Ginger Nuts of Horror
"Yes! I didn't really realize how much shit was going to be in this movie when I originally signed up for it. I didn't want to go through with the first shits smearing scene"
As far as I'm aware, our recent Film Gutter 'watchalongs' present a unique, social experience in film viewing. We began with the gloriously over the top Human Centipede III (Final Sequence) and that was swiftly followed by Crazy Murder, a movie I had been looking forward to watching for a while and one I was heartily looking forward to watching with many good friends and new acquaintances. And, just to make this one even more special, I was lucky enough to have to chance to invite the lead of Crazy Murder, Kevin Kenny, to join us for the experience. We had a blast watching his by turns hilarious and disturbing performance on this one, and having watched the move we spoke to Kevin on comedy, shit, homelessness and 'fucking megapixels'...
First of all, thanks for joining us here at Film Gutter. How did you come to be involved in Crazy Murder in the first instance?
Doug and I met doing improv at the Laugh Factory in Times Square. We became good friends. Doug started talking about making a movie, and having me star in it. All of his ideas were brilliant, but complicated. We were talking constantly about different ideas.
Then he had the idea for Crazy Murder. It was a very practical idea. Crazy Murder exists because it was doable. The entire film crew of Crazy Murder was just Doug and his Nikon with a microphone on top, and Caleb doing postproduction, out in LA, via Dropbox. The 5K budget, which we were blessed to have, was all spent on props and special effects, like fake blood and makeup. We shot on a single tripod, which you do not need a film permit for in New York City. The fact that this movie got made and distributed still amazes me. It must hold some kind of record for the lowest budget of all time. Not sure.
The role must really have taken some getting into – 'The Killer' is a deeply disturbed homeless man with a penchant for murder and some disgusting eating habits. How did you tap into that sort of character?
To prepare for the role I would channel my anger and frustration. The tooth decay makeup hurt, and the chocolate syrup that I had to pour on my face, was extremely uncomfortable! They really helped me bring the discomfort and self-loathing to a very real place. There were days when it was over 90° and I was covered in chocolate syrup. I don't recommend that.
The movie is split into four seasons – was this how the film was shot, across the course of a year?
We shot Crazy Murder over the course of two years, in NYC and Hoboken. Then after the film was wrapped, Doug moved to LA to work on post production with Caleb, his best friend, coproducer, co-creator, and the brilliant man responsible for all the special effects, which would probably have cost over $250,000, in the real world.
The movie had been wrapped for nine months. I flew out to LA for ten days to shoot a bunch of new stuff they thought up. The stuff we shot in LA was amazing. I can't imagine the movie without it: James Quall, the dream sequence with ultimate fighters Mark Hunt and Brandon Ropati, twitching in the bathtub, and the bit on the side of the road, puking and completely covered in shit, were all shot in LA.
I believe the four seasons thing was an afterthought in postproduction. I had no idea that was even a thing, until I saw the movie for the first time. The way they edited these unscripted random bits into a linear feature was absolutely amazing to me.
You recently joined us for our watchalong of the movie, where you said there was no script at all. How did the film get put together?
We had been talking about making a movie for so long that we just wanted to get the hell out there and shoot! When Doug came up with the idea, we were shooting almost
immediately. We didn't have time to waste writing a script.
Usually Doug and Caleb would discuss some kind of a storyboard the night before, but there was never anything written down. When I showed up in the morning, or night depending on the call time, I usually had absolutely no idea what we were about to do.
Certain shots were more specific than others. When we were shooting kills that involved special
effects, Caleb was on the phone from LA, telling Doug exactly what to do, so that he could paint in real knife blades, blood and explosive shit in postproduction. FX shots were more tedious.
On the other hand, some days we weren't sure what the hell we were going to shoot. We just walked around looking for shenanigans for the killer to get into. I.e. "Fucking megapixels!"
You also described the piece as 'guerilla film-making' – was it literally just shot on the streets of New York, no sets or actors?
We had many actors. The people who died were all actors. Our murder victims were our actor
friends, or actors we found on craigslist.
We did not however have any background actors whatsoever. Everyone passing by in the background of Crazy Murder was just a regular NYC civilian who had nothing to do with the movie, and happened to be in the right place at the right time.
In NYC, film crews are quite abundant. New Yorkers often get annoyed, because production assistants tell them to cross the street or wait a minute, so they don't ruin the shot.
We, on the other hand were happy to have people pass through, because we didn't have any background. We needed real people.
There were no sets and no lighting effects at all. Everything was shot with natural light.
Did you every get any particularly unusual or interesting reactions while you were filming?
Most New Yorkers completely ignored us. Tourists were more interested. They would ask questions.
When Doug was there with the camera, they knew I was an actor. Doug had to run into stores from time to time, and left me standing on the street alone. One guy gave me money. I kept it just because it was too hard to explain, and I didn't want to burst his bubble. A woman tried to take
me to a homeless shelter.
The film is genuinely disturbing in places, but also has touches of grim humour. Is that something you wanted to add from the get go? Some of the lead's 'rants' are hilarious...
Remember Doug and I met doing comedy. Doug is the most hilarious person I've ever met in my life. He and Caleb both have a sick sense of humor, like me. There's no way the three of us could possibly make a movie that didn't have some good laughs in it.
Was there anything in the movie you had reservations about doing, especially in public?
Yes! I didn't really realize how much shit was going to be in this movie when I originally signed up for it. I didn't want to go through with the first shits smearing scene, after the garbage throwing tantrum. We had to stop shooting. Doug had to talk me into continuing. I was afraid my acting career would be over. Who knows? Maybe it is.
The other thing was, the baby smash. I was already wondering if we were going too far with killing a newborn baby. Then, on the day, just as we were about to shoot the money shot, some guy was trying to get into his car at the garage. Doug asked if he could wait a minute. His car was already in the establishing shots. So the guy had to stand there and watch me smash this very real-looking baby doll's head, which was full of jarred tomato sauce, on the pavement. I felt like a total degenerate.
The guy thought it was cool. He actually turned out to be an entertainment lawyer who I do believe Doug stayed in touch with.
There's a definite message at the heart of this movie about the homeless – what did you take out of the movie as its message?
One message is: cross the street, get off the park bench, and stay away from any guy covered in shit, who is cutting his dick. Dick cutting is a major red flag.
To take a more humanitarian approach to this question... I definitely feel like society's view on mental illness is a little fucked up. We see it as a weakness rather than a legitimate illness. There are homeless people who cannot help themselves. It is heartbreaking. They have feelings of frustration, self-loathing and utter confusion, that they can't even understand or articulate, similarly to my character.
So maybe the message is: if you think helping the mentally ill isn't your problem, The Killer might make it your problem. That said, you should still stay away from the guy covered in shit, cutting his dick. Help him before he gets to that point.
Can you tell us anything about what you're working on next at all – what can we look out for in future?
I had a dream a couple of nights ago that we were working on Crazy Murder II. I have a couple of projects in mind that I'm trying to develop. I had a reoccurring bit part on an America talk show for a while, last year. I enjoyed it. I met great-great people. Doug is directing commercials out in LA. Caleb works for a huge special effects company, and he's worked on just about every impressive special-effects movie over the past five years or so. I'd list them, but I don't know if I'm supposed to.