Rob Schrab Talks to Us About Creepshow, Stephen King, and More
With a background in more comedy-based projects, you may wonder if Schrab has a preference between comedy or horror. Are there any similarities that overlap between the two genres?
Schrab responds with sincerity, “My heart is always in horror. I grew up in the VHS generation. I’ve been more influenced by sci-fi and horror than comedy. I happen to work well in comedy. I enjoy working with the people in comedy, but my heart always goes back to monsters, creatures, and aliens. I will say that my horror tastes are more of the Sam Raimi kind like Re-Animator. The 80’s horror stuff is always my jam just because it’s horror, but it’s not bleak. It’s like with Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 or Return of the Living Dead, two of my favorites are Re-Animator and From Beyond, with these movies there’s a fun quality to them, with Creepshow especially. Yeah it’s scary, it’s creepy, it’s disturbing, but I’m not going to be saying ‘Oh, I hate my life. This life is meaningless’ after I see them. I’m more for the creature features that Tom Savini would do.
Dawn of the Dead is very funny to me even though it has bleak themes and I tend to love that, so I bring that sense of fun to what I do. It goes back to that eighth grade boy who loves monster magazines and collecting masks and doing stop-motion animation in my dad’s basement with clay, toys, Legos, and stuff like that. That’s me. I’m just living the dream. I’m an adult now, but I’m still playing with monsters.”
He continues, “If you look at some of the stuff that I’ve done with The Sarah Silverman Program or Community or most recently I did Ghosted with Adam Scott and Craig Robinson, there’s monster stuff. I’m always trying to get killer robots, ghosts, monsters, and all that into this stuff.
Creepshow is the absolute perfect property for me to work on. The tagline is ‘The most fun you’ll ever have being scared.’ Fun comes before scared. I think when people look at my episode they might not be horrified by it, they won’t be scared by it, but they’ll be smiling the entire time and they’ll be enjoying it. I feel right at home with Creepshow. That was always my goal: let’s have this be fun, monster fun.”
The big name that often comes up, especially now, with Creepshow is the creator himself, Stephen King. How familiar was Schrab with King’s work before sinking his teeth into this project?
Schrab answers honestly, “I didn’t become a Stephen King fan until later in life. It wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I really started digging into the source material. I think Carrie is brilliantly written, the book is so great and it has some wonderful, amazing scenes and dialogue and characters. He’s known for horror, but his character and story stuff is just so great. When I was doing Creepshow, I found the original script online and just read it over and over again. I actually transcribed scenes. I just wanted to feel what it was like to write ‘Father’s Day.’ I just wanted to get into that mode when I wrote the script because it’s a very visual script and it’s a very fun script. There’s times where Stephen King puts in parentheses ‘(I think it would be fun if we did it like this, totally EC Comics).’ You’re watching half of a conversation with Stephen King to George Romero where they’re saying, ‘Look, this will be fun. This will be fun.’
It was really great to get really absorbed in that world that they created and just be behind the scenes. I was watching so much of the director’s commentary and Tom Savini making Fluffy, just working on ‘Father’s Day’ and how they lit everything. I really tried to get into that headspace. I tried really hard, even with the description, to kind of make it feel like this is something Stephen King would say. I don’t know how successful I was. He’s one of the greatest writers of all time, but that was my goal, to try to keep it in that Creepshow essence.”
Speaking of 80’s horror, Schrab casts one of the biggest names in the business as his lead Nazi officer. Schrab reflects on getting Jeffrey Combs of Re-Animator to sign on to the project and remains a big fan still.
Understandably gushing, Schrab comments, “Jeffrey is in my pantheon of favorite actors. I think in The Frighteners he steals the movie. He’s amazing and he’s got such a love of acting, love of theater, love of performance. He’s just such a pro, he really is a lovely, lovely man. I look at him and I put him in the same category as Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and Vincent Price. He’s the next generation of horror actors that when you see his name you’re going to see something great and really original and there is a sense of humor and levity in his performance. He walks that line where he’s playing a villain, but there’s also a sense of fun. He plays villains as you want to be and pretend to be. His villains become heroes pretty quickly especially with Re-Animator. I adore him.
“I love him, Barbara Crampton, Bill Mosely, all these people, these actors that are known for that direct-to-video horror. They’re just heroes to me. When we reached out to him I was thinking he’s not going to do it, but then he came back and he said yes. He read the script and we talked on the phone and he was saying ‘This is gonna be really fun, this is good. I really like the script’ and I’m like, ‘Holy shit. I got Jeffrey Combs telling me that my script is good.’
He’s great on set, he’s really collaborative. I just adore him, I think he’s fantastic. He brought the gloves that he wore in The Frighteners. When you see him playing his role in ‘Bad Wolf Down’ just know he’s wearing The Frighteners gloves. This is how big of a nerd I am that I just thought that was the coolest thing ever because I love The Frighteners and I love him in The Frighteners. I was playing with the best toys in the toy box.”
Interview continues on the next page…