LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Interview With Acclaimed Director Brian Yuzna
By James Whittington, Wednesday 30th October 2013
Brian Yuzna is one of the most talented people working in the industry. His CV contains such celebrated classics as Bride Of Re-Animator and the exceptional Society and Horror Channel is proudly showing his acclaimed classic Return Of The Living Dead 3 on Saturday 2nd November.
Here Brian discusses this superb shocker as well as his plans for the future and look out for an interview with the John Penney, writer of Return Of The Living Dead 3 on this site very soon.
HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to work in the movie industry?
BY: No, I didn’t. Like most kids, I loved movies; and I saw some scary ones at a young age that really disturbed me. That gave me an interest in horror for the rest of my life. But I never imagined that you could actually make a living making movies. Back then there were no DVD extras and TV shows demonstrating how movies were made. While in high school I had fooled around with a friend’s 8mm camera and we mostly shot special effects but it wasn’t until I saw Truffaut’s Day For Night that I had an idea of how a movie crew worked. Many years later I was vacationing with my girl friend and we rode past a big encampment outside of Cartagena, Columbia and I recognized that it was a film shoot. That evening we left our modest quarters and were eating at a restaurant on the beach when a couple of jeeps drove up with the rowdy actors etc. from the shoot. As they drank and ate and partied I realized that I was on vacation and they were on a job – but they were having more fun than I was. That’s when I thought maybe making movies was a desirable job! Cut to a few years later when I was working as an artist and had an art supply store. I acquired a 16mm Bolex wind up camera and started making a short film – a short film full of FX that turned into a feature. Although I never took a film class, I learned how to make a movie just by doing it with people who did know how. The process fascinated me - it was exciting and satisfying. The movie I made was pretty bad, but I was hooked. I moved to Los Angeles to make movies.
HC: How did the Return Of The Living Dead 3 project come together?
BY: Joel Castelberg and Danica Minor contacted me about directing Return 3 – they said they had the rights and thought that I would be a good collaborator. I was thrilled because I loved both Return Of The Living Dead as well as Night Of The Living Dead. In order to set it apart from the plethora of zombie movies that had been made (even back then!) I decided that a zombie should be the main character. They found a company to finance it and we began listening to pitches from potential screenwriters. However, when the time came to formalize a deal it turns out that Joel and Danica’s agent was wrong about the rights being in their control – so it all fell apart. Soon after I mentioned this to Mark Amin, the CEO of Trimark Pictures, and somehow he acquired the rights and offered me the job of directing and producing. Again, the process of interviewing writers began, but this time it was Trimark who lined them up. When I met John Penney and heard his pitch, I was immediately sold. He was the guy.
HC: What did you think of the script the first time you read it?
BY: There never was a first time that I read the script. John had a ‘pitch’, which was a basic ‘take’ on the movie. His idea had to do with kids on the run, kind of a Romeo and Juliet, in a world in which the military is experimenting with the living dead as weapons. I don’t remember exactly the details, but my obsession with having the main character be a zombie fit right into that. The next step was for John to write a ‘treatment’ to base the screenplay on. John and I brainstormed the ideas and John organized them into characters and a story. Then the Trimark development folks would review it. By the time we got to the screenplay John and I were collaborating very effectively. John was seamlessly able to satisfy his storytelling ideas as well as mine – and Trimark’s as well. In fact, for the only time in my moviemaking experience, I had the screenwriter (and co-producer) on the set with me throughout the shoot. During pre-production John Penney was there to rewrite the script according to the cast, the locations that we found and the ideas that came up with the storyboard artists and FX artists. So during the filming we were literally shooting the script.
HC: Was it a difficult movie to cast?
BY: It wasn’t a difficult movie to cast because of the support of Trimark. I feel like they were able to access excellent options for each of the roles. They were very involved with the casting and fortunately we seemed to be very much on the same page as them regarding the casting ideas. Trimark had strong ideas about the casting, but never did I feel like I was obliged to accept an actor that wasn’t my choice. They really were good to work with. The biggest role of course was Julie – and we were all pretty blown away by Mindy Clarke. But Trimark was most helpful, I think, with the secondary roles for which they brought in really quality talent. It is really great that the cast, in my opinion, is uniformly good.
HC: How much of the budget went on special effects?
BY: Not that much – but working with my producing partner Gary Schmoeller (to whom is due a great deal of the credit for the success of the movie) we used an approach for producing the effects that had worked well for us in the past. Typically FX horror films of that era would hire one FX company to produce all of the FX – the theory being that by giving them all of the FX budget they would be able to dedicate more of there time to your production. Our approach was the opposite – with limited funds it is better to break the FX down into categories and hire various companies with different strengths. This meant hiring an FX supervisor (Tom Rainone in this case) to find the appropriate FX artists, make the deals and supervise the work. Paying a top FX artist for a key FX makes sense – paying the same artist to create background zombies may not be cost effective – a newer FX company might put extra effort into the effect in order to show there stuff. Some FX artists are experts in prosthetics and others in mechanical devices. We tried to get the most bang out of our FX budget.
HC: Was it a difficult shoot?
BY: It was a difficult shoot in that we were trying to make a bigger and better movie than we were budgeted for (we always aim higher than our budget). But the shoot was so well organized (kudos again to Gary Schmoeller), and Trimark were so supportive, and our Director of Photography (Gerry Lively) was so tirelessly resourceful that everything went more or less according to plan. It was very hard, exhausting work – but the whole crew seemed to be pulling in the same direction, so I really would not categorize it as a ‘difficult’ shoot.
HC: Why do you think the film has built up such a loyal following?
BY: Because it is a really good zombie movie. I say that as someone who has made a lot of horror movies that I wouldn’t characterize as ‘really good’. Return 3 has a good clear story and satisfying horror. Mainly what sets it apart in my book is the love story at the centre of it all. I think it is very romantic, you really feel for Julie and sympathize with Curt’s determination to not let go of her. I feel like it is a Goth romance, a heavy metal tragedy, a young love in a corrupt world. As a life long horror fan I think that Return 3 holds up as an example of good ‘90s horror.
HC: What’s your favourite moment in the movie?
BY: When Julie clenches a shard of glass in her fist to hold her hunger in check as Curt makes love to her.
HC: Horror Channel has also shown films from The Dentist and Re-Animator series of movies, do you think its times these characters came back?
BY: Yes, I do. Corbin Bernson has tried to get the rights to do a third Dentist – he loves playing that character. And it would be good see Jeffrey Combs get out the re-animating syringe one more time. And I have been asked many times about a Re-Animator re-boot. Problem is, as always, financing. The business has changed considerably due to the digital revolution. There just aren’t many Trimarks out there any more.
HC: Have you ever been tempted to make a follow up to your astonishingly original shocker, Society?
BY: I am actively working on it. Once again it is all about the financing. My idea for a sequel is to have it take place in these super exclusive late night clubs that they have in Hollywood. Once you get in there is always a VIP room or a VVIP room that is off limits…
HC: What state do you think the horror movie industry is in at the moment?
BY: A victim of its own success, perhaps? Horror has become so mainstream that it seems to have mostly lost that transgressive creativity that used to make it so exhilarating. Now that Zombie movies have hit the mainstream (the modern equivalent of the ‘Western’?) they have mostly lost the element of the macabre, the disturbing sense of dead things coming wrongly to life, and are now mainly action films about disease and overpopulation. Vampires are more romantic than horrific. And extreme violence is the norm almost as an end in itself. I think that we are at the end of a cycle and that a new kind of horror will grow out of the new production and distribution digital technologies. We seem to have reached the limit of what the screenplay structure formulas (popularized especially by Syd Field) of the last decades can give us. Whereas these ideas began as a way to identify the structure of successful movies and learn from them, they have inevitably led to a be treated as a set of rules to follow, rules that can lead to a sameness in screenplay structure that makes you feel like you know what is coming in a film from the early scenes. The horror genre has a relatively rigorous structure and it may be time for new filmmakers to develop it into more effective directions. One of the most interesting horror films for me recently was Cabin In The Woods. It wasn’t very scary, but the way it deconstructed the horror tropes made me think that after that you just cannot make “a teenagers in the woods” movie again. The times dictate our fears, and these times are definitely very different from the last few decades. I am waiting for the new classics to emerge – horror with the effectiveness and artistry of Rosemary’s Baby, The Omen, The Exorcist, The Shining – and the devastating impact of Night Of The Living Dead and Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
HC: You’re a multi talented person but are you happiest directing, producing or writing?
BY: I am happiest when I am giving form to something I have imagined. It is the most exhilarating to direct – but if the director is doing stuff that surprises and delights you it is fantastic to produce. Writing is the fun of brainstorming the original ideas. When you produce you can stay with the movie for a long time after everyone else is gone. And with producing you can get so many more movies made. I love collaborating and am happy to take whatever role is available as long as I feel like I am a real member of the creative and organizational team.
HC: So what projects are you working on at the moment?
BY: I am working on the sequels we mentioned above – but also have very interesting multi platform project with John Penney called The Pope.
HC: Brian Yuzna, thank you very much.
MORE INTERVIEWS Interview with Steeve Leonard co-director of Radius
Posted on Monday 21st May 2018
In the chilling movie, Radius, a man wakes from a car crash with amnesia and what's more anyone who comes into contact with him instantly dies. This FrightFest favourite is receiving its UK TV premiere on Friday 25th of May so we chatted to its co-director and co-writer Steeve Leonard about this celebrated and cerebral movie.
HC: How long did Radius take to write?
SL: Radius took about 4 years to write, on and off. We had the radius of death idea first but we didn't know what to do with it, and so we shelved it for a while. Later we came up with the more interpersonal twist we have now and we weaved it together with the radius idea.
HC: Was it written with a cast in mind?
SL: No....SHARE: READ MORE Exclusive: Director Johannes Roberts talks 'The Strangers: Prey at Night'
Posted on Tuesday 1st May 2018
This weekend sees the release of a long-awaited sequel to one of 2008's most beloved slasher films. Yes, nine whole years after The Strangers premiered, UK cinema-goers will be met once again by Dollface, the Man in Mask and Pin-Up Girl in The Strangers: Prey at Night.
Starring Mad Men's Christina Hendricks, Bailee Madison, Martin Henderson, and Lewis Pullman, son of the late Bill, the film sees a family of four being stalked and tormented shortly after arriving on what was supposed to be a quiet family trip to a remote mobile home. The family must decide whether to take on the dreaded strangers hell-bent on wreaking havoc, or to run for their lives.
We had a chat with the film's direct...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Andy Nyman, co-writer, co-director and star of Ghost Stories
Posted on Monday 9th April 2018
I've met Andy Nyman on many occasions over the last decade or so, and over that time I've watched his career constantly go from strength to strength. To call him multi-talented would be an understatement and along with Jeremy Dyson has created the must-see horror movie of 2018, Ghost Stories. Here he chats about the stage play, Ghost Stories as well as how it changed on its way to the big screen.
HC: When did you first meet co-writer and co-director Jeremy Dyson?
AN: Jeremy and I met at a Jewish Summer Camp in 1981, and you just get thrown together in dorms of four people and Jeremy is from Leeds and all my family are from Leeds so I used to spend most of my weekends up in Leeds so we instantly ha...SHARE: READ MORE John Krasinski talks directing and starring in 'A Quiet Place'
Posted on Friday 6th April 2018
In case you hadn't heard, A Quiet Place has opened in cinemas nationwide.
The film, starring real-life couple, John Krasinski (US adaptation of The Office and 13 Hours) and Emily Blunt (Sicario, Wind Chill and The Devil Wears Prada) takes place in a post-apocalyptic(-ish) environment, in which strange wild creatures that hunt by sound have destroyed a significant amount of the population.
Krasinski and Blunt's characters, husband and wife Lee and Evelyn try to lead a life with their family as quietly (and by that we mean literally) as possible, in able to ensure their survival.
We sat down with the director and one half of Krasinski-Blunt to talk about the film, what scares him the most, and which...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with David Howard Thornton, star of Terrifier
Posted on Monday 26th March 2018
If you're a fan of slasher movies then you'll have to check out the bood-splattered shocker Terrifier. The movie is a full-blown, hair-raising homage to grindhouse slashers that introduces a new murderous icon in the form of Art the Clown. Art id surely destined to become a true horror anti-hero and here David Howard Thornton, the guy who plays art, chats about this brilliantly brutal movie and what he's up to at the moment.
HC: What movie or person inspired you to want to work in the film industry?
DT: I would say that would be the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit film wise. I was obsessed with that film when it first came out, and still watch it at least once a year when I need some inspiration. It meshe...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Richard Elliot, Managing Director of 88 Films
Posted on Saturday 17th March 2018
Recently I've been lucky enough to review some rather tasty Blu-rays from 88 Films. This company has been behind amazing releases of titles such as A Cat in the Brain, Anthropophagous and Don't Go in the Woods...Alone. So I decided to chat to managing director Richard Elliot about 88 Films and how they survive in a cut-throat market.
HC: How did 88 Films start?
RE: 88 Films started after James and I met working for another label and it was the usual "we think we can do it better than the boss" scenario. So we slowly developed an idea of what we wanted to do after work down the pub and after lots of head scratching and pork scratchings and some setbacks BE Movies was born... which quickly became 88 Films...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Paul Urkijo, director of Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil
Posted on Thursday 1st March 2018
One thing that Horror Channel FrightFest prides itself in is by championing new talent. This year's Glasgow event is no different with a whole host of newbies bringing their first features. A real highlight is Paul Urkijo's Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil which is a sumptuous piece that Terry Gilliam would be proud of. Here he chats to us about this stunning movie.
HC: Where did the idea for Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil come from?
PU: I was inspired by the Basque story "Patxi Errementaria". He was registered by JM Barandiaran, an anthropologist priest who dedicated his life to recording stories and legends of the Basque Country. It is a legend about a blacksmith who was so ev...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Adam MacDonald, writer and director of Pyewacket.
Posted on Wednesday 28th February 2018
There have been a number of occult and demonic movies over the last few years but none have come close to the tension and terror of Adam MacDonald's Pyewacket. The superb piece of cinema is showing at Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow this week so I had a quick chat with Adam about this superior shocker.
HC: Have you always been a horror fan?
AM: It really started when I was about 7 years old when my older brother showed me Evil Dead. I couldn't believe what I was watching, it truly rocked me. The card scene in the film did not leave my mind for days. That film is stained on my brain. I was terrified. But then I had a realisation that I loved that feeling. It was primal. Then I watched The Shinin...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Kelly Greene, writer and director of Attack of the Bat Monsters
Posted on Tuesday 27th February 2018
Making movies can be a tough business but to have to wait almost two decades to release your work takes true dedication. At Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow this weekend Kelly Greene's Attack of the Bat Monsters is finally unleashed. Here he tells us the story behind this celebration of 1950s creature features.
HC: You were inspired to write Attack of the Bat Monsters when you were researching 50s movies, did it take long to write?
KG: It took quite a while because I was working 50 to 60 hours a week at a video production facility while raising a 2-year old and 8-year old, along with my wife, who was also working. I would write at night between 9 and 11pm, and maybe a little more ...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Patrick Magee, writer and director of Primal Rage
Posted on Monday 26th February 2018
There's been a spate of "bigfoot-style, beast in the woods" types of movies recently but none have come anywhere near Primal Rage. This superior creature feature from Patrick Magee will be having its European Premiere at Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow this Friday so I decided to have a chat with this very talented and creative person.
HC: Did you know from a young age you wanted to work in the film industry?
PM: Since a very young age I was always into, even obsessed, with movies. Specifically horror movies, monster movies really. As a hobby, I got really into special make-up effects and drawing. It got to the point where I was so obsessed with it, I decided when I was a teen that I ha...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Gabriela Amaral, writer and director of Friendly Beast
Posted on Sunday 25th February 2018
As we get ready for the trip to Scotland for this year's Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow I've been lucky enough to chat to Gabriela Amaral about her powerful movie Friendly Beast which is getting its UK Premiere at the event.
HC: Was there a certain piece of work or person that inspired you to work in the industry?
GA: Yes, there was. I am a huge fan of Alfred Hitchcock and I decided to study cinema because of him. In the beginning, I didn't know what would I do with movies. Would I be an academic? A film critic? A director? I just knew I had to live doing something that had to do with movies. I graduated in Communication Studies in Brazil where I studied horror movies and literature (specific...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Ruth Platt, director of The Lesson
Posted on Wednesday 6th December 2017
On the eve of Horror Channel's network premiere screening of The Lesson, director Ruth Platt talks about the decision to quit RADA, why her film isn't 'torture porn' and what the future holds.
The Lesson received its World Premiere at FrightFest. How did you react when it was chosen? And what was the experience like?
RP: I was really excited when I found out we'd been picked - we got a call from the team, and they were passionate about the film, and they are such a knowledgable and experienced small team, Greg, Paul, Alan and Ian, and it meant so much. Especially when the making of it had been such an arduous and difficult process! I had no idea how people would react to the film - it was su...SHARE: READ MORE Interviews Archive: 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 PICK OF THE WEEK
Saturday 26th May
Monday 28th May
Sunday 27th May