Interview & Review: Pawn Shop Chronicles, a Disturbing Red Neck Romp from Director Wayne Kramer

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Pawn Shop Chronicles” from Anchor Bay Films and Mimran Schur Pictures, presents a frenzied, disturbing trip full of all the conflict, offense, and drama, one could expect in a confederate red neck romp.

Directed by Wayne Kramer, “Pawn Shop Chronicles” stars Vincent D’Onofrio, Chi McBride, Matt Dillon, Brendan Fraser, Paul Walker, Elijah Wood, Lukas Haas and Ashlee Simpson and was written by Adam Minarovich

White Supremacists meth heads, an impersonating Elvis and a dozen Zombie women “Pawn Shop Chronicles” weaves together the demented, bizarre lives of the inhabitants of a small southern town as they walk with the demons that propel them. 

Vincent D’Onofrio plays Alton, the pawn shop owner, who along with his buddy, played by Chi McBride/Johnson, are the men at the gates, the sentry guards over the demonic possession that holds those who enter the town.

Pawn Shop Chronicles” pries open the doors of southern suburbia’s deeply hidden, uncontrolled, life and exposes the slime, mud, gunk, of darkened, evil, haunted souls.

Having the opportunity to interview “Pawn Shop Chronicles” director Wayne Kramer,  below is an excerpt.

Janet Walker: Hi Wayne. Congratulations on the film.

Wayne Kramer: Thank you.

JW: So I saw "Pawn Shop Chronicles." It was interesting. Disturbing to me and interesting. So why don’t you tell me how that came into being for you?

WK: Paul Walker brought the project to me. There was another director attached to the project and he I guess he fell out of the project and Paul and I were busy trying to set up another film we were trying to do and it wasn’t happening for us.

And he said, "'Well until we get this one set up take a look at this. It’s a financed movie that’s ready to go and I think it is something you might like."'  And I wasn’t looking to do such a low budget film because there is usually a lot of aggravation with trying to get the vision on screen. 

But when I read it, it was so crazy and demented and totally like something I might have written in a very different way. And I thought someone needs to bring this movie into the world and I’ll take the heat for it. And um so I said, 'yea, let’s do it' and the only actor attached at the time was Paul.  And I think he was enough to start the ball rolling on the financing and so it happened quickly like that.

JW: So you didn’t have to go through the Director’s audition process?

WK: There may have been a list of directors. When the other directors fell out and I don’t really have the back story on that, and when Paul said, I hear they’re putting their list together, and I may have not even been on that list, and then he said, "'Look I had a great time on “Running Scared” and I think this is who we should go to if everyone’s available."' They may regret it now. (Laughter)

JW: (laughing) I don’t think so. Did you tone the script down one at all? Did the script narrow once you became attached to it? Or was it always so disturbing?

WK: It was always very transgressive. I’m probably the last person to come on a project and say, 'Let’s tone something down' I made very little changes to the script. In my opinion it was what it was and I felt it was ready to go. I added little flashback moments.

There are actually supposed to be a lot more [flashbacks]that showed the origin of each object that was found in the Pawn Shop but we didn’t have the budget to eventually do it. But I added little moments of flashbacks.

What I brought to it [the film was] chronic imagery into the town. I don’t think this is Adam’s actual interpretation and I don’t think this was in the script but when I came on board I said, this town feels like it is a bit like purgatory. 

Everybody who comes into this town, these characters there something morally suspect and dubious about them and they will be challenged given the choice. And if they fail or make the wrong choice or the choice towards evil they will then lose their soul. And for me it was as if Vincent D’Onofrio and Chi McBride’s character were like the guardians to the entryway of the town.

JW: What I found honestly very disturbing were the scenes where the women were held captive and especially in the news and in the media lately. That was a very disturbing scene and can you talk a little about that?

WK: Again the direction I took with that these were again condemned souls who may have,  and this isn’t in the movie, you just have to see it, may have sought ways out of bad marriages,  or whatever sort of whatever they were looking for in their life lead them to the Johnny Shore character. 

Whether someone of them were abducted or answered ads or whatever they weren’t expecting and there is something about this town, it was a choice, they weren’t expecting and then they find themselves in this town and there was something about the imagery. It becomes like people who become corrupted and they are trapped in this town.

JW: What was your most memorable moment?

WK: The most memorable moments. It’s hard to say as every day was jammed packed with having to get so much filming done every day. I enjoyed working with all the actors. It all moved by with such a blur. 

Well, the most memorable moment for me, which will go down in infamy is from behind the scenes.  We were shooting in Louisiana, and we were in a field and myself and a lot of crew members got bitten by those insects jiggers. They basically invade your sweat glands and liquefy your skin and you have to steroid shots and take oatmeal baths and get your clothes washed and basically I had to decontaminate myself every night.

The cast are having the time of their life playing these crazy roles and it is tough to make it all work on a shoestring budget.

JW: You mentioned working with the cast: Describe the casting process.

WK: It follows the usual casting process. You come up with lists of actors that you think would be great for the part and who you are likely to get. They’re certain actors who may be great in a movie like this but are too costly or too busy. So there is a certain area. And it is the same with the movie.

Every agency in town knows the train is leaving the station and because we have hard dates they can also know that Brendan Fraser just happens has a four week window  as you’re doing this movie this may be great for him and he’s not looking to break the bank on what he wants to get paid. 

That’s how the process works. Some actors you go after them and you think they would be great don’t respond to the material and then you get chased by some actors who you don’t think are right for the film. It always lands somewhere in between. And Paul [Walker] was already involved.

It’s very hard for a director if the actor doesn’t have faith in the process.  If you say to me ‘I don’t think you should shoot it that way because I think it will offend people’ or this or that. You need actors who are completely game and trusting you to do the best with the material. And I had that with Paul on “Running Scared” again where we were dealing with very dark environ film.

JW: Okay, so, Wayne thanks so much. I appreciate the time.

WK: Thank you. Look forward to seeing your coverage.


Pawn Shop Chronicles” is well directed and well acted by the all star cast. “Pawn Shop Chronicles” contains scenes of extreme graphic violence and nudity.  Although not gratuitously bloody, the stories are deeply disturbing traveling inside the minds of the modern day sociopath.

Pawn Shop Chronicles” is edgy, provocative and challenging to the senses. With over the top action mixed with realistic satanic influences, “Pawn Shop Chronicles,” delivers a southern fried red neck romp!

Pawn Shop Chronicles” launches onto Blu-Ray combo pack and DVD August 27, 2013.




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