Today: April 20, 2024

Marlon Wayans – Talks A Haunted House

After being taken on a nerve wrecking tour of places in London notable for death and debauchery, Scotty Bradley found himself with Marlon Wayans in an allegedly haunted pub in Soho discussing his latest spoof comedy A Haunted House …

A Haunted House was the first film starring written by and released independently from your own production company, Baby Wayans. Had this been something you planned to do for a while?
I’ve been working together with my brothers for so long, everything we do we run by each other and this was the first idea I saw as a solo venture. There’s no buddy comedy in it, y’know?  This one just worked out the way it did, there were no roles for them. I missed them terribly, but at the end there’s no need to split the check!

As this is, for you, a continuation of the spoof horror genre, were there any regrets about leaving the Scary Movie franchise you helped create?
It wasn’t like we left it. One day you might get to see the book about behind the scenes of Scary Movie … We put a lot of work and creativity into something which became a billion dollar franchise.  The first two were really successful, but things turned sour regarding respect within the business of it all. But there were no regrets. They were training grounds for the rest of my career. I’m actually very happy I had nothing to do with the last three. Not to say my film is genius – mine is just funnier.

With A Haunted House you’ve focused on a simpler narrative, based around one genre, to spoof films like Paranormal Activity and found footage. Was this a conscious decision – to do something different within the spoof genre compared to the Scary Movie series’ more scattershot approach?
Scary Movie One was an actual movie. Two was a confection cooked up in six months. Three, Four and Five make no sense. With A Haunted House we have a simple story: a girl moves in with a guy and paranormal stuff happens. I use the ghost as another man coming between their relationship. With a good spook, you can go to all strange kinds of places, but the story has to make some kind of sense. This wasn’t like the usual parody. It was more a straightforward horror comedy, with parody moments. I used a black person’s perspective to be the audiences’ point of view of a supernatural found footage movie.
What are these white people doing here? Why don’t they just move? White people in the audience are even asking that same question. I wanted to give it that truth and see what comedy that came out of it.

Why the found footage genre?
I think the genre was ripe to be lampooned. So many found footage movies have been made, I wanted to make something like that on a low budget, play with all the angles. There just seemed to be a lot I could do with the story. They don’t have many black characters in found footage movies, same as superhero movies. I wanted to do something like that.

Have you ever considered making more straight horror?
I have seriously considered it. If I did, it may be a little too f**ked up, I’d probably take it a little too far. Horror movies are getting crazier and crazier. Soon they’ll be putting a guy’s dick in a blender.

How did you come up with the idea of the ghost rape for what is ostensibly a teen audience?
For every guy, rape, it hurts. Even men who fantasize about it, if you’re forcibly taken, that’s gotta hurt. It’s every man’s worst nightmare. When it comes to horror and comedy they share a similar rhythm, that’s how you use it.

Where did the stuffed animal sequence come from?
It was entirely unscripted, I saw those toys on the bed, I thought, what the hell, and we shot three hours of me humping the Hell out of those animals! When you throw something out there, if it’s nasty but also funny, you just go for it.

With that in mind, when it came to filming the female rape scene, was there a fear you may upset some audiences?
As a comedian you have to be fearless. There’s comedy in everything. You just have to find the way of telling the joke. In these films, sometimes the ghost rapes the girl. All we asked was, what if a ghost raped a girl and she liked it? We always do things with kid gloves.

If we knew it went too far, I would have pulled out. It balanced the male rape scene.

We dish it, but can we take it too …?
From standup, you kind of know how to engage your audience. You don’t want to offend … I wish we had testing. With a film of this budget, we had no real time to retry and improve. You go off instinct. We shoot and it is what it is.

Was there a lot of improvisation in this movie?
Most of it was improvised. There’s hardly any good dialogue in a found footage. I had a really tight script and a great cast of comedy actors. Thirty percent of the dialogue was scripted, seventy percent of the film was improvised.

How are you approaching the sequel?
Well obviously my character, Malcolm, has to come back, but it’s about changing things, seeing what new stuff is out there, looking for common denominators. The first draft was over 200 pages long. We’ll have a good, tight 85-minute comedy from that one.

Are there any more serious roles you’re hoping to get?
There’s a whole list they go through first, Denzel, Will, Jamie …. If Pryor happens, I’m gonna lay that shit out. It’s been three years now since it was announced. You can’t be just an actor, or just a comedian to play him. The journey of the comedian has helped me as an actor. It’s been meant to happen this way. God has prepared the journey I’m taking and if it comes my way, I’ll be ready.

One last question, are you aware of the Germans’ re-titling of your movies?
Yeah, in Germany it’s been re-titled Ghost Movie, which is cool. Don’t Be a Menace was Ghettobusters. That’s a great title.  I just saw A Haunted House screened in German. That sh*ssinst’s hilarious. I sound funnier in German!

A Haunted House opens in UK cinemas on 19th June.

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