Freddie Prinze Jr. on ‘That Was Pretty Scary’ & His Horror Influences
Mar 15, 2023
Freddie Prinze Jr. loves horror movies. Whether it’s the classic slashers that everyone knows or an obscure Korean horror film few people have ever heard of, he can go long on all of it. He’s certainly no stranger to the genre either, having starred in a handful of beloved franchises like Scooby-Doo and I Know What You Did Last Summer. And now, he’s taking that love to the world of podcasts with his new show, That Was Pretty Scary, premiering today as part of the Wondery podcast network.
Co-hosted by actor and producer Jon Lee Brody, the podcast aims to cover every horror film the duo have ever seen, from the cornerstones of the genre to cult classics, digging up everything and anything in pursuit of true scares. Their first episode covers the making of Prinze’s own film, I Know What You Did Last Summer, which he’d never seen before, with plans to cover titles like The Menu, Killer Klowns From Outer Space, and more in the future.
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Collider was excited to sit down with Prinze to talk about the show and where it came from, as well as his deep appreciation for the genre and how making a podcast has changed his perspective on it. During this interview, he broke down the horror films that shaped him and why the genre matters to him so much, as well discussing his favorite slashers, making I Know What You Did Last Summer, and why he loves cult films like 1986’s Chopping Mall so much.
Image via Columbia Pictures
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Check out the interview below, and listen to That Was Pretty Scary wherever you get your podcasts. This interview has been edited for clarity.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with me today. I will say I’m a little nervous because my first introduction to horror was you in the Scooby-Doo movies when I was maybe five or six years old.
FREDDIE PRINZE JR: God bless. By the way, Fangoria was the first group to ever classify Scooby as horror, and I’m forever grateful to Fangoria for that. It gives me two extras in the genre. But it’s not scary. How old were you?
I was probably five or six. The movie came out when I think I was four years old, so I was watching it when I was pretty, pretty young. But it was the first thing that really got me into scary things.
PRINZE JR: Everyone’s got different. Yeah, everybody’s got different fears at that age, for sure.
I wanted to ask you about Scooby-Doo because the film just turned, I believe, twenty last year, and so many people still consider that to be a favorite. I think everybody my age largely considers it to be a big part of their childhood. So looking back on that film twenty years on, does it surprise you how much people still love it?
PRINZE JR: The love that your generation and a couple others have had for that movie really changed my perspective on the whole experience, because it wasn’t exactly the best experience going in. When we read that script…and I said this probably ten years ago, and people got really mad at me, and then James [Gunn] said it ten years after and everyone was like, “Hey, how dare Warner Brothers.” But they did the bait and switch on us, you know what I mean? We read the script, we all signed on, we flew to Australia, we landed. They didn’t even let us go to our residence first. We had to go straight to the studio and we were given a new script that was basically rated G. Well, I don’t want to speak for everyone, so I’ll just speak for myself, but I kind of freaked out and thought about walking off the movie.
But my girlfriend Sarah [Michelle Gellar] was there, and I was there, and I didn’t want to leave her for six months. And I don’t like quitting, so I just sort of justified everything in my head and said, “You’ve got to just commit to this, and make it as good as you can make it, and just hope for the best.” But it was difficult because what I felt was some shadiness and dishonesty as far as getting us all out there, so I never enjoyed it. And then all of a sudden, all these kids…not kids, they were older, they were in their twenties at this point, started coming up to me almost every day. I would go out and they’d be like, “Ooh my God, let’s go, Scooby. I love…” And I’d just be like, “Ah, why? Why?”
And then after a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand people tell that to you, you’re like, “You know what? I need to let go of all my BS, and all the feelings that I had towards Warner Brothers,” because it wasn’t James’ fault. It wasn’t [director Raja Gosnell]’s fault, it wasn’t the cast’s fault. This was a hundred percent on Warner Brothers, what they did. And I said, “I’ve got to let all that go.” And I still have fun out there. I met good people while I was out there, and if this many people love the movie, then it’s got to be all right. It just wasn’t the movie I wanted to make, but it’s got to be good.
And so then I embraced that a lot more. In the last ten or twelve years, I’ve really learned to appreciate it and what it did for multiple generations. And like I said, I saw Fangoria even label it as a horror movie. I was like, “Hey, all right. They gave us some love.” I used to read Fangoria when I was a kid. It was the only subscription I had. While everyone else had Sports Illustrated and swimsuit issues, I was looking at people hacked and slashed to bits. But yeah, I’ve ended up having a lot of love, and respect, and appreciation for it. But at twenty-whatever I was, filled with pride and hunger to do the movies I wanted to do, it felt very dishonest and a little shady.
Image via Warner Bros.
To kick more into what we’re talking about today, your podcast — I listened to the first episode, and I’m loving it so far. But I wanted to know where this idea came from, why you and Jon Lee Brody decided to take this project on?
PRINZE JR: Well, I had had a meeting with these two wonderful women who started Morbid, and we were talking about books, movies. They didn’t even mention podcasts, but they were thinking about maybe delving into that field. And so we were just bouncing ideas off each other, and then nothing really came of it. So my buddy Jon and I, that’s all we do. We sit down and we watch horror movies. He introduces me to ones that I haven’t seen, I introduce him to ones he hasn’t seen. That rarely happens, anymore anyhow. And I said, “You know what, dude, we should do a podcast. I’m going to call Morbid and see if they would be interested in us doing that.” And Jon was very easygoing and he’s like, “Yeah, he already did a podcast.” I already had a podcast, so I knew we could do it.
So I reached out to them and said, “Hey, would you guys be interested if I did a podcast on your network, and it was all just every horror movie me and my friend have ever seen? And we won’t talk about anything we hate.” I’m not going to trash anything. I think podcasts where they talk about stuff they hate is the most counterproductive thing that a human being can do, or one of them. And they said yes right away. On the phone, said yes. So we started the contract and it was much different than my wrestling one, because you bring a complete podcast to them. They don’t produce it, you have to produce it yourself. So I had to learn a bit of that. And then we started writing the list of the first hundred [films] that we wanted to do. I said, “You do 50, I’ll do 50, and then any that match will delete and then we will, together, come up with the rest of them.”
And so that’s kind of how it all started, and then he was the one that said, “We have to start with I Know What You Did Last Summer because you’ve never seen it, and I want to sit down and I want to watch it with you for the first time, so you can kind of appreciate it and enjoy the movie.” I was like, “All right, cool.” So we sat down to watch it. Sarah randomly came downstairs as it started. And she was like, “Oh my God, I haven’t seen this since the premiere.” And she sat and watched it with us and it was very surreal. And I had never really discussed that movie at length. The only time anyone talked to me about it was in my 20s, and I didn’t want to share a lot of the stories because I didn’t want to get blacklisted by the business just for telling the truth.
Enough time had passed that I didn’t harbor any ill will towards anyone anymore. I got it. Everybody was just kind of looking out for themselves and trying to do their thing, and there were things that…I mean, if you listen to the first episode, you’ll know there’s things that happened that should not have happened on that movie, and nobody’s come out and denied any of that because this is all true. So yeah, it was like…I’m not Catholic, but I imagine how someone feels after they go to confession, and they walk out, and they’re like, “I have been purged.” So it was good, and I really enjoyed getting to see all of us young, hungry actors.
And Ryan [Phillippe] and I may not be friends, but we’re certainly not enemies, and to see him young again — although he looks exactly the same. Dude’s never aged, just looks better. I think I’m the only one that did. But yeah, it was just nice to see four young, hungry actors who all moved on and had successful careers, which is always a good sign in a horror movie if the cast moves on. You know you cast it well, because horror doesn’t always put a strong price tag on casting, because sometimes they can’t afford it. A lot of low budget horror, which are some of my favorite ones ever, Chopping Mall being in the top 10—
Yes! No one I know has seen Chopping Mall.
PRINZE JR: Get out of here. Are you crazy?
PRINZE JR: I think it’s our fourth one or fifth one. We put it that early, I love that movie so much. You’re allowed to laugh at horror if it’s funny, and sometimes they try to make it funny. I remember watching Freaky and seeing some of the dialogue in that movie and being like, they broke rules. So did Scream. And as long as everyone’s committed to that, then it’s totally okay. But when they’re running through the hall…and I don’t remember the character’s names…but he’s like, “We’ve got to run. You’re Black and I’m gay. We’re dead.” And I just remembered Mekhi Phifer on [I Still Know What You Did Last Summer], on the day his character was going to die. He said, “It’s time for the Blackrifice.” I had never heard that word. I was like, “What? The what?” He goes, “Black people die in every horror movie. We call it the Blackrifice.” And I started thinking back and I was like, “Oh my God, I can’t think of a black guy besides Candyman that survived to the sequel.”
Yeah, man, I fell in love with these movies when I was a kid, and it’s just cool to get to relive them and show people the reasons why I like them. And so we do new stuff too. We did The Menu, that’ll come out soon. That’s my favorite horror movie of the year. So we do new stuff, old stuff, B movies, foreign films. I think our next one is A Tale of Two Sisters from South Korea, which is the most beautiful horror movie I’ve ever seen. They tried to remake it in the States, but it didn’t work at all, ao we’re doing that. I want to do Audition. We haven’t covered that one yet. That’s like Misery on acid. It’s a horror movie for men, for women…it’s probably empowering in a sicko way. But it’s still an awesome movie!
Image Via Sony Pictures Releasing
To go back to I Know What You Did Last Summer a little bit, I rewatched the movie after listening to the first episode, and it completely recontextualized that last stunt with the boat after hearing you talk about shooting it.
PRINZE JR: Yeah, man. I mean, I don’t want to give up the whole story here because I want people to tune into the podcast. But yeah, there were SAG violations — I mean, it was a weird night. It was probably three o’clock in the morning. We didn’t have a ton of money to make this movie, and they sent the stunt team home to save money, and the stunt team did not approve the stunt. Freddie Hice, the stunt coordinator, the next day said, “I would have never approved that stunt.” And rightfully, because I got flipped right out of that little dinghy, going over the wake, and legit just felt the engine go right over my head. It was probably further than I thought, but when you feel the water being displaced and it’s a running motor, it’s hardcore. So I certainly got out of the water a little hot and ready to knock some cats out.
But it was a trying movie. It was certainly a challenging movie. A lot of people…a lot of actors, but a lot of people in general have been hired for a job and then realized that their boss wasn’t the one that hired them, it was someone else, and that boss lets you know they don’t want you there every single day. And so that’s what I was going through on that film in every scene. And I blamed the guy in my 20s. I was mad at him. But in my 40s, I don’t care. He wanted Jeremy Sisto, who’s this super talented actor and would’ve done a great job, and he didn’t get the actor he wanted.
I wish he wouldn’t have treated me the way he did. I was a very young actor. I needed a director. I needed somebody who was going to help take me on that journey, and help show me the techniques that were my strong suit, and then help me with the ones that I wasn’t as strong with. Because everyone else had so much experience. They were all child actors, and I started when I was 18, I turned 21 on the movie. So I didn’t have the experience they did, and I wanted it. And he just didn’t want to…for whatever reason, he just didn’t want to give me any help. But Sarah and Ryan were always really cool to me. Ryan especially. Every time I wanted to punch that dude in the face, he would always talk me out of the boxing ring and send me back to the locker room, so to speak.
Are you interested in doing more horror? I mean, I know there’s talk of another I Know What You Did Last Summer, and I know you’ve said you didn’t get an offer for that movie or anything people have been saying you did. But I would love to see you in more horror, so do you have any interest in doing more as an actor?
PRINZE JR: Sure. Let me clarify. First of all, Original Films were the ones that leaked that I was doing it. The next day, they apologized for leaking that and acknowledged…at least to me, I’m sure they didn’t do it publicly, but acknowledged to me that, “We’re so sorry. We shouldn’t have done that. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” But yeah, I’ve been pitched a loose idea from the director since then. Jen Robinson, who I like a lot. She worked with Sarah on Do Revenge. But I still haven’t received an offer from them, and I don’t know if I’ll do it. It all depends on the script and what’s going on. I didn’t do [the remake of] She’s All That. It was easy to say no to that based on decisions that Miramax was making through that, and they certainly didn’t behave as if they wanted me in the movie, so it was much more an afterthought.
When I passed, that’s when all of a sudden they got passionate for it, and had my friend who directed it call me. And Mark Waters was just a stud. He was like, “Hey, I know you’re not doing this. I just wanted to catch up and talk.” I was like, “All right, cool.” And I’m an old school guy, so if you treat me with respect, I’ll give you everything, and if you don’t, then I’ll give you nothing. And I know that’s not the new way or the modern way, but I’m not a modern man. I’m an old school guy. I believe in old school values as far as that goes. Business wise, if I do good business for you, I expect you to do good business for me. If you don’t, I don’t yell and scream. I simply move on. I move forward and I don’t look back. So I hope that they have an idea that I respond to, and that it feels organic and cool, or they go all the way in the other direction and make it crazy and insane. And if they did and everything came together the right way, then yeah, I could see myself doing it. But I haven’t read a script. Nobody’s made me an offer or anything.
Now, to get to the better part of your question…if I could only make horror movies, I would only make horror movies. I love them. The next movie I’m doing is sort of this sexy thriller. I’m doing it next month with the same producer that did my romantic comedy for Netflix, and he’s a big fan of horror too, and he had this cool kind of thriller script. It’s not a horror, but I like stuff like that, and it gives me an opportunity to do things that I don’t really get to do. So yeah, I mean, if I can make ten movies in a row, I would want to make ten horror movies in a row. And I will, I definitely will.
I’m actively looking for horror scripts, something that catches me, something that finds me, or something where I could even be the killer, or be the man in a mask. I always wanted Ron Perlman’s career when I was a young boy. I even told him that to his face. I did! When he was Hellboy, I met him and I was like, “Oh, I always wanted your career, man. You were Beast from Beauty and the Beast. You always get to wear all these great masks.” He was amazing in full prosthetics [in] the live action Beauty and the Beast, with Linda Hamilton as Belle, and he played this preacher in The Island of Dr. Moreau. He always just got to look so different. And he goes, “Kid, this business ain’t never going to let you do that with your face.” And I was like, “Why?” So I think I was in my twenties and it was just frustrating. So now at 47 and in a position where I don’t have to build a career like you do when you first get started, you can start to seek out what you want and be patient until you find it. And so that’s what I’m trying to do this time around. But I’m telling you, if my next ten movies were horror movies, I would be happier than a pig in…well, you know where.
Image via Columbia Pictures
I will say, if the next ten movies you do are horror movies, I will have my butt in a movie theater seat, day one. I would love to see that. But in terms of horror films that affected you, what was the first movie you remember having an impact on you? Whether it scared you, whether it fascinated you, kind of any reaction you had to it.
PRINZE JR: So my mom took me to Universal Studios when I was a little boy, and we went on the tram. And back then, all the old Universal monsters, they would have actors going full costume, and you would have the Creature from the Black Lagoon — which was the first horror movie I ever saw — Dracula, Frankenstein, where [his] shoes are this high…these monsters, they would walk by the tram car, and they would try to scare the kids and all the tourists. And while all the kids were crawling over their parents to get their parents between them and the monsters, my mom said, “You were climbing over me to get to the monster.” And she said, “Frankenstein came up to scare you, and you reached out and you touched his face,” and he didn’t know what to do. He broke character…and so I kind of fell in love with them.
And when we went back to New Mexico, there was this video shop called Galaxy Video, and they had Galaxy Arcade right next to it, and I would play this skateboard game called 720° and spend all my money there, and then I would rent movies from the video store. Back then, they were Betamax videotapes. It was just about to transition to VHS. And the dude there was so cool, man. He didn’t care that I wasn’t old enough to watch these. He just cared that I cared about horror, and so he would let me rent anything, and my mom didn’t know. She worked, she was a single mother, so she didn’t know what I was watching. So I started with Creature from the Black Lagoon.
My grandmother and I, when I was ten, sat and watched Psycho together. I watched Alien at nine years old, I think at a friend’s house and had to walk home at night, and [felt like] the aliens were all in the trees and they were chasing me home. And I was like Carl Lewis, I was running so fast, man, just to get home. But I could hear them. I could feel its breath right on my neck and I barely beat it home, or I wouldn’t even be here with you today. And so when those types of movies can make you feel like that…I never got that from an action movie. I never got that from a romantic comedy, or from a drama, or from anything. Nothing ever made me feel out of control except for horror, and that’s a powerful thing for a director or a writer or an actor, to be able to exert their will on you, and make you feel something, and remember it forever.
And horror evolved so quickly that the things that scared me probably make kids today laugh. So you can continually have this conversation about what these movies meant, and you can’t do that with everything else. Who’s going to trash Gone With The Wind? Gone With The Wind is Gone With The Wind, right? Streetcar Named Desire is a Streetcar Named Desire. But I’ll have arguments with people about movies that they don’t think are scary, and I’m like, “You have no idea. Let me tell you what was going on in the world in 1981. People thought exorcisms were real,” and you could just lay off what was going on in society, and it makes all these horror films so much more relevant. So that’s the main reason why I love them, because they can control you to a certain degree.
Yeah! I’ve described it as being the only genre where you really hear people being a horror fan. I don’t hear people describing themselves as an action movie fan, or a romcom fan.
PRINZE JR: Good point. I’ve never heard that either.
And it affects people from so young. I remember when I was a kid, other than Scooby-Doo, the first scary thing I remember watching was stumbling on the 2005 remake of House Of Wax at my grandmother’s, and it scared the hell out of me. But I was also like, how did they do that? It’s such a visceral response.
PRINZE JR: The magic. A lot of kids wanted to know the magic behind it. That’s what got me obsessed. I have more friends that are in the special effects business than are actors. I became friends with Matthew Mongol during I Know What You Did Last Summer because I was the only one that didn’t get to have a head. You know what I mean? Well, me and [Jennifer Love Hewitt]. So after the movie was over, I went to his studio and had him cast just a head. We called it Dead Fred…and he let me have it, and it kept for probably a decade on a desk in a window in the Valley. And eventually the Southern California sun melted it into…I looked like a zombie by the end, and then it stuck to the desk, and we had to eventually throw it away.
But that’s the only keepsake I’ve kept from a movie, and it wasn’t even from the movie. I don’t even keep chair backs, you know what I mean? Like all the other actors do. I don’t collect posters for movies I do. I don’t have any props for many movies I do. I think I took a watch from a TV show because my friend was a big watch guy, and I gave it to my buddy because he loved the watch. But that was it. I just love gross stuff. I think I described A Tale Of Two Sisters as the most beautiful horror movie I’ve ever seen, and that may sound weird to people, but I’m not a big Picasso guy. You might like Picasso, I like Modigliani a lot more. So art is art, and it’s just how it affects you and how it hits you. And horror hits hard, man.
Image via Warner Bros.
Yeah, it does. I will say, I’m also a big fan of special effects makeup. It’s such an interesting aspect of the business that not a lot of people talk about.
PRINZE JR: I mean, Instagram and social media’s made it a little more…well, a lot more accessible and a little more well known for people like us. We don’t have to wait for the monthly subscription of Fangoria anymore. You can go follow Stan Winston on Instagram and you can…look at the entire history of the business on there and see just the development from…not just horror, you can see how they created the T-1000 and what the special effects for that were like. All the way through Jurassic Park if you’re not into horror, you know what I mean? But it’s a history of our business, and it’s a living history because they keep everything. They try to restore things as they can. So you can always see where the special effects have developed.
And I love that we’re sort of getting away from CGI a little bit, and trying to focus more on these practical effects, and give these people jobs. Because those characters have souls. Nothing created on a computer can have a soul. There’s a whole anime called Ghost In The Shell that’s going to try to debunk that. But that’s BS, man. And I like that anime! But there is no soul in that. So I’ve always preferred the practical effects, the man behind the mask, or the woman behind the mask, whichever person’s trying to kill you, as opposed to all the computer graphics…I’ve seen some beautiful stuff that Guillermo del Toro’s done with digital effects. But I think his practical effects stuff is better. So that’s kind of where my heart is.
Jon, my partner on this, he appreciates all of it. But he’s James Wan’s protege, so he’s more the modern era with an understanding of the history of horror. Whereas James Wan made my movie, I Know What You Did Last Summer, basically a comedy because of Saw. So screw James Wan, you know what I’m saying? [laughs] I love him, but he wrecked it for me. So it evolves so quickly. All these directors are just constantly trying to outdo one another. They all kind of know each other. They’re always trying, “Oh, they did this. Well, I’m going to do this,” and that’s what I think makes the genre films evolve more quickly than everything else.
This is a question that I ask of every horror fan that I know. And maybe it’s not your favorite sub genre, but do you have a favorite slasher?
PRINZE JR: Oh, yeah. Everyone does…We have the same name, he just spells it wrong. I mean, the first time I saw Nightmare on Elm Street, I’m rooting for Freddy. I root for the bad guys, in wrestling, in horror movies, in action movies. I want Hans Gruber to steal the money and kill John McClane, kill Holly McClane, and get away with it. That’s my ultimate ending. Because it’s just how I was raised. Bad guy’s got to do whatever they wanted. My mom was crazy strict, I didn’t get to do anything I wanted. Bad guys appeal to me.
But Krueger’s my favorite, if you count him as the slasher, I put him in that world of Jason Voorhees. He’s the fisherman from mine, Ghostface, who’s so great from Scream. All those. Michael Myers, of course. But Freddy’s my favorite. I mean, we got the same name. Hell, when he’s killing all those kids with the nunchucks, when the Dream Warriors thought they had something for Freddy, I’m sitting there going, “Y’all are going to get your asses kicked. And I’m here for it.” Even when it was Patricia Arquette, who we all love, I’m like, “Get her.” So he’s my favorite of all time…He’s not in here, but I even have a little Freddy statue that is next to me on my desk because I just moved a lot of stuff to a studio and I moved him over there.
I mean, there’s a reason that you see articles ranking the best kills in horror movies. We love to watch them, we love to watch how a director can figure out, “How much more gruesome can we make this?”
PRINZE JR: I ask Jon in every single episode of the podcast, “So what’s your favorite kill? What was your favorite kill?” Because that’s always what we talked about as kids.
Yeah, yeah. Burned into my brain is Michael Myers sticking somebody to a closet door with a knife. That’s just going to be in my brain forever.
PRINZE JR: Yeah, man. Absolutely. And he doesn’t have to have the Schwarzenegger line like, “Stick around.” It’s so much more awesome.
Image via Sony Pictures Releasing
Have you started showing your kids horror films at all? Is it something you’re introducing to them in any capacity?
PRINZE JR: My daughter’s not that big into horror, although we did go see M3GAN, and she liked M3GAN because it wasn’t that scary for her. Nothing scares my son. I mean, he watched the first Terminator when he was eight, and he was cheering for the robot. So he is my son. He likes, or he asks if he can watch everything. I can’t let him watch everything. But he just watched Scream 2. He watched his mom get thrown off a balcony. He didn’t cry. He was like, “It’s fake. It’s cool.” Nothing scares him. And he really likes scaring people, so that’s a world that I can share with him more than I can share with my daughter. My daughter’s much more artistic, creative on the dance and acting side and things like that. So it’s like, let’s watch Moulin Rouge! minus the rape scene. Just fast forward right through it. I’ll play you the Madonna version of the song. It’s better.
To come back to the podcast, obviously you have done a ton of voice work and you’ve done a different podcast. So in terms of bridging the gap between doing voice work and doing podcasts, are there similarities there? Or is it kind of a massive jump into something else?
PRINZE JR: I can’t really compare the two, because the podcast is just me discussing what I love. Jon tells you how the directors pulled this off most of the time, and I’m sitting there telling you why the script worked and how much I loved the acting and all this stuff. My wrestling podcast…I used to work for Vince McMahon when I retired from this business the first time. I guess I’m unretired now. So that’s, it’s been a passion of mine since I was a little boy just like this. But voice work is a different beast altogether. It’s not you, you’re playing a character…because my voice doesn’t sound cool. But for Kanan Jarrus in [Star Wars: Rebels], getting to do that kind of a character, I could never be that serious all the time. I’d throw myself off a bridge.
There was one voice I got to do for a video game, and I wish I was actually that dude. His name was the Iron Bull [from Dragon Age: Inquisition], and he was the greatest character in the history of video games. He’s sexually attracted to everyone. He doesn’t judge anyone unless they’re an asshole. He hates demons, that’s the only thing he won’t fight. And he just had this aura about him, and this voice all of a sudden came out. And I was like, “It’s got to be this,” and they were like, “No, we don’t want to do that. We want him to sound like a NFL linebacker.” And I was like, “Then you have the wrong guy.” I was like, this has to be the voice, and they finally listened. They let me do the voice. I think that’s why they never worked with me again, because I was so insistent.
But that voice is something that people really responded to in that… I was able to put a lot of tenderness into some of those scenes because of that voice. Whereas, if he’s just a big bro guy, that scene doesn’t work. You know what I mean? You’re not going to trust that guy. For those who don’t know, this was a game where you could have full on sexual relationships, romantic relationships with different characters in the game, and he was one of them. So yeah, to me, they’re night and day, because it’s a character you’re playing, and the podcasts are just…like I said, I don’t talk about stuff I hate. I’m never going to put a horror movie on the podcast that I didn’t enjoy. And there are plenty, I assure you. It’s just talking about what I love doing in my spare time the most, wrestling and horror.
Has doing the podcast changed your perspective on watching horror movies? Do you watch them through a different lens now that you’re doing the show?
PRINZE JR: Yeah, I think so. You said something earlier, you said you watched I Know What You Did Last Summer after you heard the podcast and you looked at it differently. So if you reverse that, that’s very much so what we’re doing now. I’m looking at things and trying…I’m writing notes, you know what I mean? “Oh, this line cues into that so well.” And talking about The Menu and just little things…when I watch it, I’m just like, “Wow, this is great.” And then the second time you kind of go through, and it’s more examining, and all of a sudden Jon was saying, “And I just love that the movie starts with fire and ends with fire and that that’s the purifying force in this whole thing,” and I was just like, “Goddam. Yeah, you’re right, dude.” So it’s more analytical, but it doesn’t take away any of the joy. If anything, it’s another chapter to that book of joy.
I think my friends who are fans of Rebels will kill me if I don’t talk to you about Star Wars. So I wanted to know how you’re feeling about the Ahsoka show coming up, about seeing those characters that you got to play with in Rebels again, if you’re hoping for a Kanan name-drop.
PRINZE JR: I’m not connected to that world at all anymore. So I know that Rosario [Dawson], who I love to death, I made a movie with her years ago. Is she Ahsoka?
PRINZE JR: Yeah. They were very blessed to get an actor like that to play that role. She’s super committed and super talented. I haven’t seen any of it. My kids watched season one of The Mandalorian, but that was kind of it. And they’re more into anime, like My Hero Academia. Every single episode of Demon Slayer season three’s coming out in a couple weeks, I can tell you everything about that. But the Star Wars universe, I’m just not connected to anymore. So if they’ve got love for Kanan in there, that’s cool. But as far as my involvement, I’m done. I’ve done my Kanan story, it ended, he died. And I didn’t even want to do the voice in [The Rise of Skywalker]. I didn’t think it was appropriate because I didn’t feel Kanan was that powerful to be able to communicate through the Force like that. But I was asked as a favor to do it, so I did that. But I won’t be voicing him anymore. I won’t be trying to play him in live action or anything like that. My time with that is done. I’m certainly looking to do different things.
Kanan had probably one of the most definitive sort of ends of any character in Star Wars. It’s not one of those things that you can reach back out and pull in.
PRINZE JR: Yeah, and I feel like it waters it down every time you hear his voice or feel his presence in the future. It was such a beautiful…we made so many people cry. And I remember doing a convention and over half the line was just like, “Oh my God, that scene made me cry.” I was like, “Oh, that makes me so happy. Thank you.” And they got upset. “Why are you happy?” I’m like, “Whoa, relax. Don’t get mad. Our goal is to make you cry. I’m glad that we succeeded. I’m not glad that you were sad. I’m just glad that it affected you.” So I thought that ending was so beautiful. I thought his death was wonderful. But for me it was most certainly a death, so he’s not coming back. But they may find a way to do it, but just so they can sell a Kanan doll or something. But it wouldn’t be with me.
Yeah, [maybe] because they’ve brought the Darksaber into The Mandalorian. But I’m assuming you haven’t kept up with those shows.
PRINZE JR: I’ve seen on an algorithm on Instagram, I saw…what’s that actor’s name? I love him.
PRINZE JR: Yeah, I saw a clip of him. And he’s just such a killer, he’s a stone killer with dialogue, right? Just every scene that he’s in. What’s that one with the superheroes that aren’t Marvel or DC?
Oh, The Boys.
PRINZE JR: The Boys. He has scenes in that where you’re like, “Jesus Christ, people should have given you these roles in your twenties, bro, you’re so good.” So I saw him with the Darksaber, which I thought was cool because my favorite storyline in the whole series was when Kanan teaches Sabine how to use the saber, and sort of removes that emotion, that anger from her so that there’s no chance for her to go down a dark path. I loved that. So yeah, the Darksaber I think has always been cool. Plus the sound effect on it’s the best sound effect in any sci-fi thing ever.
Image via Disney+
You worked with Dave Filoni so closely on Rebels to understand the force and understand these stories. Going back to other Star Wars, does that kind of relationship that you had with him affect the way that you look at it? Or are you able to still just step back and say, “No, I’m going to watch this like I did when I was a kid and I’m not going to think too heavily about that?”
PRINZE JR: I don’t think I’ve seen a Star Wars movie, an old one, since doing the cartoon. I saw all the new ones. I really enjoyed Rogue One a lot. That was my favorite out of the new ones, and I really liked the first act of Solo a lot because it was so eighties, and old school, and they made you wait, and I love when directors make you wait. Studios want audiences to get everything, all the information in the first act. They don’t want you to have to guess, or wait, or anything. None of these people have ever made a movie, they just were on a desk and got promoted until they were the ones that say yes and no. And that first act of Solo, they’re like, “Nah, you could wait. You could wait. You’re going to learn who these people are. You’re going to figure out who they are. And if you commit to them, cool and if not cool, you could walk out.”
And that’s why I like a lot of Asian horror, because they’re patient. They’re so patient. If you watch A Tale Of Two Sisters, he makes you beg, beg to scare you, and it doesn’t happen in the first act. And you’re like, “Well, that’s not going to happen in the second act.” And then I don’t want to tell you when it happens, but it does happen, and when it does, you’re so grateful for it because you’ve earned that scare. And when we make movies, it’s a contract between you and I. We both have a commitment that we have to make to one another. I have to make sure that I’m committed to every line in the world that’s created, and your commitment is to shut the fuck up in the theater. That’s your part of the contract. If I fail on my end, you can get up and leave, and if you fail on your end, someone’s going to come and ask you to get up and leave. But that’s the contract we have to make. Your willingness to be there and my willingness to make you stay. The poster gets you in. It’s my job to make you stay.
So I keep getting sidetracked on this stuff, but [to answer your question], only in regards to answering questions for my kids. My daughter watched Rebels. My son’s never seen it. My son doesn’t care about Star Wars at all. He likes anime, man. He prefers their stories. If you’ve ever seen My Hero Academia, you’ll understand why it’s one of the best written shows on television. So yeah, with my daughter, it was more about explaining the Force, balance, things like that. I remember we went up to [Skywalker Ranch] for Christmas one year because no one was going to be there, and we basically had the whole place to ourselves. And they were going to give us a tour of the main house, and there was this giant chessboard in what [had been] George Lucas’s den. So all the players on the board are characters from [Star Wars], and my daughter named every character.
Some were from Clone Wars, some were from Rebels, some were A New Hope, everything. And the lady didn’t even know all the characters’ names. She says, “Hold on, let me write this down.” They started writing all this stuff down, and my daughter really loved it. And then as we mature and we grow up, you start to find different passions and different interests. But we’re not a big Star Wars family anymore. None of them are asking to go to the movies. None of them are asking to go…they enjoyed them, but we haven’t seen any of Mando since the end of season one.
I love that robot scene, by the way. I love robots. They’re so much better than humans. I only cry when robots die. It’s true. When Johnny 5…oh, when you think he’s gone, I’m like, “Oh no, Johnny 5.” You might not know Short Circuit, but it’s like the nice version of Chopping Mall basically. But yeah, so they’re more on the Asian anime tip, which honestly, I was too when I was a kid. I watched Golgo 13 on VHS at twelve years old, which you shouldn’t be allowed to watch. That was my introduction to anime. People who don’t know Golgo 13, watch it. It’s the Japanese James Bond. His name’s Duke Togo and he’s amazing, and I love him.
Image via Sony Pictures Releasing
If you had to give one or two recommendations of really underrated horror movies for people to watch…I know you’ve mentioned A Tale Of Two Sisters, but if you had anything else to throw out that you think not enough people have seen, what would it be?
PRINZE JR: Oh my God. This could be a three-hour interview. The Changeling is my favorite horror movie of all time. A ball bouncing down the stairs was the scariest thing I saw for about four or five years there. I don’t know if that’s underrated. It’s got George C-fucking-Scott as the lead. So I don’t know if that’s underrated and…man, I love it all so much. Audition, not a lot of people saw. I think it was ’98, ’99. And Ryo’s in it. Ryo Ishibashi…he’s the man. He was like the Japanese George Clooney for years. He did one of Viggo Mortenson’s first movies, American Yakuza, which you should also check out. That’s a cool flick. But his performance in Audition is unmatched, in my opinion. It’s just absolutely amazing.
So Audition would be one of my favorites that I would love for people to go see. If you haven’t seen The Changeling, see The Changeling. Anything David Seltzer wrote is pretty freaking scary. But again, not underrated. They’re considered some of the greatest of all time. So yeah, I mean, Chopping Mall, we’ve mentioned that if you want to laugh. Not all horror has to scare you, and they did the Roger Corman philosophy, which is, you have one shot a day that you have to make. That’s his philosophy. One shot a day, and it has to be great. Once you get that, everything else will be handheld and we’ll fit it in, and squeeze it in, and that’s why B movies don’t always hold your attention. But if you notice in every Roger Corman film, there’s always like…four or five scenes where you’re like, “Why isn’t the whole movie look like this?” And it’s because they don’t have the budget to do it.
In Chopping Mall, it was the same philosophy because his wife was the producer on Chopping Mall, and adopted that same philosophy. So you can see the scenes in there, and there’s two great ones that I just love. One is when the sexy guy goes to the cigarette machine to get his girl some smokes, and he has to give ID to Protector One, I think it was, or could have been Protector Two…and he gets just annihilated and his girl goes to look for him. And that whole sequence, when the robot opens the doors inward, even though he doesn’t have the means to do that. [laughs] And he comes out and chases her, and you get that beautiful sniper shot, and her head explodes, and it lets all the other people at the mall party like, “No, oh shit,” and then the movie just takes off.
So I like a lot of Corman’s stuff for that reason alone, because accomplishing a movie is a feat in itself, and his philosophy I always thought was pretty sound. Alfred Hitchcock actually really respected the B movie process because they were marketable back then, and that was his philosophy on Psycho, was to make it a B movie. He thought, “I’m Alfred Hitchcock, so if I make a B movie, it’s going to be an A, because I ain’t no slouch.” And that’s what Psycho is at its core. It’s the greatest B movie ever made.
What a way to end on Alfred Hitchcock. This has been a wonderful conversation, and you’re the only person I’ve talked to in the last six months who’s seen Chopping Mall, so I feel very, very satisfied.
PRINZE JR: That’s so funny. It’s almost like a horror made for TV movie. It’s not even ninety minutes. If you made a movie under 96 minutes, you got an entire extra screening at the theater that day. So if a theater’s going to play a movie five times in a day, it’s going to make money on those five times. But if you made your movie just short enough, you could get a sixth screening in there, and you could still generate all that income. So it’s why when you see movies that are like three hours long, making hundreds of millions, that’s a major accomplishment. I still think movies should be ninety-six minutes, personally. You can go to two hours if you need to. But if you can tell a story for me in an hour and a half, you’ve done a great job.
Chopping Mall, I think, is like eighty-four minutes. It hardly qualifies as a full length feature film. But I still love it, man. That’ll be the underrated movie that everyone should see. And it’s comedy horror, so go in knowing that. They even did it in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise when they got to the end there, and they were in that time loop, and it got a little goofy and campy. But this is camp on purpose, and that’s why Chopping Mall’s such like a legendary horror film for me.
That Was Pretty Scary is available wherever you stream your podcasts, with episodes available ad-free and early on Wondery+ and Amazon Music.
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