Films that lampoon Hollywood have never really crowded the market, although Tarantino’s most recent outing, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood will no doubt have many a filmmaker jumping on that particular sub-genre bandwagon. But one film that started life way before “Anybody Order Fried Sauerkraut?!” joined the long list of legendary QT quotes is the Chris W. Freeman and Spain Willingham tongue-in-cheek horror comedy Beast Mode. Taking aim at the so many victims that succumb to the dangers of the Hollywood lifestyle, Freeman and Willingham remind audiences how so many stars end up constituting a brand in and of themselves, and ultimately being treated as such.
Featuring an all-star cast of familiar faces including James Duval (Donnie Darko, Independence Day), C. Thomas Howell (The Hitcher, E.T.), James Hong (Big Trouble in Little China) and Ray Wise (Robocop, “Twin Peaks”), Beast Mode slips us into the shoes of Hollywood hot shot producer, Breen Nash (Howell) who accidentally kills his only client and meal ticket, ‘bad boy’ actor Huckle Saxton (Duval). Desperate to make ends meet, Nash turns to an ancient herbal extract in the hopes that it will resurrect both his client and his career, but soon learns that the elixir brings out the worst in those who imbibe, turning them into bloodthirsty, shape-shifting beasts.
With the film releasing on DVD and VoD this 1st of December, SCREAM sat down with Duval to talk about the film, the advent of social influencers, coping with lockdown and how and why he avoided getting sucked into the oftentimes-dangerous Hollywood machine…
Words: Howard Gorman