The Arrow interviews Patrick Lussier
Patrick Lussier started off as an editor, cutting the likes of "Nightmare on Elm Street: Part 7", "Scream" and "Mimic". He eventually hopped on the directorial train via "Prophecy 3: The Ascent" to finally go hardcore as a writer/director on "Dracula 2000" and its two sequels. Arrow exchanged a few words with the man behind the 2K fangs and here's what he had to say:
1- What’s your favorite horror movie?
Without a doubt – "The Changeling" – 1980, Peter Medak, starring George C. Scott. Simple and terrifying. Beautifully performed, wonderfully executed.
2- You have extensive experience in editing, especially genre films (lots of Wes Craven flicks). Do you believe tackling that aspect of the cinematic process made you a better director and if so, in what sense?
I certainly believe that my experience editing made me a better director. Especially for budget conscious films where you can’t afford to roll on 27 cameras per shot and shoot until oblivion, blowing out your schedule and your cash. Editing allows me the luxury to focus on the essential pieces to tell the story. The actors I’ve worked with seemed to appreciate that as well, asking how things will be cut together and glad that there’s a definite plan for optimizing their performance. One of the best moments on Dracula 2000 was showing Gerry Butler and Christopher Plummer their confrontation scene in the hallway cut together. Both the actors were energized by what they’d seen.
3- I must admit that I have a keen appreciation for your "eye" from a visual standpoint (love your use of slow motion). Who would you say are your inspirations in terms of direction.
In terms of direction, I’ve take a lot of inspiration from Tsui Hark, the films he’s produced, "Chinese Ghost Story" etc, as well as Guillermo del Toro who I had the privilege to edit "Mimic" for. And these days I think Ridley Scott is one of the most profound influences on contemporary filmmaking. "Blade Runner", its look, tone and feel may have inspired more directors than anything else.
4- The recently released DVD of "Dracula II: Ascension" took a very different path than Dracula 2000 from a narrative standpoint. Was that due to budgetary reasons, creative reasons or a little bit of both?
The story of Dracula 2 was actually the story we wanted to tell on Dracula 2000. The original pitch for D2K was the heist, then the swimming pool experiment (albeit the pool was full of Holy Water and Drac was shackled on a platform in the middle) – with the last 30 minutes being Drac on the loose. Dimension asked Joel Soisson and I to create the sequel based on that original concept, perhaps initially because it was a more budget conscious concept, but also because it was a more unique idea. We were thrilled to finally get a chance to make that movie, both of us believing that it could be a successful story to tell.
6- Was the awesome Gerard Butler approached to reprise his role of Dracula or was it always intended that another actor would play the part?
We didn’t actually approach Gerry because we knew he wasn’t available. It would’ve been wonderful to have him but from the conception of the film, Joel and I assumed that Gerry’s career was taking off and he would no longer be an option for us. That’s why we structured Drac 2 the way we did, with Dracula basically regenerating and regaining his strength over the course of the film, allowing us to bring in a new actor (in this case, Stephen Billington).
7- Having loved the character of Uffizi in Dracula II, I must ask...will he ever get his own series? If not…he should!
We completely believe Uffizi should have his own series. Joel and I have talked to Jason Scott Lee about it and he’s game. Dimension’s slowly coming around to the idea, but absolutely we’d like to follow up with his character, it’s just too rich not to.
8- You’re also set to direct the killer scarecrow flick "Totem" written by "Jason X" scribe and all-around cool dude, Todd Farmer. What kind of tone will you be going for with the film? Will it be jockey, dead serious, excessive, subtle?
Todd Farmer is amazingly cool and talented and if you don’t believe that, he’ll be the first to convince you. Working with Todd was the best part of the "Totem" experience. Unfortunately, the project is currently without a home and waiting to see if it can find some adoptive parents. We’ll see what happens over time.
9- Any cast attachments to the picture yet? If not, can you divulge us with who you’d like onboard?
There are any number of actors who’d be wonderful in the film. It’s got a quintet of great roles that could easily attract strong performers.
10- If successful, does "Totem" have franchise potential? Would you capitalize on it?
I’m not sure how franchisable it is. That would depend on a few factors. Maybe.
11- "Dracula IIi: Legacy" will also be upon us soon. Rumor has it that its set in space. Can you confirm that rumor?
Space? No. Romania. Yes. The movie’s basically a take off of "Heart of Darkness" following Uffizi and Luke as they track Dracula across a country under martial law where vampires are slowly taking over.
12- What will you be aiming for to make this second sequel stand out?
We’ve aimed to make Drac 3 the stand out of the trilogy. Each story is different than its predecessor, with the third installment being the darkest.
13- Rutger Hauer is set to play Dracula in Legacy. Although I’m a fan of his, isn’t he a bit too old to play an immortal vampire? What was the reasoning behind his casting?
Think of Dracula as Kurtz. Then you’ll see why Rutger works so well. When we first pitched the concept to Dimension, we pitched the idea of Rutger. They loved that. We were fortunate to get him and he delivers a unique and powerful performance as an immortal who has become so bored with his own debauchery that he yearns for one last great challenge. That challenge will come in the form of Uffizi.
14- Upon repeat viewing, "Dracula 2000" has become a cult favorite of mine. Question: looking back, of all your films as a director...which one are you the most proud?
There’s moments, scenes, etc I love in all the films I’ve been fortunate enough to make. "Dracula 2000" has some of my favourite scenes (the fight with Simon and Marcus in the loading dock particularly), but Dracula 2 probably has the tightest story and of the two sequels, runs a close race with Drac 3 as to which is better (ultimately it just depends on who you ask). Drac 3 is my favourite of all of them because of the characters’ journey. Where Uffizi and Luke end up and what they have to do will hopefully be surprising and gripping to the audience. Dracula 3 has the best ending.
I'd like to thank Patrick for dropping in. I, for one, am looking forward to "Dracula III: Legacy" and "Totem" (you go, Todd!) Little "Arrow" preaching for good measure: for all of you who didn't appreciate "Dracula 2000" on your first watch-- I encourage you to give it another shot. It worked for me!