BRIAN YUZNA INTERVIEW
Those wonderful people over at the Creature Corner posted a fantastic interview with 'Bride of Re-Animator' director master Brian Yuzna...you can read it below...
'You know the man as the director of such films as 'Return of the Living Dead 3', 'Society', and of course 'Bride of Re-Animator'. Since the inception of Fantastic Factory, his Spain-based production company, the name Brian Yuzna has been cropping up on the lips of horror fans more and more often, especially in relation to the long-awaited third 'Re-Animator' film.
Now, 'Beyond Re-Animator' is done, and it's been jumping from festival to festival, proving time and again that the team of Yuzna and Combs is not one to be trifled with (check out our guest review here). The Inspector recently got the chance to interview Brian via the wonders of e-mail to discuss 'Beyond' and...well, what's beyond it.
TI: What's the feedback been like on 'Beyond Re-Animator'?
BY: Very good. I have been relieved to find that the film has so far been accepted by the hard core fans as a respectable and entertaining sequel to a much loved classic, and that even more general viewers have found it to be entertaining. The actors and crew have been pleased and the buyers (Lion's Gate in North America for example) are very happy with the film that they bought. So, all in all, I feel like we have dodged a bullet. I was so scared that we wouldn't be able to make this sequel work, that it wouldn't be enough like Re-Animator, that it wouldn't be funny, outrageous or gory enough, etc, that it is especially nice to have it please the fans (at least so far with the screenings we have had).
TI: Since the early '90s, rumors of a 'Beyond Re-Animator' have run rampant. How close had it come to being made before now and how different were those versions from the one which was finally made?
BY: Wow. There were so many versions and a couple of times it seemed close to being financed that it is hard to remember are the permutations. However, very early on I decided on the prison theme and the quantifying the soul theme. During the nineties I couldn't get a distributor interested in financing a Re-Animator, and it was a surprise in the last few years to see a new interest in the original film, a new interest that elevated it to almost mythic status (which made it even more daunting to attempt a sequel).
The original concept (that is the original concept that led directly to the version that we made) began with a Prologue in which West is condemned in court to prison for the misdeeds of Part 2. Dan Cain turned state's evidence against West in return for immunity as well as the rest of the serum and West's notes. The movie then began ten years later with Cain now a famous successful transplant surgeon (always secretly adding a dab of you-know-what to the transplanted organs), but his serum is running out and he has been unable to make more serum based on West's notebook. So Cain is alcoholic and bitter, a corrupt man.
Meanwhile West is experimenting on rats in prison, building his theory of nanoplasm - the energy in every cell which tells the cells how to grow and which evaporates from the body at the moment of death. It is the lack of this energy in the to which West attributes the unnatural and disoriented behavior or his reanimated subjects. He postulates that if a living creature is electrocuted to death the nanoplasm will be driven to the cerebral cortex from whence it might be trapped into a collector for introduction into a reanimated subject. However, he has no way to test his theory in prison.
The Assistant DA that made the deal with Cain against West has now risen politically and is running for Attorney General, but her political career is threatened by the killing of her extra marital lover by a serial killer. She must cover up the crime and also find the killer before he exposes her, so she calls on Cain who reluctantly helps. Then he proposes that she spring West from prison, implying that West can 'read' the cadaver forensically, to find the killer. In reality he wants West to help him make some more serum, bring the victim to life so that she can retrace her last hours and take them to the killer. Of course West has no interest in helping Cain, but agrees to help as long as the DA agrees to do something for him when the time comes. Of course after they find the killer West demands that the DA let him electrocute the man in order to test his theory of trapping his nanoplasm, when the DA resists West summarily kills Cain and says that if he cannot put nanoplasm in Cain's reanimated body Cain will be forever a zombie. As you can imagine the killer's nanoplasm has unexpected influence over Cain after reanimation.
Anyway, that is perhaps the most coherent of the earlier versions. There were too many others to count. Finally I got rid of Dan Cain and decided to make the whole film take place in prison (not just because we were shooting in Spain with almost all Spanish actors) and make the rat more of a character.
TI: How important do you feel it was to have Jeffrey Combs attached before moving forward with the film? (Would you consider making a 'Re-Animator' film without him?)
BY: It is very difficult to imagine a 'Re-Animator' without Jeffrey Combs as Herbert West. It was his ironic interpretation in the first film that really won the audience.
TI: Richard Bands' Herrmann-inspired theme music has become as much a part of the 'Re-Animator' films as Herbert West himself. Who composed the score for the new film and were you able to reuse the famous theme?
BY: In the new film we have used two cues from the Richard Band's original music (although we reorchestrated and reperformed it). There is a cue in the opening Prologue and also a montage sequence in which we reprise the title theme. Throughout the film we make use of the Hermann-esque musical phrase for the serum. The main title sequence is a take off on the original theme created by a Dutch composer who goes by the name of Reyn. It follows the Hermann-esque form and phrases, but has a completely different tempo and orchestration. The great majority of the score is by Xavi Capellas who also worked with me on Faust:Love of the Damed. It is not as classical as the music of the original, but it serves to support and accentuate the action and editing and tells the story using original motifs.
TI: Were you shooting for an R rating with 'Beyond Re-Animator'? Was that a necessary contractual obligation? If it is R rated, will there be an unrated version made available on DVD?
BY: I intended a R rated film, but am not sure how the MPAA in America will view it. There may end up being as many as three or four versions. The unrated version will be released theatrically in Spain (where there is no censorship). The theatrical and video version in the U.S. will be an MPAA approved 'R' which hopefully will not be too chopped up. I intend to cut a 'soft' version for TV (which was promised to Germany). The SciFi Channel in the U.S. will also make their own version. And Lion's Gate assures us that they will release a DVD edition of the uncut version.
TI: You've mentioned the TV version of 'Re-Animator' in several interviews as being 'unofficial,' as though it was put together by outsiders. There are, however, some fascinating moments to be found in this cut of the film. What's your opinion of this curiosity?
BY: I was in Italy with Stuart Gordon when Empire Pictures (who acted as the sales agent for the first film) cut the so-called TV version. I think a better 'soft' version could have been cut. I only recognize the Elite Millennium DVD as the 'real' version and encourage the fans to see it. However, it is naive not to recognize that historically movies have been altered for different territories and media, from the peculiarities of a culture (for example in Indonesia you can have no supernatural elements, in Japan in the 80's no pubic hair, in Germany and Scandinavia almost no blood, etc) to the 'pan and scan' and excising language, nudity and gore for US TV. So, I don't consider it some kind of outrage that Re-Animator was released in a completely different TV (and 'R' rated Vestron Video version), I only think it perhaps could have been done better and encourage the fans to view the 'real' version. I think that the TV version is entertaining and that that is a testament to the work of Stuart Gordon and the whole creative and technical team.
TI: If given the chance, what would you do differently with the second film, 'Bride of Re-Animator'? In the end, what's your final opinion of the film?
BY: In retrospect I would have been a little more careful with some of the casting as well as work out the very end better. I think the movie has some great horror elements and moments, but that the tone is a bit too 'wink at the audience'. I think that the real weaknesses of the film are attributable to my then inexperience in directing actors and often faltering in the pacing with a scene. On the other hand I feel like the film has a great operatic gory and fun horror.
TI: A re there any plans for Stuart to direct another project for Fantastic Factory? If so, will it be more Lovecraft, maybe that 'The Thing on the Doorstep' adaptation?
BY: There are no plans at present but we are talking about it.
TI: Would you ever consider pursuing Stuart's famous 'House of Re-Animator' concept? And for that matter, are there any plans at the moment for a fourth'Re-Animator '?
BY: Perhaps, but I have always had a bit of a problem with the dependency on politics which the concept has. It seems like politics is more a providence of sci fi than horror.
TI: What are some upcoming projects for Fantastic Factory?
BY: We are preparing 'Romasanta:The Werewolf Hunt' for Paco Plaza to direct in June, and in August I will direct 'Rottweiller'. Next year we will shoot 'The Nun' (written by Manu Diaz and Jaume Balaguero) and 'Beneath Still Waters' (based on the book by Matt Costello).'
'Beyond Re-Animator' is set for a television premiere on the Sci Fi Channel in June, and Lions Gate will release the DVD this Autumn in the US.
Courtesy of Creature Corner