Writer/Director & Star of SLAY BELLES Talk Christmas Horror, Indie vs Big Budget Filmmaking & HELLBOY 2019
Thanks for checking out the third and final installment of Dread Central’s exclusive interview with the writer/director and star of the Christmas-themed horror comedy Slay Belles, Spooky Dan Walker and Kristina Klebe respectively. If you missed Part 1 (which featured Barry Bostwick) and/or Part 2 (“The Missing Cast Member Caper”), you can find them in the links below.
Today, we talk about Christmas horror movies in general and what makes the holiday such an unlikely yet natural backdrop for terror. We also discuss indie vs big-budget filmmaking and Klebe even gives us an overview of her experience working on Neil Marshall’s Hellboy, arriving in US theaters on April 12th.
Dread Central: Dan: We’ve seen a lot of Krampus movies since Mike Dougherty’s film in 2015, but Slay Belles may be the first time I’ve seen Krampus and Santa in the same movie. Still, you did more than just pit them against each other as enemies—you made them connected, like two halves of the same being. It’s a really fresh concept and I wanted to ask what gave you that idea? You’ve essentially combined these Old World and New World Christmas mythologies in a very unique way.
Spooky Dan Walker: The Krampus mythology is centuries old, but there are so many different versions. So, when it was time to make our own story, we wanted to do something really unique that wasn’t just the European version of Krampus. That’s kind of how Mike Dougherty did it as well, taking all these different angles. And hats off to him, because he really introduced the world to Krampus so we didn’t have to in Slay Belles. You already know him. There’s another really good one called A Christmas Horror Story that had a really awesome Santa vs Krampus fight in it as well. There are a couple out there that are really cool. But Dougherty’s movie is so fucking good.
DC: It really seems like there’s been a surge of new Christmas-themed horror movies in recent years. How would you explain this phenomenon and why do you think Christmas makes such a good backdrop for horror movies?
Kristina Klebe: The only Christmas movies I hear about are, like, Hallmark Christmas movies. But, with horror movies, it’s scary because a lot of people don’t like their families and having to get together. Thanksgiving could be a horror movie! Also, just the fact that there’s the mythology of Krampus and Santa; it’s kind of like the tooth fairy: There’s a dark side to it.
DC: Yeah, having a dark perspective on something that’s usually portrayed in such a positive light. What do you think Dan: Are we seeing a resurgence of Christmas-themed horror movies?
SDW: I think there’s a couple answers to this. Think about how many Halloween movies there are. Every year we get another 20 Halloween horror movies and everyone loves it. And when Halloween is over, we’re not ready to say goodbye… we want to keep that darkness going. There’s clearly a need for this in the same way there’s a need for the Hallmark Christmas movies. Because, for whatever reasons, these movies have a huge audience.
I think horror fans are a lot like wrestling fans: We want more! So, for me, it was like, “Let’s do something fun with the Christmas genre.” Horror movies, because they go down a supernatural path anyway and go into fantasy so often, it easy and awesome to go into the Christmas mythologies and that can be really silly fun. And, at the same time, they’re rooted in the supernatural. It’s a natural combination. I just hope we can see some more of them. I’m actually on my way to see Rebekah McKendry’s movie, All the Creatures Were Stirring, as soon as we wrap up this interview.
DC: We’ve been hearing great things about that one as well. Kristina, you have an extensive IMDB resume. You’ve acted in horror movies and mainstream movies; you’ve worked on indie projects and major studio projects. Now, I understand that actors love to work, but I wanted to ask how working on a horror movie differs from other genres, and how working on a major studio release differs from working on an indie project?
KK: That’s a good question—it might take me a couple hours to answer [laughs]! As for how working on horror movies is different from, say, a Lifetime movie, I’d say it’s more fun as an actor because you get to do a lot more. The characters are more extreme. The female characters are much stronger than in mainstream movies. Not necessarily in the Marvel movies which have a lot of strong female characters, but in a Lifetime movie, you’re like, the girlfriend or the wife. But, in general, in horror, you get to do more and work your acting chops. It’s more exciting! I have this German TV show now where we shoot a couple episodes a year and it’s such a different feel on set. It’s more like a machine. There’s clearly not as much happiness behind that, which is weird to say because you’re always happy when you’re making something.
And with studio vs indie filmmaking the difference is, basically, studio films have a lot of money. You feel kind of spoiled; it’s almost ridiculous how much food they have and everyone’s always bringing you something while you’re sitting in a trailer. It’s kind of stupid actually. You’re like, “I’m, getting paid to do this?” And then you work for two hours a day, then maybe again for half an hour that night. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea. But, when you’re working on an indie film, it’s the exact opposite. You’ve got no money so everything’s super difficult because your scraping things together and there’s no time. And you’re on set working the entire time. You get tired and there’s no one bringing you food. It’s the opposite in so many ways, but at the same time, indie films are way more satisfying. Everyone puts their blood sweat and tears in, and it’s really gratifying in the end. In some ways, it was like being in a war. Not literally, of course, but it’s like we’re all in the trenches together.
DC: My only non-Slay Belles question is for you, Kristina: Hellboy’s coming out this April. Can you tell us a bit about the part you’re playing and what it was like working with Neil Marshal and David Harbour?
KK: Yeah sure. I play Leni Riefenstahl. I’m only in one scene but I got to spend a week on set with them. It’s the second time I worked with Neil. He directed me in his short [“Bad Seed”] in the Tale of Halloween anthology [released in 2015]. And he’s just awesome; such a good guy who’s become a really good friend. As for David, he and I actually went to the same college; we know each other through Dartmouth. in fact, when I was in directing school at NYU, I used him in one of my directing exercises. So, somewhere, I have video clips of him doing a scene from my movie. It’s so random!
DC: If you find it, we’ll run it on Dread Central—unless you think it would embarrass him?
KK: That would be so mean!
DC: I’ve seen Slay Belles, and I can attest that it’s a fun, gory romp, but how would each of you describe Slay Belles in a way that will get our readers excited?
KK: It’s like celebrating Christmas with your best friends on steroids. Not like you’re personally on steroids, but—you know. Fun on steroids!
DC: How about you Dan?
SDW: I always describe it like this: Three powerful chicks team up with Santa to fight Krampus at an abandoned amusement park. And it’s a “Girl Power” film. It’s not your typical horror movie. Slay Belles is a fun, silly, campy, bizarre—thing! Maybe you can help us out because I don’t know what I can compare it to.
DC: Well, I will say this: While I was watching Slay Belles, I knew I was experiencing something really unique.
SDW: I hope it’s something people will want to watch while they’re hanging out during Christmas break, looking for something fun. There’s no hard sell; there’s no moral message that we’re shoving down anyone’s throat. It’s just fun. Watch Slay Belles!
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.
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!