Let’s put on a show: ‘You’re Killing Me’ blends comedy and horror to great effect in low-budget indie (VIDEO)Entertainment News, Online Only, Section 4A, Top Highlights Sunday, February 28th, 2016
In Stan Laurel’s Dr Pyckle and Mr. Pryde, (1925), the actor spoofs what had been to that point two highly successful versions of the Robert Louis Stevenson novella, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One in 1912, the other in 1920. Laurel, who by then was synonymous with American filmmaking, may or may not have known that he was also helping to invent the Comedic-Horror genre which slowly, very slowly, took hold. When successful, the genre has produced the likes of Hold That Ghost, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankstein, (the film many consider to have demonstrated the commercial viability of the genre) Young Frankenstein, High Anxiety, Tales from The Crypt, Attack of The Killer Tomatoes, Motel Hell, Piranha, and, of course, The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
By the 1980s, the genre wasn’t just established, it was much more sophisticated. And much more graphic. The list of ‘spoofs’ and black comedies was growing exponentially. Films like An American Werewolf in London, Ghostbusters, Gremlins, Beetlejuice, Serial Mom, The Stepfather, and the Scary Movie franchise were causing both screams and smiles for both audiences and producers.In You’re Killing Me, which is set to be released on DVD and VOD through Wolfe Video March 8, this rich tradition is carried on to great effect. Jeffery Self (Logo’s Jeffrey & Cole Casserole) plays George, a self-absorbed Internet wannabe who falls for Joe (Matthew McKelligon), a shy, handsome serial killer. Each of his attempts to tell George the truth seemingly float above the love-struck puppy’s head. (For example, when Joe tells George on the phone that he’s just killed two people, George blithely remarks: “You’re hilarious! And I just saw Patricia Arquette at Target!”) But as Georges’ friends start disappearing, his friend and Internet wannabe cohort Barnes (played with amiable confidence by Bryan Safi) reels him back down to Earth to help him discover the truth about his ‘killer’ boyfriend.
And while You’re Killing Me has some genuinely riotous moments, it is also contains some extremely graphic images. In one scene, Joe kills his first victim by stabbing him in the stomach. As the victim realizes what just happened, Joe pokes his finger into the wound to exacerbate the bleeding. Moments later, we see the victim on the ground screaming for his life as Joe, off-screen, continues to stab him repeatedly. Director Jim Hansen explains: “I wanted it to be even more gory. I scripted it to be gorier. We wanted to keep it sad and dark and still. Most of the violence isn’t about like blood spurting out in a comical way. We wanted it to be violating and cruel. And to mix it with comedy. We wanted it to be more like real life and less like comedy. When you get to these points in You’re Killing Me, it’s almost like: ‘Is it OK to laugh now?’ This creates this tension because you don’t know what you’re going to see next. And it’s something you can do with a low-budget comedy because we don’t have anyone telling us ‘you can’t do this.’”
Jeffery agrees. “I like a movie that’s funny and then something scary happens. One movie I like, though it’s nothing like You’re Killing Me is So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993). It’s a silly rom-com but in the last 20 minutes takes on a really scary, dark turn. He adds, “We weren’t looking at Horror Comedies, per se. We were looking more at horror movies that had a comedic element to them. Like Michael Haneke’s Funny Games (1997) or mumblecore fave, Baghead (2008).For actor Matthew McKelligon who plays Joe, comedy was the furthest thing from his mind. During filming, although Matt tried to retreat into his role as best as possible, the cast would frequently continue after Jim yelled cut – remember, the cast members are all friends – and Matt would have to leave the room. I asked him who and what animated him for the role. “Well I like Christian Bale in American Psycho (2000). I love Hannibal Lecter. Those are two that come immediately to mind. The best movies are the ones that get you close to the serial killer. You go through the whole movie with them and develop a sick connection with them which I think is the aim. It certainly was our aim.” (We agreed that another classic of the genre is Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986).)
Matt’s background is anything but the stuff of budding serial killers. Born in Okinawa to military parents, Matt eventually moved to Los Angeles to work for an architectural firm. He soon began doing commercials and was eventually cast in Eastsiders, a dark comedy that began streaming on Logo in 2013. He also has a wry sense of humor. Matt speaks Swiss and German and when I mentioned to him about having the linguistic skills to order the perfect cup of hot chocolate, he jokingly remarked, “I can order a wide array of very cheese-intensive items.”
Although the platform upon which You’re Killing Me may, sadly, limit its audience, the cast remains optimistic. “We set out to make a movie with a small cult following. We wanted to make a movie that if you like it, you’ll really, really, really like it. And when the right people find it, they will show it to the right people.”
Jeffery, I hope you’re right.
You’re Killing Me
Directed and Co-Written by: Jim Hansen
Produced and Co-Written by: Jeffery Self
Main Cast: Matthew McKelligon (Interior. Leather. Bar., Eastsiders, and My Sweet Suicide), Jeffery Self (Logo’s “Jeffery & Cole Casserole”), Drew Droege (The Chloe Videos), Mindy Cohn (“The Secret Life of the American Teenager”), Edi Patterson (“Blackish,” “Partners”).
Distributed by: Wolfe Video
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