How much did Diablo Cody contribute to the screenplay, because at the end of the film, there was no screen credit for her?
She did a great job in some points. When I finished my last draft with Rodo, we asked for an American writer to come in and just do some dialogue, because we thought there was no way we were ever going to create realistic American dialogue, just because it is not our first language. She is a big Evil Dead fan and she came on board to do that, and she did polish some dialogue a little bit, but without changing the scenes or changing any of the characters or the plot.
I think at the end we ended up using very little of it, so they kind of, the WGA, they have a jury and they kind of decide on that and she didn’t get a credit. We just didn’t use enough of her jargon.
Early reviews have praised this as being one of the goriest films in a while and maybe even in all time, can you talk a little bit about any trouble you had with the MPAA about ratings?
It was hard, but they were very helpful in a lot of things. Sometimes the MPAA can drive you crazy by not telling you why the movie is getting a bad rating and the rating you don’t want, and sometimes they are very precise. In this case they were very precise with us. They said there was this and this and that, like five notes on the first cut. Thank God we didn’t have to get rid of those, we just had to get rid of five frames, ten frames in some moments. You know, honestly, I think they helped us to make a better movie, because when they tell you ok you can show this for 25 frames, you know you want to make sure that those 25 frames that you see are the very best ones you have. So they ended up helping us to have a sharper cut in a way.
When you first took the job, were you more scared of impressing Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, or the horror community as a whole?
I would say neither, I would say myself. I am pretty demanding with myself and my work and I always put a lot of pressure on myself. I try to do the best job that I can every time. I am quite obsessive with my work as a director, a writer and everything. So during the whole process, I was the toughest one to please in many levels. Even when I had the first draft done, they loved it, Sam was in love with the first draft and Rob Tapert loved it, and I was still believing it wasn’t 100% ready and it wasn’t good enough. Then we did a second draft, and they loved it too, and I was still believing it wasn’t good enough and then I cut the movie and I finished my first cut and I hated it. I showed it to Sam Raimi and he loved it, and so really the hardest person to please was myself.
I guess every time I finish something, I am really, really demanding with myself. I am a Sam Raimi fan, and I am an Evil Dead fan, but I wouldn’t say I am a horror fan because I don’t watch every horror film out there anymore, but I used to be. So I knew at the end of the day that, if I was pleasing myself, if I was making a movie that I would love, I knew people out there were going to love it, that was something that was the best advice Sam gave me at the beginning, which was “Fede you have to make the movie you want to see in the theaters, don’t try to make the movie you think I want to see, don’t try to make the movie that you think the audience wants to see, you have to make the movie that you want to go and see in the theater. That is the only way because your instinct is the only thing you will have with you.”
And it was so right and so true, at the end of the day you have to be truthful to your feelings and your desires and your taste. At the end of the day, what you hope, is going to be that the audience out there feels just like you. And every art form figures like that, you have to do it kind of for yourself or what you believe is cool. You cannot do something trying to please somebody, because that feels and sounds like failure.
I know you guys shot on a ridiculously grueling schedule and did practical effects, so I was just curious, what was the most difficult scene you had to shoot and why?
A lot of things were so tough in this movie. Probably I would say everything in the cellar with Natalie and Mia on top of her, the cutting of the tongue, the blood kiss, all those things, they were so tough for the actresses. And you know, as a director you try to convince everyone that they want to do this, this is the right way, and that was one of those days where my idea of going 100% practical was kind of falling apart a little bit because what we were shooting was looking so bad.
I remember the first time we did a first shot, with the tongue cut in half, and we were puppeteering the fake tongue, and it looked embarrassing on set. But then you have to be courageous and keep going and going, cause everyone is going “I told you we should have gone with the CG tongue.” You have to believe in your vision, and thank God we managed to pull it off. And then, on the edit team, we ended up cutting away and it ended up looking great. It was something, it was one of those that really took a lot of job to make, to make all those moments look good and feel right.