Of course, Dave’s an open, well-spoken guy, and he’s more than willing to share his insight into a handful of differing topics, from the best film of the year, to the release of the upcoming The Thing prequel, the man is talking; I suppose it’s time you all tuned in!
Matt Molgaard/Horrorbid: First off, what inspired you to make films, and what continually draws you to the horror genre?
Dave Parker: It just came to me when I was little, sitting in that dark theater watching these amazing stories flash before my eyes and feeling genuine emotion while watching them, whether it was excitement, sadness, happiness, or terror. I saw how it affected a theater full of people and how that collective energy was unlike anything else I had experienced. I just knew that I wanted to be able to, even in my own small way, do that.
As far as what draws me to the horror, that’s hard to answer because it’s really just an organic thing. I mean when I was a kid I was drawn to dinosaurs, and that grew to monsters like King Kong and Godzilla and then that grew to ghost stories and then to the special effects in the 80’s and on and on.
The older you get the more refined your taste gets sometimes and certainly different things scare or affect you in different ways. There is always the power in good horror films to give you that rush, it does happen less and less, but there’s always that hope that you’ll see one that can give you that feeling, to make you cringe, curl up in a ball, sit on the edge of your seat to see what’s going to happen next.
Also the genre is limitless in what you can do. You can create new worlds and characters seemingly pulled from your own nightmares. You have the ability to mix genres to show a new take on a classic story. It allows you to, at least at times, challenge an audience, to really make them question or think about something they might not have before. You also can just serve up really fun bloody good popcorn movie that’s a thrill ride. Like Clive Barker said – there are no limits.
HB: Anyone who has (or does) inspire you?
DP: There are countless people that have inspired me. People like John Carpenter, George Romero, Stephen King, Spielberg, Cronenberg, Val Lewton, Don Coscarelli, Frank Darabont, Bryan Singer, so many. They are all great storytellers first and foremost, and if you look at what films they’ve done, even with all the amazing special effects that they have in them, it really comes down to how they tell their stories and engage an audience.
Recently I’m honestly inspired by my circle of peers and people I’m lucky enough to call friends who are putting their hearts and souls into the genre. We are all doing very different kinds of movies and really doing it for the love of it. It’s a very supportive group to be apart of, and one that always makes you strive to do better.
HB: You really turned a lot of heads with, The Hills Run Red. What was the experience like shooting the film?
DP: The Hills Run Red was a really great experience. It was incredibly challenging and working for a studio really taught me a lot. There are many more factors to the outcome of a film when you are in that environment and it challenges you in ways that you wouldn’t expect. There were a lot of factors that you don’t have total autonomy over like you do when you are doing an independent movie, but you also get to work with a bigger canvas with amazingly talented people at the top of their game.
It was at times incredibly hard, because we were shooting mostly nights in a foreign country when nights were short, but I had a great cast and crew and got to work with some really good friends like David J. Schow and Robert Meyer Burnett.
I don’t want to sound like it was all easy; not by any means, but at the end of the day we got a pretty cool movie out of it that I’m very proud of. Without a doubt the experience made me a stronger director.
HB: “Babyface” has really become a fan favorite villain. Where did the concept and design for the character come from?
DP: Babyface came from the original script by John Dombrow and story by John Carcietta at least in the name. In the original script their description of the character and his look was very different from what he ended up being. The design phase started with me. I mean here was my chance to create a masked killer and I wanted something that if not iconic, would at least hopefully stand out from the crowd.
I had always thought those old porcelain dolls were very creepy with those big glass eyes, so I started with that idea and shared that with this amazing artist Michael Broom. He did many designs for the mask, and we explored a lot of ideas before coming back to one of his first drawings. It just worked.
Part of thinking about the mask also came from the story. David Schow and I discussed it a lot. There was the idea that this killer had been running around for awhile, and so naturally he would meet some resistance at times, which would damage the mask. That’s where the jawbone and scratches came into play. We also liked that idea that this killer would not want to be anything else, so he sewed the mask to his face, even going so far as getting rid of his real face underneath.
Then the whole idea came to life thanks to Jim Kagel, an amazing artist and sculptor who has worked for all the top special effects companies. And finally the whole thing was brought to life by our actor Raicho Vasilev – he really was the final piece that made that character what it is.
HB: Is there any chance you’d revisit The Hills and give fans a sequel?
DP: Well it’s really flattering that fans would like to see more, but the reality is that these things are dependent on many factors out of my control. One of course is money, does the studio that made the film, and who own the rights, feel that they made enough money to warrant doing another one? Another factor is, is the studio even making those kinds of films anymore? Another is, are there really enough fans out there that want another one? These are questions I don’t have the answers to. For my part I honestly never set out to make it a franchise, I was just trying to make the best one that I could make. Sometimes one is enough and I’m certainly okay with that. Nothing would make me happier to see it grow into something more and would love to be apart of it, if that happened. If nothing else ever happens than just that one movie, I hope that we did a good enough job for it not to be forgotten.
HB: There are a lot of “slasher” figures popping up recently; quite a few have won audiences over. How do you think Babyface stacks up to villains like Victor Crowley, Chromeskull and Leslie Vernon?
DP: Hmmm, that’s hard to say. I mean they are all similar and yet all very different which I think is awesome. I guess the best way to answer that is, all those killers have sequels and are emerging as franchises. They are getting a chance to explore more with those characters. So if nothing else Babyface has a little more mystery behind him which allows the audience make up their own theories about the character. That’s pretty cool.
HB: There’s been plenty of chatter in regards to Coldwater. Bring me up to speed if you will: What is the film about, and when can we hope to see the film released?
DP: I felt with The Hills Run Red I stepped up a notch in my directing ability, but I also realize I still have a lot to learn. The reality in this business is that there are only so many jobs out there and you can end up hitting your head against the wall and waiting a long time to get another chance to make a movie. Or, you can go make one yourself. That’s what ColdWater is. It’s myself, and co-writer/producer/star Ivan Djurovic making our own opportunity.
I really wanted to do something much different, so it was a calculated choice to make a movie that was more about creating tension and suspense. We really want to creep the audience out and unsettle them with this movie. We want to make them question what the hell is really going on. Is it supernatural? Is it a home invasion movie? Is it both or neither? I don’t mean to sound vague, but part of what we really have committed ourselves to is not spell out what the movie is for the audience. Let them see it, go through the ride and be surprised. So much is spoiled today before people see the movie that I don’t know how the fans get excited. If you don’t have big stars and special effects, if you aren’t based on a comic book, video game or something well known, how do you get the people interested? It does make getting people to want to see and be engaged in the movie that much harder. So we’re hoping that by not telling them everything, by giving the movie some mystery, it will pull them in.
Right now the movie is in the final stages of postproduction and will be playing at film festivals, and then being released sometime in 2012. For more information and insight on how we made the movie people can go to these places.
And @coldwatermovie on Twitter
We will also be doing podcasts on Buz Wallick’s sitehttp://www.sameshitdifferentshow.com that will give a more personal look behind the curtain on how we made the movie from conception to completion.
ColdWater really is all about doing it your self. If there is anything I would love for whoever sees the movie to get out of it, is that if you want to do something go out and do it. Don’t wait around for anyone to let you, just believe in yourself and do it.
Straying a bit…
HB: What are your picks for best horror films of the year thus far?
DP: Insidious leads the pack for me by far. I had a blast with that one and the execution in terms of filmmaking is really fantastic, and it actually scared me. It proved PG-13 horror doesn’t mean that’s it’s for kids. People forget that Poltergeist was PG when it came out, so was the 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It shows that if you have a good story, cast and a director with vision and imagination, you don’t need blood and guts for it to be a horror movie. I think that had been forgotten by the studios and fans. On the total other end of the spectrum I have to say I was really surprised how much fun I had watching Final Destination 5. Honestly I have been so immersed in making ColdWater that I’ve missed a lot. I’m playing catch up now.
HB: If you had the opportunity to work with anyone in the business, who would that be?
DP: Such a hard question especially if you play by the rules and just pick one person. Who do you pick? Actor? Writer? Director? Producer? Right now today - aim high – Steven Spielberg. He would push me to do the best and make sure I had the best to work with.
HB: There are a lot of remakes surfacing these days, and it seems everyone has a different opinion about rehashing old material. What’s your take?
DP: My take is remakes have been around as long as movies have been being made. Sure there’s a lot of crap ones made, and made for the wrong reasons, but we’ve seen really great remakes. If there is something new, besides better state of the art special effects, to bring to it, a new perspective or vision then I’m all for it. In the past 10 years the film industry has been remake happy because it’s easier to market to the masses, so honestly it would be nice if they took a break from it all and let some original ideas comes out – so they can remake those in 30 years.
HB: Speaking of remakes/reboots, The Thing is days away from release, and the Alien prequel, Prometheus is headed to theaters next year. Given how incredible these franchises have proven to be in the past, are you interested in either film?
DP: I’m curious about The Thing, because I would love if it were a good movie and not just a rehash. Prometheus I’m definitely interested because it’s Ridley Scott. He’s just one of the finest filmmakers working today and you know he’s not going to do something he’s already mastered before. He will give us something totally new, and that’s exciting.
HB: Any message for your fans out there Dave?
DP: The fans are the reason people like me get to do what I do. They are the reason I want to do what I do, because I’m a fan too. For that I will be always flattered, humbled and incredibly grateful that they have been, and I hope continue to be, interested in whatever movies I get to make. Thank you!