The California Institute of Abnormalarts (CIA) sits next door to a smog check shop on a run-down stretch of Burbank Boulevard in North Hollywood. A nightclub and sideshow museum, it looks like something out of a Rob Zombie movie — half carnival fun house, half serial killer’s dungeon. The front door is emblazoned with the image of a creepy clown, and lurking inside on Saturday afternoon are two famous Juggalos, along with a small crew helping them film a music video.
Jamie "Madrox" Spaniolo and Paul "Monoxide" Methric make up the horrorcore hip-hop duo Twiztid. They hail from the suburbs of Detroit — also the homeland of their friends/mentors Insane Clown Posse — but they’re in L.A. for the weekend to promote their new album, The Darkness. Their songs take a lot of inspiration from classic flicks like Friday the 13th and Halloween, and this effort is no different, themed around the general idea of "darkness."
And so it makes sense that on this Saturday in January, they’ve come to this particularly dumpy corner of Tinseltown to live out their enduring love for horror.
Standing on a stage in the CIA's dimly lit main room, they mean-mug for the camera while lip-syncing. Their facial expressions look extra spooky thanks to mismatched, Marilyn Manson-style contact lenses, and, L.A. Weekly can exclusively reveal, they’re rocking a new style of face paint, unique to this video.
Veiny black lines streak down their whitened cheeks and necks, giving the impression that they’re being overtaken by a sickness from the inside — a look dreamed up exclusively for the video by makeup designer Greg Lightner, who, as Madrox eagerly points out, was once a contestant on the Syfy channel's special-effects makeup series Face Off.
“That was an honor. I watch the show all the time with the family,” Madrox says after the shoot. “We get into that shit. When I tell the kids, like, ‘Guess what? Dad’s getting painted up by one of the guys on Face Off,’ they’re just like, ‘Oh my God! Send me pictures!’”
For the guys in Twiztid, it seems the entire experience has offered up one starstruck moment after another. They’re making a video for the Darkness single “Boogieman,” and to come up with the concept, they hired their friend Roy Knyrim, a film director and special effects artist based in L.A. He, in turn, recruited B-movie royalty to help with the video — namely Reggie Bannister (who plays Reggie in the Phantasm fantasy-horror film series) and Tyler Mane, star of Rob Zombie’s late-’00s Halloween remakes. Bannister will play the “puppetmaster,” making Madrox and Monoxide dance like marionettes in a fun-house purgatory, while Mane be the titular boogieman, stalking and slaughtering a couple of scream queens during the video’s climax.
Alas, today’s shoot is free of fake blood; the stars will be coming in Sunday. Today they’re just filming some close-ups and performance shots. But hanging out in a patio area in the back is Sean S. Cunningham, creator of the Friday the 13th franchise. Kane Hodder, who donned the iconic hockey mask as Jason Voorhees in four of the slasher flick’s installments, has also dropped in to say "Hi."
Last year Hodder appeared as a knife-wielding contract killer in the video for Twiztid and Blaze Ya Dead Homie’s song “Sickman,” starring alongside veteran character actor Sid Haig (aka the super creepy gas station owner in House of 1000 Corpses). The video was such a hit with Twiztid’s rabid fan base that the duo has decided to film a sequel.
During a break in filming, I head out back with the Twiztid guys, and they introduce me to Hodder. He's surprisingly short for playing a superhuman killer, and quite courteous. But he’s got a solid build and a strong handshake.
“These are friends of mine,” Hodder says, gesturing at the Madrox and Monoxide. Without skipping a beat Madrox jumps in: “How awesome is that?! Our fucking friend is Jason, dude.”
Later he leans in close and quiets his voice. “His acting is not words,” Madrox says, his voice ripe with awe. “His body emotes. That’s what’s cool about him. He’s able to tell a story with a mask on.”
After a while, somebody brings in a huge stack of pizzas for the crew. Twiztid’s assistant/security guy, a linebacker-sized dude with a pink mohawk hidden beneath a baseball cap, runs out to get Monoxide a bag of McDonald’s. Throughout the afternoon Monoxide periodically puffs on a menthol vape pen. It strikes me that if you look past the horror-movie lyrics and Juggalo paint, he and his bandmate just seem like regular, garrulous Midwestern guys.
“I coach fourth-grade basketball,” Monoxide says at one point. “My son’s on the team, you know what I mean? So it helps him with his confidence to know his dad’s there.”
For the day’s final shot, Twiztid set up in the CIA's bar, a black-lit room whose orange and red walls give off a distinct massacre vibe. Using a handheld camera, the director of photography moves in to get some closeup shots. Monoxide seems generally mellower compared to his Twiztid comrade, but he’s got the undead puppet moves down, improvising them on the spot.
They may just be making a music video, but Twiztid have clearly learned some things from their favorite horror flicks.
“We learned that nothing is impossible,” Monoxide says. “If you think it, you can make it happen. There’s a will and there’s a way.”
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Twiztid's The Darkness is out today via Majik Ninja Entertainment.