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SYFY WIRE Renfield

'Renfield' writer Ryan Ridley says film was inspired by Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson, and George Romero

Expect plenty of camp and plenty of gore!

By Josh Weiss
(from left) Benjamin Schwartz and Nicholas Hoult in Renfield (2023)

If you're going to pair up the director of The LEGO Batman Movie and a member of the Rick and Morty writing team, don't be surprised when they turn in a meta upheaval of long-established genre tropes.

Such was the arrangement on Universal's Renfield — in theaters everywhere next month — a genre-mashing blockbuster that shines a side-splitting spotlight on the toxic relationship between Dracula (Nicolas Cage) and his longtime titular underling (Nicholas Hoult). Preferring a more light-hearted approach than its vampiric forebears, the film was very much inspired by legendary masters of campiness and gore.

RELATED: 'Renfield' writer Ryan Ridley describes Dracula horror-comedy as 'a superhero blockbuster'

"I think they go hand in hand, pretty — severed hand in severed hand — pretty well," screenwriter Ryan Ridley said of Renfield's seamless blend of horror and comedy during a set visit interview with JoBlo. "You know, it’s like ... the darker the violence than the funnier the comedy will be, often times ... and that’s certainly my inspiration is ... Sam Raimi and early Peter Jackson and Return of the Living Dead. So, that’s just, like in my creative DNA ... So, it was easy, in theory."

Director Chris McKay (this is his second live-action effort after Amazon's The Tomorrow War) was in whole-hearted agreement, constantly encouraging the practical effects crew to amplify the violence to levels matching — or perhaps even exceeding — that of Raimi's Evil Dead and Jackson's Bad Taste. "He said, ‘I don’t want to go too forensic with it. I want big, over-the-top. If it’s a cup of blood, I want it to be a gallon,'" special makeup effects designer Christien Tinsley told Bloody Disgusting.

"I tried to do as many things practically as humanly possible,” McKay continued. “I like the way it feels. I like shooting on practical sets ... I always like things that feel real. It’s important. I think the acting changes. If you got a priest that’s going to explode in a scene, or whatever it is, everyone’s hyper-focused on what’s happening. You’re not checking your phone."

Armed with an R-rating, the movie also stars Awkwafina (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings), Ben Schwartz (Sonic the Hedgehog), James Moses (Queenpins), and Adrian Martinez (Stumptown).

Renfield arrives on the big screen Friday, April 14. You can pick up tickets right now on Fandango.

Need to satisfy your vampire craving? Check out SYFY's Reginald the Vampire, which is set to return later this year for a second season. Or head on over to Peacock, where Vampire Academy is now in session!