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Stephen King’s IT – Interview With Writer Gary Dauberman

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There are a few screenwriters credited with bringing Stephen King’s IT to life, but Gary Dauberman is the main man (along with Cary Fukunaga and Chase Palmer), and he’s now giving us a glimpse into what it’s like to be a part of one of the most anticipated films in recent years.

IT is based on the bestselling novel from the 1980s, which was adapted into a miniseries television “event” in 1990. The show starred Tim Curry as the evil clown, Pennywise, cementing his place in horror iconography. Although the creepy kid-killer is what most people remember best about the whole IT thing, the story started with a lot of heart and, well, a story. That’s what Dauberman was most interested in capturing in his screenplay because to him, you can’t have the scares without the setup.

Dread Central: How does one even begin to take on such a huge challenge? I mean, the book looks like War and Peace when you see the sheer size of it. It’s over 1,000 pages, right?

Gary Dauberman: Yeah. It’s a lot of conversations with Andy [director Andrés Muschietti] and the producers, the studio. Obviously, we couldn’t do the whole story and do it justice if we did the kids through adults so we just focused on the kids, which helped. It does become a challenge because there’s not anything in there that you wouldn’t want to include in a movie. You get the reason why you put it in there and there’s such great iconic moments – so the challenge becomes – you have to choose between great and great to what works for our movie, what fits and you just go from there. So it was a challenge but an ongoing conversation. I grew up in the 80s and everyone had their own experience growing up in the 80s so they all threw out ideas and stuff, which was great.

DC: The characters are so layered in the book. Was there any limit to how you had to portray them in the film?

GD: Nothing offhand. I think we planted seeds of ideas and stuff and tried to communicate larger ideas using some small choices and stuff. I don’t think there was anything [off limits] – we looked at each character, broke them down, they’re so defined by their fears and all that stuff and looked at who they are as a person. Tried to personify that in some way in a particular scene. I don’t think there was anything like, ‘Oh, this part of this aspect of his personality we can’t cram in there somehow.’ I think the cast does a phenomenal job communicating all their character traits. It’s so great to have a cast like that, to be able to do that heavy lifting for you.

DC: When did you start getting interesting in horror?

GD: I remember I was in third grade home with pneumonia and I got brought Edgar Allan Poe’s “Book of Tales”, which so romanticized the idea of a writer; little did I know he died in the gutter, as an alcoholic and stuff. But it was this beautiful prose, and this beautiful poetry, that I just fell in love with. And then I was reading also RL Stine, Christopher Pike, Lois Duncan and that stuff that really turned me on to it. I just always loved the supernatural, and I don’t know if you guys remember the Time Life series that used to come once a month – so I got really wrapped up in that stuff. And then you kinda graduate to Stephen King. The first thing I read of his was “The Body.” And Stand By Me was a movie that really affected me, that story. And from there I just found all of this stuff and became a lifelong horror fan after that. And then movies of course, John Carpenter, and the 80s was a hell of a decade for horror. IT just loomed so large in my life it was just something I always wanted to do.

DC: Did you ever do a screenplay of the whole book?

GD: No. I did not. I think part one is important – obviously! I don’t want to take anything away from them as adults as they’re going through their own fears and dealing with their own issues and stuff. I didn’t do a rough draft and go ‘Oh, is there a way we can crunch this all down into one movie.’ It helped knowing, reading that part being familiar to what they grow into so you can make setups that maybe down the road they can pay off later.

DC: How old were you when you first read IT?

GD: I was twelve, I think. Which for me was the right moment to read it. And it was the longest book I’d ever read – it felt like an achievement – but I didn’t want it to end. Like I said, that was the first novel of his I read and was the spring board for everything else that followed.

DC: Any favorite characters?

GD: My favorite character, having written the script – and the book – I think my favorite character is Beverly – I think she’s the heart of the Losers – I love the dynamic between them, the coming of age part of the story and the dynamics between them are sort of my favourite part. When you read the book, it’s like Georgie at the sewer, it’s like this is iconic. Stuff like that. I think for me my favourite part is the dynamic of the Losers. As kids, I think we sort have all felt that at one time or another.

DC: Were you nervous, wondering what Stephen King would think of the movie?

GD: Yes! There’s huge pressure and a lot of anxiety and a lot of sleepless nights and I’m writing this and I’m looking at my bookshelves and there all just round my house and my wife’s from Maine and it’s like I can’t visit there again after seeing this fucked up. So I’m looking around my house and thinking when this thing’s over I am going to have to pull all these books down so I just don’t want to be reminded – like if he comes out and says he hates it I’m just going to have to sit there and fucking live with that for the rest of my life! But I found out, I was on a location scout from an upcoming movie The Nun and we were in the heart of Transylvania and we got a text from somebody and they told me he loved the movie. I could finally breathe again! Because really that comes down to is yes, I want my family to like it and yes, I want you guys to like it, but him, he was the most important to me. So yeah, the pressure was there, the pressure was real.

DC: What about the miniseries for TV? Did you watch it at the time?

GD: Yeah. The miniseries was an important touchstone in my life, but that was one thing we could really go balls to the walls with the scares and the language and the kids and all that stuff which just makes it feel a little more authentic. It was a two-parter, two nights, and I remember staying up each night and talking about it at school the next day. I get nostalgic for those times because it was like, I don’t know how many channels there were at the time, I mean I know there’s cable but it was still limited, so everybody watched it – you go to school the next day – everybody’s talking about it! And it’s still that thing that just lives on in your head for years and years to come. I think for me it was just exciting to watch horror on network TV at that time, it was such a rare thing.

DC: Do you have kids? If so, do you think kids were meaner in the 1980s or no?

GD: I have a seven-year-old. I don’t know if kids are any tamer, I think they’re fucking brutal (laughs). I will say, it feels like kids are a little bit more like, it’s not the jocks over here and the nerds over here – it doesn’t feel categorized like that – I could be completely wrong – but I remember that being in the 80s. These guys here over here are gonna to each their lunch in the band room and these guys are, and I’m gonna eat my lunch under a tree, by myself. You do remember that stuff. And by the way, this is set in the 80s and the book’s in the 50s, but it’s the same thing, with bullies … it doesn’t matter what decade you’re in, they still suck.

DC: Twenty-seven years after the miniseries – which is incidentally the same amount of time between Pennywise’s rampages – was there any worry that younger audiences would know about the story?

GD: It didn’t really concern us. So many people have read the book or at least familiar with it, that it wasn’t like, ‘Oh how are we going to capture an audience that hasn’t seen the book.’ The story is so well done and well executed that even people who haven’t read it or seen it I think are just going to be drawn in by the story that he wrote. I’m never gonna not recommend someone read the book, but I don’t think you need to read the book before to understand the movie at all. The movie’s a unique experience, the book’s a unique experience, I think everybody should experience both.

DC: This movie has a lot more comedy than people might expect.

GD: Well, it’s all about rhythm and timing in horror and comedy. So it was nice to finally write some jokes that can play but again, going back to the cast, they just work so well off each other, they find their own sense of timing and stuff. So while I can find the timing on the page, Andy’s got to find the right timing within in the scene. He did that beautifully. The actors within the scene are working on all that stuff, so it’s difficult, but a lot of fun to find that rhythm. And also I think that levity, those moments of levity just make the horror, and that’s what Stephen King does so well too in a lot of books, he has those moments of levity so when the darkness comes it’s even darker because you have those little moments of brightness.

DC: Is Bill Skarsgard how you imagined the clown when you were writing?

GD: Way better. So not close, but I mean that in the best way possible, just way better than I anticipated. Bill, I saw his audition, and he fucking nailed it. I was like “Oh. Done.” Of course my opinion meant nothing (laughs) but I was so happy Andy went with him. Andy showed it to me because he was very excited and then he sat down with me and talked about the character – this is far and away better than anything I anticipated. He’s great. I just love what he gave to that character.

DC: In this adaptation, the Niebolt House is really important. More than in the miniseries…

GD: That was something Andy and I talked about a lot. Andy really keyed on it early on. He’s like, that’s really the centre piece of our story and that’s sort of like when we were laying out the structure, looking a previous drafts and all that stuff, and looking at the direction we were going to take it… We’re gonna get to that and we’re going to build that out that’s going to launch us into the third act and become much more important integral to the story. We never sat down with the miniseries and go “What didn’t they do and what can we do here”. So we really didn’t compare and contrast. In fact I did not re-watch it for that reason. It looms so large in my head just because I saw it and it influenced me a great deal when I was a kid, but I didn’t go back and visit that just because I didn’t want to muddy the waters. I wanted to be true to that feeling.

DC: Did you get to see any of the filming?

GD: I did. I was there for pre-production. I won’t forget the moment of walking on to the set and the sewers were there and the cistern. I couldn’t comprehend the scale of the sets. It was like one of the hamster aquariums (wheels) or whatever, like that. But it was just so well done. But then I was on the location scout and all that stuff and see where they’re going to set up Neibolt House and Derry and all that stuff. It was an experience I won’t forget.

DC: Would you like to adapt more Stephen King for the screen?

GD: Oh man, yes! I don’t even know how to answer that because there’s a ton of them. Salem’s Lot I would love to do, – there’s so many in the process of being developed right now that I don’t want to take away or say something – but there’s endless amounts of his novels and short stories that are very ripe for adaptation.

Stephen King’s IT has been rated R for “violence/horror, bloody images, and for language.

Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Nicholas Hamilton, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray Taylor, and Sophia Lillis star with Bill Skarsgard, who portrays Pennywise. In addition, creature performer Javier Botet has signed on as The Leper, and Owen Teague plays Patrick Hocksetter, part of a group of bullies who torment The Losers’ Club.

Related Story: Interview: Bill Skarsgård on Becoming Pennywise in Stephen King’s IT

IT hits theaters on September 8th. Andrés Muschietti directs.

The behind-the-scenes creative team includes director of photography Chung-Hoon Chung (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), production designer Claude Paré (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), editor Jason Ballantine (The Great Gatsby), and costume designer Janie Bryant (“Mad Men”).

Synopsis:
When children begin to disappear in the town of Derry, Maine, a group of young kids are faced with their biggest fears when they square off against an evil clown named Pennywise, whose history of murder and violence dates back for centuries.

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The Crow Reboot Begins Location Scouting

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Corin Hardy’s reboot of Alex Proyas’ The Crow has begun location scouting in Detroit and today we have some pics from the scout via director Corin Hardy.

Hardy posted the pics on Instagram saying: “I’ve waited half my life to visit Detroit & it was 100% raining. Which was beautifully fitting for my scout. But you know what they say…. #TheCrow

Come, everybody. All at once now: “It can’t rain all the time!

You can check out his posts below and then make sure to hit us up and let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!

The Crow Reborn is directed by Corin Hardy from a script he co-wrote with Jon Spaihts. Jason Momoa stars and the film is produced by Samuel Hadida, Kevin Misher and Ed Pressman.

Principal photography begins in early July 2018.

The Crow (1994) synopsis:

The night before his wedding, musician Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) and his fiancée are brutally murdered by members of a violent inner-city gang. On the anniversary of their death, Eric rises from the grave and assumes the gothic mantle of the Crow, a supernatural avenger. Tracking down the thugs responsible for the crimes and mercilessly murdering them, Eric eventually confronts head gangster Top Dollar to complete his macabre mission.

Kung Fu Kick. Detroit. 15.04.18

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Brennan Went to Film School: The Surprisingly Inspiring Message in Nightmare on Elm Street 4

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“Brennan Went to Film School” is a column that proves that horror has just as much to say about the world as your average Oscar nominee. Probably more, if we’re being honest.

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER. READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.

The Elm Street franchise has a reputation for going downhill after Freddy gets funny, with most people fearing to venture past the high-water mark of the third film, Dream Warriors. But if there’s one Freddy film that sticks in my craw and makes me think about it more than any other, it’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master.

Yes, the movie with the karate dude. The movie with the soul pizza. The movie that has multiple Dramarama needle drops. Let me explain.

If you’re not familiar, The Dream Master tells the story of Alice Johnson, as played by Lisa Wilcox, who is part of a new group of friends (there’s always a new group of friends) that surround the three survivors of the previous installment. She’s a sweet, shy girl who has a tendency for daydreaming in order to escape the mundane, awful realities of life with her abusive, alcoholic father.

When Freddy Krueger returns to continue his reign of terror (this involves a fire-pissing dog named Jason, don’t ask), Alice discovers that not only do people possess special powers in the dream world, but her particular power is to absorb the skills and abilities of her friends once they are killed. After they’re all dead, she becomes the Dream Master, the only person who has a chance of conquering Freddy once and for all. Or at least until they made three more sequels and a spin-off.

It might not seem like it at first, but Alice Johnson’s character arc is probably the most powerful in the franchise. In between the cockroach weight lifting and the time loops and the movie theater vortex is a genuinely powerful story of a young woman’s self-actualization in the face of trauma.

Alice starts the movie as a beaten-down, mousy wallflower who lets her more outgoing friends lead her thoughts and actions. In fact, she’s so bland and boring that you might even start to wonder why the movie even decided to have her as the protagonist. Her whole life seems to entail going to school, going to work at the local diner, and doing her best not to stand out.

But there’s one thing that already implies her potential to be a worthy adversary to the unstoppable dream demon: she already lives in a world of daydreams, so she and Freddy share the same domain. She’s only truly at home in the dream world, as it is the place that gives her the power to carry on with her day.

As the story progresses, we see Alice literally draw strength from her friends and eventually learn to cope with the hand she’s been dealt, until she is accomplished and powerful in her own right. Not only does she defeat Freddy, but she gains her own agency, fights back against her dad, and wins the heart of the hunky guy she’s been crushing on. It’s a radical, inspiring change worthy of any high school movie, even one where a man with a charred face drowns a kid in his own waterbed.

Now that’s all well and good, but there’s a visual metaphor at the center of this that drives everything home so powerfully that it’ll never detach its vise grip on my mind. In Alice’s room, she has a mirror that’s so covered with photos of her friends there’s hardly space to check the bags under her eyes. She has literally hidden herself behind the faces and personalities of those she loves.

But as they start to die off one by one, Alice removes their pictures from her mirror. Friend by friend, power by power, Freddy’s murder spree chips away the photo collage until all she’s left with is her own reflection. Once she has become complete and ready to face her demons on her own, she is finally able to look herself full in the face and find her own identity.

It’s a powerful image, and maybe the most subtle in director Renny Harlin’s entire career. And that’s why The Dream Master never strikes me as one of the worse entries of the franchise. Not only is it a fun, cheesy supernatural slasher, it’s an uplifting tale of a girl who deserves more finally learning to respect herself and using that very respect to change the world around her for the better. I think that’s a message we could all use, even if you have to dig a little bit to get it.


Brennan Klein is a writer and podcaster who talks horror movies every chance he gets. And when you’re talking to him about something else, he’s probably thinking about horror movies. On his blog, Popcorn Culture, he is running through reviews of every slasher film of the 1980’s, and on his podcast, Scream 101, he and a non-horror nerd co-host tackle horror reviews with a new sub-genre every month!


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Pacific Rim Uprising Hits Blu-ray This June

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As much as we covered the film, I didn’t see the new Pacific Rim movie in theaters. I figured I’d just hold out for the Blu-ray. And if you’re like me, then today we have some good news.

Steven S. DeKnight’s Pacific Rim Uprising arrives on Digital and the all-new digital movie app Movies Anywhere June 5th, as well as 4K Ultra HD, 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand June 19th.

You can check out the Blu-ray cover art to the right and the full list of special features below, and then make sure to hit us up and let us know what you think in the comments below or on FacebookTwitter, and/or Instagram!

The film is directed by Steven S. DeKnight and stars John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Jing Tian, Cailee Spaeny, Rinko Kikuchi, Burn Gorman, and Charlie Day.

Bonus Features:

  • Deleted Scenes with Commentary by Director Steven S. DeKnight
  • Hall of Heroes – John Boyega takes us through the awesome weaponry and cutting-edge enhancements of the latest generation of Jaegers featured in the film.
  • Bridge to Uprising – The cast and crew discuss how the world of Pacific Rim has changed in the ten years since the events of the original film.
  • The Underworld of Uprising – Humanity won the Kaiju War, but every war has casualties. John Boyega and Steven S. DeKnight give a tour of the coastal “Relief Zones.”
  • Becoming Cadets – Step into the Shatterdome, and learn the grueling physical and mental preparation required of the young actors who portrayed the PPDC cadets.
  • Unexpected Villain – Learn the secret reason that turned one of the most beloved heroes of the original film into a villain obsessed with humanity’s destruction.
  • Next Level Jaegers – The cast and crew discuss the amazing technological advances of the Jaeger program in the years since the events of the original film.
  • I Am Scrapper – Actress Cailee Spaeny shares the backstory of Scrapper, Amara’s incredible self-built Jaeger, and its many unique abilities.
  • Going Mega – Filmmakers take us through the technical and creative challenges of creating the most deadly threat the Pan Pacific Defense Corp has ever faced: the Mega Kaiju!
  • Secrets of Shao – Meet the woman behind Shao Industries. Actress Tian Jing shares her insights on the enigmatic tech tycoon Liwen Shao.
  • Mako Returns – Actress Rinko Kikuchi and director Steven S. DeKnight explain the significance of Mako Mori’s return and her importance to the events of Pacific Rim Uprising.
  • Feature Commentary with Director Steven S. DeKnight

BUY IT HERE

Synopsis:

In Pacific Rim Uprising directed by Steven S. DeKnight, John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) stars as the rebellious Jake Pentecost, a once-promising Jaeger pilot whose legendary father gave his life to secure humanity’s victory against the monstrous Kaiju. Jake has since abandoned his training only to become caught up in a criminal underworld. But when an even more unstoppable threat is unleashed to tear through our cities and bring the world to its knees, he is given one last chance to live up to his father’s legacy. Jake is joined by gifted rival pilot Lambert (The Fate of the Furious’ Scott Eastwood), 15-year-old Jaeger hacker Amara (newcomer Cailee Spaeny), returning veterans Charlie Day (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”), Rinko Kikuchi (Pacific Rim), Burn Gorman (The Dark Knight Rises) and a talented crew of fiercely young cadets. The international cast also includes Tian Jing (Kong: Skull Island) and Adria Arjona. Rising up to become the most powerful defense force to ever walk the earth, they set course for a spectacular all-new adventure on a towering scale.

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