ARROW IN THE HEAD
To some writer/director Jake West burst on the scene with RAZOR BLADE SMILE, for me, he caught my full attention with his new blast of a splatter flick, EVIL ALIENS. Jake and I got the chance to rumble and here's what he had to say about Evil Aliens, his Pumkinhead sequel, a possible Evil Aliens 2 and more!
Congratulations on the success of Evil Aliens Jake! Did you expect it to get that warm of a reaction from horror fans and press?
Thanks, and it’s always an unexpectedly pleasant surprise as a filmmaker when people react strongly to your work. You always hope it’s going to work with your intended audience so when it does it’s a bloody delight, literally in this case! And if audiences after watching the film having been entertained and with a smile on their faces, I think the film has done its job. If they come out bitter and angry that it hasn't address any social concerns or issues, they probably shouldn't have gone to see a film called Evil Aliens!
What was the initial spark that got the EVIL ALIENS idea brewing in your head?
Well everyone else was making Zombie movies and I thought Aliens just make the perfect bad guys… I did a lot of research and it struck me that any intelligent life that has the technology to cross the galaxy just so they can mutilate cattle, dish out anal probes and only ever be seen by highly un-credible witnesses must be plain evil!
How long did it take you to write the screenplay?
Nearly a year.
Any alcohol involved in the writing of the script? If so, what kind?
Chateau Margeaux ’53. You can only really write this sort of stuff quaffing a vintage.
I respect that! Was it always your intention to have the film be a pseudo love letter to Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste and Dead Alive? Or did that just happen?
No the film was absolutely intended as a love letter to the great splatstick films that I was lucky enough to grow up with, and see at the cinema. I thought Evil Aliens was the perfect premise for a balls to the wall splatter flick that harkened back into that 80’s mindset where splatstick flicks did things you just plain couldn’t believe. I wanted to create a feeling of jaw dropping lunacy – a feeling that anything could happen at any moment and that I wouldn’t shy away from ever being afraid of going too far. I think one of the reasons a lot of filmmakers shy away from really having a go at this kind of splatstick material is they censor themselves and are afraid of getting into a juvenile mindset...because let’s face it serious movie critics are generally not very indulgent or kind to this sort of material. But hey that’s one of life’s punishments for having no sense of humor!
Once on set how would you describe the shoot? Smooth sailing or tough as nails?
A real tough shoot. We were on a low budget and that means a small crew working very long hours…and complicated splatter gags take a long time to set up and it’s very sticky and uncomfortable and cold. Lot’s of night shoots, lot’s of stress, very little sleep. You have to be very organized and we had a great line producer in Tim Dennison, and we were lucky enough to have a great investor. Quentin Reynolds who supported my vision for the film – plus some very up for it actors. Believe me there were no moaning luvvies on the Evil Aliens set!
What would say was the more difficult scene for you to pull off?
The combine harvester scene was the most dangerous – especially as the guys in the Alien Helmets couldn’t see where they were going – but in terms of logistics and planning it was actually the liquid manure tank sequence that was the toughest to realize because we needed a floodable set and a lot of er liquid shit. Nice!
Any funny on set mishaps you care to share with us?
Lots of shouting “action”, and watching the Alien performers running off completely in the wrong direction – often into a nearby tree.
Looking back any regrets? What would you do different with more time and money?
No regrets, and with more money and more time everything would have been even bigger and better. However in reality you have to work with the resources you have - for instance we had 150 digital FX shots in the picture which were done by one person and composite by me. We had 5 PC’s in a render farm in my flat. Now some people will complain about the digital FX in the picture and with more money they would of course been better, and we’d have had a whole ILM type team of people on it – but would that have been such an achievement?
I have to ask because enquiring minds want to know (i.e. me). With both Emily Booth and Jodie Shaw in your film why no tit shot from either one of them? Specially when taking into account that they’ve done nudity before.
Simply that they didn’t want to do any….and as you rightly say we’ve seen that from them before….but by gosh that Alien Queen surely makes up for that in my book!
I’m all for an Evil Aliens Part 2, are you?
Yes if the audience wants it I’d think about it…and have a few twisted ideas – but they would require a somewhat bigger budget so we’ll see. Also lets see if there’s any demand for a sequel after it’s gone out on DVD, as that’s after all where the majority of people are going to be exposed to it’s charms! The U.K. DVD release is being handled by Universal and is out on September 25th – plus there’s loads of great extras on the disc. So fans if you lap it up and want a sequel – let it be known!
What’s next on your plate? Any future projects lined up?
Well I’ve just directed the third part in the Pumpkinhead franchise – it’s called “Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes” and is a true sequel to the first film and has absolute respect for the mythology that Stan Winston laid out in the original. Horror fans should be delighted to know we have Lance Henriksen and Doug Bradley in the film, with creature duties being handled by Gary J. Tunnicliffes “Two Hours in the Dark” company. I’m currently in post production on that and it’s coming together beautifully. The film will premiere on the Sci-Fi Channel in the States this Halloween as they co-financed the picture. It may have a limited theatrical release in other territories before going to DVD.
What was the first drink that you consumed at the Evil Aliens wrap party?
Oh a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster of course! Thanks for the interview - keep the faith and watch the sky!
I'd like to thank Jake for the hoot that was Evil Aliens and for pit stopping at the site. Keep kicking that ass bro!