The first thing our team noticed when we hit the set of The Hills Have Eyes 2 was how … well, advanced the whole operation looked. I mean, we’re talking about a massive studio built in the middle of the desert, but it’s full of state-of-the-art equipment and facilities; like a little slice of Hollywood about as far from Hollywood as you can get.
After being shown to our room (yeah, that’s right, they set aside a full room for us reporters, complete with food and drink!) we were quickly ushered to the set while the first round of interviews were being finalized. One of the first people we saw when we got on set was long-time Wes Craven producer Marianne Maddalena, who’s been behind every Craven film since 1989’s Shocker (now there’s a film that deserves a decent DVD release!). She was thrilled, literally thrilled, to sit down and shoot the shit with a bunch of film geeks, picking our brains about the best new horror directors working today and chatting freely about pretty much any subject we could think of. It was a great way to start off our visit!
Once we got comfortable and realized this was pretty much a casual interview, we let the Hills 2 inquiries fly, starting with the burning question as to how Wes and his son Jonathan came to write the script. “We had offered it to Alexandre, but he just didn’t have the time because of prior commitments,” she explained. “We took two years to develop the first one, so he was able to work at a good pace, but the turnaround for Hills 2 was much shorter. Then Wes said, ‘Hey, if I can write it with my son, I’ll do it’. And they were like ‘great!'”
Obviously getting the creator of the original film to work on it, along with his son Johnathan, was a big coup for the legitimacy of churning out a sequel so quickly, and the duo brought a lot to the project that wasn’t really present in the first film. “We have some really fun stuff; this movie has a bit more of a sense of humor than the last one. It’s got a little bit more of the Wes/Jonathan sensibility than the last one,” Maddalena enthused. “The humor isn’t so much in your face but more of a tension release than anything. It’s really a lot more fun than the first.”
With the script in solid hands it was then time to seek out a worthy director since Aja would not be able to return to that role either due to other commitments. “We actually had a meeting with (Wilderness and Deathwatch director) Michael Bassett, but he dropped out to make a movie that unfortunately never got made,” Marianne revealed. Though this would’ve been great for Bassett in terms of exposure, they had to move forward, shifting their focus overseas in the hopes that they’d get lucky like they did with the remake.
Luck was on their side because they were able to nail down Grimm Love director Martin Weisz, fresh off of his first full-length feature. He already had about 300 music videos under his belt, so he was certainly no novice to getting the job done, and from all accounts he was doing a fantastic job so far. “Martin’s really a wonderful director, I love working with him,” Marianne told us. “A lot of the older European directors are a bit old school, but the younger directors have such an fascinating perspective. They really have a love/hate relationship with America because they’ve seen everything, but they see it through very different circumstances and through fresh eyes, so you end up with a really interesting outlook.”
And really that’s what made the remake so much better than anyone expected; Aja and co-screenwriter Greg Levassuer had bonded over the original film when they were young, but their unique point of view, being from France, allowed a new spin on the tale that no one else would have been able to bring to the project. “For the first movie it was really great to have a French director on board because their view of America is much different than other countries, which is one of the reasons there was so much political subtext brought forth,” Marianne said as we prepared to watch the first scene (well, for us anyway) being filmed.
Indeed, it worked out pretty well for the team behind the Hills remake, and with a new perspective on board in the form of Weisz, the hope is that the sequel will be just as compelling.
So that wrapped up our chat with producer Marianne Maddalena, but there was a lot more to see and do on the Hills 2 set, which I’ll be more than happy to share with you over the coming weeks!
For more on The Hills Have Eyes 2, be sure to hit up the official site for Fox Atomic to see bucketloads of cool shit. The Hills Have Eyes 2 opens everywhere on March 23rd!
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