Interview: Robert Englund, John LaFlamboy and Mike Bradecich
John LaFlamboy and Mike Bradecich are the writers, directors and lead actors in The Mole Man Of Belmont Avenue. Horror icon and gentleman Robert Englund should need no introduction. He stars alongside John and Mike as a cranky tenant menaced by the titular Mole Man.
Robert, John and Mike were kind enough to sit down with HorrorTalk for an interview.
Joel Harley: What can you tell us about The Mole Man of Belmont Avenue?
Robert Englund: It's a low budget slacker Ghostbusters. I'm one of the tenants of a building inherited by two slacker brothers; and there's a creature that's eating all the pets. The tenants band together like vigilantes.
John LeFlamboy: It's a story about two brothers, Jarmon and Marion, who have never really accomplished much in their lives, because they're not very good with conflict...
Mike Bradecich: What do you mean, conflict?
JL: … Speaking of conflict. The two brothers have inherited a building from their mother. They've let it run into the ground. They're stealing electricity from the church next door, tenants are moving out, pets are going missing - and they discover there's a monster living in the basement.
JH: How did the idea come about?
JL: It was a mix between wanting to make a feature film and looking at what we had available to us. I come from a pretty serious horror background, I produce haunted houses for a living and have access to some great horror stuff. And Mike Bradecich being an actor tied in the comedy scene in Chicago, we decided to make a horror comedy. I came up with the ridiculous idea of a Mole Man as our monster, and these brothers, and we wrote it together.
RE: I remember some great, trashy drive-in B movies; a film called The Mole Man; were you ever familiar with that?
MB: We're doing well in that we've got a longer recycle time with Mole Men than you've got on zombies and vampires. If we're giving a good 50, 60 years between Mole Man stories we're doing good.
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JH: In the trailer you don't really see much of The Mole Man. Do you have any hints as to what to expect from his appearances in the film?
RE: What does a Mole Man look like? The closest I had in my imagination was something like Wind In The Willows.
JL: That was one of the fun parts of pre-production – getting together our special effects and make-up artists. They're like, “so... a Mole Man”.
MB: I was quite proud! What does a Mole Man look like? That is a great question. We put together a comedy with what is a bunch of wacky, strange, intricate characters. It's fun to bring a monster at that same level. The monster itself is somewhat funny.
JL: The Mole Man's first appearance in the movie is a joke. We play on getting the dog through the mail slot. It's one of our favourite bits.
MB: Justin DiGiacomo, the guy in the Mole Man costume; I asked him to let us know what he thought of the character - how he thought he should move, how he thought he should look. Justin wrote a ten or fifteen page biography, feeding back generations of how they came to evolve and the way that they look. Hopefully he was able to use some of that in his performance.
RE: The hirsute immigrant family that never quite made it. Shunned by their neighbours, they continue to live in their basement!
JL: Querying Justin's version of the script, we were the bad guys.
JH: Mike and John, you wrote, directed and star in the movie. What made you decide to act in it on top of everything else?
JL: We knew that we would show up for the job for free. Mike and I met as actors in college. We started making short films and music videos because we wanted to get more performance time.
JH: Robert, what attracted you to the project?
RE: Both Mike and John's reputation preceded them – I knew they were a great comedy duo – and then I got the script and I loved it. I was laughing, I didn't put it down. I immediately called my agent up and said “I'd love to do this.” They had these incredible locations. They have such a great talent pool in Chicago that they can borrow from. I don't get to do a lot of comedy - it's always a gift when somebody lets me do it.
JH: Do you look for anything particular in a role?
RE: My rule has been, since Freddy vs Jason, that I will go where I'm wanted. The blessing for me is that horror and science fiction movies are huge internationally. I just finished a film in Bulgaria. And I was in your neck of the woods (England) in June. I just did a movie in the Shaun Of The Dead tradition called Strippers vs Werewolves.
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JH: What are you up to next?
RE: I'm developing a potential franchise called Fear Clinic, which has some of the same ingredients as A Nightmare On Elm Street; in this case phobias instead of nightmares. I've got a couple of really great people involved with it.
JH: Mole Man being a slacker horror comedy, there's only so far you can go with the horror elements. Will you stick with comedy or go straight horror in future?
JL: I prefer comedy horror - movies like Evil Dead and Shaun Of The Dead. The comedy allows you to release that tension and to enjoy it; you can have fun with it, playing with the clichés.
RE: I think the comedy horror hybrid, some of them don't work. You have to deliberate [over] elements of horror that you have to back away from. I think that there's room to really push the envelope with comedy and horror. I'd like to see and do more comedy horror. It's fun to do. You can also be a little more stylised. There's a great French tradition called Grand Guignol; almost like an illustration, cartoonish.
RE: You can keep the audience unbalanced, which is fun.
JL: It's a lot of fun to watch from the back row - you set them up with the horror part and then nail them with the joke. It really gets the audience going - they didn't think we had any talent!
RE: Mike and John are a great team in the tradition of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. America is just getting to know you guys. I think it's really fun for people to discover that. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost were the last two guys, and that was nearly ten years ago. I think that this is the kind of American humour that English fans will like. It's clever, it's fast, it's not afraid to be cheap and lowbrow at the same time. I think audiences will really respond to that. You can certainly quote me on that.
JL: Mike and I enjoy working together so I think we'd do anything with a good story. If we had a good story, I don't think we'd stick with just horror or comedy.
MB: Road movie! Road movie!
RE: I'd be one of the hitch-hikers.
MB: You've just committed to that. Robert's in our road movie!
RE: The Mole Man's in the trunk! He's following us!
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