Last night, advance audiences got a peek at Marlon Wayans’ new film, “A Haunted House.” Produced by, co-written and starring Wayans, the horror spoof was entirely a labor of love, a low-budget twenty-day shoot that Wayans believes accurately represents his style of comedy. “This is my Michael Jackson Off The Wall album,” Wayans says in a post screening Q&A. “It’s the first time I really got to do me without someone saying, Oh, you’re going too far. If not, it’s Jermaine Jackson’s Let’s Get Serious.” He couldn’t get an assist from family members this time – “All my brothers asked to be out of the film” – but he acknowledged the need to make his own way. “Hollywood’s not making a lot of movies right now,” he sighed, “and when they stop making movies the first people who really feel it are black actors.”
Evidence of this reluctance is the failure of “Is It Something I Said?,” the Richard Pryor biopic with Wayans attached in the lead, and Bill Condon at one time set to direct. The film has had several false starts over the last few years, and Wayans is no longer confident it will happen. “I hope so, but I doubt it,” he says about the likelihood of the film entering production. “Hollywood doesn’t want to bet on that kind of movie right now, and it’s a shame. I think it’s a beautiful movie, and the people who got the money don’t understand that Pryor is an icon… studios are scared because they’re owned by corporations, and they don’t see it.”
Wayans had previously collaborated with brother Damon Wayans on a film called “Behind The Smile” that originated from their frustration in getting a Pryor movie off the ground. The comedy-drama, about a frustrated standup comedian, was written and directed by Damon and filmed in 2006, and although it made the festival circuit, it also remains unreleased. When asked about that lost film, he says, “You gotta ask Damon, man. That’s like asking Janet if Michael was ever gonna release ‘Blood on the Dance Floor II.’” Clearly frustrated with the film’s inability to find distribution, Marlon admits, “That was, to me, my best performance, and it’s sitting in my brother’s house somewhere, possibly the best performance I’ll ever put together.” When asked if it will be seen any time in the future, Marlon suggested, “Hopefully on VOD. Someone has got to see it.”
While “A Haunted House” is Marlon’s horror spoof, he’s got a background in that genre with the “Scary Movie” series. Though it’s clear things ended poorly on one end, he’s not sorry. “They stole ‘Scary Movie 3‘ from us, and we just wound up not doing our movie and giving it to them,” he says. Now that he’s seen trailers for the fifth film, he claims, “They’re making chicken, but they don’t realize we have the official recipe. I see the trailer, they’ve got Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, Heather Locklear, that’s some TV shit. That’s not a movie, that’s ‘Celebrity Rehab.’” Even with a number of similar jokes to “A Haunted House,” he’s got no beef with stealing jokes. ”Go see ‘A Haunted House,’ then go see ‘Scary Movie 5’ if you want,” he asserts confidently. “I guarantee you they ain’t got the type of jokes we got.”
One potential film Marlon may be involved with, however, is a sequel to one of his more, ah, beloved films. “If ‘White Chicks 2‘ happens, it will be a paranormal event,” he jokes, before adding, “I think there’s a big enough audience and everybody loves it. We have a great idea, so maybe.” Referring to how “A Haunted House” was shot independently and sold to Open Road Films, he suggests, “I think it might be best to gather financing and do it, rather than at a studio.”
“A Haunted House” is now playing.