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Owen Keehnen

Owen: "It’s a labour of love".

Conducted by Phil Davies Brown
December 23rd, 2005

With Christmas just around the corner and glitter and tinsel everywhere, I thought it only fitting that we should talk to a real life fairy. Owen Keehnen writes for the excellent horror site www.racksandrazors.com which has some seriously great reviews and interviews, amongst other stuff for you to discover.

Openly gay Owen's popularity has seen him make the transition into other areas of the industry, like so many others before him, and he will soon be gracing silver screens everywhere.

Read on for a hilarious interview with one of the most honest, confident and funniest men I have ever had the pleasure to meet.

Tell me about www.racksandrazors.com How did the site come to be and who are the main parties involved?
It’s a labour of love. Actor/playwright Brian Kirst and I are big horror whores and when we would see each other we’d chat about this and that and Brinke Stevens and Stephanie Beaton and such. I mean incessantly and obsessively! Well, the idea actually happened as a flowering of that dark fixation. Then we got hooked up (via Felissa Rose of all folks) with horror actor supreme Greg Russell Tiderington who in addition to acting is also a horror fan and website designer and hallelujah – racks and razors was born! Speaking of Greg, I am so jealous, he’s currently starring in ‘Dust to Dust’ with Debbie Rochon (my idol!), Lynn Lowry, Jeff Dylan Graham, Felissa Rose, and Heidi Martinuzzi!!!

Are you a big fan of the horror genre?
Oh yeah, with a vengeance. I am a huge fan. Though truthfully I have some boundaries, for example vampires and zombies have never done it for me. Not sure why. I also deeply love casts that include ‘Special Guest Star’ and ____________ as Mrs. Watkins or __________ as The Mayor. That sort of shit. Give me Emma Samms or Karen Black or Michael Moriarty or Lorenzo Lamas or Dee Wallace Stone or Michael Nouri or the amazing Priscilla Barnes!! ‘The Devil’s Rejects’ was awesome on that “70s stars” aspect alone. I completely get off on that, that spells a certain rental for this horror fan.

Which is your favourite sub-genre?
Hmmm. For this one I would have to say I LOVE a good creepy haunted house. It’s all about atmosphere with me I guess. Give me The Changeling, give me The Haunting (the original), and give me The Innocents (with Deborah Kerr).

You are now breaking into films, was this your intention all along or have you stumbled into it for the fun of it?

It happened, and now that it did I am so happy. Maybe my subconscious was working, but it was right on target. In retrospect I would say - intentional yes, conscious no…. If that makes any sense?

Owen: "Being the demon is always the best".

I believe you are currently working on a movie in Chicago with Chris Kahler called Bat Bites in which you play the demon. How did the project come about and is this your first role?
Oh it’s fun. Being the demon is always the best. The project is exciting too because Chris is so into it that it’s infectious. Enthusiasm is everything! It’s not my first movie. My first was actually a bit role in ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ – that’s how far back I go!!! Anyway ‘Bat Bites’ is awesome!!! Very inventive and fun!! I also just filmed a closing credit sequence with Chris for Phil Herman’s ‘Always Midnight’ where I play a crazed newscaster discounting the reality of vampires. Chris is amazing, as a director, an editor, and an artist, what he did with that raw footage we shot is nothing short of genius. I also have a movie within a movie segment in ‘Bat Bites’ called ‘Don’t Play With the Toys’ in which I have a (gasp!) nude scene and am ravaged by dildos while bathing --- and hey, for the inquiring minds out there – those dildos weren’t all mine!

I hear you also have a cameo in Lucien Eisenach’s latest movie, Sea Creatures from Outer Space. How did that come to fruition?
Lucien is such a nice guy! Thank God he made it through hurricane Katrina okay. I am breaking new ground in the miniscularity of cameo appearances with this movie. I am having my picture appear as Colonel Spudic in ‘The Sea Creatures From Outer Space’ – a doctored picture as a military man with shoulders back and chin up and in front of a flag no less. It is so not me! My friends are deeply amused at the irony.

You also have roles in at least three other movies coming up; tell me a little about each of those?
Not to discount my work, but at 45 the roles come sorta easy. It’s the upside of being older. I think younger actors often get disenchanted by the time they reach my age. Pardon the digression. Upcoming projects --- first off I have a part in ‘The Small Assassin’, which is based on the Ray Bradbury story of the same name – very cool – very Omen-ish – about a child who may or may not be evil. I play David’s Uncle. It was fun – nice big budget & period clothes (it’s the early 1950s). I also did a newscaster bit about the appearance automatons in Evet Socrates’ movie ‘Astrolux’. I also just did a filming of Samuel Beckett’s inspired ‘Eleutheria’ for experimental filmmaker James Fotopoulos that looks very trippy and am lined up to work with him next on an Ionesco project. I also have a film named ‘Forest’ completed in which I play a homeless man living in the forest (hence the title) who sends out his daughter to steal from campers in the woods.

I believe you are also finishing up a horror novel about a murderous schizophrenic called MEL. That sounds very interesting. What prompted you to write that?
Therapy!!! Seriously, I think it began as therapy for me as a longtime retail worker. If the public only knew! When you can’t express you either explode or find a different means of venting. This was my different means and Phil, it was fucking scary how easy it was to lapse into that psychotic voice! In many disturbing ways Mel is my significant other.

Is writing your true passion?
Yeah -- that and roller coasters -- both give me a thrill. With writing, I just love creating a world. Time evaporates and I go somewhere else when I sit down to write. Maybe it’s just a need for control the entire universe, but it has always felt right. Since I was a kid it’s always been my favored best means of expression. Writing screenplays is next on the agenda. My first script is well into the development stage.

Do you have any other aspirations within the horror industry?
Yeah, you know I want it all. In addition to screen writing I think I want fame behind and before the cameras. I figure who more than a true horror connoisseur deserves it, you know? I want to be someone that people at a horror convention would stand in line to meet. Being in horror flix for me is simple -- I want to be sacred or scary as shit and flat and immortal.

Owen: "I think as a whole, horror
is very accepting".

Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Hopefully above ground and still engaged in life. I think boredom is the greatest human tragedy. I’d like to have a couple published books under my belt and still be involved in the horror world.

As a gay man, are you pleased with the more relaxed attitude to gay cinema lately, such as the success of David DeCoteau films and Jason Paul Collum’s new projects as well as movies such as HellBent, which are receiving strong word of mouth?
I guess. Actually I have some mixed feelings. Not to step on toes -- I love that “the boys” are getting recognized only I think horror is horror – and breaking it down into gay horror has some fears inherent in it – for me anyway. Call it sour grapes, but primarily I fear that it will be an endless array of beautiful boys getting butchered. I understand it -- the T & A show is part of our “culture” -- only it is kind of depressing seeing homosexuality reduced to that… much as I assume women hate seeing the gorgeous bimbos being butchered as the sole contribution of the heterosexual horror genre.

Why do you feel gay people and in particular yourself, identify so strongly with horror movies?
Oh a lot of times because going at the “socially privileged” and “callously popular crowd” (frequently the maniac’s targeted mincemeat) with a machete are right where I am and have been emotionally. I think it is a vicarious means of crazed expression with those who are repressed. Carrie-Syndrome. Vicarious revenge, maybe yeah.

Have you found that many people working in the industry are gay?
Yup! Once again without sounding like too much of a psychotic I think we relate somewhat (as do many others) to that outsider rage that slashers embody.

Have you ever encountered any homophobia within the industry?
I think as a whole, horror is very accepting. I think horror lovers tend to see themselves as “freaks”, meaning those socially labeled as freaks, and therefore are pretty inclusive. Also lovers of horror are a bit more careful about whom they piss off (hehe). You can be sure if you make fun of little Billy --- he may one day grow up to fuck up your prom night.

What else can we expect to see from you in the near future?
Well, if you are looking over my shoulder you are probably going to see a lengthy list of New Year’s resolutions. I am a freak about those and a big goal setter in general. Other than that I am going to remain determined, leave it up to the fates, and above all enjoy the ride.

Thanks for your time Owen.
Are you kidding? Phil, I could chat about me forever. It’s one subject I never grow tired of. Now if only everyone else felt the same way.

"Thank you ever so much for taking part in this interview Owen.
And we wish you the very best of luck in the future."

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