As a follow-up to my review of the movie SON OF GHOSTMAN (seen HERE), I present to you a short interview with the writer and director of this film, Kurt Edward Larson. If you haven’t seen this fun movie yet, I highly recommend it!
1) SON OF GHOSTMAN, though a story about life, overcoming odds and making your dreams come true, deals with the subject of horror hosts. Did you grow up with a horror host and if so, who was it?
Son of Svengoolie in Chicago. I believe it was on old WFLD channel 32 (hence the backwards homage in Count Dracool’s TV station logo). Svengoolie was an absolute hero of mine as a kid. I discovered the Universal Monsters because of him, and in some ways my understanding of acting all comes back to Sven and Bela Lugosi. It wasn’t until Dracula that it clicked in my head that there was a guy behind the character… and you could do that for a living.
2) Do you follow any horror hosts today?
Honestly David, I hadn’t until I started work on the film. They were kind of like forgotten comic books in the basement. I still loved them, loved what they stood for, but lack of time and other interests seemed to always be an obstacle. I always checked in on Sven though, and am thrilled he’s found an even larger audience with ME-TV.
I will say, going down the horror host rabbit hole has been endlessly amusing. For such an niche subculture, there really are all kinds of different gals/guys out there doing it. Each bring their own unique talents and set of skills to their production. Some are more polished than others, but all of them are just so rad man. I really do love them. I salute them, and I hope they seem my genuine affection for them in the film.
3) Is this the first film that you directed?
It is! I had no aspirations to direct films. I was (and am) an actor and writer. Directing seemed insanely challenging, and I had no real schooling in any of the jobs I did on the SON OF GHOSTMAN set. I just knew I had to make the film, and so, scary as it was, I went for it! Why not, right?!
The one bit of information that gave me solace was knowing my two screenwriting heroes, John Hughes and Cameron Crowe, faced similar technological challenges directing their first film, and they were roughly the same age as me. Granted, they had an entire studio and crew, but somehow I was delusional enough to think I could do it.
4) How did the story come about?
I have a lot of sincerely talented people in my life who are all kind of in the middle of this existential crisis, myself included. Being true to who you are, while still maintaining a financial balance, can be difficult at times. All my friends were in their mid 30’s, they had been trying to ‘make it’ for over a decade, and were now faced with the reality that life didn’t go as they had scripted in their head. So, what now?
From that, I started thinking about what it is I enjoy out of life. I love making people smile, it’s the best drug in the world. So that got me to thinking about horror hosts, and how much Svengoolie had an impact on my life at a young age. And I realized, these guys running around on local TV with monster makeup on, their lives have SO much meaning. They make people laugh. They provide memories. They do it because they love it, not because it makes them famous, because in many cases they aren’t. Yes, we have Svengoolie and Elvira, but as you know David, there are DOZENS of other guys who literally do it as a hobby. And that to me says something about their lives. They mean something to people. They mean something to guys like you and I. I wanted to try and capture all of that.
5) Is any of it based on your actual life?
Well, there have been more than enough comments made by those close to me that suggest there are a lot of similarities between myself and Denny. Is he me? I don’t know. I do know that what I think life is, and how I want to live it, is a thread throughout the film. You can’t write something this personal and not have serious glimpses into your life throughout it.
Look, I made a true indiefilm about horror hosts. And it was a romantic comedy. There are a lot of people who think I’m crazy and don’t understand why I would do that. It’s just who I am, and so certainly there is a parallel between my creative aspirations and Denny’s own struggles.
6) It seems as though the horror host community is very supportive of this film. Has there been any hosts in particular that have stood out in their enthusiasm of this project?
Dr. Gangrene (www.drgangrene.com) He’s a super-cool guy, and a throughly entertaining horror host. People should check him out. He’s been so kind, and really for no other reason than he just likes the film. We feel like slowly, but surely, the horror host community is checking it out. The challenge is to get them to know it exists, we’re unknowns after all. But the number of movies based around horror hosts can be counted on one hand, so we really do want them to see it.
If it’s okay David, I would also like to say that Screamland writer Harold Sipe and also The Horror Honeys have been incredibly generous with their support. Harold is an exceptional writer of classic horror and can be found at HERE and the Horror Honeys are just wonderfully bad-ass chicks who live and breathe horror.
It’s people like them, that don’t know me, that offer to get the word out… it makes it all worthwhile. And that includes you sir. I can’t thank you enough. I hope people check out the film, and if they have any interest in learning about the backstory, we talk about it quite a bit on my podcast Stay Cool, Geek. All of my projects can be found HERE!
Thanks David. Thanks for your support and thanks to all the people out there who are connecting with the film!
I want to thank Kurt for this interview and I look forward to seeing what he does in the future!