There are several names that have become synonymous with horror over the years. Carpenter. Craven. Romero. Kattan? Well maybe not the last one, but actor/comedian Chris Kattan is starring in an upcoming horror film that just happens to feature my favorite subject; zombies!
The film's called UNDEAD OR ALIVE, and it's a zombie movie set in the old West. Written and directed by Glasgow Phillips UNDEAD OR ALIVE tells the comedic tale of two friends who encounter a horrific adventure. Elmer Winslow (James Denton) is a soldier on the run from the Union Army, and Luke Budd (Chris Kattan) is a cowboy with a broken heart. When the two misfits rob the corrupt sheriff of an old west town, they have no idea that a plague of zombies is sweeping the country, or that Geronimo's sexy niece (Navi Rawat) may be their only hope of survival.
Recently I had the opportunity to talk with the former SNL cast member about his work on UNDEAD OR ALIVE and also inquire about his views on the genre.
Undead or Alive. Chris Kattan in a horror movie about zombies with a Western theme. This seems like an incredibly interesting movie. What can you tell me about it?
It was a lot of fun to do.
What drew you to do a zombie Western movie?
Well I liked that it was a period piece. Iíve never been a cowboy and Iíve never been in a Western. I liked the idea of a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with zombies after them. And of course zombies donít die so itís kind of a neat idea. It reminded me of SHAUN OF THE DEAD a little bit, which is one of my favís, but this one being a Western.
So would you say that this is the American response to SHAUN OF THE DEAD?
I donít know about that because this is a Western and SHAUN OF THE DEAD was in the present, but I think they both have zombies in them.
Are you a big horror fan? Is this something youíve wanted to do for a while?
No. I like horror films, but Iím not like ĎIím going to do only horror filmsí, I think that would be not a good idea for anybody. Iím like anyone else, Iím not a horror buff but I like good horror movies like anyone else would, you know? Iím not going to sit down and watch all the LEPRECHAUN movies, but I will see THE EXORCIST every couple of years.
Now I know youíve done some horror movies in the past.THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL remake for one. You were also a zombie-type character in MONKEY BONE right?
I wasnít a zombie in it. I was playing a body with another spirit in it. That was an action comedy that Henry Selick directed, who also did A NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, but that was a more fun movie as opposed to horror. HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL was, I guess a horror movie, but I did that because of Jeffery Rush and Famke[Janssen], and it was a good fun cast.
I believe you were in SANTAíS SLAY as well right? With Bill Goldberg, the wrestler?
You know I did that as a favor to Brett Ratner because he produced it, but Iíve never actually seen the movie.
You were in a movie youíve never seen?
Yah, I just shot that scene with Rebecca Gayheart and James Caan, and that was it. Well Iím only in it for a minute. Itís a cameo is what it is.
What was it like making this movie? Glasgow Phillips, who directs, seems like heís a pretty funny guy. How was it working with him?
It was great. He was a lot of fun, and he was the script writer. And when the director has something to do with the writing of the movie itís always more fun and easier to do when someone has a direct vision of what they want to put on film. Thatís always a smart thing.
I know also that you worked with James Denton and Navi Rawat, how was it working with these two?
James Denton really put something behind the character, that was really fun to play off of, and Navi was very sexy and fun to work with. She played an Indian with attitude!
She plays Geronimoís niece right?
Yes and we all know what Geronimoís like!
Now that you mentioned the other characters, what can you tell me about your character from UNDEAD?
Well I play the character Luke, you know heís a cowboy with a heart of gold. Heís a sweet kid, and heís very excited about being partners and being a real cowboy. Heís in love with a whore, but he doesnít really want to talk about it. But finally he catches her with another man, itís kind of something he thought she would stop doing; being a prostitute. But she just canít. Sheís a whore.
As far as the movie goes, is it a very serious film, with just comedic undertones or is it more half and half?
No, itís a comedy horror film, like SHAUN OF THE DEAD was. It was funny but thereís a horror drive to it. So I wouldnít call it gory or gruesome, I think itís scary, but itís more funny than it is scary.
Now what was it like doing a Western movie? They're not made nearly as often as they used to be. Was that strange being out in the desert being dressed as a cowboy?
No, I think a lot of people are cowboys in the desert, so I donít think that was strange at all. I think it would be strange if I was at THE GAP wearing a cowboy outfit.
Did it make you feel ďtoughĒ being dressed as a cowboy?
Not in the shirt I wore. It had flowers on it.
Do you think that this film will help reinvigorate the Western genre of movies?
I hope not! (Laughs)
What was a really memorable scene from the shooting of UNDEAD OR ALIVE. It seems like it would have been a pretty fun movie to work on.
Yah it was a lot of fun. What was a memorable scene? I like the scenes with Navi, who plays the Indian, because sheís cute and I think there are some good scenes between James and I. I think there is some really funny stuff in there. There are a few memorable scenes, itís hard to say which one comes to mind, but I think there are a number of them. Itís always fun to see me on a horse, because I didnít know how to ride a horse very well. But thatís ok because my character didnít know how to ride a horse.
Now that youíve starred in both comedic and horror roles, do you find that itís a lot different preparing for these two types of movies? Is it a different sort of mentality going into each?
No, itís a similar mentality; I think itís everything around you thatís different. You donít really play the horror of it; you play the reality of the scene. Whatís going on around you is what changes.
Are there some more horror films on the horizon for you?
Not that I know of, my life is scary as it is. I donít think I need any more scary movies.
Now the film premieres next week in Texas, correct?
South by Southwest, Austin Texas. A week from now.
Will you be present at the screening?
I will be there, yes.
Now is there anything else we should know about the movie before it hitís the big screen?
That you should know? I think, uh, get ready to be scared and to laughÖAmerica. And Canada. Oh and all the other countries in the world!
Chris was great to talk to and told me that if he would have known it was my birthday the day that we had done the interview he would have sent me a stripper. Now how's that for a gift from a stranger! UNDEAD OR ALIVE premiers at the SxSW Festival in Austin, Texas on Saturday March 10th.