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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 04.20.21] horror

On the surface, writer/director Ryan Spindell's The Mortuary Collection looks like a pretty tame horror anthology but don't let looks deceive you; there's a lot more horror in this collection than you might initially anticipate.

Clancy Brown stars as Montgomery Dark, an eccentric mortician who recounts some of the crazy stories he's encountered throughout his career. He's sharing the stories with Sam, a bright-eyed young woman applying for a job. She's isn't exactly as tame and innocent as she appears to be though she's also not prepared for the fate that is about to befall her.

I fully admit I wasn't expecting a whole lot from The Mortuary Collection but was overall impressed by Spindell's storytelling and his ability - and willingness - to lean into the horror and the comedy, sometimes in equal parts.

I recently had the chance to speak with the great Clancy Brown about his role and we talked about the movie which will be available on VOD, digital, DVD, and Blu-ray on April 20. It is also streaming on Shudder. Disc extras include director's commentary, 14 extensive behind-the-scenes segments, in-depth conversations with director and writer Ryan Spindell, the actors, and crew of deleted scenes and more!

Quiet Earth: What was it about The Mortuary Collection that attracted you to the project?

Clancy Brown: I just got involved because I got sent the script and a link to watch The Babysitter Murders. I read the script and I enjoyed it. I loved all the storytelling and the layers of storytelling.

So I had to rush back and watch The Babysitter Murders after I read the script. Ryan [Spindell], obviously knew his way around a camera, got performances from his actors that were terrific, and told the story in a familiar but original kind of way. He has this way of writing and directing where it all seems very familiar and it puts you at ease and then it unfolds these stories that just take you to a little bit farther than you expect it to go. That's quite a trick to do from a storytelling standpoint. So I think Ryan has a real talent. He's really certainly a talented writer and a talented filmmaker and putting it all together in The Mortuary Collection... I think you can see, you know, somebody to keep an eye on.

Your character frames the entire story. You're also under a lot of makeup and prosthetics. Can you talk about the process of getting ready for the performances and what that procedure was like? How long did it take you to get ready?

It's pretty sophisticated makeup. It took about two, two and a half hours to put on. It's kind of easy to get ready to go and do the role. By the time your makeup is done, you're ready to go. You want to get out of that chair and start moving and doing the job.

I've done extensive makeup before and the one thing that's most important is that you get along with your makeup artists. This time I had a really terrific makeup artist named Mo Meinhart and she did a great job. She was a real artist and cared very much about getting the makeup right every time and doing it efficiently and then caring about the actor underneath as well. It was a pleasure to do the makeup and it's never a pleasure to do when it takes that long, but you know, you make it as good as you can, and it makes it easy to get into character.

With the character of Montgomery Dark you walk this line of being creepy, but also kind of funny. I assume that some of that was in the script, but can you talk a little bit about finding the balance of when to be kind of a little bit more over the top and when to pull it back for those darker moments?

That was pretty much how Ryan wrote it. We played around a lot with it, Ryan and Caitlin [Custer] and we tried a couple of different ways. I think it's always important to be enjoying what you're doing and to be having fun doing it. You have to have to believe that character enjoys being who he is. But Ryan created this character as something very familiar - everybody would know kind of who this character is. They know the shorthand, the film's short hand, the visual shorthand. The audience sort of knows who he is, so he didn't have to do a lot. I didn't have to do a lot of expositional work. I just had to inhabit it and the audience does the expositional work.

That's part of Ryan's brilliance as a writer and his economy as a writer. Then you get show little flashes of something that's more specific, like the humor. You're not constrained by the icon.

Even though the movie has some dark moments, it also has a lot of comedic moments. What was the most fun moment on set?

Oh gosh. You know, it was always a pleasure to walk onto the set because it was just such a great set that Lauren had created. I mean, we were in Astoria at the Flavel House and we weren't allowed to any damage because it's a museum. But they were very helpful and we could build over things and we could use whatever was there, as long as we didn't damage it. And Lauren Fitzsimmons who did the production design and just created some incredible sets that we would walk into and be completely into whatever scene we needed. The lab set was pretty spectacular. The library set was pretty great. The crematorium was spectacular. That was an actual underground fortress along the Oregon coast that they found and dressed. That was kind of the funniest part of it; just seeing Lauren's imagination, Ryan's imagination and the production, and cinematographers and everybody turning the world into a reality. There's absolutely no money by the way, it just really clever artistic people.

You're always very busy and have a few different projects on the way. What are you really excited about that you hope people will check out?

I think everybody should see Promising Young Woman. I just did a very small role in that but I think it's really good and important. This one, of course. I'm working on "Dexter" but I can't tell you anything about that because I don't know anything about it!

The Mortuary Collection will be available on VOD, digital, DVD, and Blu-ray on April 20.

Recommended Release: The Mortuary Collection

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