Paralleling reality TV with snuff movies, Eric Stacey’s Director’s Cut finds a wannabe starlet wandering into a deranged filmmaker’s death trap as he’s decided to go snuff. Stacey’s film parodies the slasher genre while poking fun at Hollywood hopefuls who would do anything to get in front of the camera.
We recently spoke with Eric Stacey about Director’s Cut and this is what happened.
You wouldn’t make a snuff film would ya, Eric?
Interesting question. We just got back from Shockerfest in Modesto, where “DC” was nominated for Best Horror Feature. After our screening, one of the women in the audience asked me what the underlying meaning of the film was. My normal response is to say, “It’s just dumb fun.” But that’s not quite true. There are a lot of themes in the movie that I felt strongly about as a filmmaker, and one of them is the fact that it is a story about a filmmaking family that is desperate enough to kill people on camera in order to continue shopping at Gelsons rather than take a step down to Pay Less. So, though it is never addressed directly as an element of the film, for me personally, Cole Wilder and his snuff film represent the dangerous waters reality TV seems headed into for the sake of ratings and greater profit… placing contestants in greater and greater jeopardy, titilating the audience with an ever stronger possibility that something will go wrong and somebody will die. Cole making his snuff film on live TV is a dramatization of that idea. So, when you see “Survivor” throwing people overboard and then cutting to B-roll of sharks circling, Cole Wilder’s snuff film world of reality TV doesn’t seem so terribly far off.
What inspired the making of Director’s Cut?
This is a question you should probably address to both Brennon Jones, as well as me. Brennon is the real horror hound of the writing team responsible for Director’s Cut. For me, and I’m sure you know this, it is well next to impossible to raise financing for any film without a track record. I’ve been trying to get several projects I’ve written off the ground without success for the past five or so years. And so, my true motivation was that Director’s Cut serve as an introduction to the filmmaking community that my company, Landfall Productions, has the capability of successfully producing entertaining, well crafted, long form entertainment on a budget, and I believe we did that.
Are you a big fan of reality TV?
My favorite reality TV show is Jerry Bruckheimer’s “The Amazing Race,” with contestants racing one another around the world. It’s really good television. And what makes “The Amazing Race” good is the same thing that makes shows like “Survivor” and even “Fear Factor” really entertaining… You have people competing for high stakes, you have the tension of who will come out the winner and you have the personna of each contestant trying to be seen as likeable while you know that if the cameras were off and there were no witnesses there would be a mano a mano bloodfest over that pile of cash on the table.
So, to answer your question honestly, it’s not reality TV that bothers me so much as it is that as a culture we continue to keep the dollar at the top of our list instead of sending contestants into the ghetto, for instance, or to third world countries to help us figure out how to make the world a better place. (…and “no,” I am not running for Governor.)
Do you enjoy slasher movies, or do you think they’re just garbage?
Odd question, but the answer may be interesting. When I first read Brennon’s screenplay, which was originally titled “The Hollywood Hills Massacre,” I had never seen The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Yeah, I know. How can you make a horror film without having ever seen the greatest bloodfest of all time. All I can say is that my mom worked for the Hayes office when she first came to Hollywood and she worshiped my dad, who was the first AD on “Gone With The Wind.” So, yes, I’m drawn more to films like About Schmidt, or Amelie, than I am to Wes Craven movies, but good filmmakers prove themselves by being able to adapt to various genres. Victor Flemming went straight from “Gone With The Wind” to directing “Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde,” at MGM. So, my take is that filmmakers need to understand themselves before they start being filmmakers. It is clear to me that for a lot of us, we’ve been so beaten up by life that we’re numbed and need a little something extra to get off… And that’s what seperates the slasher audience from the PG crowd. Slasher folks need an extra measure of pain, suffering, and blood to get off. Personally, I don’t enjoy pain and suffering. So, when I sat down with Texas Chainsaw Massacre for the first time, last January, the experience was truly devastating. I mean as a human being, I identify infinitely more with the kids in that movie than I do with Leatherface. Clearly, Leatherface is someone who has lived in tragic and utter isolation and whose only references in his world are visceral. But what’s important about Leatherface and what his primal urges allow an audience to feel – the complete horror of being seen as nothing more than another interesting wriggling piece of meat – is a profound experience that should tell us much more about our lives on planet Earth than say, “Jaws.” So, are slasher films just garbage? Hell no. I think maybe the Pentagon would be wise to start looking into slasher films as a possible secret weapon. I say lets have a slasher film festival in Bhagdad and maybe we could get the hell out of Iraq without spilling any more real blood.
The interview continues in part two of ERIC STACEY’S “DIRECTOR’S CUT”>>>