Q&A: Actor Joey Kern talks “BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS”Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
As fans of horror comedy might know, Joey Kern is not unfamiliar to the subgenre. After a memorable supporting turn in Eli Roth’s debut fright flick, CABIN FEVER, Kern has popped up in a pair of horror comedies in the past few years, including ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE UNDEAD and, most recently, in Scream Factory’s original release, BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS. In BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS, Kern hops into a role that suits his comedic sensibilities, playing the slacker best friend who is among the first to notice that his office building is being overrun by vampires. Recently, Kern spoke to FANGORIA about BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS, working with Dr. God and the side of the horror genre he tries most to avoid…
FANGORIA: How did you first come aboard BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS?
JOEY KERN: My agent called me on a Sunday, which was kind of odd because my agent never calls me on a Sunday. So I picked up and he said, “Hey, this movie came together pretty quickly and they called our agency about a part for Tiny Lister, so I read it and said, ‘Joey would be great for this.’” Then he told me Dr. God was involved, and I know those guys a little bit from doing improv at Improv Olympics. They remembered me and then they made an offer, and everything worked out great.
FANGORIA: Speaking of improv, considering Dr. God comes from that background, how much improv was there in the shooting of the film?
KERN: Well, a lot of us on set came from an improv background so we were very much into finding those moments and improvising. Actually, one thing that was funny was that Ryan Mitts, who wrote the original script, came up to me during the first week of production and it all came back to me that I had done a reading of the script years ago. I remember he was putting on a live read and asked me to be in it, so I remember reading it and really liking the script and then, years later, getting to actually do the film.
But yes, the Dr. God guys were very much into doing improv and finding moments and new beats in which to improvise, especially with my character considering he’s an oddball who lives in his own world. So I was able to improv a lot since I didn’t need to keep the plot going, and if you watch the film, there’s a little battle between myself and Fran [Krantz] since Fran is trying to keep the plot going and I’m always trying to knock it out of the cans. That dynamic made for a lot of good comedy, I think.
FANGORIA: Was there anyone’s improv chops that you were particularly surprised by?
KERN: Yeah, and actually, at the other end of that spectrum is Fran since he doesn’t do a lot of improv but he would break so much. The part where I rubbed my nipples was not scripted and getting that beat was hard because Fran would always break out laughing. But Fran is a gifted improviser in his own right, and I was blown away by some of the improv he’d do. Yet anytime we had a scene together, any time I’d improv with him, he would break and that’s how I knew it would be funny since I’m making the other actors crack up. That’s usually a good sign.
FANGORIA: You’ve been a part of horror comedies in the past. Does that help going into the project in terms of knowing what a director might want or expect from the material?
KERN: I love horror comedies; SHAUN OF THE DEAD is one of my favorite movies of all time because they’re very serious about everything that’s happening but it’s also like, “Well, let’s have fun with it.” So going into BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS, I decided I wanted to have fun with this character, especially because he doesn’t care about anyone else’s feelings and he’s just there to have a good time. That made it easier and more fun for me as an actor, especially since I didn’t have to offer exposition or keep the plot moving.
FANGORIA: What was it like working with the FX team on BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS?
KERN: Man, if there’s one thing I don’t like, it’s blood. I don’t like being bloody because that means not only am I bloody for the first day but I’ll have to stay bloody for the next six days of shooting, and I’ll have to come in every day where someone will make me bloody again. There’s actually a picture they use a lot in the marketing of Emma [Fitzpatrick], Fran and I in the elevator [see above] and I don’t have any blood on me because I’d always have an excuse. “Oh, I don’t think I got hit with the blood in this scene!”
There is one scene, though, where we get the janitor’s blood blown up on us, and that was, I think, the very last shot that we did. If you notice it, it’s not a three-shot because these guys were just throwing a bucket of blood on us but they completely missed Marshall [Givens] and that was the take where I got hit. So they had to use the second take of just Marshall and Fran covered in blood. So the blood can be very funny, but it’s also one of those things where it’s not the action that’s making the film funny, so it’s not my favorite.
FANGORIA: Do you have anything else you’re working on or coming out with at the moment?
KERN: Yeah, actually. The companies that produced BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS, Fortress Features and MTY Productions, came to a live read of a script I wrote and they loved it, so we’re making that film now. Tyler Labine is on board as well as some other guys we can’t really talk about but it’s called BIG BEAR and I wrote, directed and am starring in it. It’s not in the same genre as BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS; it’s sort of like VERY BAD THINGS meets JUNO.
BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS is now on VOD/DVD/Blu-ray from Scream Factory.