Tim Abell plays the ringmaster of horror himself in the new Chris Olen Ray film Circus Kane. As the film rockets up the VOD charts, we bravely pull up a chair and talk to ‘Kane’ himself.
indieactivity: You play the man himself, I believe!?
Tim: Indeed I do play Balthazar Kane! Ringmaster, House of Horrors Host, Showman extraordinaire! Such a nuanced and layered character… on one level he’s a loving father figure, mentor, businessman and on another level an actor, performer, entertainer, magician, showman concerned with creating the best show possible….and on yet another level, a sadistic monster hellbent on creating a very real House of Horrors where real blood will be spilt and real lives will be sacrificed at the altar of horror for the entertainment of all those horror fans watching.
indieactivity: What’s his motivation in the story?
Tim: Balthazar Kane’s motivation is such a simple one. Entertainment! When you watch the film all the clues into Balthazar are there in James and Zacks script. Prior to his near death fire incident, entertainment of his audience was of paramount importance….for the audience to feel as if, they are a part of the show, to feel they are really going to die….. to scare them to death! The same reason we like horror films! To feel something to feel scared to feel…. And after being, burned, disgraced, jailed and ridiculed by those he sought to, entertain,
Balthazar transformed into “Deaths Tattered Angel” intent on collecting one soul at a time….. to lure the ‘guilty” into his game of death…those from the horror community with large social media followings… to give their followers the best Horror Show of all time! Their own demise streaming live for the world to see what true terror is. The greatest show on hearse!
indieactivity: Who came up with the look of the character?
Tim: Director Chris Ray and I discussed Balthazar Kane and how we saw him based on what we read in the script… then I took to the internet to pull images, from Barnum and Bailey RingMasters, to lion tamers to Horror Show front men to carnival barkers and freak show entertainers….sent photos of looks I liked for Kane and then talked with Sharks and Monique Hyman our customer. She did an outstanding job of putting the look we discussed together!
Eric Wilson our most excellent hair and Makeup head, spent 5 hours creating Kane’s dreadlocks with my real hair and with extensions… and then SPX master Vinnie Guastini made molds for my teeth and molds for facial prosthetics, which Chris Ray and Vincent discussed the look of, all to be applied the day of filming….so I didn’t really know how I was going to look until after the application was complete…..That application process took about 5 hours. And then contacts were placed onto my eyes. It wasn’t until I looked into the mirror for the very first time that I really knew who Circus Kane was to be…
indieactivity: Where did you begin, in terms of your performance? Any inspirations?
Tim: My performance always starts with the script….with what happens in the script and what’s going to happen in the script…. I will sit for hours ruminating on the character and all the possibilities that exist within the script… the world my character lives and breathes in…. And then there are the external influences that affect who Kane will be… will become on-screen… All the characters from horror films past… Jack Nicholson from, Kubrick’s, “The Shining” based on Kings novel, Tobin Bell as JigSaw in “Saw” franchise, Robert Englunds Freddy Krueger, “Nightmare on Elm Street”, Jason Vorheese in “Friday the 13th” franchise, Rob Zombies, “The Devils Rejects”….. and Gene Wilder in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”! Not a horror film per se but an influence nonetheless!
Also, big theatrical rock concert performances from Alice Cooper and again Rob Zombie… Outstanding Shakespearian actors like Sir Laurence Olivier, Sir John Guilgood, Ian McKellen were also inspirations for Balthazar Kane. I wanted to create the consummate showman, performer, entertainer someone whom the audience couldn’t take their eyes off of while on stage.
indieactivity: How was it working with the young cast particularly Jonathan Lipnicki?
Tim: I really only worked with Jonathan Lipnicki and Victoria Konefal. Bill Voorhees and Scott T Reynolds, the Clown and Jester respectively, had their own thing going on and I only interacted with them during one scene in the final act. And with all the other kids including Ted Monte and Mark Christopher Lawrence, I recorded the TV monitor scenes on the first day for them to then watch on the subsequent days as they walked through Kane’s house… Jonathan and Victoria are the ones to discover Balthazar Kane quite by accident… and then we meet the new and improved Circus Kane during a pivotal part of the film… I loved working with both Jonathan and Victoria…. They really had no idea what my performance as Kane would be… nor did anyone else on set including myself! Connecting with them in that “meeting Kane”scene was quite exciting because we all had no idea what would happen…how we’d react to one another….. I quite love that moment.
And as far as Jonathan goes, I love his passion, dedication and excitement about making movies…. I love how grateful he is to be working…. Even if it’s not a 20 Million dollar budget film….. we had s good laugh during one of the pivotal scenes where I ad libbed a version of his famous “Jerry McGuire” line “The human head weighs eight pounds”and everybody on set broke up! Even Jonathan!
indieactivity: Who do you think the scariest clown in cinema is?
Tim: Well, Bill Vorheese does an outstanding job as the evil Clown in “Circus Kane” as does Scott T Reynolds as the evil Jester, but, let me choose from a film I’m not involved with!
My top three scariest clowns in cinema are:
- Penny Wise from Stephen King’s, “It” played by Tim Curry and Bill Skarsgard
- Captain Spaulding played by, Sid Hague, from Rob Zombies “House of 1000 Corpses”
- The Joker played by Heath Ledger in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight”
But the Clown who is the real monster was John Wayne Gacy…. Proof that real monsters do indeed exist…. Not just in the cinema…
indieactivity: Have you seen IT yet? Thoughts?
Tim: I saw IT at the ArcLight theater with Dolby Sound the day it came out! I had read Stephen Kings book years ago while I was in the military… loved it! Scared the shit out of me! And I must say the new IT film did not disappoint! Great cast! The kids rocked it as did Bill Skarsgard as Penny Wise. I am definitely looking forward to the next chapter!
There’s been a couple of ‘clown’ movies out there this year, how much do we have to thank Stephen King for those, in your opinion?
Stephen King gets some credit for sure! Especially with the success of “It”! Many indie filmmakers can ride the tide and piggy back onto the clown trend in hopes of getting more folks looking at their film due to the interest in “clowns”. Much like when “Lethal Weapon” first came out too much success, there was a glut of cop buddy films trying to ride the tide.
I just did a film called “White Blood” directed by Ben Butler. The DP was a very talented gentleman named Chaz Olivier whom also was the DP on “Clowntwegeist”, which he said had been shot a couple of years ago and was just now this year being released…. Good timing or being strategic with the release of “It”?
indieactivity: What do you think the scariest element of Circus Kane is?
Tim: The scariest element of Circus Kane, is many real people would do exactly what the characters in the film did…. If offered 250k to survive the night they would jump at the chance…. Never mind nothing is free…. Never mind there is nothing guaranteeing them the money….they have no idea the danger that await… and they’ve been told exactly what is to happen….. lambs to the slaughter…. Kinda reminds me of these Craig List killings where something is promised just to get some person or persons lured in…… and then the fun begins! I’ve always said the Seven Deadly Sins come into play with all the victims in Circus Kane…… Lust, Anger, Pride, Ego, Greed, Gluttony, Sloth…….. perhaps Circus Kane is a valuable teaching tool and wake up call to all the millennials feeling entitled out there…..