Posts Tagged ‘ horror ’

Director Fede Alvarez and Co-Writer Rodo Sayagues talk reimagining “EVIL DEAD,” in theaters tomorrow

Director Fede Alvarez (right) with Shiloh Fernandez on the set of TriStar Pictures' EVIL DEAD.

Director Fede Alvarez (right) with Shiloh Fernandez on the set of TriStar Pictures’ EVIL DEAD.

Writer Fede Alvarez from Uruguay makes his directorial debut tomorrow with his reimagination of “Evil Dead,” a movie made famous by successful horror film director Sam Raimi in 1981.

After his short film “Panic Attack!” received praise and recognition in the Hollywood arena, Alvarez and his childhood friend, co-writer Rodo Sayagues, penned a brand-new script under the supervision of co-producers Bruce Campbell and Rob Tapert.

More than three decades after the original, small budget “Evil Dead” was released, Alvarez and Sayagues spoke with myself and two other reporters at a round table at SXSW 2013. They talk about the advantages of taking on a horror movie classic, working with practical effects, and what their creative process is like having been best friends for so many years.

Q stands for a question posed by another reporter, and AG stands for a question asked by me.

Q: The reaction to this film was tremendous. What was it like sitting in with that audience?
FA: It was such a bizarre reaction to it, because we’ve shown it before, when you do test screenings. It was just once, because it was very well-received. We got such a high score that you got to see the director’s cut. Usually, the first test you do is with the director’s cut, and the audience bashes it to pieces. Then the producers say, “We’ll go and take over from here,” and they turn it into some weird thing that is a mix of what the director wants and what the producers want. This time, it didn’t happen that way. We showed the director’s cut, and there were scores higher than ever for the studio. That’s the movie that everyone is going to see in theaters. That was a crowd that didn’t know what they were going to see. Half of them were EVIL DEAD fans; they’ve seen the original. Half of them didn’t know what it was. It was awesome, but it was way scary. There were some walk-outs and people that said, “I cannot handle this.” I heard that. In general, it was more on the fun and comedy side that is definitely there. I loved that. For me, when I watch it, I laugh all the time. I enjoy it in a different way. For other people, it’s super scary. I don’t know what it was for you guys, but I think that’s the beauty of EVIL DEAD. That’s why some people say EVIL DEAD is a comedy, and others are like, “What? It’s a scary movie!” It’s up to you.

Star of the film,Jane Levy (Suburgatory) in TriStar Pictures' EVIL DEAD

Star of the film,Jane Levy (Suburgatory) in TriStar Pictures’ EVIL DEAD

Q: The way that you were talking about the test screening and the director’s cut versus the producers’ cut and all that, sounds like you’re very familiar with the process.
FA: No, I learned it (laughs). I learned a lot, of course. Three years ago, we’re in Uruguay doing shorts and nothing like this, completely away from Hollywood. I would never even have dreamed of making a Hollywood movie, but suddenly that short was done and ended up getting a lot of attention in Hollywood. We started learning on the fly.
RS: We did learn through experience, because everyone was warning us how hard it was going to be. It was hard, but everything was supposed to be hell. “Developing your script is going to be hell,” but it wasn’t. “Oh, production is going to be hell,” but it wasn’t. “The shoot is going to be hell,” but it wasn’t. Nothing has been hell so far.
FA: Hopefully it’ll make money (laughs).

AG: For it being your feature film debut, undertaking a Sam Raimi original, did you feel any sort of pressure going into it? Did it influence you in any way?
FA: No, I think it empowered the movie, though, definitely. There’s an EVIL DEAD title instead of being something people don’t know about. Making your first film and having people so eager to watch your film, it’s a blessing. Usually, when it’s your first film, you have to raise everything uphill, try to convince people everywhere that it’s good, showing it somewhere and getting distribution. It was a blessing for it being my first film and having people talk about it, for good and for bad. The previous stage was a process, but at the end of the day, it was amazing. The biggest challenge was to have my own style and my own voice as a director on the film, because the original people knew so much about the style of Sam Raimi and everything. I wanted to make sure I didn’t repeat anything. There were a couple of moments in the movie where I was quoting something truly, and it made me feel bad to my stomach, really and honestly. I was like, “Oh, why did I do this?” I think there is one shot that I hate in the movie, when Jane shoots David and we cut outside the cabin and there’s a camera running towards the door. It felt so much out of the original, like 100 percent. The cabin, the light, and I just felt like, “This is wrong, this is wrong.” That was a challenge, to keep my own voice and my own personality in the movie as a director, not falling for the track of “Let’s just do what he did.” I don’t know if I succeeded or not (laughs).

Q: Were there any moments when you were shooting and looking at the script and thinking, “How am I going to do this?”
FA: Many (laughs).
RS: It’s so easy to write on a page. I mean, it’s not easy, but when writing the line, “And then she cut her arm off. Period.”
FA: That’s easy to write, but so hard to shoot it the way we wanted to shoot it.
Q: Especially with practical effects.
RS: Yes, especially the last sequence where it rains blood. We were absolutely convinced it wouldn’t happen, ever. We just wrote, “It starts raining blood for 20 minutes.” We were like, “Forget about it, it’s not going to happen.” It turned out it was possible.
FA: We had a great team. We had a great team of people working on the movie. As a director, you depend on your team. You need to have a great effects team and the practical team. You need those guys to be on your side and to believe in your ideas. Most of all those meetings start with me saying, “Okay, this is the way we’re going to do it. We’re going to have one shot, and it’s a long shot. We never cut, and we see her from every angle, go very close, and then she’s going to cut her arm off. We’re going to do it how they never do it. We’re going to show 100 percent, from a wide angle, so there’s no tricks. We’re not hiding anything.” Everything starts with, “What?” Everybody is like, “No, no, there’s no way, this guy is crazy.” Then, we find a way, evolve, if you keep your vision. Some directors would be like, “You know what, let’s do some green screens, a green arm or whatever.” They were cool enough to believe in that idea and those visions. Every one of those gags were a nightmare to conceive. You’ve seen movies hundreds of times and they are all done in the same way. They worked in the past, but we really wanted to push the boundaries there and make it a different way.

Alvarez on set in Thailand

Alvarez on set in Thailand

Q: So was that the influence to go practical versus CGI?
FA: I wanted the actors to witness real things, so when they react, they have better performances. Mainly, the reason why we didn’t use CGI was because CGI makes movies dated. They make movies old very fast. Avatar doesn’t look so good anymore. Even the best CGI ever will get old very fast. We have a responsibility with a movie like this one, that is not going to stand alone but stand next to three original movie classics. They are classics, because they are timeless. You watch them today, and it’s a movie that is super enjoyable. The first one dated, because it was campy and low budget, but the techniques they used didn’t. That’s why we wanted to do the same thing. If we put some CGI, it may have been great today. It would have sucked in five years. We didn’t want that.

AG: Since this is your first film, what kind of message do you want to give audiences everywhere? What kind of director do you want to be known as?
FA: No message. It’s just a movie. People will get what they get. It’s just… we don’t make movies to send a message. We make a movie to have fun making it, and we enjoy the writing process. I don’t think we ever do that. Hopefully, though, the message will be a good one.

Q: What do you enjoy more, the writing process or filming?
FA: The best part was probably the original creation, when it was just the two of us in the living room going, “How are we going to do this?
RS: The brainstorming. That’s probably the best part. It’s very exciting. Over a month throwing out ideas. You come up with one idea and you kind of wait. We’ve been friends since we were kids, so the way we work is, one of us will come up with an idea, and who knows. It’s an exciting moment where we come up with an idea at 3 a.m. and you can’t wait until the next day to call the other guy.
FA: The other one is like, “Ummm, I don’t know about that one (laughs). That’s the good thing, I guess. We have a healthy creative process where he can pitch me an idea and I can tell him, “Oh, no, that sucks big time,” and he’s like, “Oh man, you’re right.” (laughs) That’s fine, because usually, that’s the creative process that works instead of “That is a great idea, I didn’t think about that,” and all that bullshit. We don’t do that. I think that helped it turn out to be a more honest movie.

Bruce Campbell and Rob Tapert talk EVIL DEAD at SXSW 2013

evil dead mpAUSTIN — The producers of “Evil Dead” had a lot to be nostalgic about as their film premiered at SXSW 2013. Bruce Campbell appeared in and co-produced the original “Evil Dead” with Rob Tapert in 1981, and original “Evil Dead” director Sam Raimi helped co-produce this time around. Since Raimi is busy promoting “Oz the Great and Powerful,” Campbell and Tapert sat down with myself and a couple of other journalists to talk about what it was like returning to the “Evil Dead” world.

Bruce Campbell in the original "Evil Dead" in 1981

Bruce Campbell in the original “Evil Dead” in 1981

(Q stands for a question from another journalist, and AG represents a question from myself.)

Q: You were on set, obviously, for the original trilogy. Did you get on set here?
BC: Nope. I had a day job. Burn Notice.
Q: Did you see any of the dailies?
BC: Of course we saw dailies. We saw everything they turned out. Rob was on set. He was there, so he saw it first-hand. Sam [Raimi] and I, from a distance, were still watching.
Q: Was it kind of a kick to see the progression of the practical effects from then to now?
BC: Yeah, but it takes a long time to finally see the finished version. It’s not until they finish the effects that you can finally say, “That either worked, or it didn’t work.” It’s only recently when we were like, “Cool, that worked.” We had a pretty good idea, but we still had to fine-tune plenty of things.

AG: Even though you weren’t physically on set, how fun was it for you to be back in the “Evil Dead” world?
BC: Very good! I was working with Sam and Rob [Tapert] again, I always run into these guys through various things, but this time we actually had to get on phone calls together and talk about the script and run through it like that. Rob was very involved in the actual production of it. We came and went whenever we could.
RT: Post-filming, we brought it here, we did the previews, worked on the sound all the way through.

Q: Why did you film it in New Zealand?
BC: Because Rob’s the king of New Zealand.
RT: I was down there working on something else. It is less expensive, but it was also very easy for me to be there and keep an eye on it.
BC: This is Rob’s world. I mean, these are good crews. I’d put a New Zealand crew up against anybody as far as discipline, ability, craftsmanship. Those guys are really good. I remember I went to direct a “Hercules” episode in the early days. I went to move a table on set, and I about threw my back out. It was a real wooden table. They hadn’t even learned how to fake stuff yet. Like, “Here, you want a wooden table? Here’s your wooden table.” I’m like, “God damn!” So, they’re good craftsmen, and their job is to support Fede. It’s a good place to work, New Zealand, and he’s from Uruguay, so whatever.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about the preparation for this film?
BC: The script was everything. We know that know. We’ve been around long enough to know that the script is everything. It’s your blueprint for your movie. The trick was just to have Fede pitch us a tone and a story. Together, the four of us would have long conversations. He’d come back with something, and we would slowly work up the script. Then, Rob mostly had to determine whether we could afford to shoot, based on the budget. It’s always a dance of creative versus monetary.
RT: But it was the easiest movie I’ve done in a long time. It went really smoothly. Fede knew what he wanted and was able to communicate as a director. The most important thing a director can do is tell you what wants, how he wants you to do it, and how he wants you to do it again differently, and you can understand all those things he says.

Q: You guys put this cast through the wringer.
BC: Oh, they should’ve been there for the first one (laughs).
Q: Was it difficult to find this cast?
BC: Chemistry is an amazing thing. It either works or it doesn’t. When we got further into the casting process, we did start to put people that we thought could do the part with other people we thought were good for the part and then just saw how they reacted. Sometimes right in the room you go, “All right, good.” Shiloh [Fernandez] and Lou [Taylor Pucci] did a lot of auditioning together, and they had to be the two guys in the movie who were close with each other. In the room, it worked. That’s what can put it over the top. You might have someone who looks good with this person, but they have no fucking chemistry whatsoever, and two people can be very unlikely and have great chemistry. Chemistry is everything.

Q: Sometimes there is a weak link in the cast, but I think they all knocked it out of the park.
BC: Look, guys like Shiloh had a tricky part. He’s not the obvious hero. He’s a guy who has flaws. He’s a coward, and he’s a little weak-spined. He couldn’t muster up to see his mother when she was sick, and it’s just not his bag. Greatness is forced upon him. He’s not the ripped guy, Dwayne Johnson getting out of a Jeep like, “Hey, how are you guys?” That’s not what it was. It was one of those tricky things. I give Fede credit for writing a character that was that obtuse and slightly flawed.

Q: Was it difficult to fight the temptation to cast some known actors or was it pretty easy to find these guys?
BC: We had pretty much total control of casting. The distributor, Film District, they wanted us to have one person. They were very happy to have Jane [Levy] in that role, and Jane had the most physically demanding part. Her attitude on set help set the tone for everybody else. They saw “Oh, she’s really going through hell doing that. If she can do that, when my turn comes, I can do that. I’ll get through it one way or the other.” So that was really great. Within everything else, we pretty much had freedom to – the distributor, as they always do, that’s the only thing they asked us for. “We’d like one person that we can book.” Can they get on Kimmel? (laughs)

AG: Was there any anxiety or pressure revisiting the “Evil Dead” now that it has this huge cult fan base?
BC: The pressure was the same as the first three. As partners, the three of us just tried to make the best movie we could based on that script at that time. It was no different. We were just making another “Evil Dead” movie. That’s why I call this a new Evil Dead movie. To me, it’s not a remake or a prequel or a sequel or re-imagining. It’s just new, or another Evil Dead movie. People wanted it. They’ve been pressuring us and hassling us for years.
RT: Now that it’s in the marketplace, actually the horror genre. It’s different than anything that’s out there in a way. I think it’ll be a welcome relief to people who actually like horror. It’s something different. It’s familiar if you like “Evil Dead,” but it’s different from what’s currently out there. It’s kind of an old-fashioned, hard-hitting horror movie.
BC: The parents of the kids that see this movie will still go, “Okay, cool,” because it’s going to look like effects from the 70s. You know what I mean? Their parents are not going to know, it doesn’t feel like a “modern movie.” It just feels like a movie.

Q: How satisfying was the crowd last night? They ate it up.
BC: It’s everything you need to hear. You need to hear people laughing and talking back to the screen like, “No, no, no, don’t, don’t, don’t!” I mean, there was legitimate dread. One of my favorite sequences that played last night is when Eric is walking into the bathroom to see what’s going on, and you hear this weird sound. The audience is like, “No, no, no,” and he keeps going, “Are you okay?” The audience was like, “No, she’s not okay, she’s not okay!”
RT: Everyone was laughing.
BC: They did! That’s the thing. You can’t worry about people’s reactions, because it’s in the moment. They’re like, “Fuck no, she’s not okay.” That’s great. That’s a reaction where you know the audience is paying attention.

AG: There were these two big guys sitting on both sides of me, and the guy to my right was slouched over covering his eyes and the guy to my left was like, “No, nah-uh, stop!”
BC: They punch each other! We watched screenings the other day with a bunch of football players. Whenever they got scared, they were, “You got scared! No, you did! No, you did!” (enacts punching)

SXSW 2013: EVIL DEAD Round table #1

Premiere at the Paramount Theater March 8, 2013(Photo Credit: Alex Gonzalez)

Premiere at the Paramount Theater March 8, 2013
(Photo Credit: Alex Gonzalez)

AUSTIN – Three decades after Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead” violently tore itself into the hearts of horror movie buffs the world over in 1981, Fede Alvarez makes his directorial debut with a “rebirth” of the film. This year’s “Evil Dead” premiered to much applause at the Paramount Theater on Friday night.

I got to sit down with a couple of other journalists to talk with the cast, director, writers and producers for round tables the next day, and here is the first. Cast members Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, and Elizabeth Blackmore talked about “zombie classes,” the original “Evil Dead,” and working with practical effects.

(L-R) Shiloh Fernandez, Elizabeth Blackmore, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas and Jane Levy(Photo Courtesy of Yahoo! Movies)

(L-R) Shiloh Fernandez, Elizabeth Blackmore, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas and Jane Levy
(Photo Courtesy of Yahoo! Movies)

AG: So how are you enjoying Austin?
LTP: I’ve actually only been here less than 24 hours, and I’m leaving in four hours. It’s been crazy. I got a pilot, so I’m working in New Orleans. Like, right now. Literally, it’s starting in two days. They didn’t want to let me go.
EB: We went to Stubb’s on Thursday night.
LTP: They did. I wish I had been able to. Stubb’s is iconic. The first time I came here, I went to Stubb’s. Amazing. Then, I go home, and I look at my mom’s kitchen. On the stove, there’s Stubbs’ face. Like, what the fuck? They started bottling his barbecue sauce after I was there, not before, so I’d never seen it before. I was telling them all about the best barbecue ever, and now everyone can have some.

Q: So I don’t know exactly how it works for you all, but when you got the script, did you know right away that you were interested in it?
LTP: Immediately, I was not interested at all. I didn’t want to do it at all. I thought it was a terrible idea. Why would you remake Evil Dead? It’s so good. Someone was just showing us the Rotten Tomatoes score. The old Evil Dead is still at 100%. It’s a perfect friggin’ movie in some ways. So yeah, I didn’t think it was a great idea. It was written like we were 30 years old. The characters were a bit older than us by like five to ten years, so I was like, “I’m not right for this.” When it came down to it, to get the callback, Bruce Campbell was going to be there, and I just wanted to go meet Bruce Campbell. And then shit happened.

AG: What kind of influence did the original have on your interpretations of the characters?
EB: I actually hadn’t seen the original. I didn’t know Evil Dead, didn’t really know what it was. I hate horror films. They scare the crap out of me! When I got the role, my boyfriend made me sit down and watch the original then. I think we were given so much freedom. Having Bruce and Rob there, I feel like it took care of that. For us, they gave us the freedom to make something beautiful.
LTP: We were safe. We were in such safe hands. You can’t be in better hands than with Bruce Campbell being a producer on it.
Q: Was he on set with you guys?
LTP: No, he wasn’t there.
EB: He was filming. Rob was there most of the time.
LTP: To answer your question, I was a huge Evil Dead fan. That’s why when I got the script, I was like, “This is dumb. How are we going to do this? We can’t do this.” But obviously, it was the right thing to do. When I found out they were going to do it all practical, I was like, “This is it. This is going to be so cool.” I can’t believe they even came up with that idea. They were in such good taste.

Q: The practical effects have obviously come a long way since the original. What was it like working with them?
LTP: They came out even better than I thought.
JL: My stuff was pretty much practical. It was a prosthetic piece on my face that blacked out in the middle, and then they put white dots on it to be able to follow it. So the actual inside of my mouth is CGI, obviously. That was not real (laughs). Everything else was practical. It was like three and a half hours of makeup.
EB: I think my most was six or seven hours.
JL: I probably had it the easiest out of everyone.
EB: We spent a day in New Zealand, about a month before we started anything, just getting body cast. I had like five different arms in different positions. We all had our faces cast. He had his chest cast. We spent a whole day doing that, so I knew it was going to be big.

AG: I’m a huge baby. Scary movies creep me out. So what was it like filming? I feel like I’d be scared all the time.
EB: It’s not scary at all!
JL: Really, you’re so uncomfortable, too. You’re just grumpy and trying to make a great scene, wanting to get it as crazy and out there as possible, so you’re more focused on that. You don’t have time to think about it.
EB: It’s just not scary. It hurt, because you’ve had your arm folded for three days, and the blood is sticky. I got allergic to my prosthetics, and my face was all fat.
LTP: It was hours and hours and hours in makeup and all that. So no, it wasn’t scary, but it was fun. You had to keep up the fun and keep up the energy, and that was about it. That’s really the hardest job the whole time, having to do that where you look scared again.
EB: Like, how many ways can you look scared? We got to take three, and I was like, “I’m not scared anymore, what else can I do?”
LTP: “What other faces can I make?”

Q: Did you guys have to do a lot of takes for each scary reaction?
LTP: Sometime yes, and sometimes no. Sometimes it was very little. It was minimal. But some days we would work for five days on one scene.
Q: Which scene?
EB: Guess (laughs).
LTP: It wasn’t action-y, but there was a lot of stuff to do. And even those days, we’d still only get like a take or three takes.
JL: We didn’t do a lot of takes ever. They would spend a lot of time setting up and all that.
LTP: We spent a lot more time on wides than on close-ups.

Q: This is kind of a big breakout for a lot of you. I mean, Fede [Alvarez], this is his first big film. Was there a feeling of that on set?
LTP: I definitely felt that was the coolest thing. Knowing the original Evil Dead so well, stepping onto the set that first day was like stepping into the old Evil Dead. It was the same house. It looked the same, and I was in that house. That was cool and scary. That was cool.
JL: I never thought about it, really.
EB: I think you’re safe with Fede. You knew he was going to make a really cool film.
LTP: The biggest thing when we got there was he wanted rehearsal time. He wanted to get us able to work with these people who were doing a sort of interpretive dance, yoga-zombie training, so we could learn to move as if we were being marionetted or something.
EB: We spent a day writhing on the floor.
JL: There’s tape of us doing crazy, weird stuff with our faces and bodies.

Q: There was an actual teacher?
LTP: Yes, a zombie teacher.
EB: She was a choreographer.
JL: We just learned to move our bodies.
LTP: How cool is that? They thought to do that for us. We didn’t ask for it. We just got there, and they were like, “Okay, zombie class is tomorrow at 1:00.”
JL: It was great, because I think we all felt like kind of anxious about that. How do you act like a zombie? We were trying to figure that out.

Q: If you all want to apply for “The Walking Dead,” you have that on your resume now.
LTP: I know! It was easy then, though, to really get to know each other, because we were all on the ground going like (enacts a seizure). They were like, “Okay, the poison is going through your body, so you’re on the ground again.” Interpretive improv dance zombie stuff.

Q: You just kept coming back, you never died.
LTP: (laughs) Seriously, Wes gets stabbed, like, 30 times.
AG: It reminded me of “Pineapple Express,” how Red never dies.
LTP: (laughs) Yeah! That part, though, with the crowbar, that was nasty.
EB: That was awesome. I really hurt the stunt guy that day. I bruised him so bad. They gave me a crowbar! It wasn’t a real one. It was firm, but the core is still metal. They were like, “Beat the shit out of him,” so I did. I cracked his rib! I had contacts in, so I couldn’t really see what I was doing.
LTP: That was the thing, you couldn’t see anything most of the time.
EB: I didn’t want to hit his head! It was sick.

AG: Obviously, this was really physically grueling for you all, but emotionally, how did you prepare?
LTP: Like I said, I just needed to have fun. It was really about keeping that energy fun and not making it too heavy. It was already written pretty heavy. It’s a detox and all that, so we all had to just be light with it.
JL: We knew what we were getting into, too, so nothing was that surprising to me.

Q: Was this the first time you saw the final film?
LTP: Yeah.
EB: First time ever.
JL: Good audience, and they were really into it. It was nice.
LTP: Insane. I thought it was going to be at the Alamo Drafthouse with 150 seats, and then I walk into the Paramount with 1,200 seats.
EB: I didn’t know there was a balcony!
JL: Me neither!

Michael J. Bassett talks Silent Hill: Revelation 3D

In theaters October 26, 2012

This Friday, the sequel to the 2006 movie adaptation of the game series, Silent Hill, will be released in theaters. In Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, Heather Mason (Adelaide Clemens) and her father (Sean Bean) have been on the run, always one step ahead of dangerous forces that she doesn’t fully understand.  On the eve of her 18th birthday, plagued by horrific nightmares and the disappearance of her father, Heather discovers she’s not who she thinks she is.

Michael J. Bassett, a fan of the game series himself, was brought on to write the screenplay and direct the film. After directing several other horror films like Solomon Kane, Deathwatch, and Wilderness, Bassett had his work cut out for him with a sequel to the cult-hit, Silent Hill. The English screenwriter and film director spoke about his life-long fascination with the horror film genre as well as what it was like creating a Silent Hill movie that all audiences can enjoy.

Michael J. Bassett at Comic Con 2011 talking about Silent Hill: Revelation 3D

AG: You’ve directed several other horror films. How did you get into the horror genre? Is it something that you’ve always wanted to do or did you fall into that?
MB: Oh no, I’m a horror fan. You end up making movies you enjoyed as a kid, I think. I grew up in the mid-80s when VHS movies were first available. You could rent movies. I remember cutting school as a teenager with a bunch of friends, renting a whole lot of horror movies, and just spending all day watching horror movies instead of going to school. I remember being caught by my head teacher — the principal — and he said to me, “What possible use is this going to be to you as an adult? What job can you get where this will be any good to you?” I wish I could see him now and say, “It seems as though it was really useful.” (laughs) Because that’s what I love. Half of me wanted to be a veterinary surgeon, and the other half wanted to be a filmmaker. I ended up going down one route and not the other. I like all sorts of genres, though, not just horror. I love horror. I love thrillers, sci-fi, and fantasy, so Solomon Kane was a fantasy picture with a kind of horror beat running through it. A film like Silent Hill is much more directly a horror movie. It has twisted visuals; it’s going to scare you, put you on the edge of your seat, and make you jump a couple of times. It does all of those things a horror movie should do.

AG: I’ve read that you’re a fan of the games, so what was it like for you to be able to write the screenplay as well as direct something that you’re such a big fan of?
MB: Knowing that I was going to get to play a role in a film about Silent Hill was really exciting. I was a fan of the games. I’ve been playing them on and off since they first came out in the mid-2000s. I remember playing the game for the first time, seeing my friends play, and just being blown away by the new ideas and the visuals. It was so exciting. Then, to work with Samuel Hadida — he’s the producer who also worked with me on Solomon Kane – was great. He made the first Silent Hill movie, and he said to me, “I want to make another one. Would you be interested?” I was really excited. It’s a big challenge, though, because you have to make a movie that is not just for Silent Hill fans. It has to be for people who don’t know Silent Hill, who just want to have a great movie experience. They don’t want to study it, they don’t want to go play the games, and they don’t want to see the first movie. They just want to enjoy a great horror movie. So I had to do three things: I had to write a script which was a sequel to the first movie and made sense continuing the story of the little girl from Silent Hill; it has to be an adaptation of one of the games themselves, so we used Silent Hill 3 as a basis for the story; and it had to be a story which you don’t need any knowledge of, that you can just enjoy with a bunch of mates or your date on a Friday night and have the crap scared out of you. That’s kind of three jobs for the script, so it was a big challenge. It was very exciting but difficult.

AG: I actually read up a little on the Silent Hill game series, and it all seems very complex and intricate. How did you go about, like you said, basing it on the games but also making it clear for an audience that doesn’t know about Silent Hill?
MB: The key was that you had to start with the foundation story. It had to be a continuation of the story of a little who’s grown up – she’s turned 18 years old – and she’s been plagued by nightmares and memories that she’s been suppressing. Her father, played by Sean Bean in this story, is keeping her safe, moving her from town to town, because they’re afraid of something that he won’t tell her they’re afraid of. Her story, the story of a girl discovering who she is, she has to find out where her father disappeared to. In doing so, she has to return to this place called Silent Hill where all her nightmares are coming from. That is kind of the basic story. From there, I began to put more complex ideas in, which was bringing in the mythology of the game, and just layering those on top of the basic story, a simple story that everyone can understand and you don’t need any knowledge of Silent Hill to enjoy. So it’s just a question of layering everything in, one thing on top of another. Then, when we finally put the film together, we looked at it and said, “Can everybody understand that?” I think they will.

AG: Are there any horror film directors that you kind of looked to for inspiration when going about directing this film or any of your other films?
MB: Oh, I mean, obviously I’m inspired by loads and loads of different filmmakers. Ridley Scott is one of my great heroes in terms of his great visual style. When I was cutting school and watching those horror movies, the guys I was watching were Wes Craven, John Carpenter, some of the great horror filmmakers. I ended up working with Wes Craven years later, and I told him the story of cutting school, watching the original Hills Have Eyes and being told off for it. He started laughing when I told him, and I thought, “Years later, and here I am sitting with Wes Craven.” I mean, the truth is, you try and stay original to your own style, so visually, I’m influenced by the games. The games of Silent Hill are beautifully put-together, so I tried to capture that world for the audience. There are some good horror movie directors out there now, but right now a lot of the horror is found footage or it’s stuck in a very domestic, realistic world like a house or a street or something. One of the things I liked so much about Silent Hill is that they’re creating a whole new, original world. She starts in a regular town, but she ends up in a place that is just really twisted and dark, with the walls peeling, and this kind of rusted world of monsters and strange corners and freaky ideas. That was a kind of exciting thing to do as a filmmaker.

AG: You wrote the screenplay as well as directed it, so what was more difficult? Writing the screenplay or finding out how to direct it? Which do you enjoy more?
MB: Well, the thing is, when I’m writing, I just want to be directing. When I’m directing, I’d rather be at home writing (laughs). I’m never fully satisfied. The great thing about writing your own script is that when you’re writing, you have a sense of what you want it to look like. Then, when you’re on the set, it’s much easier to communicate that to the actors or the crew, because you know what you meant. Even if the have to make compromises or changes along the way for whatever reason, you’re working for a position of understanding very clearly. So that’s the kind of great thing. The other thing, the disappointing thing, is that the director can’t always do what the writer wants. So you have to be prepared for a little bit of disappointment, but it’s a great thing. It’s often tiring and very hard work, but it’s the best job in the world.

AG: If you could turn any movie that’s not in the horror genre into a horror film, what do you think that would be?
MB: A non-horror movie into a horror movie? (laughs) Wow! It would be like taking a great romantic comedy and turning it. Let’s take When Harry Met Sally. The other thing is, though, that there are so many other great things out there to adapt as well. So rather than taking an existing genre and making it something different, let’s take some of the stories that haven’t been told and do those.

AG: Speaking of which, what would be your dream horror film project?
MB: There is a great game, actually, called Deadspace. It’s fantastic. It’s terrifying. It’s science fiction, which I love. There’s some brilliant stuff to be done with that. I think some smaller horror is actually more interesting. There are a few scripts of my own that I’m desperate to get off the ground now. I’ve been doing TV recently and Silent Hill before that, so I need to make some time and figure out how to get my own stuff back to the screen. I think some deep, psychological horror is very interesting as well as the monster stuff. Silent Hill has a bit of both.

AG: When it comes to directing for the small screen and directing for the big screen, what’s the biggest difference?
MB: One of the things that are interesting right now is that television is sort of doing more interesting things than feature films in terms of budget. The budgets are getting a little better, but what I’ve discovered, really, is that it’s time. Television is done much quicker. You have to make choices faster, and you don’t necessarily get the luxury of stopping and thinking about it, trying something again. You’ve got to be confident with your first decision as the best decision. That’s the challenge. I mean, a lot of movies are done on a short schedule with a small budget. What I also think is great is that people’s televisions are getting bigger and better, so now you can shoot television much the same way as you shoot feature films for the visuals. So the worlds are not that different. The nature of storytelling is a little bit different, but as a director, you’re still trying to make something that is visually impressive, compelling, and does something new for the audience every time.

AG: I’ve actually noticed that on TV, there are a lot more “scary” shows, like American Horror Story or The Walking Dead. Are there any of those types of shows on TV that you’re a fan of?
MB: Oh, I’m a huge fan of The Walking Dead. We didn’t get American Horror Story in the UK until quite later on, so I haven’t really gotten into that one yet. I mean, some of the visuals are fantastic. The Walking Dead is the one everyone is really going for at the moment. I tried out Grimm and stuff, but they’re not quite dark enough for my taste. I think horror on TV is something I’m really interested in doing more of.

AG: What kind of TV show do you think you would love to do?
MB: I could tell you, but I’ve got a couple of ideas I’m developing. I like action, and I like horror. I want to do an action horror show.
AG: That actually does sound like The Walking Dead. I love that show.
MB: It’s got proper action, but mine will have more action than that.

AG: Well, do you have any last words for the readers here in Houston about you or the film or any upcoming projects?
MB: Silent Hill: Revelation 3D comes out this Friday, so I hope everyone sees it and enjoys it. It’s a different experience from the regular horror movies. It’s not Paranormal Activity, it’s not Insidious, and it’s not Sinister. It’s a horror movie on a sort of grand scale. If you like your monsters, you’re going to get a lot of monsters.

Carrie – First Official Teaser Trailer

Carrie                                           In theaters March 15, 2013

So I’m always a little skeptical of remakes, because some of the originals are such classics that they should be left well enough alone. Carrie is one of those films I watched as a child (mostly because I wanted some more John Travolta aka Danny Zuko in my life), and it scared the life out of me. Most Stephen King adaptations do, because they are so simplistic in the way they terrify you. “They’re all going to laugh at you” was stuck in my dreams for weeks! Anyway, when I heard Carrie was going to be remade, I wanted nothing of it.

However, when I read that Chloe Grace Moretz was going to play the titular character, immortalized by Sissy Spacek in the original, I decided to give it a chance. Moretz is a personal favorite of mine. After watching Kick-Ass and Let Me In, I realized this little girl was headed for big things. She is beyond her years in acting ability, and she transforms into any and every role she is given. Knowing she’ll be taking on the character of Carrie gives me hope. So does the first official teaser trailer below. Here’s hoping I’m not disappointed! What do you all think?

Fernanda Andrade talks The Devil Inside

 

Fernanda Andrade stars as Isabella Rossi in The Devil Inside, on DVD May 15, 2012

The Devil Inside, the story of a woman taking a deep look at Catholicism and exorcism, makes its way to DVD on May 15, 2012. Fernanda Andrade (Fallen) stars as Isabella Rossi, and she searches for the truth behind her mother’s psychotic break.

In 1989, emergency responders received a 9-1-1 call from Maria Rossi confessing to three brutal murders.  Twenty years later, her daughter Isabella (Andrade) seeks to understand what really happened that night, traveling to the Centrino Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Italy where her mother has been locked away.  When Isabella recruits two young men to cure her mother using unconventional methods, they discover the horrifying truth.  Now Isabella must face pure evil or forsake her soul.

Andrade was kind enough to sit down and talk about her character, Isabella, the frightening concept of exorcisms and religion, and what it was like going home after filming.

AG: Your character Isabella travels to Rome to visit her mother who killed 3 people during an exorcism. She has obviously been through a lot in her life. Was there any sort of personal connection to the character and/or her story in any way?
FA: Yes, and no. I think that I cant even pretend to have gone through the traumas that Isabella went through. I think her enduring that kind of a big event that marked her life, I don’t think that has anything to do with my life, thankfully, but I think that the way that she dealt with it, the strength of her character, it’s something that I’ve always admired in people. So in a way, I think I gravitate towards her, because even having been so broken by these events that happened in her life, I think she still had so much strength and so much hope and such a resolve to find the truth. I don’t know if it’s something that I want to have or aspire to have, but it’s something I wanted to get a hold of, so I hope so!

AG: Religion is a really touchy subject. What was it like working on a film like this?
FA: Really touchy! It was, I think for me in particular, I grew up in Brazil, I was heavily Catholic, my grandparents are Christian, I went to a Catholic high school, and so all of that, all of   those ideas and terminologies were deeply engrained in me. I think, like most people, once you go to school and you grow up a little bit, you kind of develop this cynical outlook and this kind of a rejection of it for a while. I think that once I got to this movie and had to look at all of that and what that meant, from a place of hope, and from a place of “This might be Isabella’s saving grace, this might be the answer,” I realized I had to look at everything really differently. I had to try to wipe away all my preconceived notions and the things I thought I knew about it. That was really valuable, personally and for the work. I think it’s really valuable to start from a blank slate, but it’s also really cool to learn to do that in life, you know? To look at something with fresh eyes.

AG: What was it like working on a scary movie like this? I feel like I would have nightmares when I go home from work!
FA: That’s exactly what it was! (laughs) You go home to horrible nightmares, you can’t sleep. You have dreams also. I had a lot of really strange nightmares and then I also had a lot of really comforting dreams, like everything is going to be okay dreams, and then terrible ones. I think it was everywhere. I certainly didn’t sleep very much! We were working on strange time schedule that your body doesn’t know when to wake up, and when to stay awake, but I think all of that was really fitting. It helped.

Andrade as Isabella with her mother Maria Rossi in Italy

AG: Did you do any other research on Catholicism or exorcisms? If you did, what surprised you or interested you the most?
FA: I think what surprised me the most was when talking to and reading, I read a book called “Interview with an Exorcist,” I read a lot of the interviews that Matt and Brent did with the experts and things like that, and I think what surprised me the most was how much of a process and how practical it was, how really there’s a very specific process that they follow for this. They’ve been following for ages. It’s something that’s been in the religion, and not just in Catholic religion. Exorcism is something that has been in pretty much every single religion in the world and is still practiced. That was really eye-opening and really curious to me, that in this day and age, it’s such heavy practice. What that means, the degrees of that, I think this movie explores that a lot. I think that was the interesting part. Yes, there’s all the exorcisms that Isabella experiences and goes through, but there are also other degrees of that she had to face when she talks to the doctors. You know, is there a psychological level to this, is there a personal level, are there triggers? All of these questions were so exciting to me and so juicy, and that was the most fun and the most disturbing at the same time!

AG: This film combines the documentary style of movies like Paranormal Activity and then the really scary subject matter of The Exorcist, and those are two really monumental films. Have you watched either of those movies, and what was it like seeing those two come together in the final product of this movie?
FA: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve watched both those movies, and they’re classic and wonderful. I think it was really cool to watch The Devil Inside, because I felt like when you read something and then you have something in your head then watch it, it’s not very often that it’s so similar, but I really did feel that way with the movie. It read the way it came out, and that’s wild to me. You can never really say that about projects. It was really cool, because I feel like The Devil Inside was kind of that part, for me, the part that you didn’t get in those movies. I think The Devil Inside was different in the way that it just kind of drops you in there and lets you watch it to a totally uncomfortable level, where you go, “Aren’t you going to cut away from this? Come on!” In that way it was really completely new to me. I think we’re used to a certain rhythm of a film. The Devil Inside throws you in the room and lets you watch that and experience that, to a level that hopefully didn’t feel like you were in a movie anymore. It felt like you were in those rooms, and that’s not always the most comfortable place to be, but it was definitely a new intention.

AG: Being a Hispanic, how important do you think it is in today’s society – Hispanics becoming the majority minority – that you landed the lead in a really big box-office hit like this?
FA: It’s crazy right? I think it’s so important. I didn’t even really see that until I saw it, until people just started noticing, and I realized how rare that is. I think it’s wonderful, and I hope it opens doors for everybody in the way that so many people have opened them for me. You know, I think it wasn’t for people before me, I wouldn’t have gotten to take this place. Hopefully that’s a snowball effect, that it will open more doors and make more room not just for Latino/as, but for any kind of person to play any kind of role, because I think we’re a lot more the same than we are different. Hopefully that inches us a little bit closer to that realization.

AG: You want to help open doors for people like people opened them for you.  Who is your biggest inspiration when it comes to Hispanic actors or actresses?
FA: Oh I have so many. I think anybody, for me particularly, the big ones – Penelope [Cruz], Javier [Bardem], Gael Garcia [Bernal], and Diego Luna – they have all come from their actual countries into the U.S. and have taken that step. I admire that so much, because they came from a really safe place that they were so respected in their country. They took the risk of coming into a new place and starting all over again. I have deep respect for that. In a way I think that’s what my parents did when they moved to the States. I think that risk, when anybody takes it, when anybody has the courage to abandon everything they know and start anew, that opens doors for everybody else. It gives you that courage, the power to say, “Well, he did it so maybe I can do it.” I think that includes work and movies and hopefully this.

AG: Do you have anything else to say to the readers about yourself or about the movie that I didn’t touch on? Anything on the DVD that should be interesting?
FA: Buy the DVD! I think it’s gonna be really fun to see what new stuff is on the DVD, what extra information is on the DVD. I think they should be excited about that, because there was so much went into making this movie, so many questions and interviews and information that we didn’t get to share all of just in the movie. It’s going to be really fun if you’re interested in the topic. If you’re interested in how the movie happened, go and get it and check it out. I can’t wait. I haven’t even seen it, so I can’t wait.

The Devil Inside: Ysamur Flores Talks Demonic Possession and Exorcism

In Theaters: January 6th, 2012

A chilling new tale of demonic possession and exorcism, The Devil Inside, was released in theaters this past Friday, January 6th. Combining the styles of the classic that started it all, The Exorcist, with the new-age documentary-style thriller, Paranormal Activity, The Devil Inside tells the story of a young woman who travels to Rome and back to find out why her mother murdered three people during her exorcism in 1989.

Ysamur Flores, a paranormal expert, shares his thoughts on possession and exorcism. With Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Folklore and Mythology from UCLA, he explains the premise of the movie and the fight that is fought between good and evil every day.

AG:  Hello, Mr. Flores, it’s so nice to meet you!
YF: Hi, how are you doing? Happy New Year!
AG: Happy New Year to you, too, how are you?
YF: I’m doing fine, doing fine.
AG: Well I guess we can get started with you telling me a little bit about your field of study. I see you have a Master’s and a Doctorate in Folklore and Mythology. What drew you to this specific subject?
YF: It’s a long story, but basically because I was interested in different cultures and beliefs. I was originally teaching in Puerto Rico, I had a Master’s degree in education, and, you know, Spanish culture is very rich in folk traditions. It was just a logical move for me to move from education into folklore and mythology. I decided to get a Master’s in Folklore and Mythology, specializing in religion and a Ph.D. specializing in African-based religions. So that’s the whole journey.

AG: Since you specialized in religion, what can you tell me about demonic possession and exorcism, which this movie obviously is based on?
YF: Well, the first thing we need to be aware of is that the devil as a figure is a Judo-Christian phenomenon. There are many religions around the world that don’t even have a demon to begin with, but this one is based on a very old Judo-Christian tradition, the existence of the devil, the existence of a rebel angel out to get humanity and to destroy the rule of Heaven, and to create as much havoc as possible. So, of course, because of that, many Christian scriptures state that he has been given free range to act in this world. In many ways, he is assuming the role of the accuser. In Judaic tradition, the devil played the role of accuser. His role was to prove you really meant what you said, if you really loved God, if you were really a good person, a righteous person. Eventually he became a rebel angel who wants to establish his throne above the most high. That prompted his fall, and because of that, he is on earth trying to defeat humanity. Now, he has a whole bag of tricks to do that, and possession is just one of the tricks that he can use to bring about the fall of humanity. The idea was that an evil spirit can enter the body and make the person do things that would violate every conceivable holy tradition there is in the world, placing that person on the opposite side of goodness, on the opposite side of God. That’s why the whole dichotomy between light and darkness is established. This has been displayed throughout history in many different arenas.

AG: Have you personally ever witnessed a possession or an exorcism?
YF: There is possession, and there is demonic possession. There are religions who believe that spirits can possess the body and manifest, and after all, in the Christian church, the Holy Spirit can take possession of people. There is possession in that good spirits can enter the body and do healing, and there are evil spirits that do the same thing except that they just want to ruin everything and destroy the person and everything about them. So yes, I have witnessed that, and I have witnessed people expelling demons. If you walk into any Pentecostal church, you will see that happening probably every Sunday. I mean, it’s very much part of the Pentecostal belief. However, it is not a new thing. The church has been at war with demons since the beginning. The thing right now is that Pope Benedict, our current pope, has ordered the establishment, in 2007, of what’s been called “Exorcism Squads.” He has ordered bishops to find priests who are knowledgeable in exorcism, because in the Catholic church, exorcisms cannot be done by just anyone. The priest needs to be prepared and approach the bishop to conduct an exorcism.

AG: What can you tell us about exorcisms, about expelling demonic spirits, and what can we expect from that process in the film?
YF: The first thing that needs to be done is for the evil spirit to identify itself, to identify that yes, indeed, the spirit is in the body and it is not going to relinquish it. Usually the spirit will come out at the exorcism, the battle royale. Then, the exorcist needs to establish a process in which he will guide that spirit and rebuke him in the name of God and everything that needs to be done to get the spirit to abandon that body. Sometimes, it can take more than one session to expel spirits, and remember that after all, even in the Bible, Jesus performed exorcism and it is said that he expelled seven evil spirits from the body of Mary Magdalene. Also he rebuked some spirits, that he caused them jump into a group of pigs, and then they jumped off a cliff. Exorcism is very well-documented. There are all kinds of prayers, all kinds of paraphernalia that need to take place and be present for the exorcist to take that spirit, remove it from the body, and then the person who has been possessed needs to establish a friendship with God again, in order to become once again holy and prevent it from happening again. They must avoid going back to the same practices or behavior that provoked the intrusion of the evil spirit. This is not new. In the 17th century, there was a very famous case in which a monastery, of all places, a monastery, which is supposed to be a very holy place, the whole monastery became possessed by the devil. It was a scandal, because everything that was not supposed to be taking place in the monastery was indeed taking place, and the devil just made his headquarters there. That tells you that there is no place safe from the devil. No one is safe, unless you walk the straight and narrow. That’s what the whole thing is about. Even if you walk the straight and narrow, though, you’re still a target, because that’s exactly the person that you want, the person that is blameless. For example, we have the temptations of St. Anthony. He is one of the early Christian fathers that went to the desert to pray and to do penance and be closer to God, and the devil just made him ground zero for the attacks. St. Anthony was assailed by every demon in the book trying to break his belief in God. There are many cases that are very well-documented. Just because you are a good person does not mean you are out of the reach of the devil. What you have to do is be a good person, but be aware that just because you are a good, decent person it doesn’t mean you are immune to the devil’s attacks. What the church is saying is a very Latin expression, “Extra iglesia nuna salus,” which means, “Out of the church comes salvation.” So, technically speaking, you have to take refuge in the church to prevent the presence of the devil. Just stay aware that being a good person doesn’t keep you free of the devil’s presence. It is often told in the Christian tradition that the devil even tried to tempt Jesus, so come on. You know what I mean?

AG: So there’s no distinguishing between a good person and a bad person when it comes to demonic possession? Everyone is up for grabs?
YF: Absolutely! The only difference is that if you are a good person, a decent person, a righteous person, at least you have the help of the angels that can help you fight a good battle. You just have to be very careful, because Christ comes before the fall. You can think, “I’m so cool, I’m collected, I’m just so above the devil,” you’re already there. (laughs) When you let Christ in, you open a big door.

AG: I noticed in another interview that you said the devil doesn’t come to earth, that he’s here on earth. What do you have to say about that? Growing up Catholic, I heard the stories of him being a fallen angel many times, but for people who aren’t Christian, who aren’t religious, what can you explain to them about that?
YF: Well, let’s start with the concept of the Christian tradition that the devil owns the world. God gave the world to the devil to try and take it apart, so he is in the world. He is the master of deception. He can turn into an angel of light, so not everything ugly and horrendous is devilish. He can be a gorgeous thing, so you have to be very careful. The devil is always here on earth. He used to reside in Heaven until he was kicked out and thrown down onto Earth. That is why the Book of Revelations is so adamant when it says that the devil will stalk the earth and he will roam free and will be an evil and nasty thing until the great battle, in which he will then be thrown into the Lake of Fire. Then, to add insult to injury, he will be released again. The devil is the master of the earth. He’s going to try to create as much damage as possible to tear humanity away from the Creator, away from the good. Now, I did say that there are some religions that don’t have a devil, who don’t have a hell, because it just doesn’t make any sense, but these religions do acknowledge the existence of evil. They are aware that evil exists, but evil is our creation, we are the ones who create evil. We are the ones who create all this mess, and then we have to fix it. You see, the good thing about the devil, if there’s any good thing about him, is that you can always blame him, like, “The devil made me do it.” At least you are responsible, but misery loves company! You know what I mean?

AG: Definitely. Well thank you so much for your time, this was very interesting!
YF: It’s always my pleasure! Goodbye!