Eli Roth Interview on Fright Krewe and Gateway Horror for Kids


Since he’s known for grisly horror, filmmaker Eli Roth making an animated show comes with certain expectations for hardcore visuals—even if it’s aimed at kids. With Fright Krewe, his latest creative project before the very adult Thanksgiving later this fall, Roth returns to a realm he first explored in 2018’s The House With the Clock in Its Walls.

Delving into this gentler subgenre comes from a love of the supernatural cartoons he grew up with, Roth explained to io9 in a recent interview. “I love gateway horror. I love scary shows for kids. And I felt like I was at a point in my life, in my career where I really wanted to start creating great experiences for kids and that parents could watch with their kids, where the kids could get into scary movies without being traumatized by them.”

Roth and collaborator James Frye first hatched the idea for Fright Krewe in 2015. “That’s how long this project took to come to fruition. James Frye is a dear friend and a writer, we sat down and said, ‘We need to do something for our kids.’ We want to create a show like Scooby-Doo where it’s kids solving supernatural mysteries. We wanted to create our own world, our own mythology of kids solving supernatural mysteries and confronting monsters.”

He continued. “Monsters are always a great metaphor for a side of ourselves that we don’t like or don’t want to confront. And there’s so many great values that you can Trojan horse in a scary show for kids, like bravery and friendship and overcoming your fears, and finding what makes you special and finding your own special power. That was the original idea and we wanted to set it in New Orleans, which is so visual and so rich with so much history and it’s the most haunted city in America. And also to really portray voodoo in a way I had never seen done before.”

Roth knew his name came with some bandwidth to push limits within reason for a family horror show, and it goes back to stories for children always being scary. “I know kids can handle it. That’s why Grimms’ Fairy Tales have lasted hundreds of years,” he said.It’s kids being baked in ovens—they’re very, very scary. They can handle those those ideas. They get it and are a lot stronger and smarter than we give them credit for. We don’t need to protect them from scary images, you know, we can help them deal with them in a healthy and fun way.”

What’s more, his reputation in horror came in handy for inspiring his showrunners. “What I love about Joanna [Lewis] and Kristine [Songco] is that outside, they’re so sweet and so light. And you think, ‘Oh, they’re perfect for writing a kid’s animated show.’ And then the scripts would come in and the gore was insane. What’s great is that they really are able to balance the scares with the heart and the humor, which I think is very important for kids, because you got to give the kids a laugh after a big scare. And they’re like, ‘Well, we have Eli. So no matter what, no one’s ever going to think that we came up with that.’”

He laughed and continued, “Once my name is on the project, I’ve noticed it’s the fact that my reputation for doing crazy, gory horror is so strong that people like working with me because then they can get it out of their system. No matter what they come up with, it’s a very safe way that they can let it out. And what I love about them is that they want to push the gore as far as we can. And so does DreamWorks. So I think with my name, it lets everyone breathe a little easier. Like we can all come up with stuff that’s as crazy as we want as long, as it adds to the story, gives you a great scare and then has the message underneath it.”

Fright Krewe is now streaming on Hulu and Peacock.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.


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