Fans of Scare Tactics from Syfy can look forward to a mulligan thanks to Netflix.
Scott Hallock, creator and exec producer of Scare Tactics took time out to speak with us about the resurrection of this wildly popular series that will have seasons 4 and 5 shown on the streaming giant beginning on June 29, 2019.
Maybe you have binge-watched everything there is to offer on Netflix. But Scare Tactics is an end-of-the-month game changer as these episodes will be shown completely uncensored and with Morgan at the wheel, which means it’s going to be hilarious.
What is Scare Tactics?
Scare Tactics was an American comedy horror hidden camera television show that was produced by Scott Hallock and Kevin Healey. Originally airing on the Syfy Channel, the premiere episode of Scare Tactics was the most watched cable program in adults 18-49.
Scare Tactics was a huge hit series built on a “boo” with a budget and hidden camera techniques with heavy overlays of science fiction and special effects added for the unwary “victim” of the prank.
The comedy/reality show’s first season was hosted by Shannen Doherty. Later Stephen Baldwin was hired in the middle of the second season. At the beginning of the third season, the show was hosted by actor and comedian Tracy Morgan.
The show has unwitting “stars” cast unbeknownst to them, who are caught off guard and on camera in elaborately staged horror hoaxes involving movie-style special effects and expert make-up.
Unreal moments are staged to feel real, as Hallock and company set up alien abductions to encounters with the undead to brushes with the paranormal.
At the end of it, the audience, of course, is “in on the joke” as the big reveal is a combination of relief, shock and then peals of laughter. Scare Tactics is also introducing a companion series called Behind the Scares that examines true horror stories that inspired classic Scare Tactics episodes.
Who is Scott Hallock?
Scott Hallock is a multi-hyphenate talent who is a writer, executive producer, director, and co-creator of Scare Tactics.
Along with that hit series, he produced and co-created Howie Do It with Howie Mandel for NBC, and served as showrunner for Betty White’s Off Their Rockers on the same network.
Fun fact: Hallock danced professionally on a television show and he was a writer on the New Mickey Mouse Club for a cast that included Keri Russell, Christina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling, Justin Timberlake, and Britney Spears.
Monsters & Critics interviewed Hallock ahead of the Netflix debut of Scare Tactics Seasons 4 and 5 uncensored.
Monsters & Critics: This crazy series got a second life on Netflix. How did it happen?
Scott Hallock: Good question… I’ve met with Netflix a number of times and they’d always been really interested in the show and its hidden camera premise. Netflix [also] loves their analytics. They wanted to put the show on and kind of see how the Netflix audience responds to it because they’re very interested in doing new episodes.
So the hope and the dream is that the streaming of Scare Tactics on Netflix is kind of the gateway to new, bigger, better, stronger, faster Scare Tactics, episodes in the future.
M&C: Well, it’s an interesting thing you just said. Do you want to make the show less benign and more edgy or do you want to continue with the sort of, the vibe that it has, especially as it wound down with Tracy Morgan?
Scott H: I think during the last seasons with him, we had some of our best bits ever. I think the show is at its best when we’re getting people to believe the unbelievable.
So there’s nothing funny about say, pulling a gun and shooting someone in front of someone on Scare Tactics. That’s not inventive. That’s not interesting. But if you can tell a convincing enough story where someone believes Bigfoot is right outside the door or an alien, or some other monster, that’s really interesting.
It is this theater of the mind that we love. Going forward that’s where we want to push the show, not scaring people more because they get the crap scared out of them on Scare Tactics but it is telling more interesting stories. It’s getting people to believe the unbelievable.
I think that’s what the audience really responds to because people love putting themselves in the situation of the victim on Scare Tactics and either saying, “oh, I would never do that or I would totally do that.”
M&C: Would there be a celebrity Scare Tactics?
Scott H: It depends. It’s tough because you know when you do celebrities, you get one shot for it to work and it has to work and so many things can go wrong with Scare Tactics.
It’s like producing a surprise party. Right? There’s so much that goes into it. And if something happens to blow the surprise before the person walks in the door and you get to yell ‘surprise,’ it’s a big let down.
The only hesitation with doing a celebrity version is if something messes up on the way to pranking the celebrity. I think the best way to use celebrities is to help them prank their friends and make them accomplices rather than victims.
Although in that scenario, you can certainly turn the prank around on the prankster and have something go horribly wrong and have the celebrity get freaked out that way.
But, there’s ways to do it. I probably shouldn’t say too much because I don’t want to reveal our sources and methods.
M&C: I noticed that your seasons shrunk dramatically for four and five, which Netflix I believe bought in and is going to be airing. What was that decision based on?
Scott H: I think it was, it was Syfy’s decision and I think it was a financial one. I think just the way kind of the TV business has been moving, a full 22 episode season order is kind of hard to come by. I think it just made more financial sense for Syfy to do a slightly smaller order.
M&C: What was your creative muse when you were growing up and as you became a producer and in business?
Scott H: Well, I was always a fan of comedy and the hidden camera world and Candid Camera started at all.
And the thing we love about what Allen Funt was trying to do with Candid Camera, he was trying to catch people in the act of being themselves. That is the most interesting thing about hiding cameras is that you’re getting people’s real unvarnished reactions.
My creative inspiration and for our creative inspiration for the show, even though it’s scary for one person, it’s a comedy show for the rest of us, cause we’re in on the joke.
I was always a fan of Kids in the Hall, David Letterman, George Carlin, Richard Pryor…and Monty Python of course, or a classic Saturday Night Live. Those things and people really inspired me.
So we were more inspired as to how can we use this kind of hidden camera device to do some really outrageous comedy?
M&C: For the new fans who know nothing about Scare Tactics, how would you pitch it to them?
Scott H: I can’t wait for the new audiences to find Scare Tactics because like you said, there’s a generation out there that hasn’t maybe discovered it yet.
I have kids, my daughters are 17 and 15, and they haven’t watched a lot of the show. They’ve seen some bits. My youngest daughter’s watching it on YouTube and what I would say to the new generation is it’s the most outrageous hidden camera show you’ve ever seen.
It is a hidden camera show with a Sci-fi twist where we help friends scare the crap out of their friends.
Everyone loves to hide behind the door and jump out and yell “boo” right? We like to call Scare Tactics “boo with a budget.”
You might be able to scare your friends doing a little pranks on your own, but you’re not going to be able to scare them with vampires and ghosts and aliens with a mysterious fog that rolls in and covers the farm where you’re working or a demon from the sky that swoops down and grabs up a Park Ranger and flies away.
You’re not going to be able to do that kind of stuff with your friends. You’re not going to be able to have a UFO land right outside in a field where they’re working.
These big things we’re able to do on this show that friends can’t do… the show is just as outrageous and all in good-natured fun.
And we scare people who like horror movies, who like rollercoasters, with the goal at the end of the prank…we want that person to go, “oh my God, that was fun. Let’s do it again.”
And the way they do it again is they set up another friend. That’s where we get a lot of our future victims on Scare Tactics is people who were pranked themselves had such a good time. They want to set up other friends and so we, it becomes this machine that kind of feeds that.
M&C: Of all the people that you work with on this show – if you were to reboot who would you love to work with again?
Scott H: Tracy Morgan was perfect for the show, just perfect for the show. Because it is a comedy show. And, he has an outrageous sense of humor.
Tracy and I had so much fun shooting the host wraps and he just put his own flavor on them and brought his personality to them.
He was also the most collaborative person. As far as the best host that I ever worked with. I love Stephen and Shannon too, by the way. Shannon Doherty and I got along great and I, and I think the world of her, but with Tracy, we just had so much fun.
The first day I worked with Tracy on the show, we were all kind of getting to know each other and doing a few introductions and everyone’s kind of finding their feet. He pulls me aside and he said, “Scott, if I do it wrong. Make me do it again. I want you guys to get what you want. ”
I’m like, “all right, you got it.” We totally got off on the right foot and he trusted me and I trusted him. If, if he wasn’t sure, you know what we were with a line or something, he’d go, “Scott, where were you guys thinking with this one?”
There were times when he would do an intro and I go, “Be as Tracy is Tracy can be.” And it was amazing what would he would come up with and what would come out.
I would love to work with Tracy again. I would work with Tracy in a heartbeat. He’s hilarious and wonderful and giving – just a great guy.
Scare tactics Uncensored begins streaming on Netflix on June 29, 2019.