With principal photography having just kicked off on Silent Night, Steven C. Miller’s Silent Night, Deadly Night remake, in Winnipeg, the director phoned us from the set to chat about his killer Santa flick.
“This one’s going to be dark,” said Miller (pictured right) of his approach to the remake of Charles E. Sellier, Jr.’s controversial 1984 slasher film, which revolved around an unhinged teenager who embarks on an axe murder spree while dressed as Saint Nick. “I love the original movie, and I love the mean spirit of it. I felt like it took itself pretty seriously, and while there is (going to be) some dark humor in this one, we are handling it ‘straight’ and it’s definitely a horror film and it’s definitely a ‘Santa with an Axe’ film. It’s going to be really crazy, and really gory, and at the same time have some really great characters at its heart.”
Of those characters, the remake has attracted the talents of notable actors Malcolm McDowell, Jaime King (Sin City), Jamie Kennedy (Scream), Brendan Fehr (Final Destination), Lisa Marie (Sleepy Hollow), Donal Logue (Shark Night 3D) and Ellen Wong. King is set to play Deputy Sheriff Aubrey Bradimore, who battles the killer Santa terrorizing her small Midwestern town.
“Jaime is a good friend of the producers,” said Miller of the casting, “and she read the script and really enjoyed it, and it also helped that we had Malcolm McDowell attached. Malcolm is just a great guy. I got to sit down with him for breakfast, and we just really hit it off and both felt like this could be a really fun remake.”
“With Jamie Kennedy, he’s a good friend of mine,” continued Miller, whose other directorial genre credits include the features Automaton Transfusion and the upcoming The Aggression Scale and Under the Bed. “So we just tried to reach out to the people that I felt could make some really great moments in the movie and elevate it beyond what we are typically seeing lately in remakes. We want to do something a bit more fun, exciting and elevated.”
With practical effects being handled by Vincent Guastini’s V.G.P. Effects (we’ll be hitting the shop to chat with Vincent regarding his approach to the film’s creations later this week so stay tuned for that), we asked Miller what ratio of practical to CG effects we might expect in the finished film.
“It’s going to be 100 percent practical,” Miller replied, who was at the time prepping the first shot of the film, an exterior crime scene. “I’m a practical guy. I love practical effects. I think anything I can see on set and touch on set is more exciting. I think I owe it to the audience and the fans of these movies to stay practical and not take it to another CG level.”
As for the critical reaction to the marketing of the 1984 film, which featured the axe-wielding Santa in television ad spots, it was extreme. Critics Siskel and Ebert publicly shamed the filmmakers, and a grass roots movement of angry parents picketed theaters screening the film, which led it to being withdrawn from theatrical release two weeks after its debut. We asked Miller if he was concerned that such a thing may transpire with his remake.
“No, I feel like the world has changed quite a bit since then,” he offered. “I can’t imagine that now. I mean, I’ve seen pretty intense movies over the past few years that have come from the foreign market that are really great, and I can’t imagine that people would react that way now to the remake.”
With regard to Miller’s The Aggression Scale (which releases to the home video market via Anchor Bay Films on May 29th; read the review here and see the trailer below), “I really love the movie,” reflected Miller. “We shot it in twelve days so it was an extremely fast shoot for an action movie, and I think it came out really great. I think it’s a huge step up as far as the action elements go from what I thought my first film Automaton Transfusion was. We were able to put together some crazy sequences that I think are pretty unheard of for the budget level we shot the movie at.”
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