INT: Eric Red (2/2)

Last Updated on July 28, 2021

The Arrow interviews
Eric Red

Red is a name that meant a lot to me as I was growing up.
"The Hitcher" and "Near Dark" are two movies that I cherish and the
man’s always been (and still is) an inspiration
I recently had the pleasure of conducting a phone interview with him
and just didn’t want to ever hang up, since I loved talking to him so
much, and wound up with an extra-long interview.
 So instead of going crazy with the editing scissors
and putting it all together in one shot, I decided to put this one out in two parts.
can read Part 1 below. Dig in guys!



Undertow was one of your early scripts.


And it got
made like…pretty later on…I don’t have the date…

It took ten years to get a movie made about three people in a
house and a storm.

I’ve been
following your career since "Cohen and Tate" but after
"Bad Moon", I lost sight of you. "Undertow"
and "Vindicator" I know nothing about.

Actually "Undertow" was before "Bad Moon". I made it for Showtime
and it was the second highest rated film on Showtime in 1996. It was
then released on video.

Who stars in it?

Lou Diamond Phillips, Mia Sara and Charles Dance. Charles Dance
is a terrific British actor.

He played in "Alien 3".

Yeah, and in "Undertow" he plays a psychotic American mountain
man. He gives a tour-de-force performance.

Is it an action picture?

It has action in it. It’s about a drifter that gets washed off
the road during a storm and gets rescued by a backwoods moon
shiner and his wife in the moon shiner’s fortress of a house.
The three of them get caught together during the terrific storm
and the drifter gets involved with the moon shiner who’s quite
psychotic and the abused wife. Gradually the drifter and the
wife get together which amounts to a tremendous confrontation
with the mountain man and his house full of weapons. The last
half hour is pretty much straight action.

And are you satisfied with the final outcome?

I loved it. I shot it in Lithuania in about 24 days. It was a
terrific experience to film. It was critically reviled but was
extremely popular. It’s not a critics film. I don’t know if
any of my films are "critic films".

Yeah, I can’t believe Roger Ebert gave "The Hitcher"
like 0 stars. Personally, it’s a part of my all-time top ten

You have no idea how much hostility "The Hitcher" got in Hollywood
when it came out. People forget. For whatever reason, "The Hitcher"
in particular was a film that really upset the Hollywood
establishment when it came out.

Wasn’t it a hit though?

No, it wasn’t. It didn’t do very well on its initial
opening. None of my pictures have been quote un-quote
"hits" in terms of their release. They seem to gain
their audience and their momentum over a period of years and
also critical respect. "The Hitcher" is now a
critically well-respected film, "Body Parts" is also
pretty much respected and "Bad Moon" is now starting
to get the attention I wish it had gotten when it first came
out. It seems to be something that happens later. It seems to
never happen during their initial release like I hoped it would.

I think that your scripts are very "in your face".
Some people appreciate it and others don’t.

Horror films don’t generally get good reviews to begin with.
You can preview a horror picture, the audience can jump out of
their seats, it could work great but you’re not going to score
great in the cards. Because they’re not going to treat it like
“Remains Of The Day” which is part of a more respectable
genre. The horror genre is a more subversive genre. They’re
there to shock and excite and deal with themes of good and evil.
That’s actually one of the things I love about "Bad
Moon", it was the one picture I’ve attempted to do in my
career where there was no ambiguity. The good guy was completely
good (the dog) and the bad guy was ultimately bad but somewhat
understandable up to a point. But I thought it was a very direct
type of story. And I loved Pare’s performance in the picture.

The guy is so underrated. Name me some of your favorite scary

Three pictures that have really scared me in my life. Three
experiences I’ve had in the movie theatre where I jumped out
of my seat, got that paralyzing sense of terror and the
tremendous adrenaline rush. The first is
"Psycho" which I saw when I was about nine
years old and probably set me on a path for life, The second and
still the scariest movie I’ve ever seen in a movie theatre was "The
, I saw it the day it opened. It’s a
combination of realistic handling of a believable situation and
incredible special effects. I don’t think that any film has
ever had such an effect on me. And the other was the ending of "Carrie",
still one of the scariest moments that I’ve seen on film.

I like the Hammer films a
lot, too. Terrance Fisher is
probably my favorite horror director. I think that sort of style
the good Hammer films had, especially when Fisher was doing them,
being very straight-forward, treating the subject matter very
seriously, having very believable performances with Christopher
Lee and Peter Cushing that still hold up today, the use of gore,
selective but visceral and just the overall handling of it all,
is my idea of what makes a good horror film.

MOON (1996)

There aren’t many good werewolf movies out there. You took a
crack at it, how do you feel about "Bad Moon"?

I love the picture.

Did it get a bum job on distribution or something? It went

I’ve never had much luck in my career in terms of marketing
and distribution on the pictures that I’ve directed.
"Body Parts" came out two weeks after Jeffrey Dahmer
started his murder rampage in Milwaukee and there was a kind of
odd, astute association with the film that may have cost us in
terms of the perception of the picture. "Bad Moon";
the company simply didn’t market it. Morgan Creek opened the
film in like 900 theatres and didn’t put ads about it in the
papers a week before it opened. I mean they gave it a semi-wide
release but didn’t give it any marketing support or TV time.

In the intervening
years, the picture has had a beautiful DVD release by Warner
Brothers and an extensive cable release. But as far as the movie
itself is concerned, I think it turned out very well. Again, it
wasn’t an expensive film to make but we had the resources to
really shoot it well up in Vancouver and I think that the story
from the beginning had a very elemental appeal; a family member
who’s becoming evil because of a werewolf disease and another
family member, a dog, sort of a force of unconditional love, has
to protect the family from one of its own members. I find the
story to be a simple, appealing one.

The film was based on the book "Thor"?

Yeah, it’s based on a great book by Wayne Smith. It’s
actually all told from the dog’s point of view in the book.

You must have had a blast with the dog. Was it harder working
with a pooch or a kid?

It’s time consuming to work with a dog. It took a lot of time to
cast. You have to cast an animal pretty much the same way you
have to cast an actor. You have to take screen tests, they look
a certain way onscreen and it took me months to find the right
dog for Thor. We found the hero dog (the close-up dog) in
Seattle. He had the right sort of primal, animalistic, heroic
beautiful Shepherd-look and we went through a ton of dogs to
find him.

We had to train him
for months in advance, put out a whole list of behavioral things
that are in the script that the dog had to learn to do. From
running to jumping to walking downstairs to sitting on the
floor. You roll a lot of film on set to get those moments
because for every 3 seconds where the look, that perfect
placement of the head and expression of the face is right, you
have like five minutes of film where they’re twitching,
scratching, doing this, doing that and then when you finally get
into the cutting phase, you just use the good pieces.

You only used one dog in the film?

I fundamentally shot it with two dogs. Primo was the close-up
dog, he did the bulk of the activity in the picture. He was a
very hyperactive, young alpha male. I also had an older dog,
actually female named Echo who did the sitting, lying, walking
in front of the camera to do dog over the shoulder shots.
Because it was an older dog she was perfectly happy not to have
to do the strenuous activity. Then I brought in a border attack
dog for the final sequence of the dog and werewolf fight. It’s
actually one shot in the film with that dog. The scene where the
dog walks across the room, piles in the werewolf and knocks him
halfway across the room. That was a border attack dog. That
whole fight scene was heavily storyboarded and shot in about two

BOYS 2 script and others…

you really write a "Lost Boys 2" script?

I did.

And were you hired by Warner Brothers to write it?

Joel Schumacher actually hired me. I did "Lost Boys 2" and
"Flatliners 2".

Was "Lost Boys 2" a prequel?

Yes, it was a prequel set at the turn of the century in San
Francisco about a vampire that comes from middle Europe and
meets the five kids who eventually become the vampires in
"The Lost Boys". It was about how they become involved with this sort of
Dracula, Vlad the Impaler character, and each one by one become
vampires. It was great fun, a real period spectacle and it ended
with the big earthquake.

Boys 2" been buzzing for years, how come it never came through?

I don’t know. But it’s a good script full of action scenes
and it was a great deal of fun to write.

heard you were also commissioned to write an "Alien 3" script?

Yeah, Alien 3 the script that unfortunately circulated…I don’t
even look at it as my script. The piece of junk was a product of
a few weeks of intense, hysterical story conferences with the
studio to rush to get the picture into production and it turned
out completely awful.

Did you wind up seeing "Alien 3"?

Yeah and I
didn’t care for the picture, they didn’t end up with very
much either.

A lot of screenwriters were hired for that one, right?

A lot of writers, a lot of directors…"Lost Boys 2"
came out nicely because there was the studio and there was Joel
Schumacher. The people that made the original film were
supervising the creation of the sequel and they knew how the
first one worked. It was an easy all together process. Problems
with things with like "The Hitcher 2" or "Alien
3" is that the disorganized situation dramatically
affects the quality of the product that you end up with.

The first two "Alien" movies were solid but I didn’t
care for the last two too much.

Sequels are very demanding to do. They have their own group of
problems. When you do the first picture, you’re basically
setting the ground rules, you’re designing the engine, you’re
building the car and setting how it works. Sequels (I’ve
written a couple of them) have different requirements because
you both have to use the things that worked in the first picture
if you can, but also give it a different spin and make it
different. They’re tricky, they’re not as simple to put
together as they might seem.



When are you coming back to the genre? I’ve been hearing

"Vindicator" is a project I’ve developed with “Dark Horse”
entertainment. We’re putting the financing together for it right now. It’s
a superhero flick, not a horror flick. It’s a fairly realistic superhero
picture about a comic book artist in New York City, sort of like Jack Kirby or
Neil Adams or somebody like that. He’s badly assaulted in his apartment and
his child is killed in the process. The man goes over the edge and decides to
become a super hero himself, he dons a home made suit and starts going out at

It sounds fairly dark.

Yeah, it’s dark and exciting. The starting idea I had I guess
was sort of like the Batman: Dark Knight thing where if somebody
would really be a superhero, they’d be insane. I thought it
was really interesting to create a character that’s both
heroic on one hand but also part nuts on the other. The film is
also about his confrontation with a group of police officers who
are the bad guys in the picture.

Any pure horror scripts coming up?

The main one that I have is one that I co-wrote with Wayne Smith
who wrote the novel on which it’s based. It’s a contemporary
vampire script called "Nightlife". It’s set in San
Francisco and it’s about a woman who comes to Frisco looking for
her missing prostitute sister. She winds up getting involved
with a man that’s rich, successful, charming and a vampire.
What she doesn’t know is that her sister also has been
involved with this man and has since become a vampire herself.
It’s about a collision course these three characters are heading
towards. Kind of more of a return to the type of films I did
during the 80’s. It’s very relentless, it’s very sexy and it
deals in a very graphic way with the violent eroticism imbued in
the vampire myth.

Now that’s what I like to hear! Can’t wait for you to come
back full-force, dude, I need another REAL genre flick! I need
my Eric Red fix!

<lol> The industry changed a bit, the type of pictures I did in the 80’s
and mid 90’s are now kind of "out of vogue". During those years
there was a lot more of independent financing situations and also the
temperament in terms of subject matter was much more hard edge and I guess more
challenging, for lack of a better word. Those we’re all very hard edge,
exciting violent pictures. There’s kind of been a backlash against violence
in film. It cyclical.

And hypocritical…

Yeah…movies can and should deal with complicated characters.
Characters that have elements of good and evil should be
startling and provocative. But the environment right now has
become pretty politically correct. So there’s isn’t the
receptiveness at the moment for more extreme kind of pictures.
But again…it’s cyclical.

Here’s my last question: of all the movies that you’ve
directed which one are you the most proud of?

I like different things in all of them. I really couldn’t give
you a straight answer on that. I love the film noir, the
characters, the performances and the gritty realistic aspects in
"Cohen and Tate". I love
the modern Gothic look of "Body Parts" and its various
set pieces: the operating room scene, the freeway wreck and the
many dramatic moments. "Undertow" I like for being a
much smaller, dramatically driven picture. And "Bad
Moon" I liked for its heart appeal and think it’s one of
the better werewolf movies out there. You like elements, it’s
hard to say that one is a particular favorite, it’s like
choosing a favorite child. There’s something special in all of
them. Does that answer your question?

You bet it does…thanks a lot…

there you have it, an interview with (in my humble opinion) one
of the genre’s most overlooked and important writer/directors. I
want to thank Eric for stopping by and taking the time to give
me this massive interview. I have nothing but respect for the
man. His films were never about moneymaking fluff, they were
always about real people, real violence, real terror, all
delivered in his unique, relentless, Red way.

I guess that’s why
Hollywood isn’t kissing his ass, he’s too damn real and straight-forward. As long as dudes like Eric Red keep punching at the
horror bag, I’ll keep watching. Who else is going to save me
from garbage like "I Know What You Did Last Summer 3" or
Legend 3"? I want real horror, goddamn it! Bring it back,

Source: Arrow in the Head

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