[interview by Justin Kerswell]
Greg Huson is the director of a new slasher flick which is causing quite a stir, SHREDDER. He was kind enough to talk to , sharing anecdotes and details of his hack, slash and snowboarding epic!
Q: You directed and co-wrote SHREDDER, was it your project from the start?
Maybe 6 or 7 years ago a buddy and I were skiing at Mammoth Mtn, cursing at the snowboarders, and wanting to kill them. At the time I was still paying off the credit card debt from my self-financed first film, so I was looking for something commercial and fun to make. I immediately thought of 'Red Snow,' but my friend (who'll go unnamed, for the purposes of plausible deniability) said, 'No, Dude, Shredder!' I hired my friend Craig to write the first draft and then I did all the subsequent drafts. The skeleton of the plot and most of the characters survived the first draft, but the script evolved a lot over the years. [Incidentally, Craig and I met while on the same TV show, editing in Paris. Your readers can find him, and harass him, at his new restaurant in the Latin Quarter- "CC's Breakfast In America."
Q: In my review of the film I say: "With a bellyful of red vino, SHREDDER was a helluva lot of fun." The film is very tongue-in-cheek, did you set out to make a beer-'n'-pretzels horror flick?
Absolutely. I don't think there's much room for a budget slasher film that takes itself too seriously. I mean, after 'Scream' you really can't approach the genre without a sense of humor. It was always intended as funny and scary right from the start. My wife wants me to tackle a comedy- you know, one that's not pretending to be a drama or a horror film - now THAT's scary! Comedy is the hardest, I think.
Q: SHREDDER is sometimes described as a 'horror comedy', which is sub-genre that is notoriously difficult to pull off. However, this film manages it by being both campy good fun and Grand Guginol creepy. How did you manage the balance, and are you happy with the final outcome?
Actually, I think the script is funnier than the film, yet I'm very happy with the final outcome. The 'balance' between humor and horror is in our script, but had to be 'rebalanced' in editing. Great credit goes to Andi (Andrea) Armeganian- she gets my sense of humor, has a terrific one of her own, and a great sense of timing. A 'co conspirator is critical for knowing when things are and are not working. Actually, where I feel the time is out of balance is in the parts of the film I'd like to shoot again: the action elements. For me the comedy is the most important, and I get that. As a director I'm still learning action and suspense. We put a lot of the snowboarding action off to a second unit director, and I regret not handling that myself. I hope to do a sequel and correct that! I also think I can do even better with shock and scare.
Q: SHREDDER seems to owe more to the comedy of John Waters (a compliment by the way!) than to the post-modernist trickery of Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson. Would you agree?
I'm not sure what you mean. Though I've never been a HUGE fan of John Waters, I like his more restrained stuff- like 'Pecker,' for example. I've never thought of Wes Craven as a funny guy, but I guess he is... he definitely has a sense of the absurd, but I think he's horror first, comedy second. In the case of combining comedy with horror, I just didn't want this film to be ambiguous. It was always intended that the comedy be clear and even just a little obvious - even the sarcastic dialogue. I'm a fan of Kevin Williamson, to be sure, but I've always been put off by the amazing ability of his kids to express themselves like thirty five year-olds. I was trying to find a balance between reality and that hyper-self-aware world that he writes in. You can't do teen horror and ignore either Wes Craven or Kevin Williamson. Personally, I wish I'd been compared to Kevin Smith. His characters are hilarious.
Q: Of course, we've had horror films set in the snowy wastes before, THE SHINING springs to mind, but, also, SHREDDER adds to the small (but growing!) micro subgenre of ski lodge slashers. Were you aware of SATAN'S BLADE (1982) and ICED (1988) before you wrote the story?
Absolutely not. In fact, I'm still not aware of them, but I'm putting them on my NETFLIX list right now! Obviously The Shining was heavy on our mind with the creation of the abandoned ski lodge. We even tried to copy a few of our favorite shots, but without much success, I'm afraid. I wouldn't mind contributing another film to this sub-sub-sub genre, but it's a major pain in the ass to shoot in the snow. I have a whole different idea about how to do it next time. Can't wait to see those films!
Q: Talking of slasher movies, as you know, HYSTERIA LIVES! is dedicated to horror's least reputable subgenre. Do you have any favourite slasher flicks?
All of them. I especially like the 'founders,' you know Friday the 13th and Halloween (the original.) I always wanted to meet a young girl at summer camp who would go out in the dark in just her flimsy cotton panties... you know to get something from the car or whatever. Of course, I went to a 'born again' summer camp, so that never happened. I saw a couple Dario Argento films at the American Cinematique- that was really something. These films are generally intended for home video, but they play really different with an audience. Creepy and fun, even with the bad dubbing.
Q: The cast all seemed to having a blast with SHREDDER. Was it a fun shoot?
This question requires either a really long answer, or a really short one. I'll choose the latter. The actors had a terrific, fun time.
Q: We always hear about how films are messed about in post-production, were there any scenes that hit the cutting room floor that you wished stayed in the film, or is what we see all of what you intended?
There's a couple of scenes I'm fond of that got cut. For the most part, I had a great relationship with the producers- they are very key to the success of the film. However, in the 3rd act, there's a couple of scenes they asked me to cut that I wish were still in the film. One in particular wraps up the storyline between Cole and Kimberly, where Cole accidentally sees the video tape of Kimberly and Robin in the bathroom from the first act. There's a couple scenes that further implicate the 'red herring' Christophe as a possible killer, but other than a little snappy dialogue, I don't miss those. There's one where Kimberly and Skyler take some pain killers together, which is funny and oddly sexy, but bogs down the third act action a little too much. Again, my biggest disappointment is that there's not as much snowboarding action as I'd intended, but that has little to do with the post production. We'd always agreed that it was a horror film first, then an action film second, and I think we succeed well with our first goal. I find it particularly amusing that our foreign sales agent is selling the film as straight horror, letting the audience find the humor on their own. That may have something to do with the notion that comedy doesn't always translate well.
Q - SHREDDER is already available to buy, on DVD, in the UK and Brazil. I believe a date has been pencilled in for the States later this year. Can you tell us any more about this?
There's a deal with MGM for North America, but no release date has been officially announced. We got an MPAA 'R' Rating, due to language and 'drug use.' I had totally forgotten about the boys getting stoned on the chairlift. Obviously, there are no snowboarding members of the MPAA.
Q: Did you originally hope for a theatrical run? SHREDDER certainly seems much more polished that the usual DTV horror film.
We were hoping for a theatrical run, but were unable to attract a major distributor. The film had a very limited theatrical run in the Pacific Northwest, (you know, Twin Peaks and all) where the producers are from and where I grew up.
Q: Although the ending makes it fairly unlikely, are there any plans for a sequel?
I'm anxious to do a sequel, with the survivors I won't name. The success of the film, particularly in what we refer to as foreign territories (like the UK) will dictate if there's a sequel or not. I have the story in my head, but haven't written the script yet. New resort, new baddies, similar situation, far, far more drastic results. With even better snowboarding stunts!
Q: Have you got any anecdotes from the set of SHREDDER, or have you any advice for budding film-makers wishing to carve their own niche in the subgenre?
I'm going to take this question separately in a few days. Let me think about it. I have all kinds of stories and advice, but I have to decide which things are best kept to myself...
Q: Many thanks, Greg. Any other anecdotes you want to share before we finish?
lad you liked the film. We have a great new slug line that was coined by our special effects guy (digital effects, not the mechanical ones) "Icey Dead People." Very, very funny. Hopefully I can get MGM to use the line!
The best digital effect in the whole movie, by the way, is hardly noticeable. The hot tub scene was scheduled for our LAST DAY of photography, and the snow was totally gone. In the 'reverse' angle on Cole, when he confronts Kimberly, there's actually a big pink house behind him. Electric Sandbox (Scott Billups) completely replaced the house with backgrounds from 3 weeks earlier, 4,000ft further up the mountain (what's that in meters?) It's completely believable. There's a side shot as Kimberly steps into the Hot tub where he replaced the barren side of the hill with a snow-covered mountain. Of course, no one sees that, because they're looking at Lindsey...
Thanks again- hope to type with you after the sequel!