DAVE PARKER SPEAKS OUT
FANGORIA caught up with writer/director Dave (THE DEAD HATE THE LIVING!) Parker this week on the occasion of the theatrical debut of HOUSE OF THE DEAD, which Parker co-wrote with producer Mark Altman, and chatted with him about his next movie, DIRECTOR'S CUT. Based on the novel by Chas Balun, DIRECTOR'S CUT was adapted by Parker himself and is set to be produced by Stuart Gordon. After being behind the keyboard for a while, Parker is happy to get back behind the camera.
'I just finished another rewrite on it and we just re-upped the option with Chas Balun,' Parker explains. 'I'm really excited about that because the nice thing is, it is something I generated myself. It's totally different from HOUSE OF THE DEAD or THE DEAD HATE THE LIVING! It's got some action in it, but it's much more of a character piece and it's trying to be really suspenseful, and my goal is to continually tighten the screws on the audience with that one and make it really unnerving.'
Parker is staying faithful to the plot of Balun's novel, but expanding it beyond the page. 'The book is about a director who is screening a movie at a midnight show called ZOMBIE SABBATH,' Parker says. 'It's sort of that his fate is catching up with him, and there's stuff that happened on the set of this movie and in the past that's coming back to haunt him. It all builds up to an attack in a way at the screening, which causes a stampede in an almost?it's a horrible way to say it?Great White club experience. That's really the third act of the script, and what I did was build it up to the last eight hours?the eight hours leading up to and the screening. I wanted to build the characters more. I made the character much more of a burnout and a recluse. Now ZOMBIE SABBATH is a movie that never got finished, and 15 years later, it's finally done and they're screening it and fate's catching up with him a lot during these hours.
'It deals a lot with horror fans, but not in a DEAD HATE THE LIVING! sense where they're always making references?there are no references to movies except for the one the director does. It deals with the whole bootleg subculture in horror and this guy trying to come to terms with what's happened.'
Parker, who interviewed Gordon as part of his MASTERS OF HORROR documentary, has enjoyed working with Gordon all the way through this endeavor. 'Stuart's been really great and has been a wonderful supporter of the project and of me,' enthuses Parker. 'Right now, it's just a matter of financing. Stuart's been trying to raise the money and I've been trying to raise the money on my own also. It's tough because it's not a typical horror movie. It's not the easiest sell, because it's not just a slasher movie, it's not a zombie movie, it's its own weird thing. It's a little tricky, but now that this new rewrite's done, we're making a big push. It's certainly not going to be a big, big, big film. I look it at the way MAY was, which was a really cool, disturbing character piece. I see it like that and I know we're not going to get a ton of money to make it, but hopefully when we do get to do it, we can draw some attention to it, where before it would be something that would go straight to video. Luckily, the way the market is now, I think it's a little more accepting of that type of thing, with BUBBA HO-TEP and movies like that [getting theatrical play]. Obviously, CABIN FEVER has done nothing but good for every struggling horror guy in the genre. It's a mature work and more of a reflection of the type of thing I'd like to do.'
Recently, Parker talked to Creature-Corner about Dimension's plans to combine the HELLRAISER and HALLOWEEN franchises FREDDY VS. JASON style, a concept he first pitched a few years ago. Dimension, which had been keeping the project under wraps, wasn't too happy about the revelation. 'When I started working on this pitch, FREDDY VS. JASON was still in development hell, I think '95 or '96?it was before HALLOWEEN 6 had opened,' Parker explains. 'I was a big fan of FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN and HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN and the other monster rallies and was like, 'Oh, God, that would be so much fun in a geeky sort of way.' So I was thinking about what other ones you could do feasibly, and obviously Dimension had Pinhead and Michael Myers. So I started thinking about how it might work and came up with a take that wasn't 100 percent true to both mythologies, but there was something there that definitely worked.
'It explained certain things about Michael Myers and why he is what he is,' Parker continues, 'and that led to opening the doors for Pinhead to come in. My thing was, how come Michael Myers could never die? It's obviously taking some liberties and I'm not saying this is the greatest idea ever or anything like that; I was just trying to come up with a plausible way to get these two guys together to fight. So, why does he all of a sudden go out and kill his sister in HALLOWEEN? He's trick-or-treating in a flashback and he goes up to this one house and at this time, I was really trying to tie it into everything that was put into the HALLOWEEN films. So he goes into the house and sees the guy with the black boots, who gives him the box. He opens it and the Lord of the Dead?Sam Hain?escapes from hell and takes over Michael's body because he doesn't want to be in hell. Now, Sam Hain is who the Shape is, and that's why he can't be killed.
'So, the story takes place when people try to destroy the Myers house and they find the box hidden between the walls. Of course, they open it and Pinhead shows up, and it's Halloween and it's the Myers house, so Michael shows up because there are people there and Pinhead recognizes that Michael is Sam Hain because he can feel it?which begins this whole battle in the real world. And of course, the third act takes them all to hell.'
To sell the idea to Dimension, Parker didn't just come up with a pitch, but used a lot of audiovisual aids as well. 'I took footage from HELLRAISER movies and HALLOWEEN movies and cut a trailer,' Parker says. 'Then I had a computer guy do a final piece, which was the skull pumpkin from HALLOWEEN II moving in and then Pinhead's pins emerge out of it. That was my image to sell it with. I showed this trailer to the guy who was then in charge of development at Dimension. He was like, 'That's really interesting stuff, but we're not ready to do that sort of movie at this time.' So I was like, 'OK, at least I got to show it.'
'When FREDDY VS. JASON came out,' Parker continues, 'after the opening weekend, I had a friend who had met with the new people at Dimension, and just made a call to see if they were interested, because FREDDY VS. JASON just made all this money. They said no?they weren't interested in doing this kind of project. The weekend went by and Monday, my friend heard that they were actually pursuing it now, but they had their own writers. That's when I called Ryan and said, 'Look, let me just plead my case here. I'd done this artwork' and I gave it to Ryan. Dimension's not ripping me off?it's a natural thing. I'm sure it crossed some peoples' minds there before. I re-called and my whole case was, 'Can't you just meet with us?' And that's what went up on Creature Corner, and Dimension supposedly got really upset and said that I would never meet on the project. I guess that's a learning curve of how to or not to pursue something. I don't think it's the greatest idea in the world, but it is an obvious one. I'm not saying I'm the only person who has the right take on this project, but I still have an affinity and a 'like' for those characters and the mythologies and no offense, I think Dimension doesn't care. They think [the franchises are] moneymaking machines, and that's what they care about. They don't care about the mythology of the HELLRAISER series, and that's what made it interesting. Those movies went downhill once they got rid of any involvement with Clive and Pete Atkins. Pete had a sensibility that made those first couple of sequels at least feel like HELLRAISER movies. They don't even feel like HELLRAISER movies now. They feel like JACOB'S LADDER and they're just throwing Pinhead in after the fact. I mean, I think the HELLRAISER comic books found so much more to be mined from this stuff. The fact that Dimension didn't seem to care at all is very disappointing.'
Courtesy of Fangoria