Hi everyone. Below is the transcript of my interview with Fede Alvarez, the co-writer and director of Evil Dead, in theaters Friday, April 5. You can read my review of the film at http://www.oregonherald.com/reviews/show-review.cfm?id=46
Oktay Ege Kozak: How are you feeling? Are you excited about the opening weekend?
Fede Alvarez: I am. Excited, nervous, anxious, everything.
OK: I wouldn’t worry too much about it, you made a great film.
FA: I hope it’s gonna be fine. It’s very important to me that the movie finds its audience. But I think it’s out there, right?
OK: Oh yeah, it’s definitely out there. That’s kind of what I wanted to ask you about first. I’m an old school hard-core horror fan and ever since about ten years ago there was that remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and there have been a series of remakes of horror classics that were kind of, made MTV-style, watered down, you get this feeling of a cynical cash grab. Us horror fans got burned a couple of times from those. So I was wondering, what would be your case or rebuttal to people like me who got burned by these remakes to give The Evil Dead remake a chance?
FA: For me, I’m the same. I’ve been a moviegoer longer than I’ve been a filmmaker. I never thought I was going to make films in Hollywood. I was just doing my thing back in Uruguay directing shorts. I was a moviegoer and I complained so much about those kinds of films. Not Texas Chainsaw because I thought that was a fair shot at that movie. Then they did a lot of bad ones, right? The way we did it was to learn a lesson from all those bad remakes and make sure to do exactly the opposite of whatever they did. As a moviegoer and Evil Dead fan myself, I found out that Sam Raimi was going to remake this film way before there was a chance I was going to make a movie in Hollywood. When I found out I was so pissed. I really didn’t want that movie to happen because of the same reasons you’re naming. And then when I met Sam and he gave me the chance to do it, I said "Okay. If you let me do it, I think there’s a way to do it without really remaking it." I don’t think people are against remakes in general. People are against bad movies. If you watch a good movie, you’re not gonna care if it’s based on something else. If you’re having a blast and enjoying it, I don’t think you’re gonna mind what it’s based on. And this is not a remake that’s trying to take the place of the original. That’s why I removed the "The" and tried to change as much as I could. So I could name this one "Evil Dead" and we can always remember that the first one is "The" Evil Dead. The real Evil Dead, right?
OK: Oh yeah.
FA: We made it in a way that really respected the originals. Most of those remakes you’re talking about, they’re made by studios. Five or six different writers come in. The people involved with the originals are never involved with those films. Like I said, it’s five different writers, the director comes in, he shoots his movie, cuts his movie, and go away to make another one. And then the studio will cut it, try to make it a PG-13 so they can make more money. That’s the spirit of most of those movies that you’re talking about. This one is completely different because this is Sam Raimi, the guy that made the original saying he wants to make a new one. He’s the producer, he’s the one who has full creative control of the movie. He chose me, he gave me a chance to write the film, to direct the film myself so he just wanted a voice. Me and my best buddy back home we’ve always been movie fans and we decided to write this movie and try to make it the scariest movie ever. We shoot the hell out of it. I deliver my cut in the last day and the cut you see in the theaters is my director’s cut. We made this movie in a way that Hollywood doesn’t make anymore. There’s one guy who has full creative control and that is Sam Raimi. He decides to give it to me in a way that he thought was the best way to make a great movie. The way we made it is so different from all those other movies. It’s the hardest R-Rated movie ever.
OK: You really pushed the limits of the R-Rating. That’s great, I really loved that.
FA: The original film was banned in The UK. It was really difficult, Sam had to go to court to defend the film because it was banned.
OK: I think it was banned in Germany for something like 20 years. This version has some scenes that are similar and even more gruesome. It’s pretty cool that you were able to get an R-Rating for that.
FA: I still don’t understand how but we did it. Because The MPAA is evolving just like the audience. The audience evolves and The MPAA knows they have to evolve too. Like I was saying, the way these movies were made in the past, you have MPAA, you need to get a rating and it’s not the rating you want, usually the studio doesn’t want to take a risk. You don’t wanna keep pushing, you better hold back. If the MPAA wants to keep giving you the wrong rating, you may never meet your release date. You may never get the movie out there. Usually, the studios are scared of The MPAA because they can really block your movie from happening. Usually the studio will go back very fast and try to get rid of a lot of things. They take two or three scenes out of the movie so they make sure they get the ratings. That didn’t happen here. We loved the movie so much and cared about it so much, so when we’re ready to roll, we made sure that the movie didn’t bleed. So we submitted and they really helped us riding the line between R and NC-17. So we fell right there, that’s how me managed to do it. We didn’t want to compromise at all. We wanted to show everything we wanted to show.
OK: So there isn’t an even more violent NC-17 version out there?
FA: No, I think this is the hardest cut possible. I think what we did between the first submission and second one was to remove like, five frames or something like that? Every gory shot, instead of showing three seconds, we show in two seconds. It helps but it’s nothing that you can achieve something completely different. There might be another copy at some point but it’s more about showing more scenes and more story. It’s not about the gore. There isn’t a more violent cut at all.
OK: It looked like a large chunk of the gore scenes were done with mostly practical effects. Was this a decision that you made from the start and were you pressured by the studio to use more CGI because it’s more fashionable these days?
FA: Not at all, the studio would never… In this case, like I said Sam has full creative control of the film. And the studio watched the film the way we did it with practical effects and they loved it. The problem usually I guess, all the stories we hear about studios wanting filmmakers using CGI is because whatever they did practical never worked. They try to protect the film from bad practical effects. So they have to find a way to make it look better. And they end up going with CGI because it’s the only thing you can do after the movie’s already been shot. Sometimes you go back and reshoot but usually it’s cheaper to do CGI. We had an amazing team of practical effects. The first time we showed Sam and the team the movie, the effects were great. So nobody needed to say "Let’s put some CGI in it." If they wanted, I don’t think they could have, because like I said, this is Sam Raimi’s baby, this is Sam Raimi’s movie and he has complete creative control so he was never going to let that happen. He knew I was not going to use CGI. That’s something that came from me because horror movies have to look real. Even great CGI, usually you spot it. Your brain will make you understand that this is not real, so you’re not scared anymore. I want the movie to live as long as possible. If you use CGI, the movie gets dated very fast.
OK: That’s true.
FA: Even amazing CGI, when Avatar came out it looked awesome but it doesn’t look so good now. So that happens with CGI and that’s why we didn’t wanna use any.
OK: Thank you so much for your time.
FA: Of course man. Thank you.