SCARY MOVIE 2
Movie Feature by Susannah Macklin
PHASE9 hooked up with the stars of SCARY MOVIE 2, co-writers Marlon and Shawn Wayans, and the up and coming Anna Faris for a chat about silliness, sick jokes and the proverbial sh*t hitting the fan!
When the world finally got fed up last year with Wes Cravens post-modern poke at the slasher movie, the Wayans brothers were there, waiting. Pouncing on a timely gap in the market in which teens were bored with being the victims of gory killings and happier to be stuck on the end of an apple pie, the Wayans grossed out the US and UK with their outrageous jokes and hard hitting toilet humour in the shape of spoof SCARY MOVIE. Now giving all they've got to a bigger and better SCARY sequel, America's kings of comedy are about to become the crowned princes of the poking fun at the poking fun movie - whether they like it or not!
The first thing the Wayans are quick to point out in our meeting is that they don't want to be known as 'the Scary movie guys'. Ok then - I'll try to make this as painless as possible, though this could be difficult in the light of two movies in the same vein in the space of two years. With the original SCARY MOVIE the notorious Wayans brothers have broken through the barrier of mainstream TV sitcoms to cult comedy to big budget Hollywood laughs. Their first venture into the horror parody market ripped off some of the nineties best known teen fright flicks, making 'em laugh with obvious jokes on the cast and crew of familiar titles including, I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER:
'After the first movie Jennifer Love Hewitt sent me a bunch of flowers and said that she'd never laughed at anything so hard as she had at Jennifer Love Huge-tits' says star of both films Anna Faris.
And of course every young persons nineties favourite SCREAM. The Wayans knew they were on to a good thing with their take on the Wes Craven shocker, especially parodying the work of such a renowned director.
'I actually bumped into Wes and I thought he was gonna whoop my Ass!' Laughs Marlon 'But he just gave me a hug and said Hmm very funny'.
It does have to be noted however that SCARY MOVIE 2 is slightly kinder to Wes and concentrates more on some of the best loved and best known supernatural films of the last few decades, running through it that all important bang up to date coverage that keep the spoof jokes fresh and flowing.
'We wanted to use films we'd seen recently which were THE HAUNTING and WHAT LIES BENEATH, so we used those as a basis for our structure'.
This time round the movie sees Anna Faris reprising her role as the kooky, spooky Neve Cambellish Cindy, leading a bunch of teens (and I'm sure the guys would be happy to acknowledge that I use the word teens loosely) through a haunted house as part of a psychological experiment with hilarious and sometimes just plain revolting consequences.
Meeting these guys in the flesh, it's easy to see why they do as well in front of the cameras as they do behind them. They strike imposing figures, standing at 6.2 a piece in cherry leather suits (?), and have bags of charisma. Not only are they funny individuals, but also together bounce jokes off each other like tennis balls. So as a team that makes use of three of the Wayans writing brothers ('there's a chain of command - and Keenan pretty much stops all the arguments') bashing out that well structured script should be an easy task. However the decision to make a second movie wasn't made lightly on their part.
'These are the hardest movies in the world to make, notes Shawn.
'The parody and the thriller are the two most difficult movies you can write - you have to sit down and do so much research and find the common denominators and make like three or four jokes per page. Both times with these movies we've had to hole ourselves up in Keenan's house and watch like 100 movies'.
However the massive commercial success of the first both in the US and the UK meant that a sequel was kind of inevitable, regardless of what they first thought. As Shawn points out it was in the offing from the moment the first movie left the can.
'We hadn't really considered it but Bob and Harvey (Weinstein) checked us out at the premiere and said you've gotta do a sequel. They kinda hypnotised us with this thing called a cheque and we were like OK- WE'LL DO IT! ' He laughs.
The Wayans inspiration for the jokes in SCARY MOVIE 2 and their overall love for comedy hasn't come straight from the minds of Juvenile delinquents trapped in the bodies of mad twenty/thirty something comic geniuses. Although meeting them for half an hour, one could quite easily be forgiven for thinking that. Nor are their comedic roots born out of the US sitcom genre in which they started out. Their comedy series IN LIVING COLOUR which enjoyed a long run in the States and their other TV success THE WAYANS BROTHERS may point towards that, but as Marlon points out, the facts couldn't be more different.
'Keenan took us to see AIRPLANE when we were like 8 or 9 years old and we just cracked up - it's the funniest movie I've ever seen. That was what gave us the feeling that we wanted to make this sort of movie. Personally I just loved that line in AIRPLANE 'Then the shit hit the fan!' I still love that bit! It's hilarious' he laughs ' What movies like that did was to hook up really great characters with humour and in the case of both SCARY MOVIES those guys were the ones that really inspired us'.
So the challenge to get cleverer laughs out of an area that as they've admitted they don't find easy to tap into, obviously couldn't be ignored. SCARY MOVIE 2 is funny. It also has originality and a surprising amount of it. The movie is probably at its most original in the opening 10 minutes in a spoof on THE EXORCIST. Perhaps not by coincidence there's a similarity to Leslie Nielsen's 1990 film REPOSSESED, and although their idols take on the Linda Blair character and her pea soup spew didn't make much of an impact with cinemagoers back then, in a mad irony there's no doubt that this version will hit the spot with audiences. It's notable comedy writing like this that has helped the Wayans to persuade some of the biggest stars around to not only appear in their movies and succumb to their shocking humour, but to really get into their roles.
'James Woods came to the set of SM2 with his gun loaded. He was ready, he really didn't have to be persuaded to do the things he does in the film.'
Which includes such delights as dry humping a demon possessed devil's daughter! But perhaps even more bizarre, even by the Wayans standards, was the actor intended for the Woods role before he had to pull out.
Brando came to the set with so many ideas - he was like 'I wanna do this, I wanna do that, I wanna put butter on my ass! -He was hilarious'. Yes Shawn is talking about the one and only.
'Marlon Brando was all set to play the part but he wound up with pneumonia so we had to let him go. We didn't want to be responsible for killing the Godfather'.
Having previously acted in the theatre it was a big and bold jump for Anna Faris (pronounced Ar-na) who plays Cindy in the movie, to join such a high profile cast and crew for one of her first Hollywood features. So how did one so young and from such a conservative background, come to get mixed up with this bunch - not only first time, but also a second.
'When we did the first movie I was scared out of my mind' she admits.
But they're such a great warm family and they sort of took me under their wing, so I was more than happy to do it again'.
Anna's acting resume is short enough for her to become known as, and as she confirms others have already pointed out, 'that chick from the Scary Movies'. Even with a list of projects behind them the guys think that may be their lot, so is she as conscious as them of now finding different projects. 'Yeah definitely- I would love to branch out and do some different things. But for now I completely count my blessings, because it thanks to these guys that I can do what I want to do. Anyway it's really a trip to have people come up to me and recognise me from this movie- especially since people in LA are so nonchalant about it'
People on the street may take that stance, but those that haven't been quite so 'take things as they come' when SCARY MOVIES 1 and 2 are mentioned are the critics. As people have been quick to point out, the Wayans appear to look no further than the school playground for their jokes.
I think in the US they're harsher about us. Especially with this movie they've just clamed up and they've got really conservative.' says Marlon.
So entering the comedy toilet zone has set them up for plenty of finger pointing and upset. Apt when you think that the 'shit hitting the fan' is one of their top comedy moments. Could this be life-imitating art?
'Things have never got that bad. Look we're only concerned about making audiences laugh anyway. We'll go to the wall to get that out of them. And I really don't think you can go too far!'
However, audiences have been known to surprise them, even the less conservative ones.
'In the original cut of this movie we had Shorty watching the TV in one scene- and he was checking out 'Grannies Go Wild'. It was a spoof we did on these tapes they have in the States called 'College Girls Go Wild'. There were these 75-80 year old women showing their breasts and stripping. It was really, really funny but it got a 'yueeeeerghh' from the audience.' We had to take it out - but it'll be on the DVD!' laughs Marlon.
It's to my amusement then that in all this, the Wayans only show signs of real concern and shock at the mention of the 18 certificate SCARY MOVIE 2 has received in the UK. When this is pointed out to the brothers they seem pretty surprised at the potential alienation of what they obviously see as their biggest audience -'whaaaat?' So do they think this frightening fact might mean low viewing figures over this side of the pond? Shawn has the answer.
'Is CATS AND DOGS out over here? Yes? Well the kids will pay to see that, then sneak into our movie'.
That's what I love about these guys. They've got a sense of humour. British Board of Film Classification please note!