Gavin Schmitt Interviews Director Adam Gierasch
On October 13, 2010 I talked with Adam Gierasch about the DVD release of his latest film, “Night of the Demons”. (affiliate link)
What follows is a conversation between two incredibly nerdy horror fans.
GS: Hello, Adam! Are you ready for some questions?
AG: Well, first, let me ask, have you seen the film (“Night of the Demons”) (affiliate link) yet?
GS: I have not seen the film yet.
AG: Okay, that’s just fine. I had recently done an interview and then later that day they posted a really mean review declaring the movie was like “a dog dragging its ass on the ground”. And so, I felt weird. If you want, you can compare the film to a dog dragging its ass on the ground tomorrow, but it’s nice to know I’m speaking with a pure subject.
GS: Yeah, I can’t say that about the film yet. Hopefully I won’t. You have worked with many big names in the industry and seem to have a passion for horror. What are some of your favorite films?
AG: I would say my all-time favorite is “Rosemary’s Baby”. It’s a perfect film. Perfectly written, perfectly directed, perfectly acted. Each scene is so complex that it blows my mind. It’s film-maker perfection.
I love “Curse of the Demons”, the 1958 Jacques Tourneur picture. It was based on a story by M. R. James. I think it was just a fantastic movie.
There’s “Suspiria”. What do you say about “Suspiria”? I mean, Jesus Christ, it’s just an amazing movie.
I like some of the classics. I like “The Exorcist” (affiliate link) a whole bunch. What are some of the more obscure ones? I like a lot of the Italian giallos. “The Case of the Bloody Iris”, “Altered States” is one of my favorites…
GS: (interrupting Adam) I think I opened up a can of worms with that question. Was there anyone you were a fan of growing up and ended up meeting or working with later on?
AG: Absolutely. I was always a Tobe Hooper fan, like “The Funhouse”. It was great. My agent called me and said, “Would you guys (Adam and his wife Jace) like to go have lunch with Tobe?” That lunch lead to us doing three movies together.
GS: Adam, how did you get the cameo in “Roman” (2006)?
AG: Angela Bettis starred in “Toolbox Murders”, and Lucky McKee was supposed to play the killer in “Toolbox Murders”, which we wrote for Tobe. And so I got to be friends with Angela, and she asked me to come and do this little weird thing in “Roman”. And I acted with her in “Toolbox Murders”, as well.
GS: You did some of the writing for “Mother of Tears” (2007). Some sort of rewrite or something…
AG: No, no, no. We (Adam and Jace) did the whole script with Dario. It wasn’t a writing assignment — me and Jace and Dario collaborated on the whole thing together.
GS: Oh, I’m sorry. What was your input, and how did your work change the story?
AG: Well, we all came up with the story together. Sure, we came up with different aspects of it. We flew to Rome, were put up in an apartment for a month, and Dario came over every day. It was just a dream come true.
GS: I believe it. I’m crazy about Argento, he’s my favorite director.
AG: Yeah, he’s just fantastic.
GS: What was it like being around him?
AG: It was great. He would imitate… he came up with the idea of putting the monkey in the movie, so he hopped around the apartment imitating the monkey to tell us what it should do. That was pretty amusing. He also took us out to dinner one time and ordered tripe for Jace. Tripe is the stomach lining of what animal, Jace?
Jace Anderson (in the background): Cow.
AG: So yeah, then Jace ate tripe romana. I generally consider myself a pretty adventurous eater, but she ate the tripe and I just had bone marrow.
GS: “Night of the Demons” (2009) is your latest big thing… I hate to ask the obvious question, because I know you’ve been getting it a lot, but…
AG: Let me guess. It’s a remake, how did we feel about doing that?
GS: Yes, it’s that question.
AG: I was fine with it. It’s one of those things where it’s such a classic story of a bunch of kids being chased around a house by demons. It hasn’t just been done in “Night of the Demons” but Lamberto Bava’s “Demons” and “Demons 2” and “Evil Dead” and “Evil Dead 2” and “Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight” and I was like, I can play with this. If everyone else is playing with this, I should be able to. So, to me, it was just that I wanted to be respectful to the original vibe of “Night of the Demons” while also making a very different movie.
GS: And yet, you’re a horror fan, so you know horror fans hate it when you tamper with “their” films.
AG: You know what? When you’re remaking a film, there are a couple different ways to do it. You could just remake it, make the same film again, almost shot for shot. You see that in some aspects of “The Ring” or “The Hitcher” and “Nightmare on Elm Street”. And then there’s the remake of “Psycho”, which was exactly shot for shot. In this case, I looked at it as less remaking “Night of the Demons” than as a cool story about people being chased around by demons on Halloween. I’m not one of those rabidly opposed to remakes type of people. I mean, take “The Thing”. John Carpenter kicked the ass of Howard Hawks’ version.
GS: That’s absolutely true.
AG: And some of the Christopher Lee Dracula movies. A story is a story. I look at remaking a movie as working with a story. I’m not damaging the original “Night of the Demons”. It’s still there, you can rent it. On the other hand, let’s face it, we all want to do our own, cool, original stuff. But in this case, it was offered to me and I became very passionate about it.
GS: Let me list off some names here: Edward Furlong, Shannon Elizabeth, Monica Keena, Tiffany Shepis and Linnea Quigley. These and more genre stars are in “Night of the Demons”. I have to assume this casting was intentional.
AG: Shockingly, no, to be perfectly honest. Monica Keena came in and auditioned, and I thought she was the best for the role. She kicked everybody’s ass. The producer suggested Shannon Elizabeth, and I thought that was a cool idea. I wasn’t even thinking “Thirteen Ghosts”. I was just thinking of Shannon as an actress. Linnea Quigley, well, of course. Kevin Tenney (the original film’s director) was one of the producers and he was like, “Adam, do you want to bring her in?” And at first I was like, “Oh no, I’m scared. I don’t want to be homagey.” But the more I thought about it, I realized people would really like it, and she told funny stories and was a pleasure to be around. And we actually tape recorded her doing lines from the original.
Tiffany is just a good friend. And also, a hell of an actress.
GS: Oh, absolutely. I’ve met Tiffany and she’s one of the most down to Earth people.
AG: Definitely. She’s just super-duper cool. I just wanted her in the movie in any part. Her part in the movie isn’t that big, but she’s really memorable in it. And Eddie Furlong… when I think of Eddie Furlong, I think of “American History X” and “Terminator 2”, which I guess is a genre film. But he was also in another wonderful film called “Animal Factory”. So I was thinking of that guy. I don’t mind putting genre people in it, but I try to go for the best people possible. The same for my first film, “Autopsy”. It had some genre people, but I just go for the best. Sometimes it just works out that way. Of course, as a horror movie buff, when certain people walk in the room, I may subconsciously be going, “Oh, my God, you were in that movie!” but it’s not intentional.
GS: Of those you didn’t know or work with previously…
AG: Which was everybody other than Tiffany Shepis.
GS: …who did you find the most fun to have on set?
AG: Well, they were all great. Eddie Furlong is just an incredibly funny person. Bobbi Sue Luther was a pleasure to have. I’m not going to pick favorites. Do I want everyone to hate me? I don’t think so! I don’t even have time to pick favorites. If someone yelled at me or something, maybe they weren’t my favorite that day…
GS: I know nothing about “Fertile Ground” other than it’s a horror film and the main characters are the Weaver family. Tell me more about this.
AG: I can’t talk about Fertile Ground, (affiliate link)at least until it’s released. I’m not into keeping secrets, but I just can’t.