Interviews: Actor Richard Hochman Talks About The Horror Film Party Bus To Hell

Richard Hochman talks Party Bus to Hell

A party bus en route to Burning Man breaks down in the middle of the desert among a satanic cult. A massacre leaves survivors trapped on the bus, fighting for their lives and panicked that someone is not what he seems. 

Written and directed by Rolfe Kanefsky, it stars Tara Reid, Sadie Katz, Stefani Blake, Shelby Nicole, Ben Stobber, Vidonna Michaels, Richard Hochman, Demetrius Alex, Raymond Gutierrez, and Johnny Molinaro.

Party Bus to Hell will be available April 13 on VOD, DVD and in select theaters.

We had the opportunity to speak with Richard Hochman about making his upcoming horror film Party Bus to Hell. 

TMS: First off, can you provide us with a little bit of background information. Did you always want to act?

RH: Yeah. I’m actually from Los Angeles and I grew up here… I had a lot of friends growing up that were artists and actors, and I just got into it in a proximity sort of way. A lot of them were going to acting classes and were doing commercials and I wanted to be a pinball too, so I kind of got into it learning how to do it that way. And then I was just into movies as a kid and I always wanted to do it, since I was ten years old. I told my parents that I wanted to do it and they put me in acting classes, and when I was around sixteen I started going to auditions and doing some work.

TMS: So you had a lot of support then from your family when you decided to get into acting?

DH: Yeah, my parents were totally supportive of whatever I ended up wanting to do, even if it was acting. I never got the speech that you should do something more, something safer like a doctor or lawyer. They drove me to every audition, they paid for all of my acting classes. They basically considered that my education. The were very supportive and helped me read for my auditions.

TMS: What’s up with Party Bus to Hell? What do you want people to know about the movie? And where can they see it.

RH: It’s coming out on April 13th and will have a limited theatrical release, but you buy it right away on VOD and all other platforms. It’s very much like a throwback, classic ‘80s vibe horror movie with all of the horror movie essentials, it’s got the gore, cheesy jokes, and nudity. It’s a very entertaining throwback cult classic type of horror movie.

TMS: What attracted you to the project? How did you end up being cast? Did you go through an audition process?

RH: One of my good friends, Michael Forsch, was the casting director on it and he was also one of the actors on it. All he did was he got me the opportunity to audition, he sent me the script, he sent me the sides. I really liked the character I ended up playing, I felt like it was a really fun role to play the stereotypical asshole in a horror movie. And also I had never done a horror movie, so that definitely is in an actor’s bucket list to do that. So I auditioned for it and they liked what I did and ended up getting the role.

TMS: The film doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously, almost like a mockbuster would be done. Was this intentionally in the script and in the direction from Kanefsky?

DH: Yeah, I think it was definitely written that way by Rolfe and he directed it that way as well. It’s very much a niche genre feel and that’s the type of movies that he loves to make, and it comes across in the script. It’s a horror film for a very specific audience, so if you know what we’re doing then you’re going to like what you see.

TMS: Were there rehearsals prior to the shoot?

DH: Yeah. We shot in Las Vegas. We’re all from Los Angeles, so the first thing I did was just met with Rolfe and we went one on one through the entire script and the character and made any adjustments that he wanted me to make. And then we did a table read of the whole film in Las Vegas, about one month before shooting. Then the day before shooting, he brought the entire main cast together and we just went over the script one more time. Being a lower budgeted independent horror film, time is really, really key. So when we did some of the more difficult scenes, we had the blocking and everything set up. We shot on a real party bus and it’s a very small space and we really needed to have an idea where we were and what were were doing for all of the scenes on the bus. So, we were pretty well rehearsed, almost like a stage play, before the first day of shooting.

TMS: This was your first indie horror film. How was the shoot and your experience? Was it tougher than other films that you've worked on?

RH: Absolutely, it was more like shooting an action movie. Half of my days consisted of running, yelling, and being covered in blood. I was doing stunts. It was actually very physically challenging, not to mention that we were out in the desert and it was hot. It was actually much more challenging physically than i had anticipated. But, it was cool. By the end of it I was exhausted, but I felt very fulfilled. It was like I ran a marathon with all the days that we were doing.

TMS: What was it like working with Kanefsky compared with other directors that you’ve worked with?

DH: He’s such an experienced director, he’s done something like 27-28 films since the early ‘90s. So, on set with him, he’s a good leader of the crew and just on top of everything. He knew exactly what he wanted out of every scene, every nuance that after day 1 or day 2, if I had any doubts or questions about where he was going they had diminished and I just did what he said. I trusted that he would just let me be a performer and actor and I wouldn't have to think about any other details, because he’s got those completely on point.

TMS: And what about the cast?

DH: We were very much an ensemble, and we have a lot of newer and fresher actors and what was really cool was how prepared and how professional and good the other actors were. It was a big opportunity for both of us and everyone came to the set knowing their role and their character and were ready to go. It wasn't just physically exhausting for my character, it was physically exhausting for a lot of people. There was a lot of prosthetics, there was a lot of blood makeup and that stuff's sticky, it's uncomfortable. When you're wearing it for 14 hours it can be challenging. During rehearsals we are just getting to know each other but we were already making jokes and just hanging out while we were waiting for our setups and everyone was really good. There wasn't like there was one person who just wasn't that good; there was a bunch of good actors on this film together.

TMS: Low budget film productions have been historically known for being difficult and demanding. How was this production on the cast and crew? Any challenges or funny stories?

DH: It was very challenging because there were some locations that were an hour and a half from where we were sleeping, so we were shooting out at a national park so just to get started on the day we had a 90 minute drive to get to our location on certain days. We were shooting outside of Las Vegas and even in April it was like 100 degrees on certain days. Air conditioning was a commodity but we had to turn it off because of the sound on set. Being a low budget horror movie, we didn't have a trailer so it was hot and dusty. If it got windy at all, the dust would make it pretty difficult to breathe in over the course of a long day. But that's low budget, indie horror film making. It was a beautiful occasion though, and well worth it but that was probably the biggest challenge, the elements and where we were shooting. So then during the day it would be like 100 degrees and then in the desert at night time it would get below 40 degrees. So you're bringing thick jackets and not wanting to wear a shirt when you're not shooting because it's so hot.

TMS: Are you a horror fan? Any specific favorites?

DH: I am a horror fan. I became more of a horror fan after I made one. For me it was almost more fun to shoot a horror movie than it is to watch some of them. Last year I really enjoyed watching IT and Get Out, which was obviously the biggest one to come out. Obviously when I watch horror, I am looking for the nuance things and I think about the space of the shoot and also whenever I see the gore and the blood I go "Oh that must have been a pain in the ass." I definitely have a feel for how difficult it was to make it as well as just the pacing and the nuance of things, even in this film there is comedy and Rolfe had jokes that had to be well timed.

TMS: Did he give you any research that you had to do?

DH: We met one on one before we did any read through or rehearsal and we went through every line on the script and we went over my backstory and he wanted me to write a backstory for the character and which when it came to actually shooting, just really helped as far as, it wasn't just thinking about how would this guy act or what would this guy do, it was like, I know this guy. I lent a lot of myself to this guy. My preparation was much more about if this guy was actually in this situation then how he would react. And that was really my approach. I was aware of the tone of the film and the fact there's cheap jokes, tits and gore, and what kind of film it was going to be. Movies like Cabin Fever or Evil Dead, I understood some of the campiness to it as well.

TMS: Can you tell us anything about the other projects that you are working on or planning on working on? Or, anything else that you would like to plug?

DH: Yeah, I produced and starred in this upcoming festival short called Brother and it is a short film about a hit man who lost his wife and child during childbirth and is still having to protect his reckless twin brother, and I play the twin as well. So that's a little short that we're post-production and should be hitting the circuit in the summer. Besides that, I'm just writing and auditioning and will hopefully start doing some new shoots later in the year.