Producers Tim Sullivan and Martin Shore took the podium to introduce the panel for Snoop Dogg's "Hood of Horror" at this year's Comic-Con International in San Diego. The two decidedly Caucasian men were quick to ironically inform us that they hailed "from the hood."
Up and coming actor Pooch Hall was the first out of the gate, followed next by a surprise appearance by actress Lin Shaye. Sullivan brazenly asserted that the latter is a veteran of "every cult movie ever made." The arrival of Ghostbusters alum Ernie Hudson was heralded with a rousing, "Who you gonna call?" Former playmate Brande Roderick walked out to the requisite hooting and hollering by her male fans, and made a crack about sleeping with the producer. Wrestling great Diamond Dallas Page wasn't on stage for 10 seconds before breaking out his one-time catch phrase: "Bang! Let me tell you, Snoop Dogg's 'Hood of Horror' will make you feel the bang!" And the panel was rounded out by actress Daniella Alonso, best known for her role on "One Tree Hill."
Sullivan, who wrote the film with his writing partner Jonathan McHugh, said they'd done so on spec, but had always had Snoop in mind for the title role. Failing that, he said, "What are you gonna do? Lil Bow Wow's hood of horror?"
Dallas Page's gruff voice commenced the Q&A: "Who's got the balls to come up and ask the first question?"
The first question was directed at Ernie Hudson, and had to do with the possibility of the long-awaited "Ghostbusters 3." Hudson said he, Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis were all for it, but that Bill Murray is the only holdout. Hudson expressed his bemusement at still being greeted with "who you gonna call?" to this day, but said that twenty years down the line, he fully expects to be inundated with the catch phrase to this, his latest project: "There goes the neighborhood."
Another off-topic question asked twice by two different fans was whether or not DDP had any plans to return to wrestling. The wrestler quipped, "I'd rather stick my foot up in the air than stick it up someone's ass right now." Page has an eye to acting for the foreseeable future.
"Hood of Horror" follows a classic horror variety show format, with three individual stories or episodes bridged by a host, in this case, Snoop Dogg Himself. Snoop, for his part, while scheduled to be on the panel, was reportedly stuck in traffic somewhere between San Diego and L.A.
The film boasts Anime sequences by animator John Gaeda (of "Animatrix" fame). These sequences are intercut with the live-action narrative, and chronicle the origin of Snoop's character.
One attendee was hesitant to draw the obvious comparison to "Tales from the Hood." But director Sullivan made no bones about acknowledging that film as an inspiration for "Hood of Horror." Sullivan also grew up reading reprints of EC's horror comics, and cited them as a major inspiration as well. He fell in love with their style of combining horror and humor, which is something he tried to do in this film. Pooch Hall suggested that the film was as much a comedy as it was a horror flick. "You're gonna see everything in this movie."
Hudson was the first to admit that "Hood of Horror" is a far cry from the projects you typically see on his resume. But his frequent convention appearances have taught him that people love horror and people love comics books, and he relished the opportunity to be a part of a project that catered to both. "I had more fun on this movie than I have for a long time," said Hudson
Hudson was then asked to compare the violence in "Hood of Horror" to that in "Oz," the HBO prison drama in which Hudson portrayed Warden Glenn for four years. The psychological and physical torture that the characters on "Oz" endured, Hudson said, was much worse than the over-the-top violence in "Hood of Horror." "I have no problem with my kids watching this. I have a problem with them watching 'Oz.'" Shaye chimed in, "It's comic-book violence There's something still laughable about it, as horrific as it is."
The panelists were then asked to sound off on their experiences working with Snoop Dogg. Playmate Roderick said of the man, "Snoop is so smooth. And he's on top of his game." Pooch pegged him as "smart and hilarious. He's like the fifth Beatle." Ernie used such words as "professional, respectful and soft-spoken." And Roderick had noticed "there was always this could that followed him." Sullivan called it a "cloud of inspiration."
Sullivan, who'd always planned on asking Snoop to pen a song for the project, was overjoyed when the rapper broached the subject himself. Inspiration-struck, Snoop Dogg went home that night, stayed up all night writing the song, and showed up on set bright and early the next morning with a finished track. The music video for the song was among the clips shown at the panel.
Finally, with the end of the panel looming, and still no sign of the rapper everyone had come to see, Sullivan patched in the en route Snoop through "the magic of cellular wireless." Snoop fielded a few questions via speakerphone as Sullivan held the cell up to the mike. The rapper apologized for missing the panel ("This traffic is a mother from L.A. to San Deigo.") and thanked those present for their support.
Snoop Dogg's "Hood of Horror" is scheduled for theatrical release on November 4th and is being distributed by Xenon pictures. The DVD is due out in February.