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Scare Package II Is A Joyful, Splattery, Queer Celebration Of Horror

Scare Package II Is A Joyful, Splattery, Queer Celebration Of Horror

Scare Package II: Rad Chad's Revenge
Courtesy of Shudder

PRIDE interviews creator Aaron B. Koontz about his subversive horror comedy anthology.

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For those craving a time when horror was fun, splattery, and silly, Scare Package II: Rad Chad’s Revenge is here to make you giggle and squirm in equal measure — which is entirely by design. “I got frustrated when I would hear elevated horror because there’s not ‘elevated comedy,’ there’s not ‘elevated drama’ that doesn’t really make sense,” creator and director Aaron B. Koontz tells PRIDE.

His response? To make a film that is full of splatter, silliness, and queerness that is both a celebration and critique of the horror genre and its fandom — but in the most loving way possible. The film picks up after the events of the original Scare Package film in which (spoiler alert) its central character, the video store horror superfan Rad Chad, fell victim to a masked killer. Now during his funeral, the attendees find themselves trapped and put through a series of (ridiculously) grisly Saw-like tests of their horror knowledge. This is interspersed with short films that again salute and skewer genre tropes.

Watch PRIDE’s full interview with Aaron B. Koontz below.

For Koontz, who says he was inspired by the labyrinthian mythology of the Saw franchise, this was the perfect setup to talk about some of the darker parts of the fandom. “I remember, I would see some threads on Twitter and I would jump in, because they’re like, ‘what? That’s a reference to this, like, how do you not know that?’ And I was like, ‘whoa, whoa, whoa what are you doing here?’ he recalls. “This is not the opportunity to shame them for not knowing it. This is the opportunity to evangelize the movie that they haven’t seen yet. Talk about this stuff. You know, that was me in the video store in high school, like, ‘you gotta see this.’”

Koontz took this concept of gatekeeping and dialed it up to lethal levels. “Then I started to think about what [the film’s villain] was doing, and that he would maybe take this too far... there was just an opportunity there to talk about, like how we’re approaching horror as a whole.” The result is a gooey, tongue-in-cheek, and deeply meta exploration of the genre that’s perfect for a crowd, and especially rewarding for long-time horror fans who can’t help but play along.

Scare Package II: Rad Chad's Revenge

Courtesy of Shudder

Of course, queer horror fans will be happy to see that not one, but two LGBTQ+ love stories appear in the film. Queer inclusion feels fitting and necessary in a film that’s so self-referential. After all, you can’t really celebrate the genre without representing its roots. Queer inclusion was a priority for Koontz, he shares.

“We want diversity in our cast and I want people to come from different perspectives. We do have the one main romance, which is Jessie, and Kimmy... but I also didn’t want it to be like, in your face. I didn’t want to come in and just be like, look at this, you know, queer romance that’s going on to these people. I wanted it just to be this is just a part of who they are,” he explains.

“There’s also the Kirk and Bruce scene that to me is very beautiful. It’s two people who are in love, and they’re denying it this whole time, and they finally get to embrace their love. I picture the end of The Bodyguard that’s really where it first started was with the end of The Bodyguard,” he laughs. “And then it became the elevator scene in Drive.”

Scare Package II: Rad Chad's Revenge

Courtesy of Shudder

But the prioritization of inclusion isn’t just happening in front of the camera for Koontz, who added that diversity in selecting the directors for the anthology’s segments was also “vital.” Alexandra Barreto, Anthony Cousins, Jed Shepherd, and Rachele Wiggins all directed segments alongside Koontz’s wraparound film.

“We want it to be a diverse group of people,” Koontz reiterates, adding that he hopes that it will create even more opportunities for these up-and-coming directors. “We also are working with folks who are not making a lot of features. These aren’t people who are out there getting features left and right. Emily Hagins from the first one had done a little bit of something, but she was also in a stagnant period. And then actually, now we’ve gone and made her next feature, Sorry About the Demon that’s going to come out next month.”

Scare Package II: Rad Chad's Revenge

Courtesy of Shudder

Koontz is very intentional in his selection of these directors, intending to get as many different voices in the room as possible. “We have a list of people and I’m like, no, I really want to get a female director and for this one, or, you know, a person of color too, to handle this. And it’s because I want to see what they have to offer. That excites me. Then hopefully this is giving them opportunities to show what they can do on a limited budget, and they can hopefully get more opportunities in the future.”

If anyone knows the importance of having the right platform to grow your career, it’s Koontz, who credits Scare Package II’s streaming home, Shudder (which is also home to queer essentials like Queer for Fear, So Vam, and The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula franchise) for helping to reinvigorate him as a filmmaker.

Scare Package II: Rad Chad's Revenge

Courtesy of Shudder

“Shudder is the reason why I have a career right now because they picked up the first Scare Package at a time when I was ready to kind of almost give up filmmaking. My first feature did not go well. It was not the movie that I wanted to release. It literally didn’t have my cut. And then Scare Package was kind of like our, ‘let’s see if anybody cares about this’ kind of moment,” he recalls. Thankfully people did, a lot of people. When the first Scare Package film dropped on Shudder it was the streamer’s biggest release at the time.

Koontz’s gratitude for Shudder is also why he, like many, was deeply shaken and concerned when the news recently dropped that Shudder’s General Manager, Craig Engler, and Director of Brand & Audience Development, Sean Redlitz, had left the streamer as part of an overall shakeup of the platform’s parent company AMC.

Scare Package II: Rad Chad's Revenge

Courtesy of Shudder

I hate seeing Craig, Sean, and some folks go. I’m hopeful for the people that are still there but there is some uncertainty with AMC as a whole,” Koontz shares, adding that he’s still confident in the future of Shudder. “I don’t think it’s going anywhere at this current time you know, I don’t see that as the case. But it was definitely a scare. It was like you’re driving down the road and you swerve and you’re like, ‘Oh my god. You look back and you’re like, OK we’re good, Shudder’s good. We’re still in the car. We’re still driving, but like that kind of spooked me for a minute you know?”

“We just have, as horror fans, something really, really special right now and we need to watch it as much as possible,” says Koontz, offering some streaming suggestions. “That could mean watching Scare Package II. After that you could watch, I don’t know, Blood Relatives or The Pale Door or our other movies,” he laughs.

As for the future of the Scare Package franchise, Koontz is hopeful for its continuation. “I would make Scare Package movies forever if I could,” he confesses, adding that he took inspiration from the end of Back to the Future II, in that the characters (those who survive anyway) ride off into the sunset, with plenty of opportunity for further adventures. “Hopefully enough folks...give us a chance because I do have quote-unquote, a “Rad Chad Trilogy” in mind. But we’ll see if we’re that lucky.”

Scare Package II: Rad Chad’s Revenge is streaming now on Shudder. Watch the trailer below.

When horror guru Rad Chad Buckley’s funeral turns into an elaborate series of death traps centered around Chad's favorite films, the guests must band togethe...

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Rachel Shatto

EIC of PRIDE.com

Rachel Shatto, Editor in Chief of PRIDE.com, is an SF Bay Area-based writer, podcaster, and former editor of Curve magazine, where she honed her passion for writing about social justice and sex (and their frequent intersection). Her work has appeared on Elite Daily, Tecca, and Joystiq, and she podcasts regularly about horror on the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network. She can’t live without cats, vintage style, video games, drag queens, or the Oxford comma.

Rachel Shatto, Editor in Chief of PRIDE.com, is an SF Bay Area-based writer, podcaster, and former editor of Curve magazine, where she honed her passion for writing about social justice and sex (and their frequent intersection). Her work has appeared on Elite Daily, Tecca, and Joystiq, and she podcasts regularly about horror on the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network. She can’t live without cats, vintage style, video games, drag queens, or the Oxford comma.