Shudder Interview – Clancy Brown (The Mortuary Collection)

Familiar with the work of an actor before an interview is one thing, knowing almost an entire career is another. I was lucky enough to grow up watching the film career of the great Clancy Brown unfurl across the cinema screen. Highlander, a personal favourite, as are memorable roles in Female Perversions (1996) The Informant (2009) Shawshank Redemption (1994) Starship Troopers (1997) or Hail Caesar (2016).

Also, an array of animation credits to extreme to list here, however as Mr Krabs (SpongeBob Square Pants) those distinct, dulcet tones bring joy to endless generations. It was a great pleasure to speak with iconic Mr. Brown

Will we see you in future Mandalorian episodes or upcoming Star Wars projects.
CB – Nobody has talked to me so probably not (laughs).

I enjoyed The Mortuary Collection, last night. You don’t see many horror anthology’s any more. What brought you to the project?
CB – No you don’t do you. It was filmed Astoria, Oregon, at the mouth of the Columbia River around the same town as The Goonies was made.

A regular inquiry caught my attention, I gave the script a read, i loved it and the character, a little different to what we ended up filming but not much.

Also, a low budget film which I don’t mind doing. It was accompanied by a short (The Babysitter Murders) now i didn’t watched the short for the longest time, then I did hope that this writer / director (Ryan Spindell) made an impressive short, he did.

I am quite familiar with his previous short films.
CB – I wasn’t but immediately wanted to meet him. When you do lower budget projects you all have to get along, you can’t be at odds. He was awesome, what sold me was his story how everywhere he took it, they said it cannot be done! I thought as long he was willing not to take no for an answer believing in your own vision, count me in.

Do you always put trust into a new director or filmmakers with particular visions, is that part of how you pick a project?
CB – You have to, it’s important as an actor to have a strong director in control or it doesn’t work out. I’ve had a couple of those experiences. This was a real pleasure, Ryan worked hard to make it professionally fun. His philosophy of ‘the world is not made up of atoms, it’s made up of stories’, conveys into the movie.

Tell me about your character, Montgomery Dark.

CB – Montgomery Dark is the mortician at some funeral parlour in Ravens End. He has what looks like an old Help Wanted sign at his place of business. We first see him being hassled by a local kid because he’s a creepy old man (laughs) then conducting a service for a little boy, afterwards approached by a mourner named Sam, about the job. She is fascinated by what he does and so begins stories of his clients (as he calls them). It’s not who the people were its circumstances how they died.

You have exceptional chemistry with the actress playing Sam (Caitlin Fisher, previously known as Caitlin Custer) what was she like to act opposite.

CB – She has been with the project from inception. I put myself in her hands being so familiar with the style of Ryan, I was happy they invited me.
It has been a journey for her, on Babysitter Murders, she was single then by the time he was putting the final cut together Caitlin was married with two kids. He’s fond of saying there’s a scene on one side of a door she’s single, walks through as married with a kid, then goes further into the room and has another child (laughs) all in the space of a few scenes.
That’s much more interesting than some old character like me, you should talk to her she’d like your interviewing style Shane.

Thank you, Mr. Brown. Is horror genre something you also enjoy watching?
CB – Don’t go out of my way to see them but if you look back in film history, a range of talent cut their teeth on horror and the genre lends itself to cinema being so interestingly, diverse and ancient, think of fairy tales. We have an intrinsic vocabulary of horror across nations or cultures.

Like many films, some horror films are appreciated years after release, such as, Pet Sematary Two (1992) has somewhat been reassessed.

CB – That’s an interesting thing as Mary Lambert made the original Pet Sematary (1989) an atmospheric classic. I’d argue that it was the first time a director really communicated the source material well enough by Stephen King, he’s hard to write screenplays for. She really got it but doing part two, it had nothing to do with King. A complete romp the other way, a satirical comment of the whole horror genre, Mary went from one extreme to another.

What are your thoughts on streaming services, how ell will cinemas recover after the pandemic in your opinion.

CB – I miss the big screen, some things you just have to see on the big screen. 1917 or Dunkirk are remarkable big screen movies. Streaming is a little like the boom when television started and filmmakers have perfected made for TV movies, however, not having commercial interruption is awesome and the range. Niche set ups like Shudder with genre specifics just makes perfect sense. Shudder is paying a lot of attention to The Mortuary Collection, makes me happy for hard work of Ryan and his team.

Will we see the return of Montgomery Dark in further instalments?

CB – Up to Ryan, he understands how to tell stories so well, he has plenty to offer in his head ready to go, story wise I liken him to Spielberg or JJ Abrams knowing how to create cinematically. Hopefully we see more of Ryan as a director with a higher budget and he hires me again with the same brilliant makeup artist to dress me as Mongomery or another character I’ll do it. Maybe we could have shorter days (laughs).

How long did that make up take to put on?
CB – Longer than it needed to be, we didn’t have proper facilities or enough people. When I did The Mandalorian, two expert guys put that makeup on which was a little more extensive than Montgomery.

Mo Meinhart, never had a proper makeup trailer doing my key makeup, she had help at times although never complained even when we were all exhausted.

Australian Director, Russell Mulcahy, speaks highly of you, however staying distant from the Highlander (1986) universe for so long, do you embrace it now, it’s not going anywhere, becoming a cult favourite.
CB – Say hello to him for me. I always loved Russell and others, but those who were in control (producers) were not nice guys, they never wanted to pay me, plus the sequels were terrible, the TV show was good! I had no affection for the producers but am happy so many enjoy the movie.

Do you like revisiting your career fan favourites such as Flubber, Shawshank Redemption, Starship Troopers or excellent, Female Perversions (1996) ?

CB – Of course, all of those are endearing for different reasons to me.
I was just thinking about (Female Perversions) today. In terms of independent films, that was a wonderful script, not quite a great of movie but never a script any studio understood. Back in the day it had a release and was well received by those like yourself who saw it, but today I don’t know how it would get financed. You decide to do these little scripts for no dollars, giving it your all hoping it finds an audience, just like The Mortuary Collection. I go in do my bit for Ryan, hoping it comes out well, it did.

The activism on social media you do inspires others with your country going through a lot right now, you’re fighting the good fight.
CB – Nice of you to say, I’m kind of in the danger zone for Covid, so I do what limited things I can do. I’m proud of my son volunteering as a poll worker for the upcoming election.

Why should people choose to watch, The Mortuary Collection?.
CB – In many ways it’s classic horror film form, all the stories are good, with morals. It pulls no punches being classic at the same time modern in the genre, it’s bloody, it’s funny. Absolutely derivative, absolutely original (laughs). The viewer will understand the world of characters involved immediately until seeing everything in a new light in the finale. It’s really fun and distracting from this real-life nightmare right now. There’s high-class talent involved especially Ryan and Caitlin. Thank you, Shane.

Follow Shane A.Bassett at Twitter @Movie Analyst

The Mortuary Collection will launch on Shudder from 15th October.