of holiday themed-horror movies released in recent years, this bloody romp sets itself apart from the crowd with a talented cast, hilarious scripting, and stellar production value. It’s also a unique spin on established Christmas lore certain to strike a chord with those tired of the same-old-same-old.
Dread Central was lucky enough to sit down with Spooky Dan and Slay Belles’ star actress Kristina Klebe (Halloween 2007, Proxy) last week. It was an extensive interview, so we’ll be bringing you our conversation in three parts. Get to know Spooky Dan and his path into filmmaking below, followed by a discussion regarding what it was like working with cult icon Barry Bostwick (Brad from The Rocky Horror Picture Show) who plays Santa Claus.
Check back tomorrow for The Missing Cast Member Caper; we’ll conclude our conversation on Friday when we talk about what makes Christmas a natural backdrop for horror movies.
Dread Central: First, I just have to give you props for the name of the film, Slay Belles. I head the guys at Dread Central Presents talking about the film before I ever saw the cover art, so while I figured that, in a Christmas-themed horror movie, Slay was a pun on Santa’s sleigh, but it wasn’t until I saw it in print that I realized it’s “Belles”, as in “beautiful women” as opposed to bells that toll. It’s a double pun which is really clever.
Kristina Klebe: I can’t take any credit for that.
Spooky Dan Walker: You were one of the Belles.
KK: I guess so!
DC: Dan, those of us who know you as “Spooky Dan” have watched your transition from being a blogger to being an industry insider. Can you tell us about bout yourself, your roots, and how you got into filmmaking?
SDW: I still go by “Spooky Dan”, so that hasn’t changed! I was drawn to special effects because I love horror so much, I was like, “Let’s make monsters!” From there, I just kept getting drawn into the filmmaking side of stuff. I did digital effects for years and left that to write for Bloody Disgusting. And after, gosh, I think I was there for seven or eight years, it was time to move to the other side. But the journey definitely started with effects. Like a lot of us in this genre, we can’t escape it; it’s in our blood and we just love it so much, you just want to be part of it. You work with the guys at Dread Central Presents, so you know what I’m talking about.
DC: Absolutely. You have a huge resume as a visual effects artists, so obviously you have a successful career in that arena. What made you want to get behind the camera and direct?
SDW: The honest truth is this: Digital effects is a good job; my wife is a digital effects supervisor who’s worked on so many big movies and TV shows. But my heart wasn’t in it and I wanted to get into storytelling. And digital effects were a great way to learn the post-production side of things so that was a huge asset.
DC: I really want to talk about Barry Bostwick, for a couple reasons. First, I know that younger fans don’t even know about The Rocky Horror Picture Show and that he’s this huge cult movie star. But I have to admit, when I saw his IMDB page, I had no idea he’s been so prolific! He’s had hundreds of roles in films and TV shows ranging from the obscure to the mainstream. Since it seemed like you guys really had a blast on set, I tell me what it was like working with Barry?
KK: I’d be one of those people who never watched The Rocky Horror Picture Show until I was older. When I did finally see it, it was at a cemetery here in L.A. So, when I met Barry, I knew who he was, but I mostly connected with him in terms of acting. Sometime, even though actors might be well-known for something, they’ll just give a phoned-in performance. But he was so dedicated to the role, and I think he’s an actor’s actor. I also think he’s a director’s actor. He just loves to act and he’s so good. I come from the theater, so I think we just connected right away. And we’re still friends, which is awesome.
DC: It sure is! Dan, how did you even get him to be in Slay Belles?
SDW: Well, I’ll tell you this: Between the ages of 13 and 15-years-old, my parents wouldn’t let me see Rocky. So, I would sneak out every other weekend to see it in the theater at midnight—until I got caught and got grounded for a month. But I was a fan as a kid and I still probably still see Rocky in the theaters three or four times a year. Not as often as I used to, but it’s just been such a big part of my life for so long that it was kind of a no-brainer when it came to casting Santa Claus. We had talked about lots of different people, but I was like, “You know what, we’re a low budget movie, so let’s cast who we want as opposed to who some sales agent wants us to cast.” It was kind of a dream come true and I had to do everything I could not to “fan out” on him when we met in real life. And now we’re friends too!
DC: I love hearing stories like that. It’s obvious he was having a blast in Slay Belles and I’m glad to hear that, after working with him, your hero worship is still intact and he’s a great guy.
KK: Can I tell you another story about Barry?
KK: So, after we had met through working together on Dan’s film, I actually did a convention with him. I had some audition I was preparing for and somehow, we ended up at the airport at the same time. He was like, “I’m going to help you with this audition, we’re going to work on it together.” He went through the entire scene with me, literally breaking down it down piece-by-piece and reading it with me. And he was so good in terms of directing me. It was one of the nicest things ever.
DC: I love hearing about how movie stars are good people in real life. It’s heartening.
SDW: I think every filmmaker out there should jump at the chance to cast Barry Bostwick. He’s like a secret weapon. He’s such an awesome human to just hang out with but he’s a fucking awesome actor as well. He really digs into his roles and he’s not someone a lot of people instantly think of. I hope that between Slay Belles and a few other projects, people start seeing him as like a Danny Trejo type of actor. He’s going to improve whatever film he’s in. He’s just that good.
Slay Belles is now available on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD; you can purchase your physical copy, HERE. Check out the synopsis and trailer below, and check back tomorrow for Part 2 of our exclusive interview with Spooky Dan Walker and Kristina Klebe.
It’s Christmas Eve, and three cosplaying women are breaking into Santa Land for some partying and fun! What they didn’t expect was to come across the malevolent Christmas demon Krampus! The girls must team up with Santa Claus himself to battle the creature and save the world!
Have you seen Slay Belle yet? Are you a fan of Christmas-themed horror movies? What do you think of the high praises heaped on Barry Bostwick? Sound off in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!