22nd Dec2017

Horror-On-Sea 2018 Interview: Writer Keith Melcher talks ‘Bonejangles’

by Philip Rogers

Bonejangles is new horror comedy (review here) from writer Keith Melcher, which has been selected to play at the Horror-on-Sea Film Festival on Saturday 27th January. I got chance to ask Keith a few questions about his influences, taking on the role of playing the immortal killer Bonejangles and working with horror icons Elissa Dowling and Reggie Bannister.

Bonejangles_key_art

What can we expect from Bonejangles?

You can expect a campy horror comedy that is a throwback to slasher films of the 1980s. You can expect over the top characters, bizarre situations and ample amounts of gags and gore!

How did you come up with the concept for the film Bonejangles and what were your influences?

The original idea for the film came about after imagining what would happen if the events of the Evil Dead films were to happen at the same time as the events of the Friday the 13th films. At the same time, I crafted it to be sort of a comedic, over the top love letter to the horror films I grew up watching which obviously includes the Evil Dead and Friday the 13th movies, as well as slasher and zombie films in general.  For influences, aside from Evil Dead (1981) and Friday the 13th (1980), I looked to other horror comedies such as Night of the Creeps (1986), and Return of the Living Dead (1985).

How did you end up playing the character Bonejangles and how did you find the experience?

It was never my original attention to play Bonejangles. We were looking to cast a more familiar genre actor in the role. But it wasn’t going to work out with our budget so Brett offered the role to me a few weeks before shooting, since I knew the script so well, I took it. I enjoyed the hell out of it. I’ve found that there is no better way to work out aggression than by fake murdering people. And having worked in the customer service/tourism industry, I’ve got a lot of aggressions to work out. But all in all, I would rank it as one of the better experiences in my life and I hope I’ll get to do it again real soon!

People always talk about the way Nick Castle walked when he played Michael Myers in the original Halloween and the way Kane Hodder moves when he took on the role of Jason Voorhees. Did you do any research or preparation for the role of Bonejangles?

Outside of watching a few of the Halloween and Friday the 13th movies, not really. Believe it or not, that’s pretty much how I walk in real life. So, I guess you could say I’ve been preparing to be a serial killer for quite some time… actually, maybe you shouldn’t say that.

Were there any elements in the finished film which were different from your original script?

A few. We had to change and trim a few scenes on the fly because of budget and time limitations. And we added the scenes in the woods involving the two sets of hapless campers afterwards to add a little more carnage to the film. There was also supposed to be a scene showing Bonejangles on the roof of the building, but I — the badass serial killer — am deathly afraid of heights, so we nixed that one!

You have two horror icons in the film with Elissa Dowling as Rowena and Reggie Bannister as Edgar Sr. What were they like to work with?

Both were super chill and super awesome to work with. Elissa truly brought Rowena to life in a super campy, super fun, super evil way. I was incredibly stoked to hear we had cast her in the part. And Reggie was just amazing. Growing up watching the Phantasm films, it was pretty surreal to be on set and hear him perform the lines I had written. And having him tell me how much he enjoyed the script has to be one of the biggest compliments I’ve ever received. He was just a class act all the way.

What was your favourite scene in the movie?

That is a hard question to answer. I have a few actually. My favourite scene overall is probably the flashback scene with Rowena being burnt at the stake. It was my favourite scene in the script, and I think it was translated pretty well into live action. It perfectly captures the ridiculousness of the film and offers a great mix of comedy and horror. As for my favourite scene that myself took part in, I’d have to say the scene where I beat the poor camper to death with the guitar. That scene was just a hell of a lot of fun to perform. I only wish we had more than one guitar so we could have done more than one take on that one, but the take we got turned out pretty damn good.

And I also have to mention the shot of Bonejangles walking down the gym, surrounded by the zombies and fog. I just think that is an amazing shot. The lighting, the music and the cinematography really came together there. If any shot sums up the movie, I think it would be that one.

As well as Bonejangles, they have zombies and a succubus witch to deal with in the film. If you were to do a sequel what other horror characters would you like into include?

Well, without giving too much away, as Bonejangles 2 has been written, I think it would be interesting to bring in another serial killer to match wits with Mr. Bonejangles. Perhaps even one of the female persuasion… And failing that, werewolves. You can’t ever go wrong with werewolves. Except in the Twilight movies. They really screwed up werewolves there. Vampires too.

Do you have any other projects which you are working on at the moment?

As mentioned above, Bonejangles 2. And 3. The ideal plan right now is to shoot 2 and 3 back to back. Fingers crossed we might just be able to do that. Aside from those, I have a few web shorts I’m planning on filming for my YouTube channel, Magic-Time Films. But in the meantime, if anybody’s looking to hire a screenwriter for any projects, I’m willing to write damn near anything!

What advice would you give to someone who wants to play an immortal serial killer in a film? (just kidding)

Work hotel front desk for a few years. That’ll put you in the murdering mood in no time!

What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into script writing for films?

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DON’T DO IT! But in all seriousness, read a lot. Not just scripts either, although reading scripts might help you learn the format, but there’s a lot of how-to books on that. They helped me somewhat, but I mostly picked up the correct format just from reading other scripts. And just keep writing. It’s not an easy business to break into as I’ve discovered. It took me quite a few years to get from writing my first script to getting Bonejangles made. But don’t give up. And if you can, make friends with people in the film industry, even if it’s just local filmmakers. You don’t need to live in Hollywood to make it. I live in bum f*** South Dakota and have no real passion to ever move to Hollywood. So… you’re welcome?

Bonejangles will be playing at the Horror-on-Sea Festival on Saturday 27th January at 7:30pm.
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You can find out more information on the event and purchase tickets from the Horror-on-Sea website https://www.horror-on-sea.com

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