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INT: Paul WS Anderson

Dec. 23, 2008by: JimmyO

I happen to really like Paul W.S. Anderson. I have a certain affection for RESIDENT EVIL, and I really loved EVENT HORIZON. While not all of his films work for me, Iím always curious to see what he is up to. And with future projects such as another RESIDENT EVIL film and CASTLEVANIA, Iím hoping for a couple of groovy genre entries. But if you are looking for a bunch of cars blowing up, you canít do much better than the Blu-Ray and DVD release of Andersonís DEATH RACE with Jason Statham.

When I got to speak with Paul about this release, plus the Blu-Ray release of EVENT HORIZON, the more I liked the guy. He is funny and just seems like a cool guy that would be fun to geek out with in regards to Seventies horror films. We talked a lot about EVENT HORIZON, we talked DEATH RACE and we even spoke about what is happening with CASTLEVANIA. And as for Death Race, if you own a Blu-Ray player, this sounds like a pretty awesome addition to add to your collection. Seriously, I want to cut my own race sequence. Look for DEATH RACE on DVD and Blu-Ray today.

Paul WS Anderson



Hey Paul, how are you?

Iím bloody marvelous!

Youíre bloody marvelous? You having a fun time talking on the phone to all the people?

Yeah, yeah, I got my movie coming out and it looks absolutely fantastic.

Yeah, especially on Blu-Ray.

Blu-Ray it looks great. Iíve also got EVENT HORIZON coming up on Blu-Ray this holiday season. Iím generally in a very happy mood.

You know, I was just watching part of EVENT HORIZONÖ

On the Blu-Ray?

No sadly, I want to get it though.

Me too. Thatís a movie that reallyÖ you know, Blu-Ray is very expensive and I think, you know, Iím not about to rush out and go buy DUMB AND DUMBER on Blu-Ray for example. But there are some movies, that would really benefit from the improved picture and sound quality. And EVENT HORIZON is definitely one of them.

I agree. Is this going to be a ďdirectorís cutĒ?

Itíll be the same version as the special edition, two disc set that came out a few months ago. I mean, there is no specific kind of directors cut of that movie just because, you know, the stuff that had to be taken out so we could get the R-rating and not an NC-17... they just werenít as good at storing stuff as they are now. There was no real market where you could use that stuff back then. Now, of course there are deleted scenes, extended versions, they save every kind of little post-it note lying on the cutting room floor. But back then, there was no imperative to do that. So unfortunately a lot of that would have been great footage to be incorporated into the movie, but it doesnít exist anymore.

Now, Iíve got a question for you. Youíve revisited RESIDENT EVIL and such, would you ever consider doing EVENT HORIZON 2?

Electric BoogalooÖ [Laughing] I donít know, I donít know if thatís a movie that really requires a sequel. You know, I think there are films that when I was making them, I definitely thought this is part of a franchise. Like RESIDENT EVIL, Iíve always seen that as part of a franchise. But I donít think EVENT HORIZON hasÖ I think it has, I wouldnít say a completed ending, but one of the strong things about it is this question mark that leaves you hanging, but I think thatís the strong thing about it. It has a real following and thatís why people like it. I think if you answer all of the question marks at the end of EVENT HORIZON, I think it [takes away] the power that the movie has and the magic that it has. I think for that reason, it is not something that I would ever really want to go back and do. You know, we were veryÖ youíve got to be very careful about hell and what you show. Because one persons vision of hell is really different from someone elseís. And that was really what EVENT HORISON was all about. You know, to actually see where Miller went, and follow the journey, I donít think would be a really good idea. You know, I like at the end, you donít know whether Joely Richardsonís gone completely insane or not, with the vision of Dr. Weir that she has. I like those open ended things at the end of the movie. Some of my favorite horror movies come from the Seventies where they kind of did that. They kind of left you with question marks at the end and I think that made those movies more powerful, rather than wrap them up with a nice and neat bow, which is what studios kind of insist that you have to do these days.

I tend to agree with you, the Seventies and early Eighties was really my favorite time for horror.

Yeah, I mean, like the end of THE SHINING, it kind of explains some things but it kind ofÖ well itís a great ending. It really makes you think about the movie and about, what exactly is Jack and what does that photograph mean. I like those movies and I liked the way they kept the audience engaged afterwards. It wasnít just about the experience that you had in the theatre, it was about talking and thinking about the movie afterwards. And that is one of the reasons Iím very proud of EVENT HORIZON, it was a very difficult movie to make and the studio would have preferred a more conclusive ending. In fact, they would have preferred a monster running around on the spaceship eating people. But I think everyone is very proud of the movie that we made and weíre happy that it didnít go in that direction.

And now you can look forward to someone remaking it in ten years.

Exactly. And finally put the hideous, slimy monster eating people that shouldíve been in there.

Now speaking of remakes, you also have DEATH RACE comingÖ

Well, I mean, Iíve never referred to it as a remake though. For me, itís always been a re-imagining or a prequel because itís so different to Rogerís [Corman] movie. And Roger did such a great job in that film [DEATH RACE 2000]. I would never really want to ďremakeĒ DEATH RACE 2000 because the satirical humor in that movie works so well. Itís also such a product of its time, I think a straight remake would never have made any sense. So Iíve always called it a re-imagining. Or the way it functions for me, in the Death Race timeline, is kind of like a prequel. You know, the genesis of Death Race. The events of my movie, Iíve always imagined were like, fifteen-twenty years before the events portrayed in Rogerís movie, which obviously shows the more futuristic America, which is present in the 2008 version.

Well you base it in 2012, and a lot of the things happening in the movie are happening to an extent in real life.

Well certainly it is more rooted in reality. I mean, the idea of the privatization of Americaís prisons and prisons being used for profit, well guess what, thatís been happening for years already. The idea that reality television and pay per view will become increasingly violentÖ you can see that. When I first came to America, wrestling was the big thing. Wrestling and Stone Cold Steve AustinÖ and it was just huge. And of course, completely fake. And now, wrestling has faded and you have Ultimate Fighting. In a period of ten years, youíve gone from something that was fake to something where the blood on the canvas is completely real. You know, the violence level is up and the stakes are up as well. And in that regard it is no different than something we see in the movie, which is the gladiators that they would have in Rome. It was pretty simple, it was mano a mano and then the audiences got bored. They needed more spectacle, they needed more excitement. We were very much kind of feeding on things that were happening now and projecting them into the future, but also through the prism of what has already happened in the past.

Very true. Now as for the new release, I actually prefer the unrated version. Which one works better for you?

Well we had to make certain cuts to get an R-rating, so some of the blood had to come out. And I felt, like some of the things we cut, like Natalie Martinez leaning out of the car and hitting the machine gun with the wrench, because of the jammed shell casingÖ I loved that sequence, but that race was running, even in the theatrical version it runs just over twelve minutes. And with that sequence reintegrated, it runs fifteen minutes. And you really, to keep an audience engaged for that period of time, I really felt that creatively the sequence wouldnít be able to continue the momentum for fifteen minutes. Too much of a good thing. ĎCause also, you watch the movie at home, even if you are watching it on Blu-Ray with a great sound system, it is a different experience than watching it in the theatre where the sound it more intense and the imagery is more in your face. Itís a more immersive experience. I think you can take a little less in the cinema than at home. Thatís why I was very happy to put that back in the extended version, because I think itís easier to watch a fifteen minute race. Fifteen minutes was just too much, you know, people would have blood coming out of their ears [Laughing]. Thatís why we trimmed it, not because of the quality of the material, just because of the length of the race. Iím very happy to put it back in but itís not whether I prefer one version or another. I feel that the version released in the theatres was the best version for theatres. I think the version we have now is by far the best version for Blu-Ray and DVD.

How closely were you involved with the DVD and Blu-Ray release?

Oh, very. We locked the picture for the theatrical version in the morning. And in the afternoon we started working on the DVD and Blu-Ray version. So we were still cutting it beforeÖ that was all done before the movie even came out in the theatres. Because the prep time for these things is so long. Iíve always been a fan of giving as much added value to the DVD and Blu-Ray as possible. Iím always all over that during the production of the film. So in the Blu-Ray, one of the added features is in a race where you can kind of cut your own version. What we included was not just the footage from the film but also all these additional angles. Helicopter shots and additional footage that was shot specifically for the Blu-Ray version. And we spentÖ the studio spent about three quarters of a million dollars allowing me to shoot extra material specifically for the Blu-Ray.

Nice.

And you know, that kind of.. .honestly, and Iím not just trying to sell my own movie, but I feel like the features on the Blu-Ray are the best additional features Iíve ever seen on a Blu-Ray.

Now before I have to let you go, Iíve heard about CASTLEVANIA being held up with a possible SAG strike, but the script seems to be in good shape. What are we looking at with the script so farÖ?

Itíll come as no surprise that eighty percent of the movie is set in a castle, and itís Draculaís castle obviously. And the movie focuses onÖ I mean, the thing about CASTLEVANIA is it is an intellectual property thatís been around for such a long time and there are so many games, so many different story strands. But by far the most popular story strand seems to be the battle of the Belmont clan with Dracula through the ages. So that will be what the movie focuses on, it will be the Belmont clan and Dracula all contained within the confines of this kind of, killer, gothic environment that contains all the creatures, tricks and traps that youíd associate with Castlevania. I kind of read on the internetÖ ďoutrageĒ because there is no whip in the movie, and thatís bullshit, you know. Thereís more whipping than in an Indiana Jones convention [Laughing].

Well it also sounds like it will be a more serious toneÖ?

Yeah, itís going to be a scary movie for sure. Itís going to be scary and itís going to be dark and itís going to have these elements of gothic romance to it. Which, if youíre familiar with the video games, just the packaging of the games has that kind of, very gothic, romantic feel to it.

I hope we donít have to wait for too long manÖ

Well, you know, the hold up is the potential SAG strike. I mean itís not just us, it is a whole bunch of movies that are just in a holding pattern. Because you donít want to go into production then have to close down your movie because everyone goes on strike. Hopefully next year there will be a resolution to that and we can go on ahead with it.

Let me know what you think. Send questions and/or comment to JimmyO@JoBlo.com.
Source: AITH

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