For the most recent installment of the Screen Crusades series with host Ryan J. Downey, Jonah Ray Rodrigues spent some time discussing his rock music pedigree and how that plays into his latest feature film, Destroy All Neighbors.
The Shudder Original film pays tribute to the subcategory of splatter horror, while indulging a subversive sense of humor in the vein of the great Evil Dead franchise - think if Re-Animator worshipped at the altar of Frank Zappa rather than H.P. Lovecraft.
Rodrigues plays William Brown, an obsessive musician three years into finishing his prog rock masterpiece. Struggling to get over the final hump to complete his album, William becomes frustrated with a new neighbor - a hideous, ill-mannered man known as Vlad whose disregard for his neighbors has hindered William's work.
Finally working up the courage to confront Vlad, the encounter spirals out of control and ends with William accidentally decapitating Vlad - played brilliantly by Alex Winter of the Bill & Ted franchise. As William attempts to cover up the carnage, more bodies begin to pile up. The undead, however, continued to torment William, making for less than ideal working conditions to finish his prog rock masterwork.
Discussing the project, Rodrigues shared his upbringing in Hawaii and how he discovered rock music the same way many have, with his first Metallica concert.
From there, he explained that he began frequenting local shows and shared how the Hawaiian local music scene, albeit small, was diverse because there was no division or weird genre gatekeeping. At the same local show you might see a punk band, a speed metal band and a riotgirl band all on the same bill - which instantly exposed him to a wealth of styles from the very beginning.
As for the comedy component for Rodrigues, parody pillar Weird Al Yankovic played a pivotal role in much the same way Metallica did. Rodrigues explained how that combination led him down a path that included a diet of Mr. Show and Mystery Science Theater which nurtured an intersection of pop culture with a sense of humor.
Rodrigues also shared how his love for punk ultimately played a factor in his eventual career in comedy. The notion of not overthinking the idea and just running with it is something that pertains to both music and comedy. For Rodrigues, that reality has become important in circumstances where time is of the essence and you have to just trust your instincts.
In the spirit of not overthinking, Rodrigues shared that making Destroy All Neighbors simply started as the idea of making a film that stylistically aligned with films they love. Working with limited budgets and resources, the end result was to make something they would enjoy both as creators and fans themselves.
The conversation touches on the nuance of prog rock, the growth of Rodrigues as a comic and a creative and of course, plenty more of Metallica.
See the full episode of Screen Crusades with Jonah Ray Rodrigues below.