With the release of horror documentary Slice and Dice: The Slasher Film Forever on DVD today, 13th May, we bring you an interview with one of its contributors.
Calum Waddell’s labour of love assembles filmmakers and actors to talk about the slasher genre, with Corey Feldman (Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter), Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre), Mick Garris (Masters of Horror), Tom Holland (Child’s Play) Adam Green (Hatchet) and Scott Spiegel (producer: Hostel series) just some of the names dissecting legendary gorefests.
One of the interviewees is Final Destination creator Jeffrey Reddick, and we jumped at the chance to get the writer on the phone. Reddick’s original screenplay for 2000’s hit horror spawned four sequels, with his credits including Tamara (2005) and the 2008 remake of Day of the Dead.
As a female fan of horror, I found the discussion about the genre’s misogyny a particularly interesting part of Slice and Dice. It’s interesting that you went for a male ‘victim’ in Final Destination.
Yeah, there’s usually a female protagonist. I don’t like it when it’s a protagonist when they’re running around waiting for a guy to save them. I thought it would be fun to have the guy being the one chased by police and stalked. I originally brought him back and killed him off in the sequel, but we couldn’t get him [Devon Sawa] back.
It never went down the exploitation route typically seen in slasher movies - was that a deliberate choice?
I love the cheesy slasher films, and I liked the first Saw movie as it had some moral questions it was asking. I actually enjoyed the first Hostel, ironically because it was four guys who were the victims. The misogyny comes from getting the girls naked and having them run around screaming for their lives. I think it’s because my mom raised me and my sister by herself, so she was a very strong woman. And also because of my religious beliefs - I’m Bahá’í - so I was raised to believe women are equal, so it’s ingrained in me from a religious and a growing up point of view. It’s just something I don’t even think about when writing - I don’t think women are weaker or anything like that.
Does it trouble you when other filmmakers do it?
It troubles me when it’s in a stupid way. I have a lot of horror filmmaker friends, and there are a few of them who all they care about when they go and see a horror film is women’s breasts and seeing a lot of bloody death - that’s really all they care about. They say, hey, it’s got blood and boobs in it, I’m very happy. What can you do? [laughs] I have grown up on these films and I love them - the original Nightmare on Elm Street is my favourite movie of all time. If you watch that movie, Nancy was the first intelligent horror heroine - she boobytrapped the house, went after Freddy, she beat the crap out of him. I saw that when I was 14, so on top of that being a great movie, she was a great heroine.
Nightmare on Elm Street also inspired me as a girl - would it have done if it was a typical slasher flick? I don’t think these films are often targeted at young women.
It’s funny, I worked at New Line Cinema for about ten years from the ’90s, and they did a lot of market research. They started finding back then the female audience was a big audience, but the studios themselves are a little archaic, and it takes them a decade or two to catch up with what’s going on out there! It was so funny, as I was watching marketing people talk about Jennifer’s Body, and I enjoyed the movie, but it wasn’t the movie it was marketed as. It’s a female empowerment movie, so girls will see it and guys will see it because it’s got two hot ladies in it. The previews are just showing the girls making out, and Megan Fox unbuttoning Amanda’s shirt. A female isn’t going to watch this with her boyfriend, as it looks exploitative. They’re completely missing the market. A lot of the stuff I’ve written has been watered down, like Tamara, which is definitely a female empowerment movie. That’s what’s cool about watching the documentary, you see over time that female characters have evolved from the silent girl, as they called them. I love Halloween, but Jamie Lee Curtis spends most of the movie screaming and running. By the time H20 comes around, she’s kicking butt. It’s interesting to see how it’s evolved.
The Final Destination films are guilt-free, as Death is the killer. Do you feel you can have a lot more fun with that?
As sad and perverted as it sounds, yeah, you can! The franchise has gone in a weird way, but in the second film they tried to trick death. My argument is that you can’t cheat death, but you should be able to put it off for 15 years or so. It’s fun, as you get to be more imaginative with it. I like to disturb people more with ideas. I have written some gruesome death scenes, but I try to make them clever.
Is there a line to be drawn in slasher films? Does anything offend you personally?
I only get offended, and I hate to pick on Hostel II as I enjoyed Cabin Fever and the first Hostel, but when I saw Hostel II but that scene with Heather Matarazzo where she was tied up naked, it felt like ten minutes, but it was probably only two. She’s begging for her life and being sliced up, and I turned that thing off. It made me disgusted a little bit, as it’s exploitative. The only time it crosses the line personally, is when it’s gratuitously a naked woman. I’ve seen a couple of movies where women have had instruments put in them, and I think that crosses a line. It’s unnecessary. In Mother of Tears, Dario Argento had a lesbian character have a poker shoved up her. Scenes like that cross the line personally, and it feels like the filmmaker is going, oh here’s a naked lady, let’s see how much I can sexually violate her with something. Or if it’s a gay character, let’s see if I can shove something up his bottom to kill him. Those things are mean-spirited.
Have you seen anything you enjoyed recently?
A lot of the movies I’ve enjoyed haven’t been super-recent. I enjoyed The Crazies, The Descent, the last Scream movie - which was nostalgia for the characters. Paranormal Activity, and the second one. The Last Exorcism was pretty good - the acting was brilliant, and the way they brought you into the movie was clever. I wanted to love the Evil Dead remake, but I was a little let down by it. It was more about the gore than the fun. It was nice to see an R-rated prosthetic film. The most fun I’ve had in a movie in a long time is Dale and Tucker vs. Evil, which is more a spoof, but worked as a horror. For some reason I’m excited to see Carrie, even though I think Chloe Moretz is a little too pretty to be playing Carrie. My friend was livid about Chloe being cast, but I thought, pretty people get bullied too.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on three projects - a book adaptation that I can’t say what it is yet. I have two supernatural thrillers that I wrote for Gold Circle years ago, that I just got back out of turnaround a year ago. We have a director that we’re trying to raise financing for. I’m working on a Bloody Mary movie as well, which is a teen horror. The other two are adult, which is kind of fun. I’m pimping out the Slice and Dice DVD, which was a lot of fun to do as well!