Thursday, September 21, 2023

‘Shaky Shivers’ Director Sung Kang on Celebrating ’80s Practical Effects and Falling for Horror Fandom [Interview]

Actor Sung Kang is most widely known for playing fan-favorite Han in the Fast & Furious franchise, among other roles outside of horror, including a voice role in Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon. That he chose gateway horror Shaky Shivers for his feature directorial debut might seem unconventional. However, after speaking with the filmmaker, the charming tale of friendship among zombies and cryptids quickly reveals itself as the perfect vehicle for his debut.

Shaky Shivers stars Brooke Markham (In the Dark) and VyVy Nguyen (The Sympathizer) as Lucy and Karen, best friends grappling with a potential werewolf curse. With snobby customers, zombies, cryptids, and more, the friends have their hands full this summer.

With Shaky Shivers releasing in theaters for one-night-only on September 21 from Fathom Events, Bloody Disgusting spoke with Kang about his first outing in the director’s seat; specifically, why the actor-turned-director chose this horror-comedy script.

The answer was simple: Kang just wanted to laugh.

Kang explains, “We made this movie during the pandemic, and I thought my first directorial debut would be a film that was coming-of-age and more dramatic, but everybody was going through a tough time, and I just wanted to laugh. When I read Shaky Shivers, it checked those boxes off, and I asked Andy McAllister and Aaron Strongoni, who wrote the film, ‘What was the inspiration for writing this? How did this come about?’ Two things resonated with me: we’re children of the ’80s.

“Andy and Aaron love, love horror films, and what they love about it is also the practical makeup effects that went into the creature-building of that era. Things are being replaced by technology, so that artistry and craftsmanship are slowly dying out. They had done a short documentary about Gabe Bartalos (Army of the DeadBrain Damage), who worked on our film, and they fell in love with him.”

Karen and Lucy

Kang continues, “Then Andy had an eight or nine-year-old daughter at the time, and he wanted to share his love affair for the practical effects of this era, but he didn’t want to scare the bejesus out of her. So, they created this movie about these two doofuses on their journey to figure out how to un-spell themselves. But I also really love the theme of these two characters. That was my North Star of two friends, realizing it’s okay not to be the most popular person in town. It’s okay not to fit in. It’s okay to be a bit of a loser. As long as you have that one partner in crime and best friend by your side, it’s pretty good. And especially with all the pressures that young folks go through today because of social media, everything having to look so perfect and being so popular, I was like, ‘Oh, I can wake up for this.’

“So yeah, I think timing, because we were in the pandemic and then also me feeling like, ‘Yeah, I would love to pay homage to this wonderful artistry of practical effects.’ And then the theme of the two girls, Lucy and Karen. It just felt right at the end of the day.

Shaky Shivers werewolf

Lucy and Karen begin this endearing gateway horror journey at the ice cream parlor where they work. It’s also where the title derives its name, with Karen determined to concoct a new ice cream special. When asked if Kang created his own recipe for Karen’s Shaky Shiver, his answer highlights his aim to entertain.

Well, my description to the prop department was, ‘Please make it look like diarrhea.’ I remember it was so pretty at the beginning. They’re like, ‘Cherry and whipped cream.’ I go, ‘No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. It can’t be that. It has to literally look and sound like diarrhea.‘ If you turn up the volume, the Shaky Shiver actually farts constantly. We added, I think, 120 farts throughout the film that are hidden. And the Shaky Shiver just constantly farts throughout. That was really fun to go into a sound library and look for different types of farts, like wet fart, strong fart, right? Yeah. I don’t know what the exact recipe was, it would be, but it just needs to look like diarrhea. I think it works. It looks nasty, huh?”

Shaky Shivers doesn’t just mark Kang’s foray into directing but also his first expansive dive into the horror genre. It turns out that making a gateway horror feature wound up serving as a gateway into horror fandom for the director.

Shaky Shivers Karen

Of all the lessons creating Shaky Shivers taught Kang, the one he holds dearest is just how much he’s been embraced by horror fans.

He explains, “We are outsiders of what Hollywood considers their mainstream type of movie. And there are moments when I thought, ‘Man, I don’t think anyone will ever watch this film. I don’t think they will be able to see what we created.’ Maybe I’m just delusional, but it’s the horror audience that has embraced me. They see the movie exactly for what it was designed for, and it gives you this wind beneath your wings. It’s like, ‘Oh, I’m not crazy. They get it. I’m not alone.’ It’s like the relationship between Carrie and Lucy. It’s like, ‘Oh, well, I have them. That’s all I need.’ I got my people now, so they understand. They understand my language. I’m not the crazy one.”

Shaky Shivers puts the camp back in summer camp when it opens in theaters NATIONWIDE for one night only on September 21 from Fathom Events and Bloody Disgusting’s SCREAMBOX. It’ll be a night of zombies, werewolves, and ice cream.

Shaky Shivers poster

The post ‘Shaky Shivers’ Director Sung Kang on Celebrating ’80s Practical Effects and Falling for Horror Fandom [Interview] appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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