We Chat with the Creator of "Hell's Kitty," a Show Starring a Cat Named Angel
Do you ever look your cat deep in the eyes and become overwhelmed with the soul-shuddering feeling that you are staring right into the pits of demonic darkness?
Nope, neither do I with my cat, Mimosa, as she's a total tiny sweetheart. The Hollywood-based writer Nicholas Tana has come closer to that devilish experience with his own cat Angel, though, and has written a TV show hooked around the idea of a possessed feline. Naturally, it's titled Hell's Kitty.
Billed as a comedy horror web series, you can view the first 13 episodes of the venture over at Hell's Kitty's ghoulish website. (Each installment is also soundtracked by songs like "Chainsaw Kitty.")
With Hell's Kitty's grisly stock rising, I called up Nicholas to talk about how Angel's real-life behavior inspired the show, the dynamics of working with cats on set, and how he'd go about writing cameos for Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub.
Catster: When did you have the idea to create a cat-themed horror show?
Nicholas Tana: The idea for Hell's Kitty started about three years ago. I'm a writer and I had moved to Los Angeles, and I was trying to date women, but every time I brought somebody to my apartment and they met the cat it always ended in disaster. My friends told me I should write about it.
What sort of things would the cat do when you brought girls home?
Not only would she sit in the middle of us and scratch and growl, but she would poop on her shoes if a girl left them on the floor. It was almost like she was marking her territory. One time a girl basically locked herself in the bathroom because the cat was trying to get her while I wasn't paying attention.
Is the cat called Angel in real life or just in the show?
Her name is truly Angel. Her mom was a rescue cat and she was one of three kittens.
What's Angel's personality like when she's off-camera?
She's sweet as anything with me. That's the thing -- she can be such an angel with me and she loves to curl up and hang out and play like a kitten all the time. But she's just very reactive to anyone who's not me and anyone who's a female. She tends to be very dominating in those situations.
What's the most demonic thing Angel has done in real life?
Occasionally, she likes to chew on my books. I had a couple of books on possession and I found a couple of pages torn out of one of the books, and her teeth marks were there. I don't know if she was actually trying to read it or just rip it out.
Does Angel seem aware that she's being filmed for the show?
Absolutely. In fact -- and people on set can attest to this -- she'll take her mark sometimes! We'll be setting up the lighting and need her to stand in a certain place and she won't, and we'll be wondering if it's going to be a problem, but then just as we're about to yell "action!" she'll take her mark.
Doug Jones, who was in Pan's Labyrinth, was on our most recent shoot where we parodied The Exorcist, and he was really impressed by her actions on set. We were meant to be performing a cat exorcism, and as soon as it was ready to film she literally acted like she was possessed and started to growl and scratch.
Does Angel scratch many actors?
Well, I had to have everyone on set sign a waiver! Lee Meriwether, who was one of the original Cat Women, was literally scratched in an episode -- number seven -- and she managed to use a Cat Woman comic that I had to wipe the blood and act through it. If you watch that episode, you see Robert Reed Altman, who's the son of Robert Altman, mention in the closing credits to Meriwether how we've got her DNA now! At some point we plan to auction off that comic and donate the proceeds to a nonprofit.
Does Angel show any interest in watching herself on-screen?
This is funny: She hasn't shown any interest in watching herself on-screen, but she does watch horror movies. We'll be watching a movie and she'll pop up over the television and paw at it, kinda like she's trying to attack the killers.
Would you consider having cameos from some of the Internet famous cats out there?
Yeah, it would be fun to have a number of celebrity cats on the show -- we're just scared whether they'll make it out alive!
How would you write Grumpy Cat into the show?
Grumpy Cat would complain a little bit, but I wonder if Grumpy Cat would get along with Angel -- it would be interesting. I'm sure Grumpy Cat would be all the more grumpier after being made to act in the show.
What about Lil Bub?
We'd have to probably do a supernatural episode for that one. Maybe Lil Bub would supernaturally beam down on our set and Angel would decide to hitch a ride and they'd go on a little trip together -- that would be fun.
Where do you want to take Hell's Kitty in the future?
We really want to build it out as a total franchise. There really hasn't been a possessed cat thing, and cats are really popular. We'd like to maybe do a fully animated TV show, and we're working on a mobile game app where you play a cat who goes through nine levels of hell with nine lives, and we're trying to put the first 20 episodes of the season together and present it as a film.
Does Angel get a cut of the profits for any of these ventures?
Angel gets all the tuna she wants.
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- Meet the Wise Guys behind the S.F. Intergalactic Feline Film and Video Festival for Humans
- We Talk to Dawn Barkan, Animal Trainer for the Movie "Inside Llewyn Davis"
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Learn more about your cat with Catster:
- I'm Willing to Bet That Your Cat Hates Her Litter Box -- Here's Why
- Weird Cat Facts: 8 Reasons Your Cat Likes to Lick You
- Our Best Tips for Getting Your Cat to Let You Sleep
About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world's foremost expert on rappers' cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it's not quite what you think it is.