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Exclusive: Julian Richings on having “VICIOUS FUN” as a killer clown

Wednesday, June 30, 2021 | Exclusives, Interviews

By MICHAEL GINGOLD

Now streaming on Shudder, VICIOUS FUN is a viciously funny horror/comedy that gives Canadian horror veteran Julian Richings one of his juiciest roles yet. RUE MORGUE got a few words with the actor about this latest colorful character.

Directed by Cody Calahan and scripted by James Villeneuve, VICIOUS FUN follows a horror journalist named Joel (Evan Marsh) as he winds up in an environment fully stocked with homicidal maniacs. Richings, also seen recently in ANYTHING FOR JACKSON, SPARE PARTS (see his discussion of those two movies here) and HALL, explains that his character has a deadly double life: “I play Fritz, who is an accountant by day and a serial killer by night, dressed as a clown. I join a support group for serial killers, to discuss our issues and ways of evading the law. So I got to play an everyday, very repressed, uptight, almost stereotypical accounting guy who gets off, basically, on becoming a murderous clown and adopting an exaggerated, massive alter ego.”

As the actor acknowledges, any cinematic murderer with a painted face is bound to bring a particular past antihero to mind. “Obviously, we’re living in a post-JOKER film world, where a lot of people look at a clown and go, “Oh, Joker!” But the notion of that character and the horrific clown in general is so pervasive that we just went for that basic idea. We didn’t try not to do the Joker, or try specifically to make a homage to him; we just went with, what is the polar opposite of a repressed accountant, and how can he most flamboyantly murder his victims? It was fun, because we knew we were teetering on the edge of public perception of film history and iconography.”

VICIOUS FUN in general has a homagistic approach underpinning its tongue-in-cheek sensibility. “The movie is set in the ’80s, so it has a retro feel,” Richings says. “The music [by Steph Copeland] is very much part of that; it has the Giorgio Moroder synthesizer thing going on. It goes in a very specific, edgy, comedic direction, and then it continually undercuts that, and things happen that shift your perspective. Cody Calahan was so specific; it’s his take on horror, and his homage to it. However, when you’re inside of something like that, there’s no way one can play a homage; it just doesn’t work, it looks distant and ironic. The person you’re watching on screen is clearly rolling their eyes and doing a secondhand impersonation. So we had to find our own ways into being real characters, and Cody juggled all the ingredients to make it his tribute to ’80s horror.”

Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold (RUE MORGUE's Head Writer) has been covering the world of horror cinema for over three decades, and spent 28 years as a writer and editor for FANGORIA magazine and its website. In addition to RUE MORGUE, he currently writes for BIRTH.MOVIES.DEATH, SCREAM, IndieWire.com, TIME OUT, DELIRIUM and others. His book THE FRIGHTFEST GUIDE TO MONSTER MOVIES (FAB Press) is out this fall, and he has contributed liner notes and featurettes to a number of Blu-ray and DVD releases. Among his screenplay credits are SHADOW: DEAD RIOT and LEECHES!, and he is currently working on THE DOLL with director Dante Tomaselli.