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Exclusive Interview: Todd Lincoln talks VHS: Viral segment Gorgeous Vortex

02.18.2015by: Eric Walkuski

When V/H/S: VIRAL was announced back in May of last year, it appeared the anthology would be keeping in the V/H/S tradition of having five segments - one a "wrap-around" - each directed by a notable director in the genre: Todd Lincoln (The Apparition), Nacho Vigalondo (Time Crimes), Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), Gregg Bishop (Dance of the Dead) and Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (Resolution). But when the film was released on VOD and in theaters in October, it was curiously missing Lincoln's "Gorgeous Vortex"; curiouser still was that the segment's absence was seemingly without explanation. Had the producers decided it wasn't up to snuff?

Happily, in December it was announced Lincoln's mystery short would be included in the Blu-ray release of V/HS/: VIRAL (it plays after the end credits are finished). Having seen it, it's somewhat clear to me why it lives separately from the rest of the segments: "Gorgeous Vortex" eschews the typical "found footage" format to tell a surreal tale that is almost beyond explanation. Glossy lighting, sexy/dangerous women, strange creatures, bodies strewn about the streets; all detached visions out of a particularly unnerving dream. While the rest of the V/H/S stories are fairly traditional in structure and execution, Lincoln's effort is a wholly experimental trip. That all said, the official line is that "Gorgeous Vortex" was always meant to be a "surprise" entry into the home video release of V/H/S: VIRAL, and that it wasn't cut at the last moment for any negative reasons.

I was fortunate enough to have an email exchange the other day with Mr. Lincoln, so we could set the record straight in regards to "Gorgeous Vortex" and his involvement with V/H/S: VIRAL. In addition, I picked his brain about THE FLY remake that he was attached to all the way back in 2006, his experience making the supernatural horror film THE APPARITION, and what the future holds for him.

So let's set the record straight: Why wasn't your short included in the VOD/theatrical release of V/H/S: VIRAL?

TL: I finished my segment on time, on budget and delivered it at the same time as the other V/H/S: Viral filmmakers. Gorgeous Vortex was the exact length and exact cut that you see today. It was decided to make my film the secret surprise final segment of V/H/S: Viral to expand the mythology and point to a new direction for the franchise.

Were you angry or upset it wasn't included, or did you understand the reasoning?

TL: The release plan seems to have complimented and enhanced the mystery and ominous power of Gorgeous Vortex.

Were you given free rein to do whatever you wanted with your short?

TL: Yes, absolutely. Iím very thankful for that.

Did you ever consider making it more along the same lines of the other entries? In other words, more of a traditional found footage short?

TL: No. I pitched Gorgeous Vortex to the V/H/S producers right from the start as a Non-Narrative, No-Dialogue, Experimental, High Fashion Horror Film. Purposely disruptive and divisive. For this specific concept I wasn't interested in doing a normal found footage or a traditional narrative with the typical horror movie tropes. Instead, it should feel like weíre catching evil transmissions from an inter-dimensional fever dream. The producers were excited about this kind of advanced approach and felt it would also be good to attract new audiences to the V/H/S franchise.

What was the inspiration behind it? Where did the initial idea come from?

TL: I was inspired by avante-garde video artists, fashion photography, old Italian Horror movies, George Lucasís early experimental short films, and the writings of J.G. Ballard and Jean Baudrillard. Iím not sure where the initial idea came from. I suppose I was storing away various concepts and imagery in my mind that began to connect in unexpected ways.

Joseph Bishara, my composer, further elevated Gorgeous Vortex with his haunting original score. He just released the soundtrack album on vinyl and digital download. (http://shop.voidrecordings.com/)

Which V/H/S segment (other than your own) is your favorite and why?

TL: I like all of the V/H/S films for different reasons, and Iím not just saying that. Itís part of the beauty of anthology films... you can pick whatever segment suits your mood, and over time you find that which one is your favorite keeps changing as you change.

Would you like to work with those guys again on something else?

TL: Sure, if itís the right project and right set of circumstances.

Obviously, I have to ask about THE FLY remake you were in line to direct (I'm sure you're sick of talking about it; hard to believe it's been almost ten years). You've said in the past it was basically too "far out" for the studio, but could you specify what exactly was not to their liking? Was it simply too gruesome/weird?

TL: That was so long ago that I donít see much point in discussing it. But it was a cool experience developing THE FLY at Fox. Iím a huge fan of all five Fly films. Especially the original THE FLY (1958) and CURSE OF THE FLY (1965). I have all new ideas now on what Iíd do with the property. The film would be way more far-out conceptually and visually, not at all what people would be expecting, and it would be done almost entirely with practical effects. It would have very little in common with Kurt Neumannís 1958 original or David Cronenbergís 1986 version. Both of those films are classics so thereís no point in touching them. You have to go a completely new direction while still making it feel like a Fly story at its core and respecting the history of the franchise. But I have other films to make. Iíd love to see Fox let Cronenberg make The Fly sequel that he scripted.

Another project you were attached to was THE NYE INCIDENTS - is there an update on that?

TL: We have a terrifying script by Stuart C. Paul for The Nye Incidents, based on the graphic novel by Whitley Streiber and Craig Spector, which is based on true events.

And TWITTERING FROM THE CIRCUS OF THE DEAD, based on Joe Hill's short story? Were you ever officially attached to that?

TL: Yes, I was attached as director and was actively developing that at Mandalay Pictures. Twittering From The Circus Of The Dead is an adaptation of a highly original short story. We never got the script all the way there, but Iíd love to continue to collaborate with Joe.

Let's talk your Warner Bros. movie, THE APPARITION: Did your experience on that sour you to working within the studio system?

TL: Not at all. Warner Bros was not the issue on The Apparition. The Apparition was compromised and watered down every step of the way by other dark forces and nano-managers. Itís a shame, because we had a unique concept, an excellent crew and a great cast. So it was important to me that my next film be much truer to my vision. Iíve had really positive experiences working with producers and executives at various studios, I enjoy the collaboration and love being on the lot. Most of my favorite movies have come out of the studio system. There are bad eggs in both the studio world and independent world, and you become quicker at recognizing whoís a good match and who isnít. Youíve just got to always ask yourself: ďIs the juice worth the squeeze?Ē

What is next for you?

TL: Iím currently directing / producing a secret film project and writing a new feature script. The script is kind of a Psychosexual Sci-Fi Thriller. Iím also exploring new forms of storytelling and world-building in other mediums such as real-time mobile augmented reality.

Thank you for your time, Todd.

Thank you!


"Gorgeous Vortex" Teaser

If you want to see a little more on Gorgeous Vortex, it actually has its own site, which will feature new side-story micro films that tie into the strange world Todd has created; you can visit it HERE. V/H/S: VIRAL is currently on Blu-ray and DVD; you can order it HERE.

Extra Tidbit: It should be noted you can only see "Gorgeous Vortex" if you purchase the film.

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