We caught up with The Hills Run Red Director Dave Parker and Producer Robert Meyer Burnett at San Diego Comic-Con to talk about what it's like to create such an original and frightening killer for the screen and how they feel about the state of horror films today. Hit the jump for the full interview and look for The Hills Run Red on DVD from the WB September 29th.
FEARnet - How did you go about creating such a unique killer?
Dave Parker - The whole idea of Babyface, which is kind of a ridiculous name, was to take that name and deliver something totally disturbing. A lot of the inspiration for the look came from old school movies like Tourist Trap, (Dario Argento's) Deep Red and the Alice Sweet Alice poster. I wanted to present the audience with a big hulking Jason (Friday the 13th) like guy who is so far from what Jason is. Basically, this is a guy who made himself into this, by choice. He's pretty savvy and he's smart. He's not just some dented head inbreed. He's a guy that's aware of what's happening behind the mask.
FEARnet - Like a lot of 80's slasher films, we knew there was a person exacting revenge under that mask.
Dave Parker - Right, and we lost that over the years.
Robert Meyer Burnett - Another thing about Babyface is that he's trying to please his father. He sees his father as this incredible artist and Babyface wants to be the ultimate expression of his father's art and he's doing everything that he does for that purpose. And for the performance.
(Both at the same time) - He's the ultimate method actor.
Robert Meyer Burnett - Horror films need a strong directorial vision When you saw Argento or Polanski at their peak or Cronenberg, always had a strong vision.
Dave Parker - Joseph Zito!
FEARnet - Yeah! I mean The Prowler and The Final Chapter are often regarded as shining examples of the slasher genre, for what it's worth.
Dave Parker - Yeah, he's great! But Robert's saying some really big names that make me nervous. Because I'm not Polanski and I'm not Cronenberg. I'm much more comfortable with Joseph Zito (laughs).
Robert Meyer Burnett - The vision of what Babyface was, was there from the very beginning. So by the time we got to set you knew exactly what you wanted and I think you were really prepared. It's Dave Parker's vision that makes it what it is.
Dave Parker - What I wanted to do is something different, most studio horror films seem to be shot hand held and shaky, disorienting the audience.
Robert Meyer Burnett - The Blair Witch effect.
Dave Parker - It's the residue of that movie. It was very effective in that movie but it's been magnified to the point of real obnoxiousness. I also wanted to shoot it like they shot the movies in the 80's. I wanted that feel.
FEARnet - There are a lot of original horror films coming out now, it feels like this is a great time to be a horror fan.
Dave Parker - This new crop of filmmakers are influence by the 70's and 80's, in the right way. We want to do movies in that spirit and apply that to new movies. I think we love movies from that era because they were good stories. And I think we've moved away from that. We're getting such diversity among genre filmmakers because we're going, this is a good story, these are characters that we're interested in hanging out with and we're interested in seeing what happens to them. It' been more about explosions and huge gore effects recently. We're getting such diversity now and great movies, not just 2 hour commercials.
Robert Meyer Burnett - In order for horror to work, it can't just be about the fear of a killer jumping out of the woods slashing your throat and killing you. Great horror is about the fear of having to live for yet another day.
FEARnet - It does feel as if we've been coming out of a 90's horror drought recently though.
Robert Meyer Burnett - We live in a world where every kid, if you play on a sports team, whether you're on the winning or losing side, everyone gets a trophy. In our society, we can't deal with loss. Our youth is 'give me this now, I want this now' parents are now expressing themselves as if their kids are a reflection of them. Horror always dealt with the areas where we didn't want to talk about these things openly, so we would have the catharsis of seeing them happen in a horror movie. That wasn't happening in the 90's. It was meaningless.
Dave Parker - Well it was playing it safe and I think that was the problem too. People got conservative. And then they got incredibly bloody and torturous.
FEARnet - How do you feel about remakes?
Robert Meyer Burnett - If you were to remake something in a bold way. We don't have auteurist visions anymore, we have these journeymen directors who come out of music videos and commercials, and they’re just thrown into these slots. They're shooters, not intellectuals, they're not writing their own scripts...
Dave Parker - The pendulum is swinging back to director's who want to put their stylistic stamp, almost a brand name the way Craven, Carpenter, Cronenberg and Romero did.
FEARnet - Who are some of your biggest influences?
Dave Parker - Chainsaw was a big influence on this one. Everything from Madman to Cinema Paradiso in a weird way. Some if it is subliminal, you don't even realize it until later. I'm like 'Oh shit! I did a shot from (Argento's) Tenebre.' I didn't even notice it at first.