The Boulet Brothers Reveal All About Their Halfway To Halloween Special On Shudder

The Boulet Brothers
The Boulet Brothers Halfway to Halloween TV Special. Photo Credit: Scotty Kirby/Shudder

The Boulet Brothers have made a terrifyingly gorgeous name for themselves with their drag competition reality show The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula. Their focus on monstrous and disgusting drag has made them a pillar of the horror world, making us all relish being called one of their uglies. Now, the spooky pair is entering the world of horror fiction with their upcoming variety show The Boulet Brothers’ Halfway To Halloween TV Special, coming to Shudder and AMC+ on April 25.

The special will be hosted from The Boulets’ haunted manor set and will feature scripted skits, musical performances, and guest appearances from an impressive lineup of stars including David Dastmalchian (Dune, Suicide Squad) who co-produced the special, Kevin Smith (Clerks, Tusk), Emily Hampshire (Schitt’s Creek), Taran Killam (SNL), Matthew Lillard (Scream film series), Jorge Garcia (Lost), Steve Agee (Peacemaker), Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, Chopping Mall), Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp), Katya (RuPaul’s Drag Race), Derek Mears (Friday the 13th, Swamp Thing), Satanic doo-wop band Twin Temple, and Kendra Onixx, Koco Caine & Melissa Befierce (The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula).

Watch the teaser below:

Now, read Dread Central’s interview with the Boulet Brothers themselves, Dracmorda and Swanthula, about writing and directing fiction, becoming monsters, and Dungeons and Dragons.

Dread Central: Can you tell me a little bit about the Halfway to Halloween TV Special that you both are hosting and producing?

Dracmorda Boulet: Yeah, so we’re actually writing and directing it, too. Surprise! It’s a scripted variety special. It’s very much like those holiday specials that would come out in the 80s around Christmas time where networks would get all their stars together and there’d be musical guests and skits and things like that. So this is a giant celebration of Halloween. It’s all scripted. We’re the hosts and we brought in tons of celebrities from the horror space and of dark-sided musicians to participate and it’s just a lot of fun.

DC: That is so amazing. So is this your first foray into writing and directing fully scripted stuff?

DB: It’s the first thing that’s like 100% written by us. Like we’ve done stuff like that with other shows and with The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula for example, there are scripted parts and then there are unscripted parts. This is the first time we’ve done something that’s 100% scripted. Or at least in terms of writing and directing it.

Swanthula Boulet: It’s also something we’ve been brewing in the background for a while. We knew we wanted to do something scripted and this opportunity arose and we’re like, “Is now at the time? Yes.” And I’m so happy we did because when we sat down and did the final watch, it was so joyous and weird and dark and funny and kind of warm and fuzzy. So I hope fans love it as much as we do.

DC: So what was that experience like for you to be taking on hosting, writing, directing, and producing?

DB: For me, it was a breath of fresh air. It was very rewarding to be able to sit down and write content, then work with actors who are incredibly talented that just execute your vision and bring more to it than you ever thought. It was a very rewarding experience because some of the people we worked with, like David Dastmalchian, they’re such talented actors. It was our first time being able to work with people of that caliber and it was just incredible.

SB: I’m gonna agree because, you know the competition element was completely taken out, which had more gravity than I think I would’ve guessed. We were just dealing with artists. It was just about creativity and getting the best possible like product in the end. I was on set and could say, “Hey, I just have to focus on the creativity.” I didn’t have to worry about, judging, feelings, egos, and all kinds of things that go with a competition format. So it was very refreshing.

DC: Oh, that’s awesome. It does have to feel like a little bit of a relief to be able to focus on the creative part. What was it like working with David Dastmalchian on this?

DB: David’s a friend of ours. We’ve been friends for a while and on a personal level we hang out and we do a lot of stuff together. But this is our first time working together and it was great. We click on a really cool level that I don’t think we click creatively with other people on. And so it was really rewarding to work with him. We have similar senses of humor and you’ll see that in the special. There are a lot of really wrong sorts of jokes or jokes that walk the line. I’ll say,

SB: There was a point where Drac was doing a lot of the writing and I was the sounding board and Drac was like, “Is this too much?” The sense of humor is so dark. I mean, it is like crispy pitch black and I’d say, “Oh my God, we have to push this to level 10. We need to veer so hard into this lane.” And then David had the first read through and he was cackling. It’s a lot and it’s perfect and David supported everything that we wanted to do.

DC: Oh, that is so exciting. Pitch-black humor is my favorite, so I’m excited to see that, especially on Shudder. What was that like working with Shudder on this? It seems like they gave you a lot of creative control over the project.

SB: Yeah, I feel really fortunate. They’ve really put the reins in our hands and they allow us to do what we wanna do.

DB: That’s one of the things that made Shudder and AMC networks attractive to us. When we first worked with them on a project, it was Resurrection, which is our first spinoff of The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula. They just let us do whatever we want. I was like, “Here, look at some of these cuts.” And they were like, “Oh my God, we love it. Just go crazy.” They said, “We just wanna support and enhance your vision.” Like they gave us no critiques, which is very unusual, not one note from a network. Since then, I don’t think they’ve literally ever given us a note on anything.

DC: That’s so cool that you get to have that support. To see drag and monstrous drag especially continuing to get so much love and freedom in that space is just the coolest. That must be so cool, especially for you guys to experience on the regular <laugh>.

DB: Yeah, I mean, it feels correct. I know a lot of readers probably don’t know, but if you ever spend any time doing drag in a professional way, the line between that and being an onscreen monster. It’s a very thin line, you know what I mean? You’re sitting, you’re very uncomfortable, and the transformation is complete. I mean, you’re doing special effects makeup, basically nightly. I used to look at pictures of people getting ready for monster movies in Fangoria and I’m like, “That’s literally what I do every night now.” And it is! You start manipulating your body and <laugh> transforming your face and taping everything up and it’s a really crazy experience. <laugh>.

DC: Well, exactly. And especially on The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula when you and the competitors are turning into sometimes literal monsters, too.

SB: It’s funny that you say that because there’s a piece that we contribute to one of the skits of the Halfway to Halloween TV Special where it’s not figurative. It’s a literal monster transformation that Drac and I did for the first time to that extreme. It was super fun and it is very parallel to just transforming yourself through drag. It’s just a mirror transforming yourself into a monster.

It’s very surreal, I mean our drag is uncomfortable. There are definitely different levels of drag. For some people’s drag, the transformation is a little bit less extreme and they’re more comfortable because of it. But for us, it’s always been like giant claws, huge shoes, blackout contacts, and literally every part of us is concealed and transformed. This was just another level that I just didn’t think about it until it was happening. And I’m like, “Wow, I feel so like, deep within myself.” I’m covered with three hours of prosthetics and then the nails and the eyes and the hair and the shoes. You kind of lose yourself in this creature. It was really interesting.

DC: That is really interesting because then you’re playing the character of the creature and it’s just gotta be such a weird kind of mind game. And you don’t think about that, but it has to be an interesting mental exercise on top of physical endurance.

SB: No, it really is. You get another taste of that on stage, too. Sometimes the lights hit your contacts just the right way. Or when we’re filming The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula or other projects, even Halfway to Halloween, you can’t see anything other than maybe a couple of inches in front of you. It feels like you’re delivering a performance into a void. like into nothing. Yeah. It’s a very interesting mental exercise.

DC: But you have such an incredible list of guest appearances, but I really have to know, what was it like working with Matthew Lillard specifically?

DB: He was so fun. We wrote and directed this one skit for him and you know, I didn’t think about it until I was done writing it and then I thought, “Oh my God, I have to send this to Matthew.” I was like, “There’s no way he is gonna do this” because it’s pretty, um, I’ll say sexually suggested <laugh>.

DC: Oh hell yeah <laugh>.

DB: I just kept picturing Stu from Scream. I was like, “This is perfect. I hope he goes for it.” Then after I sent it, I was talking to David, and I said, “He’s gonna say no, right? There’s no way he’s gonna do it.” And David said, “We’ll see.” And Matthew was like, “Yep, see you tomorrow!” It was awesome <laugh>.

He added a lot to the skit. He is so talented and he brings such charisma to the screen. There are a lot of outtakes that weren’t planned on that we ended up using in the final cut. I would love to work with him again because his talent level is just through the roof.

DC: He’s so talented and he just seems like such a genuine dude.

DB: We talked a little bit on set about aliens. He unexpectedly seemed to be into UFO phenomenon so he kind of went off on that for a little bit, too.

SB: Yeah, Drac, you jumped on that. He also mentioned having a Dungeons and Dragons campaign going, which definitely flicked my ears. I was like, “Wait a minute, do you play DnD, too?” And he was just so bubbly with tons of ad-libbing while we were shooting. His energy was a thousand percent so it carried us through the day and he was great.

DC: Wait, you play DnD, too! What’s your class?

SB: I haven’t played in a long time. I usually run the game.

DC: I’d die to listen to a DnD podcast with you guys.

SB: <laugh>. I know there are ones out there like Critical Role. They’re hugely popular.

DC: I love them. Especially if they’re well done, it’s just like listening to a fantasy story.

SB: Oh, nice. If I played it would be some kind of variation of a mage probably. That’s always what it was when I was younger.

DC: Hell yeah. That’s amazing. So before we wrap up, I would just love to hear if there’s a particular skit that you are excited for people to see!

DB: God, there are so many of them. I’ll say Felissa Rose’s, I think will be really fun for people to see. There’s also the Easy Bake Cremation Oven. That’s another good one. <laugh>

SB: One of the first skits, I’m gonna say it’s a riff on a television show that <laugh> everybody is very aware of mixed with the monsters and it’s called Franken Steinfeld. Let that kind of settle in <laugh>

DC: <laugh> I’m so excited for the special and I’m so excited for people to watch it. It sounds like it’s going to be wild and hilarious. I’m just so excited to see The Boulet Brothers go into more fictional spaces.

DB: That’s what we love. That’s the direction we’re headed in general. That’s where this all began. We’re very much into world-building and that’s what really gets us excited: developing characters and stories and fictional situations. Even though people don’t know us for that, that’s really where we spend most of our time. So now I feel like our career is catching up with our interest

DC: Well huge congratulations. I was watching The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula on my laptop on YouTube when it was just starting out and to see you grow into these monumental figures in horror has just been so cool to watch. So congratulations y’all.

SB: Thank you for saying that, but also supporting and finding us back then, too. It was a small but strange little beacon for I think a certain cross-section of people. For example, we were in DC last night and this couple flew in from South America to come to the show because they said, “We saw you on YouTube years ago. We’ve never seen anything like that in our culture. And it made such a huge impact on us. We had to come and see you.” I’m just blown away by things like that and it just reminds me of the importance of having diverse voices in all spaces, including horror because it gave them a little bright light to latch onto. It means a lot.

The Boulet Brothers

The Boulet Brothers’ Halfway To Halloween Special comes to Shudder on April 25!


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