Dave Grohl didn’t need agents to get Lionel Richie to appear in his “Studio 666” movie. The Foo Fighters frontman simply reached out to his old music buddy to say “Hello.”
“When I read ‘Lionel Richie’ in the finished script, I thought, ‘Amazing. I’ll just text him,'” says Grohl, 53. ‘So I texted him like, ‘Yo, we’re making a horror film’ Wanna be in it? And he texted back, ‘Absolutely!’ That was it.”
The downside: Richie brought distracting drama to the ridiculous horror comedy.
“After his first take, (Richie) goes, ‘You want me to turn it up a bit?’ I was like, ‘Yeah!” Grohl recalls. “And he ramped it up, man. It was so hard to keep a straight face with Lionel Richie screaming at me. That was a surreal moment.”
Expect many more of those as “Studio 666” hits theaters nationwide Friday. For starters, there’s the whole concept of Grohl starring in a blood-splattered film that involves satanic possession and killing his bandmates in over-the-top ways.
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The results are more “Spinal Tap” than spine-tingling. Grohl had to backtrack after originally calling a Foo Fighters horror movie “the stupidest idea I had heard in my life” when an industry friend passed on the out-of-the-blue pitch.
“This movie just fell into our laps,” he says. “We thought, ‘Why the hell not?’ We’ve done so much in our time as a band. Let’s just notch this up as something we never thought we’d do.”
Grohl came up with the “really stupid” premise based on the Encino mansion he had rented, where the 12-time Grammy-winning band recorded its 10th album “Medicine at Midnight,” released this month. The terror revolves around ridiculous rock clichés: band moves into a haunted house to record an album, lead singer gets possessed and kills.
The Encino mansion definitely had a creepy side but wasn’t haunted. “I lived in a haunted house in the ’90s, I know what it’s like to live in a haunted house,” Grohl says.
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However, the rundown place did have a potential killer for Grohl’s co-stars and bandmates, bassist Nate Mendel, guitarist Pat Smear, drummer Taylor Hawkins, lead guitarist Chris Shiflett and keyboardist Rami Jaffee. During a brainstorming tour of the grounds with horror special effects guru Tony Gardner, extreme ideas flowed.
“Tony was like ‘Oh, my God, you could slam Chris’ face in the grill so that his flesh is melting off of his cheek. And then you stab him 50 times in the back,'” Grohl recalls. ‘I’m like, ‘Tony, who are you?’ Imagine someone gave you a license to come up with the most ridiculous ways to murder your band in a horror film.
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It’s not “There Will Be Blood,” but there were rivers of blood in the film, which was kept a secret from fans and features appearances by Whitney Cummings, Will Forte and “Scream” star Jenna Ortega.
During one scene, Grohl made it rain red by tossing fake limbs into a wood chipper. “I was just living my greatest ‘Fargo’ fantasies,” he says. A chainsaw double-killing produced so much fake blood that it streamed onto the street of the celebrity enclave.
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“I walk down the driveway, look into the gutter and it’s a river of fake blood going into the street sewer. It was like, this needs to be in the film. It’s so dark,” says Grohl. “But we didn’t get any neighbor complaints, which surprised me.”
The bandmates were into their own grisly demises, to a point. Hawkins came up with his appropriate, and ambitious, drummer’s death.
“Originally I was going to throw all of these cymbals and he’d be crucified against the wall with like barbed wire,” says Grohl. Things were scaled back once it became clear how involved that scene would be. “He was like ‘Just chop my head off with a cymbal and I’ll be able to go home.’ ”
Grohl needed no goading to go fully possessed with fangs and blacked-out eyes. He put on the fake teeth, the dark contact lenses “and just went off.” He’s proud he provided his own wildly waving tongue without prosthetic support.
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“That’s all my tongue. I’m endowed in that way. Let’s just say that,” he says of the dexterous appendage. “But I’m no Gene Simmons.”
Grohl is blown away that “Studio 666” was even completed, after being put on hold during the pandemic, and that it boasts surprisingly high production values. To boot, “Studio 666” is getting, well, critical praise (75% positive on the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes). He will even entertain awards questions.
“What awards are we talking about? The Razzies? Because we have a good … chance to get one of those,” says Grohl. “But as for the Oscars, let’s just say I haven’t ordered my tux quite yet.”
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