The Mean One is a gnarly little independent horror film that puts a spin on Dr. Seuss’ children’s story How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and its movie adaptations.
The filmmaker, Steven LaMorte, is opening up to Entertainment Weekly about tackling the parody and explaining how he got away with it without a significant lawsuit.
“Well, parody is protected by the constitution,” says LaMorte. “I don’t want to say that I’m a legal scholar, but I’ve done more than my fair share of research and consultation just to make sure that we’re not denigrating the source material. I love these stories; we want to honor it, of course, but it’s a parody; it’s supposed to be funny. Every word and script choice was chosen with the intention of really sticking to the letter of the law and making sure that we are a parody. We just wanted to put our own spin on it.”
The Mean One isn’t the only horror film based on popular children’s entertainment. Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey went viral recently, leading to planned Peter Pan and Bambo horror movies, and LaMorte says he expects this to happen more and more now.
“There was a time, 10, 20, 30 years ago, when the idea of taking existing IP and doing something with it was crazy, right?” says LaMorte. “How dare you go and change somebody else’s thing! But nowadays, with social media and the internet, I really think [the] fanbase really takes ownership of these characters. People want to play in this world. Filmmakers, we’re storytellers, we’re kids with toys; we want to get in the sandbox and play with our toys. This kind of rise of creator-modified characters comes from our collective desire to take ownership of the things that we love and put our own spin on it.”
As for the film itself, this was described “my baby” by LaMorte, with the filmmaker saying he’s been working on this for several years as he explained how it came to be: “This has always been that sticky note that sits on your idea board: what if we did a monster movie version of this story? Then, last year, I had a commercial shoot that I was supposed to do, and it was cancelled last minute. I said, well, I already have the crew booked; what if I just changed what we were shooting? So I took all of my notes and put together a fake trailer. We shot it, we cut it together, and I showed some friends in the industry; just as a lark, it was never supposed to go anywhere. They said, ‘Wow, this trailer’s super fun; when’s the movie coming?’ I said, ‘There’s no movie. We just made this trailer. It’s done, that’s it.’ One thing led to another, and some of my partners were like, what if it could be a movie? And now here we are.”
In the audacious new parody, The Mean One (Terrifier 2‘s David Howard Thornton) is a hairy, green-skinned grump in a Santa suit, living on a mountain high above the town of Newville, despising the holiday season. Young Cindy You-Know-Who (Krystle Martin), whose parents were butchered by The Mean One twenty Christmases earlier, is returning to town to seek closure… but when the Mean One launches a new reign of terror that threatens to destroy Christmas, Cindy finds a bold new purpose – trapping and killing the monster.
The Mean One features a cast that includes David Howard Thornton, Chase Mullins, John Bigham, Erik Baker, Flip Kobler, and Amy Schumacher.
The Mean One is set for release on December 9th