If you've read Part One of our Scream Queens exclusive inside peek then you already know why the would-be queens are screaming. (And if you haven't, here is the link)
As the season has progressed, the competition's getting tougher and tougher. Which means the not tough-enough are getting "the ax" and going home. SPOILER ALERT: This week it was the single mom, Sarah — and I have to say, she handled her exit with grace and dignity (must have been genuine, because we've all seen her acting skills!). In the beginning of the episode, early front-runner Gabby was completely psyched out over the judges' recent critiques of her not hitting her marks and missing beats. She was supposed to be a zombie rising from a grave, walking to a nearby mark on the ground, and reacting as squibs explode off her. Now, anybody would be anticipatory about something like that, especially if they had never done it before, but Gabby's glances towards her mark were really pronounced!
While my favorite episode is still last week's (guest star Debbie Rochon showed the ladies how to be sexy and scary on Snake Charmers), this one was pretty good, too. It was about bringing out elements of comedy and camp in horror — which is definitely in the wheelhouse of Scream Queens resident director and co-judge, Tim Sullivan. He directed the women in their first-ever scene playing different roles with each other (in previous episodes, it's been each with their own take on the same role, one after another).
But before Tim could shout "Action!" the remaining contestants were put through their comedic improv paces by resident acting coach and co-judge John Homa. John was assisted in class by special guest Joe Wengert of the Upright Citizen's Brigade. The girls were given unscripted scenarios to play out in pairs — a werewolf and a taco stand attendant, a zombie and a meter maid, and a mummy and bridal gown fitter — and were asked to show how a comedy of errors might occur in the set-ups. No one was successful. The mini movie trailer scene, directed by Tim on the Universal Studios Lot, was slightly more successful... but overall no one really stood out in this episode. Judging from the scenes for next week, looks like we'll be witnessing a catfight between Tai and Gabby.
photo (c) John Sampson
Interview from the Scream Queens TV set - Part 2 of 2
Joke Fincioen: It is an acting competition first- that's why the horror genre lends itself so well. We are hitting all of these different things- all of these different emotions- by adding little stuff here and there.
Staci Wilson: So, between season one and now, is there a different dynamic between the girls? Is it very competitive, or is there more of a camaraderie?
Biagio Messina: Every cast has its own personality. I would say that this season’s cast is even more competitive. I think they're more vocal about their talent- each girl believes that she really deserves to be here, and isn't afraid to say so- but in the best kind of way.
Joke Fincioen: Last season, there were a couple of fights that had to do with race or dishes, and that's just stress from them living together in a small environment. There is one bathroom and one shower for ten girls.
Tim Sullivan: They have to do their own hair and makeup.
Joke Fincioen: They have to do their own hair and makeup, they have to do their own dishes, they have to do their own laundry. It's like a sorority- ten people living closely, in a bubble with no Internet, no radio, and no television, no magazines, no books, no music…
Biagio Messina: It's not intended to create drama.
Tim Sullivan: They are not allowed to connect with the outside world. They're not allowed to even know what is going on.
Staci Wilson: For how long?
Joke Fincioen: For the entire time that they're here. The two girls that are still left here [as of the filming of the final episode, when horror.com was on set] have no idea.
Biagio Messina: Four weeks.
Tim Sullivan: Last season, they were here during the Presidential election. They didn't know Obama won.
Staci Wilson: Oh, wow, that would've been tough.
Joke Fincioen: Kind of really fun. I would say that this season, there are less petty arguments, and it's much more competitive.
Staci Wilson: So it has stepped up a bit, on the level of acting?
Biagio Messina: I think season one helps to buy us a lot of credibility, because Tanedra Howard was a really great actress who was undiscovered. Mark Burg loved her, and he has already announced that she is going to be in the next Saw as well. She had a great role- she did awesome. Was that an official press release?
Joke Fincioen: He said it was on the down-low, but it was on IMDb.
Staci Wilson: Well, then hey, it's gospel.
photo (c) John Sampson
Biagio Messina: I think just the fact that people saw that we have fun with horror [is important.] Like, last season they had to do a scene with thousands of cockroaches. In The Descent there was also a scene set in a giant pool of blood. They’re real things that they need to deal with in the horror genre- that also happened to be TV friendly. It was never like “okay, we were going to do this, because it's good for TV.” It always came from a place that this was something you were potentially going to have to eventually deal with in a horror movie.
Tim Sullivan: We’re always referencing other movies to the girls. Like, “think The Entity or Poltergeist.” We’ve shot in cool places- one of the places that we’ve shot was the house where Rob Zombie shot Halloween, and it was so awesome because it was across the street from the house of People Under the Stairs, which was so distinctive.
Staci Wilson: Have you found that most of the ladies were horror fans to begin with?
Tim Sullivan: When I would say “hey, this is where Rob Zombie sat all day,” they would go “oh,” and be all excited- so, yeah, they seemed pretty knowledgeable.
Biagio Messina: I think that the girls were very smart this season, and I would say the ones who were actresses were able to appreciate how hard the horror genre was, and that was part of the reason that they got cast. I think that a lot of them really did their homework before they came- I can’t tell you how knowledgeable they were before the audition.
Tim Sullivan: One thing that always bothered me when I watched the first season was when Michael Rooker was a guest, and they showed some of the testimonials like, the girls were like, “I’m supposed to know who this guy is?”
Joke Fincioen: That just means that they are older- because these girls weren’t even running around in that timeline.
Tim Sullivan: But, still, if they knew that James Gunn was the host and hadn’t seen Slither… Rooker’s the star. Ya want to be a SCREAM QUEEN, do your fucking homework.
Staci Wilson: But they didn’t know who the host was until they showed up.
Tim Sullivan: That’s true. But if you’re into horror, and want to work in horror, as far as I am concerned, you kind of have to know who Michael Rooker is- and I think that the girls this season do know their stuff a lot more, which was great. That was important to us.
Staci Wilson: [Looking at the set] This is fantastic, I love this.
photo (c) John Sampson
Biagio Messina: We built this cool little saw table. And then we’ve got the axe in the table, but it’s dressed with flowers. There’s just, like, neat little touches. He did a good job of stretching the budget and getting us stuff that we couldn’t afford. Ansell wants to hire this guy to decorate his house. Kenny is a true designer, and he talks about a horror movie and goes “okay, how can I make that work for reality TV?” What you’re not seeing here is the actual pictures of the girls. They have this sort of Marquee with lights around them and, when a girl gets voted off, the lights go dark.
Tim Sullivan: So they come back here, and that is how they find who got the axe. They see all these faces and know that they could be next. It’s not subtle.
Biagio Messina: That’s where you know we have to make it fun for TV. Stuff like that is obviously great.
Tim Sullivan: [Indicating a set piece] This is one of the things that just really blew my mind. That could be sold on Melrose for like $5,000. He got it out of a dumpster and then reupholstered it, and painted. It’s just really cool.
Biagio Messina: I think everybody just really embraced how they could bring their craft to this reality show where the prize is a horror movie- and everybody really stepped it up, because we really couldn’t afford any of this. There was a lot of favors- a lot of begging. [Indicates the closet] This is the girl’s closet, which is partitioned off with cloth- because we didn’t really have a closet for that.
Joke Fincioen: You know, a closet for ten girls. They were going to be here for five weeks.
Biagio Messina: Most of this, they built in five hours.
Staci Wilson: It's pretty neat, because it's almost scripted and unscripted together. It's the best of all worlds.
Biagio Messina: Producing reality is the target.
Staci Wilson: If you had to live in any of the horror movies that you have covered over seasons one and two. And you can actually survive, what would be?
Biagio Messina: Well, it would not be Saw- because if we could survive that, we would have less limbs.
Tim Sullivan: That's an interesting question.
photo (c) John Sampson
Biagio Messina: What would I want to survive? Probably- just because I really liked it- The Descent, even though she just ends up being dead in the end.
Joke Fincioen: I would go with Silence of the Lambs.
Biagio Messina: Well, you're very much FBI and inquisitor. I am a cave dweller.
Tim Sullivan: All you need is the laptop.
Biagio Messina: If I had enough battery power. I'm also one of those nerds, who plays text adventure games from the ‘80s. So, you know, there is Colossal Cave and all those ones that we were playing as kids. Like crawling through caves. So that's my own weird warped sense of the world, I guess.
Staci Wilson: Good rationale.
Remember to tune in to Scream Queens on VH1 every Monday night!