Category Archives: Forthcoming flicks

From the Vault: ‘Livide’ Interview with Julien Maury

This is the third in a series where I try to do something constructive with the pages and pages of interview material that doesn’t make it into the book or magazine for which it was conducted.

With recent reports that Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo’s latest, Livide, is slated for an English-language remake, I thought this would be a good time to share a brief email interview I had with Maury last July for a Rue Morgue piece about Livide. The pair famous for Inside are definitely key directors to watch, and two of the warmest, most dedicated horror guys you’re likely to meet. (And for those who want to know what really happened during the making of that modern classic, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that there’s a whole chapter dedicated to its making in The New Horror Handbook.) Just a note on the interview below. The film is alternately spelled both Livide and Livid depending on who is writing it; I stuck with Livide to stress its French origins, while I believe Maury stressed Livid to appeal to we famously uniglot Americans. Secondly, I have left the director’s answers largely as he sent them. His English is very good, and what few missteps he makes I find, on reflection, to be more revealing than they might at first appear.

How did this whole project come about? Was this a story one or both of you had been working on for a long time?

Julien Maury: The idea first came from a ’60s french book : MALATAVERNE written by Bernard Clavel. More exactly the idea came of a frustration in the reading of the book, which tells the story of three friends who decide to break in the house of an old woman, but the moment they enter is the end of the novel and you never know what they find there. So on a quite classic story of a burglary, we just imagined what they could find inside … Our movie is a sort of a fantastic continuation of the novel mixed in a universe dominated by the ballet dance making openly a reference to SUSPIRIA.

Is “Livide” less gory than “À l’intérieur”(Inside)?

Yes, Livid is much more measured than AL’INTERIEUR. We designed our first movie as a basic ultra bloody slasher. Livid is in a different category, closer to a traditional fantasy inherited from Hammer movies. We did not necessarily want to make another hardcore film but as we cannot fight against our nature, Livid still contains some very violent sequences…

Just from the few photos I’ve seen on the movie’s Facebook page, it looks like you are again taking a very painter-like approach to the look of the movie. For “À l’intérieur,” one of your primary influences was the painter Georges de La Tour. Did you have a particular painterly influence for the look of Livide?

In terms of pictorial references, we are always fascinated by de La Tour. His way to transcribe the darkness by using a single light source has still interested us. Filming the darkness is something very difficult and for Livid, we still have worked in this direction with our DP Laurent Bares. I think that we’ve better succeded than on AL’INTERIEUR. On a completely different register, we have also been influenced a lot by the paintings of Degas. His work on the world of dance particularly and on the natural light was a good reference for all the flashback scenes. A reference for light but also for the costumes and hairstyles.

It looks like your entire cast is French. Did this make it difficult to make an English-language movie?

In fact, the movie is in French! You have information back from the time when the film was supposed to be shot in English, in Ireland, and for a much more comfortable budget. But for several reasons, this could not happen. We were losing our control over the artistic and the budget was complicated to find, so we decided with our producers (the same as for Inside) to make the project in France for a budget equivalent or even slightly lower than for A L’INTERIEUR… And it really wasn’t easy because Livid is much more ambitious in terms of action, special effects, the number of actors etc…

We haven’t shot in Ireland but in French Brittany for the same reasons we wanted to shoot in Ireland: just like Ireland, French Brittany is a land of Celtic legends and beliefs which [impassions] us and, of course, the landscapes are very cinematic. In a sense, we tried to create a legend that could exist in Brittanic folklore without feeling artificial.

“]Inside 'Inside': L to r, Béatrice Dalle, François Maury, Julien Maury, Alysson Paradis and Alexandre Bustillo.
Inside 'Inside': L to r, Béatrice Dalle, François Maury, Julien Maury, Alysson Paradis and Alexandre Bustillo.

From what I’ve been able to gather, this is a vampire story, but one that is more about the human element of living forever than about the vampires we are used to seeing in movies. Did Let the Right One In influence you at all in the way you approached your vampire?

 We loved Let the Right One In — it was a real slap in the face for us! But the movie has never influenced us strictly speaking. The only link we have is actually the idea of the human side of the monster, which is finally only a cursed creature. In Livid, you will not see either crucifix or garlic. Vampirism is one of the founding myths of the fantastic culture but also one of the most known. It has been so handled under all its forms that it is difficult to be original. Our vision is thus the one of its deep solitude in front of the world of the living and despair arising from its abyssal lack of love… We are in love and fascinated by monsters and villains, they are always the most interesting! It was already the case for A L’INTERIEUR; for us, the real hero was not the pregnant girl but La Femme! As we often take it as an example, George Lucas did not make a new trilogy about Luke but about Vader.

Can you explain the part that Beatrice Dalle [La Femme from Inside] plays in the film?

Dalle declared one day that she wanted to play in all our movies. So we took this sentence very seriously and wrote her a role in each of the projects we developed. In Livid, she plays the main character’s mother but has only a relatively brief role in the final cut. On the other hand, narratively, she is absolutely crucial in the development of the story. This is not just a cameo.

When did filming begin? When did it end? When do you expect the movie to come out?

We began the shooting in late September 2010 to end it in mid-November. Regarding the days of shooting, we even had a little less than for A L’INTERIEUR! The theatrical release is planned in France on November 2nd. In the rest of the world, it is not known yet. Dimension bought the movie as for A L’INTERIEUR so we most likely are going the have the same kind of release in America. But we surely are going to show it in some festivals before.

From the description of the plot, it sounds that like “À l’intérieur,” this movie will also take place mostly in one house. Was this a requirement by the producers to keep the budget low?

Livid is a “closed door” only in its second part. There are numerous secondary sets, as well as several outdoor scenes, in the moor or on a fishing port for example. The difference between the approaches of the “closed door” of Livid and of A L’INTERIEUR is mainly the decoration. The house of Livid is the antithesis of that of A L’INTERIEUR. It is gigantic, with diverse rooms, less stressful than our previous movie, but much more mysterious. We wanted a building close to a fairy tale. But it’s true that we always considered Livid as a low budget movie so we deliberately have limited sets during the writing process to preserve the action and the special effects.

There was a political element to À l’intérieur, especially as it was written during a time of great unrest in France. Is there a political element to Livide as well?

No, there is no political message in Livid. In A L’INTERIEUR it was events that had marked us so we wanted to talk about it, but the real reason was because it was mainly a way to serve our history by creating an almost more stressful climate outside than inside. For Livid, we are in a realistic and credible universe in the first part to get lost in a fantasy world sometimes on the edge of a dream in the second part. Our purpose really was to make a macabre fairy tale, a strange legend that we could tell at night by the fire.

When last we spoke, you said the budget for the movie was about $8.5 million; is that still about right?

HAHAHAHAHA! Unfortunately not! This amount was the estimated budget at the time where the film was supposed to be in English. The reality is quite different because as we’ve said before, the film’s budget is slightly below 2 million Euros, just a little lower than A L’INTERIEUR.

With “À l’intérieur,” the name of the film made a lot of sense considering the plot. How does “Livide” relate to the plot of this movie?

Yes, of course, we looked for a title that makes sense in relation with our history. We don’t know if the meaning in French of Livid is the same as in English, but in French it really evokes the extreme whiteness of a face which is bloodless, but also about someone frightened — the usual way is for a cadaver. And all of these definitions are in the movie!

From the Vault: Mark Pavia on His Stephen King Anthology Film

This is the second in a series where I try to do something constructive with the pages and pages of interview material that doesn’t make it into the book or magazine for which it was conducted.

This time out, it’s the complete correspondence I had with filmmaker Mark Pavia, who brought Stephen King’s weird vampire tale The Night Flier to the big screen back in 1997. Now he’s hard at work creating a film first: a Stephen King anthology film wherein one story will act as the wraparound for the entire anthology. [Check out the article in Rue Morgue #120, on newsstands now.]

Where are you in the process of creating your Stephen King anthology film?

I just started writing the script, actually, and am having an amazing time with it so far. It is incredibly creepy and atmospheric and FUN!  I have to say, writing a Stephen King movie again really does feel like coming home for me. As a lot of your readers probably know, Steve discovered me right out of film school. He saw my 16mm zombie short DRAG, then offered me the job of writing and directing THE NIGHT FLIER for him and producer Richard Rubinstein. So, I couldn’t be happier. Not only is he a great writer, but he’s also a great supporter and friend as well…

What horror anthology – either film or television series – would you say comes closest to what you would like to accomplish with your project?

Well, it’s funny, because even though I am writing a horror anthology, I’m not basing it — in feeling or structure — on one I have seen in the past.  And I have watched and loved many, just like everyone else!  To me, this is a Stephen King movie first and foremost, and the most important thing, I feel, is to capture the feeling, the atmosphere, the EMOTION, you get when you are totally immersed in one of his tales. This film, hopefully, will be the visual equivalent to Stephen King’s written word. At least that’s what I’m aiming for…

Considering that you cut your teeth on adapting Roald Dahl’s Lamb to the Slaughter, I wonder what you think of Dahl’s ‘80s anthology Tales of the Unexpected.

Wow, I haven’t thought about that show in a long time! It was a lot of fun, of course, creepy and inventive — and having Roald Dahl introduce the stories each week, at least early on, was especially cool.  But I have to say, my take on LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER (a Super 8 short I made in high-school which ended up getting me a scholarship to study film at Columbia College, Chicago) was influenced more by Alfred Hitchcock’s version, which he directed for his TV show ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS. 

Do you already have distribution lined up?

No, there is no distribution lined up right now for the anthology, but since news of the project broke at the beginning of the the year, many people have reached out to me wanting to get involved.  There should be news on this very soon, so stay tuned.  Same Bat time, same Bat channel…

Who else are you working with on this project?

From the start, Steve and I chose the individual stories together, and now I am currently writing the screenplay alone.  Artistically, at this point, there is no one else involved.  But as I mentioned, a producer should be announced soon.  I am being very selective in who I talk to about it.  They have to “get it,” what I am trying to accomplish with the film.

Are you able to name any of the stories you’re considering for the movie yet?

You know, I thought long and hard about this, but because I love Rue Morgue so much, I’m going to give it up for you guys!  So, here for the first time are the titles of the stories included in my new Stephen King horror anthology. They are: THE REAPER’S IMAGE,  MILE 81,  N., and THE MONKEY.  It’s going to be one hell of of a scary show, and I am beyond excited about it!

Do you think there’s a chance that at least one of the stories will be an unpublished one?

No, as just mentioned, all of the stories included are all very well known — a perfect mixture of classic and modern King.  There’s something for everyone, old and new fans alike…

What do you think is the key to making a good horror anthology film for today?

To me, it’s all about making a good FILM in general, be it an anthology or a normal, linear narrative.  So, with that in mind, it then all comes down to the stories and the way that they are brought to the screen.  The visuals, as well as the acting, have to be handled in such a way that the unbelievable is made believable, absolutely plausible.  You can never be pulled out of the film as it begins to unspool its bizarre reality.  You have to accept it as fact — that this insanity is happening to real people, folks just like us — no matter how incredible.  That is what creates the horror. That is what makes it real and relatable. Rest assured, this is a serious horror film, and it will be handled as such.  Not that it won’t be “fun,” because it will be, but this film will never make fun of itself or the genre. I love and respect horror films far too much for any of that nonsense…

Do you remember the first King book you read and how old you were?

I do, actually!  It was the paperback of NIGHT SHIFT and I was 14 years old.  I was sleeping over at a friend’s house and he so happened to have it lying around.  It was that cover with the hand and the multiple eyes, you know.  I was like — what is THIS?!  I grabbed it before going to sleep, opened it, and read the introduction by John MacDonald, then read the foreword by Stephen King.  And I felt as if he was talking directly to ME, about my innermost fears and love for all things that go bump in the night. I then flipped through the pages, found THE BOOGEYMAN and read it, and it scared the living shit out of me!  From that moment on, I was absolutely hooked, a huge Stephen King fan.  And I still am to this day.  See, that’s what makes this so incredible — the fact that I get to work on something that I truly love, created by an artist that has so influenced my art and my life. And the fact that he has since become a friend, well… that’s just icing on this devil’s food cake.  You know how you always hear those awful stories about how people meet their heroes and then they turn out to be complete assholes, destroying everything they believed in and hoped for from their childhood?  Well, that is NOT the case with Steve.  He is an amazingly kind and generous man, everything you thought and hoped he would be…

Any idea what the budget is going to be?

No, but after the script is finished and a producer is brought on, a budget will be prepared from the finished manuscript.  That’s the way it is usually done.

Is there any King short story that is tops on your list to develop if given a choice?

Ever since I read THE MONKEY back in 1985, I said to anyone that would listen, that THAT was the one Stephen King story I had to make in my lifetime.  And this was way before I met Steve and was hired for THE NIGHT FLIER.  So now to have the opportunity to finally bring it to the screen is a dream come true.  Without a doubt, I am honored to be bringing this and the rest of these classic stories to the screen for the first time for the millions of Stephen King fans around the world.  And I am more than ready for the task.  This film is for them…

Rue Morgue: ‘Pin’ Remake in the Works

The March (#109) issue of Rue Morgue magazine includes my story about the forthcoming remake of the creepy ’80s  horror classic Pin (which you can actually catch on Netflix’s Watch Instantly service).

“While many view the movie remake as an idea lifted from the Devil’s own cookbook, some see remakes as an opportunity to rescue deserving films from cult movie exile. Consider director Sandor Stern, who’s taking a second swat at the pinata with a forthcoming remake of his own 1988 film Pin (aka Pin: A Plastic Nightmare), a creepy Canadian masterpiece that was driven into cinematic obscurity by the failing fortunes of its distributor…”

Pick up this issue of Rue Morgue for a candid interview with Stern and Jack Reher, the screenwriter for the Pin remake.

Emily Hagins: A Quantum Leap

Those who’ve followed the story of Austin filmmaker Emily Hagins since she made her first feature, Pathogen, at the age of 12, are in for a treat here. She recently released the trailer for her third feature, My Sucky Teen Romance. She’s either dramatically improved her ability to cut a trailer, and a film, or she’s found herself a seasoned editor. Either way, this is a dramatic leap forward for her movies. Her use of music, pacing and sly-but-controlled humor in this trailer blows many “professional” trailers out of the water. The obvious conclusion: if she’s this good at 18, she’s going to be a true force to be reckoned with in Hollywood in just a few years.

As much as I’ve admired her ability to pull off her first two movies, I have to admit that this is the first of her films that I’m anxiously awaiting, not because it was made by a young person learning the craft, but because it really looks entertaining. She’s clearly chosen a setting that’s dear to her and one she knows a lot about — a fan convention — and she’s tackled the whole Twilight phenomenon in a new way while she’s at it.

Speaking of Emily, you really need to get yourself a copy of Zombie Girl: The Movie, the immensely entertaining documentary about the making of her first feature. You even get a copy of Pathogen with it. (For the full story on Emily and Zombie Girl, grab yourself a copy of The New Horror Handbook while you’re at it.)

Passing the Hat for ‘Bonesaw’

While working on a freelance piece this week, I came across the makers of a new slasher called Dr Bonesaw, which offers you the opportunity to play a victim in the flick for your contribution of $2,000 or more. Contributions of any size are welcome.

While this kind of cash is nothing to sneeze at, especially in these crappy economic times, you have to hand it to these guys for coming up with an interesting approach to low-budget filmmaking. They only have until the beginning of next month to raise their money, so if you’re at all interested, why not swing by their site and throw a few bucks their way.

‘Mother’s Day’ Not Policemen’s Day

A scene from Bousman's 'Mother's Day.' No wonder the Winnipeg constabulary came a runnin'.
A scene from Bousman's 'Mother's Day.' No wonder the Winnipeg constabulary came a runnin'.

Marketing is a very tricky business, especially when it comes to movies. While Paranormal Activity has pretty much won the Most Effective Meme-Passing Award for this year, it’s not the only movie making headlines.

As mentioned a few weeks back, director Darren Bousman (Saw II-IV, Repo) has been pimping the hell out of his remake of Mother’s Day, and doing a pretty impressive job of keeping that flick from slipping head first into the I-Could-Give-a-Rat’s-Ass pit reserved for most remakes. Despite a hectic schedule and countless details to pore over with the production, the dude’s been keeping the Twitter faithful apprised of everything that happens on set, working Facebook like a pro, and now…

Now we’re all a little red faced after the “balloon boy” fiasco of last week. It turns out that, after a long diet of reality TV, we’ll pretty much believe anything at this point. So it’s perfectly natural to question whether Bousman has the ability to pull off a fake police raid on his own movie production in Winnipeg. Personally, I would think even more of him if he did actually manage to make this happen.

What’s that? How did I find out about the police raid, you ask? Why from his Facebook page of course.

To better understand Darren Bousman and how he got his start in this business, check out the chapter on Bousman in The New Horror Handbook.

First Look at Natali’s ‘Splice’

Several sites this week posted the first clip from the keenly-anticipated Vincenzo Natali thriller Splice. While it’s nice to finally see any footage from this new movie from the director of Cube, it would really be great to actually see the extended 5-minute trailer that screened at Fright Fest in the UK recently. Here’s hoping we get to see more of this work before it finally arrives next year.