Exclusive: Richard Elfman Talks ALIENS, CLOWNS & GEEKS + Image Gallery
Richard and Anastasia Elfman are like the real-life Gomez and Morticia Addams: A spooky-ooky-kooky couple who hold elaborate dinner parties on the upper level of their home in the Hollywood Hills. (They’re also sickeningly in love!) Recently, I was lucky enough to attend one of their legendary shin-digs, where I was treated to a rough-cut of Richard’s upcoming feature film, ALIENS, CLOWNS & GEEKS.
For the uninitiated, Richard Elfman is the founder of The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo and writer/director of the cult hit Forbidden Zone (released in 1980). Anastasia Elfman is a burlesque dancer and Scream Queen who recently starred in the short film “Karma’s a Bitch” which screened at Etheria 2019.
ALIENS, CLOWNS & GEEKS is an absolute hoot; a madcap and irreverent romp that will put a huge grin on your face and a serious stitch in your side. It has all the makings of the next great cult classic. Look out Rocky Horror Picture Show! Aliens, Clowns & Geeks is arriving soon to give you a run for your money! At the same time, there’s almost a spiritual link between Rocky and Hipsters, as both are populated by mad scientists and aliens participating in bizarre (and hilarious) couplings.
Eyeing a Fall release, ALIENS, CLOWNS & GEEKS is a crowd-pleaser as likely to tickle horror fans as scaredy cats. It’s a near-hallucinatory kaleidoscope of colorful characters and comic lunacy. If you’re a connoisseur of upper-echelon B-movies like Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Critters, Troll 2, and the like, you won’t want to miss Hipsters!
After the Hollywood festivities, I was able to sit down with Richard for a one-on-one where ALIENS, CLOWNS & GEEKS was the main topic. Give our convo a read below, followed by an image gallery.
Out-of-work actor stumbles upon the key to the universe and is drawn into an intergalactic war between clowns and aliens.
Dread Central: It’s been quite some time since your 1980 cult hit, Forbidden Zone. What have you been up to in the interim and what got you back into directing?
Richard Elfman: I’d been a hired gun after Forbidden Zone; I directed some Matthew Bright dark horror-comedy scripts (Shrunken Heads and Modern Vampires) and did some dance documentaries. Plus I write and direct for the stage and play in bands. For five years I ran a small media company, wrote articles, produced 300 red carpet events, made music and celebrity videos—but was spending way too much time behind a desk. I wanted to get back to directing, especially to make Forbidden Zone 2. Hipsters somehow came up first. You might say as a warm-up—although we were blessed with a dream cast, dream crew and I am quite pleased with the way ALIENS, CLOWNS & GEEKS came out.
DC: Hipsters was Verne Troyer’s final film. [The actor, perhaps best known for playing “Mini-Me” in the Austin Powers movies, passed away in 2018.] What was it like working with him?
RE: I had initial reservations over Verne’s health. He actually wanted to do an additional second role. We kept it to the megalomaniac Clown Emperor. But Verne was a prince to direct. Total pro, worked his ass off, even did some great comic improv we all loved. He hung out with the cast and crew, literally charming everyone. A huge talent in a little package.
DC: Hipsters is kind of a family affair: Your son Bodhi Elfman is the main protagonist and your wife Anastasia Elfman plays a number of roles. Was it weird directing them?
RE: Ha! Everything about this film is weird! Bodhi may not be as famous as his wife Jenna Elfman (Dharma & Greg, Fear of the Walking Dead), but he’s got like a hundred IMDB credits. Mostly bad guys in serious dramas. For this film, his comic instincts really knocked it out of the park. An out-of-work actor wakes up with the key to the universe stuck up his ass. Yes, that took years of dramatic training, but Bodhi thoroughly nailed the nuances of the role.
And my lovely wife Anastasia played five roles—everything from a nun to a carny slut. She also did second unit wardrobe, make-up, even some stunt driving—plus choreographed the cabaret numbers. AND had to come home to me each night…what a trooper!
DC: Your brother, Danny Elfman, scored ALIENS, CLOWNS & GEEKS, correct?
RE: Yeah—and on a modestly budgeted film it really helps when your little brother is Danny Elfman. ALIENS, CLOWNS & GEEKS is a ninety-minute film with a mammoth seventy-five-minute soundtrack. And Danny laughed and howled at his nephews’ comedy every damned minute. Also, my buddy Ego Plum (Guerrero) did the music with Danny. He and Danny work with the same people, like arranger (Oingo Boingo lead guitar) Steve Bartek. Ego is Hollywood’s TV cartoon genius, presently scoring and music editing all the SpongeBobs plus other top shows. We have a band together—Mambo Diabolico; it’s on the soundtrack. In a few weeks we’ll go to Belgium to mix in state-of-the-art Auro 3D surround. Although I prefer seeing Hipsters in a theater, our game boys and girls will get mind-blowing 9.1 surround in their headphones.
DC: ALIENS, CLOWNS & GEEKS is constantly skewering Hollywood culture. It’s almost like you have a love/hate relationship with the entertainment industry, true?
RE: Not at all. When I threw that studio head into a pool at a black-tie party he really deserved it. Rudely insulting my wonderful Afro-Brazilian musicians!! (Afro-Latin percussion being my other true love, btw.)
DC: What was the most challenging aspect of making ALIENS, CLOWNS & GEEKS, and what did you find most rewarding?
RE: Well, lack of money is always a challenge—it stretched things out with our huge musical score and tons of special effects. The rewarding part was watching it all come together, from scribbling the script in my rooftop garret to finally editing the chingadera. We’ve done a few rough-cut previews and watching an audience laugh, yell and scream is the ultimate reward though. Aside from whatever “art statements” and surrealistic dream sequences we play around with–my greatest joy is simply to entertain—and I think the film does that well.
DC: We’ve heard that after ALIENS, CLOWNS & GEEKS is released, you’ll be diving into a sequel to Forbidden Zone, something Oingo Boingo fans and lovers of cult films have been craving for decades. True?
RE: Damn straight! Forbidden Zone 2 IS my “bucket list” film. Danny’s already written some great music (Ego’s onboard as well). Forbidden Zone 2 will make people laugh, cry, piss in their pants!
DC: You and your wife Anastasia have quite the reputation for throwing wild, elaborate dinner parties and entertainment at your place under the Hollywood sign. How does that fit into everything?
RE: You might say, how does writing and directing fit into our party schedule? Whether it be the written page, the stage, screen, or at my table—my greatest joy is to entertain. I seriously grill–and cook for cast and crews at the end of each shooting week. Anastasia and I currently host an underground food and performance salon, the Barbecue Bacchanals! Too much damned FUN!!
Are you excited to check out ALIENS, CLOWNS & GEEKS this Fall? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! You can also carry on the convo with me personally on Twitter @josh_millican.