The Horror Film Roots Of IFC’s “Stan Against Evil”

If you are a fan of horror films, then the roots of the IFC horror-comedy series Stan Against Evil, should be pretty evident. Comedian turned writer and creator of the series Dana Gould has often talked about his love for the horror genre and when he describes the series he can’t help but reference horror films and how they influenced the show.

“The blueprint for this show, tonally is An American Werewolf In London – Beginning, middle and end,” Gould explains at a recent press event for the show at New York Comic Con. “I love [Werewolf writer/director] John [Landis]. I’ve had the pleasure of working with him and he’s so smart. What he realized is that if you told the traditional horror movie, but just had people behave normally and not in a stylized way, you don’t need to write them funny because people are funny normally. The other person who does that is Quentin Tarantino. They can be in the middle of a gun battle but be talking about pancakes, that happens in real life. I just do that for a horror movie.”

Gould’s love for horror films stretches all the way back to his youth, growing up in Massachusetts, and it is one of the things he credits as sending him on a career path to show business.

“When I was a kid I watched horror movies, I wanted to be in horror movies,” he confesses. “I didn’t want to be the star, I wanted to be the goofy weird guy. I wanted to be Dwight Frye in Dracula or Peter Cushing in Horror of Dracula. That’s all I wanted to do. It was like ‘How do I get into show business to do these things?’ My natural proclivity is to be funny, so I became a comedian and a writer and I thought ‘Well I’ll just write my way into movies.’ My manager, who is a very smart, talented guy, said that the best way to have a solid career is to be the person that hires you. Don’t wait for somebody else to hire you. Want to act? Write, produce and then cast yourself. It only took me 30 years in the business, but that is what I ended up doing. I like it because it is very DIY.”

Which brings us to Stan Against Evil, or as Gould describes it “a sitcom that somebody dropped into a horror film. They don’t know they’re in a sitcom and the horror movie doesn’t know that they’re a sitcom. This is the show I would watch if I didn’t make it.”

Stan Against Evil star John C. McGinley as Stan, a curmudgeonly small town sheriff who retires after the tragic death of his wife. Shortly after her funeral, Stan discovers that his wife was secretly a woman who battled against an seemingly never ending army of evil demons and creatures that attempt to invade the cursed New Hampshire hamlet. Stan reluctantly takes up his dead wife’s fight, joined by the town’s new Sheriff Evie, played by Janet Varney. The show also stars Deborah Baker and Nate Mooney. Gould makes appearances as Kevin, the creepy caretaker of the town cemetery.

Season two of the series premiers November 1.

And while Gould will happily point out the show’s cinematic inspirations, it was a horror story presented on television that still sticks with him to this day.

“The movie that scared me the most was the TV movie The Night Stalker,” he says. “But I saw it when I was nine. It scared the bejesus out of me, but I love it still.”

And the love of horror films extends from Gould out to his cast.

For McGinley, the film that scared him the most was the 1967 thriller Wait Until Dark. The film starred Audrey Hepburn as a blind woman being terrorized by home invader Alan Arkin. The film marked Arkin’s second major film role following the previous year’s The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! and one which still has movie fans wondering why he didn’t receive an Academy Award nomination that year.

“Sometimes you can make it look too easy,” suggest McGinley as to why Arkin may have been overlooked at the time. “The Academy likes eccentricities, like with Daniel Day Lewis. But Arkin made it look too easy.”

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About Rich Drees 7195 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty-five years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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