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INT: Wes Craven

03.12.2009

Wes Craven has created some of the most inventive and shocking horror films of all time. As a writer/director, he gave life to Freddy Krueger in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET while reviving the character with the under appreciated NEW NIGHTMARE. Add to that several films that rank high on many a genre lovers best lists including THE HILLS HAVE EYES, THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, SHOCKER, THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS and of course, the SCREAM franchise. But now, he is returning to his early classics and producing a remake of THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT.

Wes Craven

Warning: Possible Spoilers Ahead

Were there any thoughts of you directing LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT at all?

No.

Did you have any fear that once you got a director that maybe they would muck it up?

Well there is always that fear. It’s a calculated risk. And we felt, if you have enough time to find the guy, it’s a pretty good bet. Like finding Alex Aja, we had a long time to look and it paid off very nicely. And in this case we had plenty of time, and Cody Zwieg at our company was just looking at hundreds of filmmakers. We got to see lots of interesting films that we probably wouldn’t have even known about for several years. Like LET THE RIGHT ONE IN I saw years ago, you know. And once I saw HARDCORE [Dennis Iliadis] was this guy. He can do something wonderful with this. I don’t know exactly what he’ll do but it’s going to be great.

I sort of liked what he did with the rape sequence, in that he sort of pulled away just a little, and for some reason it made it more powerful than it could have been.

He pulled away from it in what way?

I feel that he kind of… well with the original, you felt kind of down and dirty with what was happening. This one, there was shots that moved throughout the forest as it was going on. I didn’t feel like I saw as much, which in some ways made it more disturbing.

Hmmm… I’ll have to go back and watch it again. I remember concentrating a lot on her face, but there was a thing where they carved his name on her chest which I think was just so nasty. But the most powerful moment to me was when he finally climaxed, and his face is just pressed against hers and he just looked like a beast in the forest. I mean, he gets up and this drool is… and it’s just like… I like what David Hess did with that, which was what we were trying to go for, where the moment that he triumphs over her, he is utterly defeated. He realizes he has just gone down to this despicable level. And even the people with him don’t respect him anymore, or feel like he’s in control of the situation himself. I really thought that Dennis caught that really beautifully. He did bring an artistry to it though and the use of music was really fascinating because nothing was like… if you listen to the score, it’s not like you are listening to the score of a horror film. Its these long beautiful things that in some ways, allowed you to endure that, without feeling like it was being exploitative.

Well it’s funny you mention the score, that was one of the strongest parts of the film. I think the score is perfect.

Yeah, its remarkable. And his temp music was along that line. This almost… it was very sort of electronic and you feel like you’re just in a terrible dream, you know. But in a very effective way that you didn’t feel like it was a typical exploitation affair of, okay, now we’ve gotta have a big “sting” here.

Yeah, there were no [loud music crashing] moments, the music scares that drive me insane whenever I see a film.

Even when the father goes in the upstairs room looking for Krug and you see Krug in the background, it’s not like [more loud music]. He respected the audience enough to say, they’ll see him and they’ll realize it’s bad news.

Audiences are smarter than people think sometimes. Now you seem to be pretty internet friendly. Do you feel unnerved or angry about some of the comments that are posted regarding you remaking these films, when people say you’re just doing it for the money or whatever? What is your reaction to that?

Well, you know, sometimes there are certain types of people that given a little power, reveal true ugliness [Laughing]. With anonymity they can say really vicious things. But you know, so what. So what. But at least people are talking about it and sometimes it’s good, sometimes its kind of distasteful but it just means that people are really passionate about it. And overall I think its a good thing.

There’s a friend of mine who is a huge fan of yours, always has been, but she said she will not go see the film.

Tell her to see it. Tell her I said she should see it [Laughing]. Tell her… I’m serious [Laughing]. Because it’s not like the other film will be replaced, this is just another totally different treatment of the same kind of basic story.

Well, I’m not a huge fan of remakes but I have liked the last three that I saw. At least they kept an R-rating and they just worked for me. I loved the original of this, and I think that when the remake comes out, it ultimately creates a buzz for the original and you find that either a newly restored DVD comes out, or people are at least renting or buying what is already out there.

That’s true. In fact they’re going to be coming out with a new DVD.

The unrated…

Yeah.

But I really do understand the frustration with audiences because too many times they are remaking a product without the love for the genre and simply to make a quick buck.

Yeah, I think that’s the danger and you get kind of crapfests. But if the original filmmakers are there and they are being careful about their choices and respecting this new film, it’s not like you’re going to crank something out at a lesser budget and get it out just to make some money. This is something that we really took a lot of care with. And we turned it over to somebody only after we were very, very sure that this guy was the true, real artist and got the genre, you know. Then it doesn’t have to be crap, you know. The important thing is just to look at it and realize that this… it’s on you to be… you can be as artistic and deep as you personally can go, and this genre will love you for it. It’s not like you have to be stupid or just have breast flopping around, or whatever the hell it is. It will accept as far down as you can go into meaning and all the other things. So you just treat it with respect. Treat the audience with respect. I think it is an incredibly smart audience. I love trying to trick them because it is very hard to surprise them or not have them figure out what you’re up to. So it’s always that kind of fun mind game.

Speaking of surprises, I was definitely surprised when I saw the trailer for this and they seemed to give away what happens to Mari a little. Do you think they were trying to go for the revenge aspect more?

Well our first reaction was wow, they just gave everything away. But you know, the essence of this film is the performances. It’s not, somebody survives, but how is that done and all the details that lead up to that and everything else. And we went to a marketing meeting recently and they started the meeting by going on for ten minutes about how - some of them were ten to fifteen years in the marketing business - how you hope that maybe one film a year will be good enough so you feel good about your job, and most of it they think is crap. And then they said, maybe every five years something comes out that you think is really good. And then once in a career a film comes along that you think is great and this is the film. The guy almost had tears in his eyes and he said, we’re parents here. A lot of us are young parents and this just grabbed us by the heart. So his take on it was, if somebody like themselves - and these were people in their early thirties or late twenties - if we felt that the potential audience watched the trailer and we see a girl being raped and she ends up dead, they’re never going to go to the movie. If they see that she survives, and that the parents get to have a hand in getting these people taken care of, they’ll go to see the movie, and that was important to them. And I think they are absolutely right. I mean, people will see that trailer and probably forget everything they saw, in a way, except that that might be worth seeing. And they’ll go in and say, oh yeah, I forgot that that scared me but I remembered the trailer. It’s been long enough that they forget. Everybody’s attention span is only ten seconds long [Laughing].

Now there was a sequel to both the remake and the original THE HILLS HAVE EYES. Does this story feel right to continue?

My take… I had a shower thought. I joke to my wife about my shower thoughts because when I’m in the shower sometimes I have really great insights or ideas. And it was that it doesn’t have to be, you know there’s been talk about a sequel and there has been talk about following Sara [Paxton] on. And that’s cool but, also I think it could become almost like this is now a phrase like “The Alamo” is an extreme example, where this is our Alamo. This is our LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and it could be almost about anything and it doesn’t have to be tied with following that family so much. Just when you are pressed to an extreme, you know, in your home position, whatever it is… it could be your hometown, it could be any variation of that sort of thing where somebody comes in from outside to an area you think is safe and does something to you or those you love. So yeah, I think so, it’s always a matter of the script and the filmmaker. None of us want to be cranking out sequels for the sake of making a sequel.

Now we talked briefly last time about 25/8. Could you talk a little about what we can expect from it?

Its the story of seven kids who are all born on the same night. And it turns out that they each have the soul of one of the personalities of a schizophrenic from sixteen years before. One of the personalities of a schizophrenic, unknown to the man who was killing people, and hiding in this man and he’s discovered. Chaos breaks out and this man ends up dead. And sixteen years later the kids are… every year they celebrate the night where the serial killer was unveiled and hunted down. And it’s sort of figuring out the mystery of what their origins are and which one of them is the killer. It’s kind of fun. It takes place in a high school, in a whole day and [we have] this wonderful cast of seven virtually unknown kids and this really great kid who’s in the lead role. It’s fun. It’s not like somebody chasing you around the block with a knife all the time. People treat this kid like he’s almost a retard, you know, but he’s not, he’s just innocent. It’s the getting of wisdom and the loss of his innocence that makes him into the leading man. You know, becoming a man in a very interesting way. I’m very excited about it. It’s turning out great and Marco Beltrami just signed on [to do the score]. And we’ve been working together since SCREAM. So it just feels really, really good. And it’s unlike anything I’ve seen. To me, if I like it and I feel like I’m not doing anything that I’ve seen before, that’s always a good sign. It’s nice to be back in the saddle as a writer.

Let me know what you think. Send questions and/or comments to JimmyO@JoBlo.com.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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