Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Mortuary Collection Star Clancy Brown Reveals What It's Really Like To Film On A Horror Movie Set - Exclusive Interview

Clancy Brown has spent much of his career playing offbeat authority figures, ranging from the Kurgan in Highlander to Byron Hadley in The Shawshank Redemption to... Mr. Krabs? He adds to his pantheon in the horror anthology movie The Mortuary Collection, written and directed by up and coming horror filmmaker Ryan Spindell. Brown plays Montgomery Dark, a mortician who keeps the histories of every body that passes through his funeral home. Four unique tales are told, all shepherded by Dark telling a larger frame story. It's an old school approach and Brown, in suitably grim dress and with a booming voice, is the right man for the job.

In anticipation of The Mortuary Collection's release for home distribution on April 20, Looper spoke with Brown. He told us about how he developed Montgomery's voice, shooting in a historic building, what it's like on the set of a horror flick, and his favorite tale in the movie.

Character and voice

Let's start off with the voice. How did you approach the way Dark should speak?

Well, I was just trying stuff out with Ryan around and once the makeup got on, we put the makeup on — the makeup's a little lighter in the film than the original makeup, than the first go-around at it. Ryan very smartly took away a few appliances, but just started screwing around with the sound of the guy once we saw how he looked. Ryan got a kick out of that kind of low sort of pretend sophisticated sound. I was just trying to recall all those... Hammer Films, and that kind of British kind of horror sensibility, but without being too British, didn't want to go British. Just kind of somebody who thinks of himself as an educated man, I guess. Answer your question?

It does. It actually builds to another one, which is the specific influences you drew from. You mentioned Hammer, you mentioned the British sensibility. Was there any specific actor or persona that you drew on for this?

No, not particularly. Montgomery is very much an icon of the genre, I think, he did kind of a conglomerate of that genre. Angus didn't talk much in Don's films [Phantasm] and when he did, he was just kind of loud and big. Vincent Price has a much higher register than I do. All those, what are those anthologies I'm trying to think of, what's the name of those? What are they called? Ryan knows this stuff.

I saw people comparing it to Tales from the Crypt.

Yeah. Tales from the Crypt, but there's also a series of British anthropologies like Asylum and those things that were made by that Hammer crowd... it was more like those. I think Montgomery is just kind of a derivative amalgamation of a lot of horror tropes, but being that way I think he's kind of original in that sense. He's definitely from the mind of Ryan, the way Ryan built him and those influences that Ryan had, but put together in an original way, I think by Ryan and the amalgamated dynamics and all those knuckleheads. What am I thinking of? What do they call those?... Amicus films. That's the anthologies. The Amicus Anthologies.

Guiding the story

You were kind of the caretaker, you were the guy guiding the anthology.

The mortician, yes, I was the mortician.

What was it like being on set and guiding the story when you couldn't actually see the stories?

Well, I had read the stories, so I had read the script and I kind of knew what we were blowing into and flowing out of. I've read scripts before, so I knew where it was going, and there's a continuity to the story that Sam and I are the connective tissue that the story that we're telling. And then Ryan's right there to remind us if we're taking out this step and then we're in this wonderful Flavel House that's been completely creeped out and creeped up by the art department, by Lauren Fitzsimmons, [who] did a great job designing the whole thing. So it's really very easy once you get into makeup and walk on set to sort of occupy that space — and the script is terrific. The script is very tight. All I had to do was not bump into the furniture too much. And then Caitlin was a delightful costar. She was a lot of fun, game for everything, very patient with me. It was good fun. That was kind of Ryan's problem to solve.

On set and favorite story

So what was it like on set? It's a beautiful set. But is it funny being on a horror movie set? Is it scary?

No, we have a good time. We had to be very careful because the Flavel House is a museum and it's a historic place in the story and we couldn't wreck anything, we couldn't put any holes in the walls or anything like that. So that was part of Lauren's mission and Lauren's genius was to sort of lay over the top of what was already there, something complimentary, and creepy. And then you had Caleb Heymann doing the cinematography for that part of it. And it all kind of went together just the way I think Ryan intended it. Ryan's vision was very clear what he wanted to do and he accomplished it. It wasn't creepy. It was a movie set. Everybody was working hard. Everybody's having a good time. It was fun. Yeah, fun.

What was your favorite story out of all of them?

Oh gosh. I liked the third segment, I think. "Till Death Do Us Part," that one.

That's a good one.

Yeah. Because there's a no-win situation. Try to do the right thing, and then the right thing makes you miserable, and then you can try to do the other right thing, and then that causes problems. And I thought Brock was just great, and I thought everything about it was terrific.

The Mortuary Collection releases on VOD, Digital HD, DVD and Blu-ray on April 20.