SANTA MONICA, California — Nick Cannon wants Hollywood to start making movies the way it used to.
He wants to see more dream-haunting kiddie fare like "The Goonies," "The Lost Boys" and "Gremlins," where characters battle spectacular beings and are placed in actual danger — and sometimes die. He wants to see more flicks like the ones that thrilled a generation two decades ago — even if he was young enough back then to count his age on one hand.
"This definitely has that 'Goonies' feel," the 24-year-old star recently said of his new movie "Monster House," a shockingly twisted CGI cartoon that also features the voices and motions of Jon Heder, Jason Lee and Maggie Gyllenhaal. "To me, and my generation as we were coming up, that was our cult classic. 'Monster House' will definitely tap into the same younger audience, and they will be able to say, 'This is our style of horror film.' "
Before the kids start making that claim, however, Cannon wants others with fond memories of those '80s classics to know that "House" — produced by "Goonies" overseer Steven Spielberg and "Back to the Future" creator Robert Zemeckis — will also earn a special place in their hearts.
"When you have Zemeckis and Spielberg involved, it's gonna be the next level," the star grinned. "You know it's going to be something cool, and at the same time anybody in your family can enjoy it."
Especially if your family enjoys cowering together in fear, as "House" — which hits theaters Friday — is already gaining a reputation as the darkest CGI animated film yet.
"It's so different, because it's like a horror film and it's animated," Cannon insisted. "It [takes place] close to Halloween, and this house can actually ruin Halloween, because it's haunted and it's eating everybody in the neighborhood. Some kids try to stop the house from eating people.
|Nick Cannon's In The 'House'
See the actor chat leotards, "Captain EO" and more in this interview. And don't miss clips from the spooky CGI flick, including an exclusive glimpse.
Much like "Goonies" or "Gremlins," the film takes off when a dark secret is uncovered — and naturally, the adults are skeptical.
"The police officers roll up on them, and clearly these kids are talking about the house eating people," Cannon laughed, explaining where his character comes in. "They're like, 'Yeah right, kids.'
"I had an opportunity to go as big as I wanted to go," he said of his outrageous line readings. "That was really fun for me. ... I was just able to let loose."
Cannon gives what might be the funniest performance of his career as Lister, an eager rookie cop teamed with a jaded veteran, voiced by "The King of Queens" star Kevin James.
"We play the town law enforcement, and I'm just like this young overzealous officer that's looking for some action," Cannon explained. "[My partner is] just looking for the nearest doughnut shop. He can't wait to get off work. He hates me, because I take everything way too seriously."
It was hard for either actor to take anything seriously, however, when it came time to film the live-action segments that would eventually be painted over with the same cutting-edge technology that yielded another Zemeckis hit: "The Polar Express."
"There was no real wardrobe," Cannon said. "You would just have to put on this little Richard Simmons leotard thing, and then they had Velcro all over it, and they put all these dots all over your little leotard. Then they put this plastic helmet on your head that had dots on it, and then they put this Hannibal Lecter-like mask on your face. They'd put dots all over your face until you looked like [Pinhead from] 'Hellraiser,' and that's when you went to work in this environment where there was, like, 200 cameras all around you."
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"The funniest thing in the world was seeing Kevin James in a tight leotard outfit with dots all over his body," Cannon laughed. "The jokes just come off the top. We looked like the number 10 standing next to each other, because I'm all skinny straight up and down, and he's round. It was hilarious.
"I would have to say I looked better in a leotard," he added. "I like how I look, and I wasn't trying to pay attention to Kevin and his tights. It was like tunnel vision."
As silly as the process might sound, the finished product is much more "Corpse Bride" creepy than "Finding Nemo" fluff. Characters get haunted by evil spirits, swallowed up by the film's hideous abode and even drowned in concrete. The bottom line: If you mess with the supernatural, you're taking your life into your own hands — a message that dates back to Brothers Grimm fairy tales but sometimes gets overlooked in the rosy world that Pixar has perfected.
"Everybody always has that one house on the block that you don't wanna walk by," Cannon said. "Because the old lady with 13 cats lives there, and she's real creepy, and she'll only be coming out of her house, like, once every year. That's the house that you dare your friends to go up to and knock on the door."
When that house springs up in your neighborhood, Cannon explained, there's only one proper response.
"I was always the kid that would dare people to go in," he laughed. "I would lie and be like, 'Man, I already went in there. There ain't nothing in there.' "
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