Mark Jones and Sadie Katz just made a movie together called Scorned (co-written by the pair and directed by Jones) about a woman who takes revenge on her cheating boyfriend and her best friend with whom he cheated. Katz and Jones talk with me about writing the script, the immortal Leprechaun franchise, upcoming projects, and why they love working in the horror genre.
Bethany Lewis: So I know you’re both fans of Misery and Fatal Attraction and that Scorned is a sort of updated, young person’s version of that – but how did you get to talking about this idea and really make the decision to start writing it together?
Mark Jones: Well, I figured I started to hear stories about friends of mine who should have erased their texts before their girlfriends looked at them. And I think Sadie had similar friends. We know people who got caught that way. It was just one of those conversations – we said, you know, this would be a great story to do, and we love Misery and Fatal Attraction. We just got together – we’ve known each other for years – and we wrote it very fast actually, and we got it made. It’s as simple as that.
Sadie Katz: I think Mark and I watched Misery twice, back to back, and then we watched Fatal Attraction. We just kind of broke it down, like what the story was to us, and analyzed it way more than we should have.
Bethany Lewis: Scorned reminds me a lot of revenge films like I Spit On Your Grave and Hard Candy. It seems like you’re both fans of the horror/thriller genre. Did you have any other films or points of reference in mind as you began writing for Scorned?
Mark Jones: You hit on one: Hard Candy. I saw that and I always liked that film. Those seem to work and we put sort of a twist on ours, and there is a sort of twist ending that you don’t expect. But yeah, I think those work when they’re done right and they were all inspiration.
Sadie Katz: Hard Candy, the cool thing about it is that you’re just watching her unravel almost in real time, and it just starts to snowball, and that’s the same thing that happens with our character.
Bethany Lewis: Sadie, this is your first writing credit and you certainly seem to have an affinity toward this kind of project. Do you have plans to do some more writing in this genre or more writing in general? Or maybe directing?
Sadie Katz: Well, Mark and I have been talking about doing another thing, a story we’ve been writing that is sort of a top secret thing. You know, I love horror film, I’m kind of a fraidy cat, and I’m really fascinated by the genre. It feels that it goes in stages – you know, people get into the torture porn, and then something else, and then something else. I really like the idea of a female antagonist/protagonist and really dominating. Maybe they’re not just all victims running through the woods, there’s something else there. I mean, they can still run through the woods, but there has to be something else there. I don’t know what it is, we can’t help but see things a little darker and we want to explore that.
Bethany Lewis: It struck me just now that you don’t see a lot of female anti-heroes. You see a lot of male anti-heroes these days, like Walter White in Breaking Bad, and Hannibal Lecter, but not a lot of female anti-heroes that you really route for in the same way.
Mark Jones: I think that’s what we did with Scorned, is you kind of hate her, but you kind of route for her. The interesting thing in screenings we had, it amazed me how much females liked the picture. We thought, you know, this has got some torture and it’s kind of violent and edgy, but females really respond to it and a lot of them think that Sadie really should have given Billy Zane what he got.
Sadie Katz: There’s something about the fact that Billy Zane is basically playing the opposite of his character from Dead Calm. He’s really the victim here, but when we were writing it I kept saying that Sadie’s our hero, she’s our hero, she’s got to be the hero. What woman wouldn’t want to poke the eyes out of someone who cheated on her with her best friend?
Bethany Lewis: Mark, you’re obviously well known for the Leprechaun series, and those movies are very funny at the same time as being very creepy. You talked about some of your horror influences, but what are some of your comedic influences?
Mark Jones: It’s funny, because right out of high school I started out writing animation – a tremendous amount of Scooby Doo, Captain Caveman and all those Saturday morning cartoon shows in the early 80s. So I really started out writing comedy and funny stuff, and ended up moving into television and doing a lot of the 80s action shows like Knight Rider and The A-team. And The A-team actually had a lot of comedy in it. So it’s always been there. Then when I wanted to do Leprechaun I wrote the script, and it was my first directing, I wrote a lot of cartoon comedy. If you look at Leprechaun he crashes through a wall and leaves his outline like the road runner and drives little bicycles. So I’ve always had a lot of humor in life, and when Sadie and I sat down to write Scorned, there are some very funny lines that you’ll see that work within the context.
Bethany Lewis: I just read that there is a Leprechaun reboot that’s going to be released sometime this year. Do you know anything about that, were you involved in any way, and how do you feel about the franchise’s continuing significance?
Mark Jones: Well, I am involved financially, so I love that the franchise is continuing on. I have read the script and oddly enough they’re going much closer to the original Leprechaun I wrote. The first script that came to the studio was a very dark, horrific, killing creature and it didn’t have any comedy. I ended up putting that in as we started prepping the movie, and Warwick Davis, who is terrific, has this great sense of humor, so it evolved. The reboot is going back to the original dark script that was the original concept. I think that’s great, but I really think that they should have continued with Warwick, because part of the success of Leprechaun was his character, he’s been in all six of them and the fans love him. So I have mixed emotions – I’d like to see it do well, because I need a car, but outside of that…
But I think there’s room for another franchise that I’ll touch on in a moment – I’ve come up with another horror franchise, another horror/comedy that may very well involve Warwick Davis. So we may go toe-to-toe with Leprechaun on another horror franchise.
Sadie Katz: Are you going to drop the name?
Mark Jones: Okay, so a vampire bites a leprechaun and he becomes a “vamprechaun”. It’s going to be a little vampire that bites your ankles instead of your neck, because he can’t reach the neck, and it’s going to be funny. It’s a unique, completely different character – it’s not a leprechaun, it’s a vamprechaun.
Bethany Lewis: So you’ve mentioned “Vamprechaun” and the top secret script you two are working on. Are there any other projects you two have lined up?
Mark Jones: Well, there is a script that Sadie and I wrote that’s also in the pipeline, it’s very dark and much different than even Scorned. It’s about the true story of home invasion on Christmas Eve and it’s a very dark drama, it’s not a thriller. That will be a little bit of a different kind of movie, and we have a script, and we’re putting it together as we speak.
Bethany Lewis: Sadie, you have 13 Girls in pre-production, can you talk a little about that?
Sadie Katz: Yeah, I worked with Jim Towns, who directed me in House of Bad, and he has this other script and it’s amazing. I play a female detective who is coming back after not being on the force for a year because I shot my partner. And the first case I have is about these 13 Catholic school girls who either committed suicide or were killed and there’s some sort of demonic activity. It’s very, very scary. When he sent the script to me I had nightmares. It’s a really clever script and absolutely terrifying.
Bethany Lewis: So what is it that you both love about working in the horror genre specifically that makes you keep coming back to it?
Mark Jones: What I like about it is that there are no limits to what you can do. Once you know you’re going to do a horror movie, you can use all the elements of storytelling from lighting, to characters, and scares. I think it gives you a bigger palate. If you’re doing a romantic comedy, that’s what that is. If you’re doing a drama, that’s what that is. But with horror, you can have all the elements in it and I think they’re a lot of fun to do. So in horror, I think there is a combination of many different elements that you don’t usually see in other genre movies.
Sadie Katz: So I just saw the new Paranormal Activity in theaters, and literally there were people screaming and a couple times when people jumped out of their seats, and a couple times I felt my heart speed up. I mean, it is a kind of frivolous entertainment, but it does give you such an immediate reaction. If you’re a fan of horror films, it actually moves you and it’s kind of exciting to reach people like that.