How difficult was it to come in and remake such a beloved horror classic?
Regarding the challenge of remaking a classic, I don’t know, I was such a fan of the original and Sam Raimi’s movies in general. I think that is one of the reasons that Sam gave me the movie, because I know that all that universe and most of my friends are like freaks of horror and all that, so I know my audience, I know who I am making this film for.
I always felt great about it, and I knew I wasn’t rewriting it. I wasn’t overwriting it or anything. I wasn’t trying to make a movie that was trying to take the place of another. I just wanted to make a new story. That is why I decided to go with different characters, I decided to go with a different set up, I mean this set up is completely different. But we were very careful and I think we did, with my friend, my co-writer [Rodo Sayagues] – he is my best friend since we were kids – together I think we did a good job of bringing the ideas of the original and fitting them in this new story without feeling forced, without feeling that we were just trying to put those ideas there.
And so, that is why there wasn’t pressure. I always felt that it was just awesome to be making an Evil Dead movie and to be a part of this family and making a movie that is called Evil Dead, you know. I was just always thinking about the cool side and the great side and the honor of making one and not the scary part of the pressure.
Other than the obvious reference to the Raimi original, what else did you draw from in order to bring your vision to the screen and make this your own work rather then something simply derivative of the original?
Well, Sam was really pushy with the fact that he wanted me to make my own film. Even when I was trying to bring more elements from the original film, he would be very insistent with that idea, he was like “Fede, I want you to make your film, this has to be your film.” He was really pushy and he really wanted me to have my own film, so he really gave us all the freedom to do it. He never forced me to do something that I didn’t want, he never really forced me to put in something that I didn’t want to, he didn’t make me shoot something that I didn’t want to, that I didn’t believe in.
They were the best producers you can ask for because they gave me all the freedom. Everything comes down to the fact that he wanted this to be an author-film, he wanted the film to come from the writer-director that would have all the freedom to work or to do whatever you wanted to do because that is the spirit of the original film. He wanted to make sure that that translated into this one.
As for ideas, I think you know naturally every time you write something. As a director it is tricky, but as a writer it is easy because you create the story. As a writer, I think you take ideas from all other good stuff you have seen or read in the past, from every experience you had. Every movie is, every creation is, a huge rip off of a hundred other things, blended together that way you create something new.
Of course, we took a lot from The Exorcist, I think it is just a quintessential possession movie and it has the best ideas. It is kind of the Bible of the possession movie, so there is mythology from that movie in every possession movie, and we took a lot from there. I think The Omen was a good reference to me as a story of how you make the audience believe in the supernatural. You have a character in Mr. Thorn that doesn’t believe in anything, a politician that would never believe in the occult, and at the end you have the guy ready to kill his son. So in that journey, you are with him all the time. That was a great example of storytelling, how to make somebody believe in the supernatural when they don’t believe in anything.
On the technique side I think Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the one Francis Ford Coppola directed. I think that was a great example of how to make a movie with techniques of the times, and that is something I wanted to do with this film. I wanted a lot of very old school techniques, very old school, but they look amazing and I made the movie to be timeless. Those movies don’t age, they don’t age at all. You can watch them today and they are still relevant, still amazing, because they were conscious of not using top of the line technology to make the film. That was something that I did not want to do in this film. For that same reason, to keep the movie as timeless as possible, and make sure the movie doesn’t age, I tried not to use CGI. So that is a few of the movies that we took inspiration from, and of course all the Evil Dead movies.