EXCL: Stan Helsing Director Kills ‘Em With Laughter

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Zenga on his upcoming horror-comedy

Amid the glut of horror-comedies arriving this fall, one is going to take a stab at six modern movie killers in Bo Zenga’s Stan Helsing. Steve Howey (Reba) plays the titular hero, a video store clerk whose unaware that he is a descendent of the Van Helsing family and must battle a horde of monsters in his small town.

“I will lay myself across the tracks as far as how good this movie is,” enthuses writer-director Zenga, making his feature directorial debut. Zenga has played both ends of the spectrum in his career. In 2004 he penned Soul Plane and, two years later, produced Turistas with Josh Duhamel and Melissa George. He attributes Helsing‘s success to not just the cast of bogeymen he spoofs (Myers, Krueger, Pinhead, Chucky, Leatherface and Jason) but the other actors he attracted which includes Diora Baird, Kenan Thompson, Desi Lydic, Ben Cotton and Leslie Nielson.

“I was very lucky,” says Zenga. “Usually you’re told you have to get some of these people to get the movie made and originally I sold the financiers on it’s the monsters we’re selling. The six greatest movie monsters of all time. Then for the leads I was able to cast the best actors and everyone that sees it says they’re so funny.”

He reveals Nielson was off on another film when Helsing began casting so, “I went to the set of the movie, I had the script and said, ‘You can play any part in the movie.’ And he wanted to play Kaye the waitress. As soon as he said that I was like, ‘That’s brilliant.’ He was awesome and we loved having him.”

Pressed for details on how difficult it was to satire the look of his main villains (who go by names like Lucky, Michael Criers, Pleather Face and Fweddy). “You have no idea,” Zenga sighs. “I would have to send them case law, the First Amendment. I would get notes like, ‘It looks too much like the character.’ But it’s not a spoof if it doesn’t look like the character with a little changes, but I think we pulled it off. I was on the set being called by lawyers, while I was about to shoot something, and they’d say ‘It looks too much like the character.’ Then I realized, they’re not here [on set], just tell them we changed something!”

Zenga shot the film as he would any horror film and let the humor rise out of the characters. As far as horror-comedy influences go, he says Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein was one film he respects, however, Young Frankenstein strongly informed his vision. “Desi reminds me of Teri Garr. Making sure the monsters were real characters and not just doing the [original] monsters was difficult. I would tell guys like Lee Tichon, who plays the Michael Myers character, don’t move like him. That stiff walk. We told him to be loose like he’s jivin’ down the street. All of them did great. We had the advantage of having Jeff who plays Lucky – he was a real person and could do stuff the doll couldn’t do.”

When Stan Helsing hits DVD on October 27, Zenga hopes the film will catch on with audiences that way he can further the adventures of his reluctant hero. “We absolutely could do a sequel. It’d be these characters but instead of the monsters coming to them, they hear of a problem and have to go deal with it.”

Source: Ryan Rotten, Managing Editor