I recently had a chance to chat with director/producer Andrew van den Houten for a few minutes about his recent horror projects.
Q: What got you into directing and producing? What was most influential?
I've always loved movies, you know. There's so much fun with watching a movie with an audience in a theater, whether it was E.T. or JAWS for the first time. I've always been intrigued by stories. It was a lot easier for me to watch a movie than read a book when I was growing up.
Q: Let's talk about OFFSPRING, since that's your most recent horror movie. So this is the second "Jack Ketchum" adaptation you've been associated with, the first one being THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, which you produced. With OFFSPRING you are directing, so what made you decide to direct this one?
I thought the story would be fun to direct. I wouldn't complain about directing feral cannibals....I didn't know there was anything except feral cannibals. Feral humans, rather. So what's more fun than directing cannibal children, you know? It seemed like it would be a lot of fun. I try to direct things that I think would be fun to direct and willing to produce things that I wouldn't necessarily align myself with for directing
Q: Yeah, THE GIRL NEXT DOOR really isn't much fun.
Yeah, I would not have wanted to direct that. It was a big enough challenge as it was, as you can imagine.
Q: OFFSPRING is a sequel to OFF SEASON, which is Jack Ketchum's first book about a family of cannibals living in Maine. Why do the sequel and not the first book? Were the rights unavailable?
Q: And Jack Ketchum wrote the adaptation?
He did do the adaptation, we were very lucky that he said he'd do it and I feel he did a well done job, you know.
Q: He has a cameo in the movie as well?
Yes, he does. He plays a coroner. A crime scene investigator.
Q: The thing I like about your previous horror movie, HEADSPACE, is that it's such a serious, grim, horror movie. So does OFFSPRING have that same feel to it?
Yes, absolutely. But it's much more "genre-y" in that there's lots more blood and guts. It's pretty consistently spread throughout the film once it gets going. So yeah, that's what I'd say, it's serious. I treated the characters as real characters. They aren't cheesy fucking horror type of characters.
Q: All the cannibals are kids....how was it directing children?
It was a challenge. The thing I love most about directing kids is the ability to get something fresh and new from them. Kids make it seem so easy sometimes, too. So they're willing to go and just do things in the character, they're very honest and completely believable. For older actors it might be more of a challenge for the role.
Q: And they don't bring all that actor crap with them, either, which probably helps...
Absolutely. Kids are fun, fresh, honest, willing to take chances. And, quite honestly, when you are directing kid actors playing cannibals they are fucking freaky. They can be kids. And that's the cool thing. Cannibals are kind of unsocialized versions of adults basically, which is a kid is.
Q: Like CHILDREN OF THE CORN. Creepy kids.
Totally. Creepy kids seems to be a theme in our films of recent. I don't think you could ever get bored of a creepy kid.
Q: What is your favorite scene in OFFSPRING?
It's the home invasion stuff, that was a blast. It was so exciting, gut wrenching. That was a good time.
Q: And you shot the movie in Michigan?
Q: And you did it because of the whole Michigan Film Incentive package?
Yeah. That's true.
Q: Art Hindle is in this--- I haven't seen him in anything in a long time. What made you bring him into it?
He approached us. He heard I was the guy to work with and he got in touch with me and I was, "Yeah, right, who told you that?" and I guess he did his research and spoke to some of the other actors I've worked with from HEADSPACE. He spoke with Olivia Hussey and she said good things and he said "I want to work with you". I said "Okay, that would be fun".
Q: What is happening with the release of OFFSPRING?
GHOST HOUSE UNDERGROUND, Sam Raimi's company, has bought the film, and will be releasing it in October. But we're doing a theatrical premiere of the movie on Halloween in Musekegon, Michigan.
Q: What are you working on now?
Right now I'm working on, ironically, a family movie. It's kind of in vein of AMERICAN IDOL, with kids competing in a contest. The cool thing about it is that it's different, I can show it to my nieces and nephews and my producing partner can show it to his kids. Something for kids. But we are planning to do a bunch of horror movies next year. We have a lot of interesting horror coming up around the corner....
Q: Anything you want to add?
Yeah, check out HOME MOVIE if you haven't seen it. It comes out on DVD and will be on IFC in the Fall. It's about these two kids who are distant from their parents and Adrian Pasdar plays the dad. Let's just say that the theme of evil children continues...