Q&A: John Schneider Talks the Double Jason Connection to His Slasher Satire “SMOTHERED”Fearful Features,Movies/TV,News Brian Steward
What do you get when you put a bunch of actors famous for playing murderous maniacs together in a remote trailer park—and make them the victims? You get SMOTHERED, whose writer/director John Schneider talked to FANGORIA about the movie’s ties to two different screen Jasons and more.
In select theaters this Friday, March 25 and available on DVD and VOD next Tuesday, March 29 from Indican Pictures, SMOTHERED has one of those Voorhees performers front and center on screen: Kane Hodder. He stars alongside veteran baddie Bill Moseley, LEATHERFACE: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE III’s R.A. Mihailoff, HALLOWEEN 5’s Don Shanks and CHRISTINE’s Malcolm Danare as a group of fright-film favorites who are lured from a convention with the promise of big bucks to make a special appearance at a remote trailer park. Little do they know that they are the intended victims of exactly the kind of amply endowed girl who’s usually their onscreen target. Schneider, the former DUKES OF HAZZARD and SMALLVILLE star who previously told us about working with Moseley on the movie here, recalls that it was another Jason who helped spark the project…
FANGORIA: How did SMOTHERED come about?
JOHN SCHNEIDER: I was in Düsseldorf, Germany with Richard Brooker [FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III’s Jason] and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, and I think Michael Berryman was there. I’d had an idea years before; I was tired of the usual horror-movie model where the pretty people get killed one at a time by the guy in the mask. I thought, somebody’s really gotta change that at some point. It’s kinda old; it’s kinda tired. I thought it would be cool to have a bunch of serial killers go camping and get killed one at a time by a beautiful, large-breasted girl. The problem with that was, I don’t like movies where you ever say, “Oh, come on!” And right off the bat, why would a bunch of bad-ass guys or girls or whatever—a group of terrible people—what device could you use to have them get together and go camping [laughs]? So that idea just sorta sat in the back of my mind for a long time.
Now, Richard had told me about some group that would hire him occasionally to tell stories at a campfire with the Jason mask on, ’cause he was the first guy to wear it. I’d known Richard a long time, and he’d told me that in a bar somewhere. Now we were sitting in Düsseldorf, and he was having a terrible show because he was helping the promoter, who’s a great guy but had gotten in over his head. Richard was always about helping the promoter. He’d spend so much time worrying about someone else, and didn’t worry about himself. And I said, “Hey!” I’m one of these guys…all this stuff is in my head and some connective tissue will come along, and all of a sudden something that made no sense before will make sense. I said, “Richard, if somebody gave you $1,000 right now to go tell stories around a campfire, would you do it?” And he said, “Yeah!”
Then I said, “This is not gonna happen, but I need you to answer this question. You think you could get, like, five or six other folks to do that right now?” He said, “There are five or six of them sitting in the bar would do that right now, ’cause they will be lucky to make 100 bucks in this shithole!” [Laughs] I said, “That’s it!” He said, “What?” I said, “That’s the reason why a bunch of serial killers or horror icons get in a Winnebago and go camping.” I went up to my room and started writing SMOTHERED, and finished the first 20 pages before I got on the plane the next morning. Then I wrote on the plane. It wasn’t 10 days later that I finished it. I would send Richard portions and ask, “What do you think of this?” and he’d say, “That’s great!”
But two weeks later, right around my birthday, April 8, he stopped returning my e-mails. I thought that was weird. And I think on the 9th or 10th, I got an e-mail from a bar buddy of ours from Venice Beach, where I lived at the time, and I learned that Richard had passed away. I couldn’t believe it. The funny thing is, in Germany he was talking about getting in better shape and starting to work out.
FANG: Where did you go from there with SMOTHERED?
SCHNEIDER: I started thinking right away, “Who in the world would not be interested when you say, ‘OK, a group of horror icons got to haunt an RV park and get killed one at a time by the big-titted blond chick.’ People go, “That’s f**kin’ great! I wanna see that!” It’s one of those “Why didn’t someone think of that before?” things. It’s not a spoof; it could happen. There are no zombies, nothing from another planet. I hate it when you watch a movie and you’re made to swallow a bunch of bullshit that couldn’t possibly happen.
FANG: How did Kane Hodder get involved?
SCHNEIDER: I contacted his agent and said, “Richard just passed away, and I’ve got some serious interest in making this movie, and I need to do it while I have it. Who do you have?” She asked, “How about Kane Hodder?” and I said, “Oh my gosh, yes!” She sent Kane the script, and Kane called me and said, “First of all, this is great; it’s like you’ve been sitting in my pocket watching what’s going on. I know exactly who needs to be in this movie. But before we go any further, are you telling me that if Richard had not died, we wouldn’t be having this conversation?” It still said “Richard” in the script. I said, “Absolutely not.” He said, “OK, good. Then let’s do this for Richard.”
Then I asked, “So, who else do you think would be good for it?” He said, “R.A. Mihailoff.” Roddy was supposed to be in it; I trained with Roddy at Vince’s Gym when he did THEY LIVE. He and I were put together as workout partners. What happened there was Roddy’s health was bad. He told me, “I honestly don’t know, John, if I can do this.” That’s why I’m in SMOTHERED. It wasn’t supposed to be me. It was supposed to be Roddy and Michael Berryman.
FANG: You must have had a good time making SMOTHERED; Kane and Mihailoff are both real characters.
SCHNEIDER: Oh my God, yeah. Kane is hysterical. He gave Malcolm Danare such a hard time, the whole time. He was relentless. At one point in the movie, he grabs Malcolm by the throat and by the mouth. On the second or third take, Kane licked his finger and put it in the dirt and shoved it right in poor unsuspecting Malcolm’s mouth [laughs]. Kane was just Kane and gave everybody a hard time, and it lightened everybody up. He’s also an executive producer on SMOTHERED, and he did wonders for the film. He brought everybody together. He was so great.
I believe with all my heart and soul that no one has ever seen a movie like SMOTHERED. It’s a love letter to horror fans. I think people are going to eat it up and see it over and over again. I’m very excited about it. Whenever I show it to folks who have been on either side of the table at a horror convention, a big one or a small one, they just grin from ear to ear.