INT: Patrick Lussier
Patrick Lussier has been involved in some incredible horror films as an editor. Often times he has worked with Wes Craven on the SCREAM franchise and WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE. As a director, he took on DRACULA 2000 and also WHITE NOISE 2: WHITE LIGHT. But it is with MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3-D that he really shows that he can make a thrilling slasher flick that is loaded with action, gore and nudity. It is more fun then I ever imagined a remake of the original could be.
When I sat down with Patrick at the W in Westwood California, I really had to thank him for not messing this flick up. I am a big fan of the original. Sure, I realize it is not a great film, but for me, it is a terrific horror film that also happens to be finally getting released uncut on DVD. Patrick and I talked about the original and we also talked about remakes in general. He is a very nice man and he had good enough sense to make MY BLOODY VALENTINE exactly the movie it should be. Look for it coming at you in 3D. And even if you can’t, you should still check it out as it is a fun horror mystery either way.
You mean the climax upon the climax upon the climax?
It was something that, as we were in the writing process, Todd Farmer and I were kind of going through and we started working that. And the ending was very specific to how we wanted to work you know. There were emotional epiphanies, there was action epiphanies, there was a reveal and a reveal and a reveal and how that worked and who you thought the killer was. You know, we thought the original had done such a great job in it’s presentation of how the mystery worked. We really wanted to capitalize on that. We really wanted to capture that same feeling. You know, having edited the SCREAM movies with Wes [Craven] and what Kevin [Williamson] wrote, I knew the power of the murder mystery in the slasher genre. I wanted that here. So we calculated that pretty specifically and built it and structured the whole story to drive towards those moments. We literally kind of, once the writing was done, we kind of realized where we were going to end up and we retailored everything to back us into that sequence.
It is interesting that you kept so much from the original film.
And I liked that. My problem with remakes in general is either they’re the exact same thing or…
Yeah, or where did they get the title from…
Yes! I was shocked at how well it all worked and the 3D was amazing. How difficult was that to work with?
Well you know, 3D was a challenge because none of us knew anything about it a year ago. We went to a crash course in 3D. We shot a 3D test and realized that the potential for this movie, specifically with this story and this setting, was perfect. To take it underground and to shoot in that kind of claustrophobic depth. The grocery store, the mine, all those things are perfect for 3D. And it was the kind of thing that producer Jack L. Murray and Brian Pearson, the DP and we were just like, oh my God… somehow this decision to make this movie in 3D, which was a business decision, couldn’t of been more perfect. Because this movie and this story is ideal for 3D. And we just went into it as far as we could and we tried to push the envelope on it as best we could. Everyday as best we can.
It was a business decision?
Well it was a decision that, you know, we want to remake the movie but we think if we remake it as a 3D movie, we can make an event movie. We can make it a movie that is not just, in competing in the marketplace, it won’t just be like the remake of PROM NIGHT. This can be something that takes the genre and takes the experience of watching this movie to a whole new level. That we can make this the theme park, kind of thrill ride, but a full feature length version. That we can make something that is fun. That is kind of the ultimate date movie. And that was very much on their minds, that they wanted it from that perspective. And as we started working with it creatively, we realized that this was ideal in every way possible. Not only from a smart business sense, but from a story stance, from audience participation living in the story, it couldn’t have been more perfect. There was a great synchronicity of events that made it all collide together in the best way possible.
Obviously I’ve heard that you’d do a sequel if it is successful…
Yeah, we’ve been talking about it.
I can’t imagine it not being successful because I think audiences will love it…
And there is nothing out…
The original film was one of those films to come out from that time with absolutely no sequel…
No there was never another… it was strange because the original was notoriously kind of cannibalized because of its MPAA woes. It was a real Canadian Tax Shelter movie. It was released by a major studio, which a lot of these movies weren’t. Paramount had the FRIDAY THE 13th franchise so they focused on that. This was kind of the bastard step child for them. It was like, we have that, why would we want to do this? But the Miner is such an amazing villain… he’s so iconic and he’s so, Darth Vadar meets Norman Bates meets Travis Bickle kind of villain and he’s incredible. And to be able to bring that to life and resurrect that, thanks to Mike Paseornek from Lionsgate who was an actual executive on the original film. He had wanted to… he knew the power of this character, knew that it was worth bringing back. For twenty some odd years had it in the back of his mind to do it. And he couldn’t figure out how to get the rights out of Paramount. If memory serves me, it was when they got THE EYE for Paramount, they made part of the deal was MY BLOODY VALENTINE. Because he knew that there was something… there was a real goldmine to be tapped there. And he was right.
Well at the same time though, it’s kind of risky because SCREAM came out and said, no you can’t do this and you can’t do that.
And you do that.
You do all of them.
We do all of it. I told Kevin that we talked about SCREAM over and over while we were making the film, about the things that we could and couldn’t do. And the fact that, okay, we can’t be as self-referential as SCREAM, we can’t do that. That’s for that movie. But we wanted to make a movie that… you know, Kevin was inspired by all of those slasher movies from the Eighties, and that is what we wanted to do. We wanted to go back and make a horror movie that was fun, a true Friday night movie where you are gonna go and have a great time. And one that was scary and entertaining and fun and thrilling and all of those things. And Lionsgate completely embraced that and when they saw what we wanted to do, and what they wanted to do as well, they were thrilled with the outcome and allowed us to do that. And again, thanks to Mike and his seeing that potential. Because he was there with the original. He knew what that was. He knew what that period of movies were. And how powerful they were for the audience and how much fun they were. And in the last couple of years, the horror movies have kind of gotten a lot… either they’ve gone the J-Horror route or they’ve gone this whole kind of dark, kind of torture… which is not necessarily fun to experience.
Not necessarily, although there is a place for that also.
Absolutely. But if THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS is the ultimate kind of torture movie, and Silence of the Lambs was brilliant, I loved it… but it has incredibly engaging characters and a wonderfully complex story. And other movies that kind of fall into that and just kind of focus on the torture and not the character, those are beginning to get a little tiring.
Do you think audiences are ready to deal with a horror film that also has the romantic sub-plot and the love triangle?
Absolutely. I think… because they always are. I think that the best thing about the original, the triangle… other than the killing, I think the elements of that its about kids in an industrial town, they’re not even kids, that’s the other thing. It is one of the things that resonates for people. That story of unrequited love, the three pointed love triangle goes back to cavemen. You know, people have been telling that story. And that’s why it works so well, because you hook audiences into something they know. And something they know intuitively to the core of their souls. Because that’s part of life. And so, to be able to kind of tell it, kind of a twisted version of that, was wonderful.
Again, it was cool to see all the elements of the original that worked here in this.
Well we talked about it repeatedly. About what we were gonna keep and what it was that is so important to pay homage to. The hanging miners outfits…
Yeah, exactly. You know another thing that I found quite refreshing, was the lack of boo scares for the sake of an easy jump.
Well that’s a problem with so many ghost movies, you know, having made one or two. It was a thing you fought against, and frequently the masters who pay for things want more of those. And you’re just like, ‘Okay…’
It feels like such a waste…
Well, yeah, because you’re blowing your steam all the time. But with this, we do a couple of them but they are almost immediately followed up by a real scare. And that was a very specific design. And I hadn’t really done that before to see if you can do something like, where you let all of the air out of the valve and to see if you can instantly come back with something that is real and genuine. You disarm the audience and then you smack them in the head.
Now with all these remakes and reboots coming out, would you ever return to the DRACULA series?
Um… you know I certainly… back with DRACULA 2000, we had a much better script then we were allowed to shoot. We shot a much bigger movie then we had time to cut. You know, the movie was six months to the day from first day of photography to being in the theatres. There was no time. The directors cut was three days long. That’s a movie I re-cut in my head all the time. And I think about the original script we had that we had in April which was great. And then we destroyed by June. We remade all the character motivations moronic. The original film the thieves knew exactly what they were stealing… and then we lost a lot which was unfortunate. Because we had a better thing going there. I don’t know if I’d revisit it, we were very fortunate with the cast, you know Gerard Butler was amazing to find… it would be interesting to consider walking down that road but it has to be in the right context so…
I say make MBV Part 2...
We know what he would do if we were to do that. I still have a few twists and turns, even though you know how it ends.
Let me know what you think. Send questions and/or comments to JimmyO@JoBlo.com.