Quint interviews David Slade about vampires, gore and 30 DAYS OF NIGHT!!!
Published at: Aug. 16, 2007, 8:46 a.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. I’ve only got a few more interviews from Comic-Con left. Pretty crazy how many I did that it’s now 3 weeks after the end of the con and I still have stuff for you guys. Look for my last few to hit by Friday.
Here is my chat with David Slade about 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, his vampire flick. It’s an adaptation of Steve Niles’ incredibly successful series of comics and graphic novels. I have a small connection to this film, a cameo even if I never once set foot on the set. But you’ll find out more below.
We talk a bit about Slade’s first film, HARD CANDY, which we gave a lot of love to here at AICN, but mostly we focus on his thoughts on this upcoming horror flick. I really enjoyed this one and think you will, too.
Kraken was taking pictures for me during the Con and grabbed this one just as Slade sat down. Enjoy!
Kraken: Oh, yeah. There we go. I think that’s the only one I need!
David Slade: I generally open my mouth when someone points a camera at me... I’m fried first of all, so I’ll apologize if my speech slurs, because we’ve been at it since nine this morning.
Quint: We’ll sound very similar, because I’ve been jumping around a lot, too. Comic-Con is probably the busiest time of my life.
David Slade: Of course it is, yeah yeah. It’s my first time, so I’m… like sensory overload.
Quint: Have you been on the floor?
David Slade: I’ve been on Gentle Giant and IDW’s panels, signing posters and stuff, so… I’ve been on the floor, but I haven’t actually been able to move around the floor, but you know.
Quint: I believe I have a cameo in your movie.
David Slade: Tell me about this.
Quint: I was in New Zealand last year and some of my friends at Weta… they told me that they required a decapitated head for your film…
David Slade: Right.
Quint: …so they had me shave and they had me go like this… (I roll my eyes up and droop my lip down, making a dead face)
David Slade: Oh, you’re that head? I recognize your decapitated head now.
Quint: You recognize my head?
David Slade: I’m afraid it’s not in a close-up, but it is in scenes.
Quint: If I can see it, that’s all I need.
David Slade: Well it’s…
Quint: Yeah, where am I so I know where to look?
David Slade: OK, day one, there’s a massive carnage sequence and in that carnage sequence you’re probably in it for *snaps fingers* that much time.
Quint: If I can see it, that’s all that matters.
David Slade: If I had known the history, I would have made sure we got a close-up of it.
I remember seeing it and going like “Wow, look at that, that looks great.” There was another one that looked exactly like Alanis Morisette that was there. This Alanis, which we posed her in various positions on the floor… At one point I literally had one hand in a pocket and the other one and the other one with a cigarette.
Quint: So the footage…
David Slade: Were you able to see the stuff in the hall?
Quint: Yeah, I’ve been going up and down from different interviews and stuff all day, but I was sitting in the back, so I got to watch the footage yeah. So obviously there’s no worry about it being toned down.
David Slade: No, really there isn’t. We were afraid that we weren’t going to get our R certificate and we actually put a little more gore in it, more than we wanted actually, so that we could take something out and they passed it, so we have to resubmit it I believe with a little bit of gore taken out.
Quint: Oh, because you want less gore…
David Slade: It’s something minor that you wouldn’t even notice, but you know. It’s definitely not a PG-13 film. In fact actually, at the very beginning of this film, when I took this film on… because of my concerns over doing a studio film, since obviously my first film was an independent film… completely independent… we independently financed with no studio pressure whatsoever… I actually had them write the R rating into my contract, so that there was no fear ever of anyone saying, “Hey, you can’t…” you know, because these actors had blood all over there faces. We are actually having problems with publicity photos, because you can’t just let pictures of blood go out on the internet completely uncensored.
Quint: Yeah, I’ve noticed that they’re doing lots of age-gates now online, where you release a red band trailer, you release a certain…
David Slade: Yeah, it’s all about red-band at the moment.
Quint:… any kind of footage, you have to go through and verify your age…
David Slade: You look at the graphic novel and it’s like imagine that as PG-13, it’d be like twenty minutes long.
Quint: You could add some rainbows or something into it maybe.
David Slade: Yeah, so no it is definitely an R rated film. It was definitely always going to be scary horror. It was my ambition always to do a scary vampire film, because vampire films usually fall into the category of fantasy and no, we wanted this to be vicious, brutal, but in the 80s… 70s/80s tradition of classically made horror movies, not in the kind of more contemporary kind of like “show everything” gore, though there is a lot of violence in gore, it’s character driven, weirdly enough, character driven gore, but you understand that when you see it, but it’s a very difficult thing to explain.
Quint: I was going to bring that up, because HARD CANDY is such a character movie, it could almost be a play, you know? It’s very much about characters hiding things from each other, the psychological warfare, so I was wondering since you made the jump from that to this, if you would make sure to focus on the character work…
David Slade: Absolutely. We did a lot of rehearsal work. The character work… Listen, at the end of the day, it’s a horror film, I’m not going to make it sound anymore highfalutin than a horror film. I can talk about Danny Huston’s motivation and all the stuff we did in rehearsals, which has tremendous depth to it, but at the same time I’m not going to tell you it’s some art house movie, because it’s a horror film with tons of action in it, but it’s got great character material in it, too.
I mean, I wouldn’t get Danny Huston. I wouldn’t get Ben Foster. I wouldn’t get Josh Hartnett… I wouldn’t get those actors had it been a slasher movie or anything other than something with great character and I believe those films can survive in the studio system.
I mean God, look at Christopher Nolan’s BATMAN, which I think is a great character movie, but its full of action and it’s full of everything else and I’m mad to see his new film, but I think it just takes someone willing to fight to get that and make that. Films are often plot driven, action driven, they have to be character driven, you know, even if they are horror movies at the end of the day, so that’s what we strove for.
Quint: Well, do you realize now that all the HARD CANDY people have successfully moved into the comic book world now? Ellen (Page)’s in X-MEN. Patrick (Wilson)’s now in WATCHMAN and you went on to do a Steve Niles book.
David Slade: It’s true and Brian Nelson wrote the shooting drafts for this, so that’s everyone yeah, absolutely. Yeah, is Patrick definitely confirmed as NIGHT OWL?
Quint: Yes, yeah they confirmed him on the panel.
David Slade: I was at a meeting at Warner Brothers and they definitely wanted him, but they were still messing around with his deal, but I’m glad. Patrick is brilliant.
Quint: Yeah, he’s great and it really wasn’t until HARD CANDY that I really kind of gave him credit, because you know, I had only seen a couple of the studio things he had done, but HARD CANDY is where I saw it. I’ve never met him, but we have a few mutual friends and they were always telling be how great he was and I had probably only seen PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and THE ALAMO…
David Slade: Yeah yeah, which is not his best work, but it’s…
Quint: Then I see HARD CANDY… that’s a hard role to pull off. That’s a really hard role.
David Slade: That is a hard role. It was a hard role to cast and you know, I saw a lot of people for it and a lot of famous people wanted to do that role and he wasn’t as famous as some of the other people and there were some. There was some producer pressure to try to cast someone more famous, but I just convinced them that Patrick was going to be famous, the same way that we said about Ellen and finally enough she was. She went on to become Kitty Pryde and he went on to great success afterwards too.
He was phenomenal to work with and they both were. He’s just a dedicated actor… I mean Jesus… the shit he put himself through, and he put himself through it, he was voluntary about everything we did. We said what we would want to do and he did everything and he was happy to. He passed out in the middle of a take at one point and I was like… I was looking around at everybody and I was about to say cut and he goes “oh…”
Quint: Was that during the castration scene?
David Slade: That was during the struggle scene, when he tried to struggle himself off of the table when he’s trying to get to the cell phone… anyways 30 DAYS OF NIGHT.
Quint: Yeah 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, vampires and blood and gore.
David Slade: Lots of blood and lots of vampires, yes.
Quint: I love that you’re keeping a lot of the visuals from the book. I love that you’re not cutting down on the vampire’s design, the fangs… that’s one of the great things from the book is that distinctive vampire look.
David Slade: We do our best. Yeah, their shark’s teeth … You know one of the things and I don’t know if they said it on stage or whatever, but its you know, what I said with Sam (Raimi) and Rob Tapert was that really… I wanted to keep the vampire look, because I felt that if I could do that in reality, it would be, for this generation, kind of the same effect in terms of “never seen that before,” if it looked physical and real and didn’t look like a special effect as like Max Shrek in NOSFERATU. That’s what I was after, people who’s faces where so bizarre, but subtly bizarre, that they were terrifying and you weren’t thinking “Oh look, it’s a monster. I’m not scared anymore because I’ve seen videogame monsters,” and it wasn’t CGI, because everybody plays videogames, they’re not scared of videogame monsters anymore, but that was something that hit home, something that could be a deformed guy, it could be something strange and be real.
It had to be real and this was the thing about the schism of this was really this whole loving Ben (Templesmith)’s work, but then needing desperately to set it in a real recognizable world with some kind of gritty reality to it and so I think we’ve managed to find that, to find that edge, to keep it as rough and as tough as gritty and real as humanly possible, so it’s terrifying, yet at the same time you can play absolute tribute and views from such fantastic material that Ben gave us to work with to begin with… and Steve, with his fantastic writing.
Steve wrote the passage, you know, essentially which we don’t even need anymore in the film, but just the idea that these are the vampires… these are what vampires are. The myth is Ann Rice and all of those fantastically wonderful fantasy films, but this is reality, so it can be anything you want it to be and it can be vicious and nasty and nihilistic and with great hatred for humanity.
Quint: So what’s next? Do you have anything lined up after…
David Slade: A bunch of stuff, like I don’t know yet.
Quint: Do you want to keep doing genre stuff, or do you want…
David Slade: I want to do something I’ve never done before. And something that is fantastic, like work with fantastic actors where at the end of the day I can…
Quint: A pirate musical?
David Slade: Sorry?
Quint: A pirate musical.
David Slade: The spaghetti monster musical could be down the line, yeah, with pirates.
Quint: With pirates… and leprechauns…
David Slade: Leprechauns… Flying spaghetti monster movie was a possibility, but I think I turned that down. You know I’ve been up for a lot of films that are huge and massive and I don’t know, there’s a bunch of stuff kind of floating around. I’m looking to work with fantastic people, I want a fantastic piece of writing basically at the end of the day. It will probably be like nothing I’ve ever done before and that could mean anything and because of the range of films that we’re taking incredibly seriously right now, because they’re all so different I don’t even want to hint at it, because I’ve been at work on three films while finishing off this film, that I’ve just ended up having to stop work because of the schedule, because I have to do this. I have to follow this all the way to the end. I can not just stop and then move on.
Quint: Well, when is the release?
David Slade: October 19th.
Quint: Finally a horror movie coming out in October.
David Slade: Yes, you would that would be… yeah October 19th… besides SAW, which comes out two weeks later. October 19th… I flyi back to New Zealand tomorrow to work with Weta on the effects work and doing the sound mix and the grading, so I have about a month and a half left in the service of vampires now. It’s been nearly two years in the service of vampires, both on and off screen and it’s finally coming to an end.
Quint: I can’t wait to see it.
David Slade: Thank you. Thank you for being so kind.
Quint: No, thanks for taking the time to talk to us, we really appreciate it.
David Slade: Your site’s been really good to us.
Hope you dug it. Slade talks the talk and if HARD CANDY is anything to go by, he also walks the walk. I’m really anxious to see this flick if only for Danny Huston’s portrayal of a royally pissed off fanged man.
Be back soon with more goodies! Stay tuned!