INTERVIEW WITH: KEALAN PATRICK BURKE
by Jason Harris
Kealan Patrick Burke has gone from writing horror to acting in a horror movie.
Burke is starring in SLIME CITY MASSACRE (2010), which was written and directed by Greg Lamberson. SCM is the sequel to SLIME CITY (1988). As horror writers, Burke and Lamberson move in the same circles, Burke said.
Lamberson offered Burke a role in SCM after reading one of his Live Journal posts about his theater work in Ireland, Burke said. “This caught Greg’s attention and he asked if I be interested in reading a script for a movie he was developing.”
Lamberson was willing to offer Burke the role of Cory if he liked the script, Burke said. He loved the script, but the movie never got started. Lamberson got back in touch with Burke a year or so later about SCM. He was once again interested, but had reservations after the first experience. “I accepted the part of Cory half-expecting the project to stall. Much to my delight, and a fair share of nervousness, it didn’t,” Burke said.
He had an incredible experience on SCM even though he thought the production was going to be “home movie quality” if he was cast as the male lead. He was astonished to see top of the line equipment and hundreds of extras.
“I showed up on the first day to a full-blown movie set,” Burke recalled. “Everything from that first day suggested relentless professionalism, and this extends from Greg to the other actors and crew, right down to the extras.”
Burke had some tough scenes to shoot. Some of these scenes had him and Jennifer Bihl, the film’s female lead, covered in cold slime for a number of days. “It was not pleasant, but all that mattered was getting the shots, which we did,” Burke said. “But any discomfort was … made up for by the end result, the overall experience, and the good friends I made along the way.”
Even with the tough shoot, Burke would do it all again. “I’d do it again in a heartbeat. After all, I’m a writer by trade, not an actor, but among the ambitions I’ve had all my life was to be a monster and to die in a horror movie. I won’t tell you if I achieved both – you’ll have to see the movie to find out.”
Burke doesn’t have any other acting roles on the horizon. “I didn’t accept the part in SCM with any expectations of fame or a movie career,” Burke said. “It just seemed like fun, an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often, if at all, and a great experience to cross off my bucket list. I don’t expect movie offers to come rolling in, though if they did and I found something I liked, I’d have no qualms about doing another film.”
Before acting for the silver screen, Burke got a dose of a movie production when one of his short stories was the basis for the short film. PEEKERS (2008). This came about through an Internet relationship with “low-budget filmmaker” Mark Steensland. They met while visiting the Internet message board, Shocklines. Burke described Shocklines as “made up of authors, editors, publishers, filmmakers, fans, and a host of other folks, all united by their love of horror.” Steensland approached Burke about turning one of his stories into a short film after reading good reviews about some of Burke’s stories. “I sent him a few of what I considered to be the most filmable, particularly on a shoestring budget, and he chose PEEKERS.” Horror author Rick Hautala wrote the script for PEEKERS.
Burke is focusing more on writing screenplays and short film scripts. He wrote a short teleplay “Snowmen” which appears in Richard Chizmar’s SMOKE AND MIRRORS collection which features screenplays and teleplays by Frank Darabont, Neil Gaiman, William Peter Blatty, Joe Hill, Stewart O Nan, Brian Keene, Poppy Z. Brite, Joe R. Lansdale and Mick Garris. “Currently, I’m working on a short called ‘Where the Sun Hides’ for a filmmaker in Los Angeles.”
Burke would like to see all of his stories filmed. “It’s always great to see a filmmaker’s interpretation of your work.” He would also like to see the deeper psychological stories like “Cobwebs,” “Empathy” and “Underneath” filmed. The latter was optioned by the production company run by Ehren Kruger, who wrote SCREAM 3 (2000) and TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN (2009), but nothing came of it, Burke said.
Growing up, he was inspired by Stephen King, Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury and H.P. Lovecraft, to name a few. “I’ve discovered quite a few authors and filmmakers over the past decade whose work I enjoy immensely, like Glen Hirshberg, Sarah Langan, Michael Marshall Smith, John Connolly, David Fincher, Bryan Singer, Christopher Nolan, The Coen brothers. Again, the list is enormous …”
He does have a few books and stories coming out this year. “On the novel front, KIN, my longest book to date, should see the light this year. It’s a heartbreakingly beautiful story about misunderstood psychopathic cannibals. The next few months should see “Cobwebs,” which originally appeared in Pete Crowther’s wonderful POSTSCRIPTS magazine (#11, Summer 2007), reprinted in the next SHIVERS anthology, from Cemetery Dance; a new story “Deadlocked“, in SHROUD magazine; a reprint of my story “The Man Who Breaks the Bad News” in James Roy Daley’s BEST NEW ZOMBIE TALES: VOLUME 1; a segment in Cemetery Dance’s round- robin book THE CRANE HOUSE: A HALLOWEEN STORY; ..on the non-fiction front, I wrote the feature review for the Bentley Little special issue of Cemetery Dance magazine (issue #64); and the short teleplay, ‘Snowmen.’”
© Copyright 2010 by Jason Harris