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Horror Interview by The Gravedigger
Q: I re-read your book, GOING TO PIECES: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE SLASHER FILM in honor of it being the Halloween season and I totally agree with it. Then I rented out the documentary and that was quite a different animal... What do you think of the adaptation of your book?
This is probably not the answer you're expecting, as I've found that most writers are very critical of adaptations of their work, but I actually think the documentary is better than my book. It's one thing to read about these films, but you really have to see them to understand their appeal. I thought the filmmakers did an excellent job of really getting beneath the surface of this incredibly popular, yet critically despised, subgenre.
Q: How did the documentary come about?
One of the film's producers, Rudy Scalese, who's currently an executive at Nala Films, was at the time running the Screamfest Horror Film Festival. There's no bigger slasher fan than Rudy. He has scrapbooks going back over 20 years filled with newspaper ads for these films. Anyway, Rudy read my book and thought it would make an interesting doc, so he and his co-producers optioned the book. I had a relationship with Starz so I put the producers in touch with them. We were very lucky that one of the executives over there, Michael Ruggiero, is a big horror buff and immediately recognized the possibilities.
Q: On the dvd there's "A Message from Adam Rockoff", which is several written pages. Why not just do an interview/live commentary?
I'm not really sure. They asked me to write an intro so I wrote an intro. There's a commentary with the producers. But they're based in LA and I'm in Chicago so it probably was a logistical thing. I don't really know what the production schedule was but sometimes these things have to be put together on very short notice.
Q: Carpenter's HALLOWEEN is your favorite Slasher Movie....so what did you think of Rob Zombie's "remake"?
Actually, Halloween isn't my favorite slasher. I'd argue that it's the godfather of slasher films, and possibly the best-at least from a critical and artistic perspective-but if I had to name my favorite I'd probably say Friday the 13th. I'm sort of protective of the original Friday. I thought Cunningham's talent (and I maintain to this day that he's a better director than some of his more celebrated peers) was completely overlooked simply because critics chose to focus on the gore which, at the time, was unprecedented for a mainstream horror film.
In regards to the Halloween "remake," let me just say that there's no bigger Rob Zombie fan than I. He's one of my favorite musicians of all time, both as a solo artist and with White Zombie. I thought House of 1,000 Corpses was a tremendous debut and I absolutely loved The Devil's Rejects. Can that be my answer?
Q: You wrote the script for the movie WICKED LAKE, which recently wrapped up shooting. What is that about and how was that experience?
To best describe what Wicked Lake is about it would probably be smart for me to explain the genesis of the idea. A few years ago, I was talking with a really talented director named Chris McKay, who now actually directs episodes of Robot Chicken and Moral Orel on Adult Swim. Like me, Chris is a big horror and exploitation fan and we were discussing how critics were proclaiming films like Saw and Hostel-both of which I love by the way-the sickest things ever made. Now I'm not saying these films aren't intense, especially for films that open on over 2,000 screens across America, put they're not in the same league as films like Cannibal Holocaust, Nekromantik, and the Guinea Pig series. So I said to Chris, "If critics think these films push the envelope as far as it can go, why don't we do something so offensive, so graphic, and filled with so much sex and violence that it will make their heads spin. I'll write it and you direct. We can do it for hardly any money." Chris was onboard, but then I told him the only caveat was that if I could sell the script, that if a company would actually take a chance on something so extreme, I'd want the opportunity to do so.
At the same time, I was talking with Media Blasters about a possible sequel to the 80's slasher film, Cheerleader Camp. Media Blasters had just had some success with their first original production, Flesh for the Beast, and were looking for new projects. So I sent them Wicked Lake just for the hell of it, not really thinking anything would happen. But they read it, loved it and we went into production about a year later.
As the writer, I really had nothing to do with the actual production, but the producers were kind enough to bring me down to the set for a few days. I've also seen some of the rough footage and I have to say that it looks amazing, a testament to director Zach Passero and cinematographer Stephen Osborn. But I was most impressed with the four lead actresses. When I was writing the script, much of it was so over-the-top that it could have easily become quite campy. But seeing how the actresses interrupted their roles, I was just blown away at how talented they are. They made scenes that could have been laughable profoundly disturbing. In fact, I told my wife that after watching the footage I felt so dirty that I needed to take a shower. Which I guess is a good thing in lieu of the subject matter!
Q: What are your current projects? Are you going to write a follow-up to your book?
Like most writers, I'm working on tons of different projects, some farther along than others. Although I have to say, a follow up book is not among them. It takes far too much time and energy and frankly, I think I'm a much better screenwriter than I am an author.
I just produced a documentary called The Double Life of Moe Berg that I'm currently trying to sell. It's written and directed by an award-winning documentarian, Alex Flaster, and is the true story of Moe Berg, a brilliant lawyer who was also a professional baseball player and spy for the CIA.
I have a bunch of feature scripts in various stages of development but the one I'm most excited about is a sprawling crime story about four friends from New York who move out to Oklahoma to set up a methamphetamine empire. It's my first non-horror script in years.
And believe it or not, I'm also developing a television series that's sort of like an X-Files for kids. After all, I want my own kids to be able to watch something of mine when they get older!
Q: How can people contact you?
I don't have a website, but if people want to get in touch with me for whatever reason they can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org