During the recent Fantasia film festival I got a chance to sit down with Gary Sherman for an epic two-and-a-half-hour interview. I’m still in the process of putting that monster together, but I thought I would thrown this juicy bit out to you guys as a taste.
As you may know, Deathline, a.k.a Raw Meat, is in the early stages of being remade, and during our talk Gary filled us in that after being approached by various studios about acquiring the rights, he and producer Alan Ladd Jr. decided to remake the film themselves, though not without some reservations “The only person that’s ever remade their own film is Alfred Hitchcock. I don’t know if I’d want to be egotistical enough to put myself in that company,” says Sherman. He goes on to mention that when he brought the possibility of a remake up to good friend “G” (Guillermo Del Toro, who credits his desire to be filmmaker to Deathline), Del Toro emphatically responded, “You can’t improve upon perfection. Don’t even think about it!”
Sherman describes the process of rewriting a 24-year-old film:
“I started to do a rewrite of the original script, except we’re going to move it to America and make it American,” he explained. “I decided to set it in Chicago because I love shooting in Chicago. But I had to put myself in the space where I’ve just come up with the idea of survivors of a tunnel collapse from 100 years ago under Chicago. Historically it works better in Chicago than it works in London because Chicago had a series of freight tunnels that were built illegally after the fire. The tunnels are still there under central Chicago. It’s really creepy.
So then I thought about society today, and what characters are today, and I wrote a whole new script. What happens down below is very much the same, but what prompts things above is different. There’s no Donald Pleasance because the cops don’t get involved in this one. They don’t give a shit.”
Well, that sure is pretty harsh, though it’s more or less true. So what makes them go down there in the first place? “The kids are a band. They’re from some other part of the country, backpacking around, and that’s how they get involved in this thing. When they go to the cops, they think the kids are just a bunch of potheads.” Ah, those crazy teenagers with their wild stories about underground cannibals…
“The way we’re leaning now is to put a real band in the movie. We’re leaning towards going with a solo female singer and surrounding her with actors who can really play instruments. We’re working with the music studios now. There are some really great female vocalists out there who can act. This is a really demanding part. It’s a really dramatic film, driven by music.”
The idea of using a real band is a double-edged sword, so thank God Sherman is still keeping his eyes on the terror. “As horrifying as the flick is going to be conceptually, I also really play up the cannibalism aspect. It’s there, and you know it’s there, and you have to deal with that part of it. The main character Jess is an amazing character. She doesn’t need a bunch of guys to come save her. In fact, in the end she basically saves their asses. It’s basically a horror chick flick.”
Well, there you have it. Like you, I’m a little concerned about how this whole female vocalist casting is going to pan out, and despite Deathline basically inventing the claustrophobic underground monster movie, putting a tough chick in a cave with a monster is going to reek of The Descent to megaplex audiences who have never heard of Deathline. It’s a shame that the original could end up coming off as derivative, but such is the fate of the remake. Gary told me that he’s currently planning to direct the remake himself, and given how much 39: A Film By Carroll McKane rocks (read my review here), he may just be able to pull it off.
Stay tuned for more juicy details in the upcoming Gary Sherman interview…
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