Koechner honored to be part of 'Scout's Guide to Zombie Apocalypse'

Acclaimed comedy actor gets zombie treatment in film, new on Blu-

By Tim Lammers, Direct Conversations.com

Acclaimed funnyman David Koechner has made us laugh many times over the years, from the multiple roles during his stint on "Saturday Night Live" to his hilarious turn as misinformed sports anchor Champ Kind opposite Will Ferrell, Steve Carell and Paul Rudd in the "Anchorman" movies.

But as much as the comedy actor has the ability to deliver gut-busting humor, there's one thing that he can't laugh away himself: the ability to stomach scary movies, especially ones with zombies.

"It's hard for me to watch them. They scare me ? they really do," Koechner said in a recent phone conversation about his role as Scout Leader Rogers in "Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse." "I get nightmares. If I watch 'The Walking Dead,' it will invade my dreams, but, ironically, I can perform in zombie movie."

Of course, it helped Koechner that the horror is mixed with some humor with "Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse," new Tuesday on Blu-ray and DVD (Paramount Home Media Distribution). After he's introduced as the happy-go-lucky scout leader, Koechner's Rogers suffers a cruel fate and is turned into a zombie after he is bitten by one of the creatures when a zombie epidemic hits his small town.

Worse yet, three of his scouts (Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller and Joey Morgan) are use their knowledge and resources to fend off Rogers and a growing number of zombies to save the day. Sarah Dumont as stars as the butt-kicking cocktail waitress Denise, who helps the scouts battle the undead; and comic great Cloris Leachman plays a small but hilarious role as elderly zombie.

Koechner, who also recently starred in the Christmas horror hit "Krampus," said part of the appeal of "Scout's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse" to him was director Christopher Landon's inventive take on the script. Koechner said Landon clearly took into account the over-saturation of zombie projects in film and television and gave the genre his own unique spin.

"I think it's really inventive, especially the way that Christopher allowed the personalities of the people before they were bit carry over to when they became zombies," Koechner said. "Whoever you were in real life carries over to who you are as a zombie, which is really cool. Since it's a parody, too, it made it that much more fun."

As a longtime comedian, Koechner knows the worst thing any performer can do is try to be funny, and Landon helped the cast realize the laughs in a fresh, new way.

"There's something for everybody in this film," Koechner said. "There are hidden jokes everywhere, some great surprises, and some jumps in there, too. It's really tongue-in-cheek and a fun romp."

Koechner said part of the fun for him personally was the evolving (or devolving, depending on your point of view) makeup that he had to wear as the zombie version of his character gets massacred over and over again, each time in crueler manner. Of course, the makeup process is a long one, but Koechner fully embraced it.

"I spent three hours every night in the makeup trailer, but I looked at it like, 'I'm so lucky that I'm working with the best people in the business and I get to be their canvass," Koechner enthused. "It was pretty awesome."

Tim Lammers is a nationally syndicated movie reporter and the author of "Direct Conversations: The Animated Films of Tim Burton (Foreword by Tim Burton)."