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Wong, James (Final Destination 3)

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James Wong and his producing/writing/directing partner Glen Morgan have been dabbling in our genre off and on for years now, most recently with their bigger-budgeted remake Willard starring Crispin Glover. When word came down that the duo would be returning to the franchise that made us all love ‘em, namely Final Destination, most fans couldn”t have been happier.

As a part of the press junket held for the film’s promotion, we got to sit down with Mr. Wong for some Q&A and found him to be gracious and friendly with all of the journalists present. The results follow; hope you enjoy!


Question: You guys went back and re-shot the ending of the film, can you talk a little bit about that?

James Wong: We tested the movie and I really thought that the audience were totally with us until the very end…I actually even heard a couple of people go, “Oh”. (Laughs) You know that”s no good. But even before we tested it as I was cutting the movie with Glen and Craig we knew that it wasn’t working. It was just too abrupt. You didn’t know if they actually escaped death or what was happening. It didn’t have closure.

So before we went to the test the three of us had a meeting and talked about what we were going to do. Craig had an idea where he wanted to bring in the FD2 guys. I had an idea, which came to me when I was in bed with my wife and I said, “Hey you know what we should do?” (laughs) and she is going,”“Will you please go to sleep!” (laughs) I had an idea about the subway sequence. So Craig pitched his idea and I pitched my idea and we talked about it and decided that the subway sequence would work.

In one incarnation of the subway sequence the FD2 guys were also in the subway, and they would overhear Ryan and Mary talking, so we had that kind of thing going but ultimately their schedules didn’t work. After that meeting we tested the movie and we knew the ending needed to be changed, so the next morning we went and met with New Line and they asked us what we wanted to do now and we told them. Bob and Toby seemed to be agreeable and they said, “Okay, write it up and let’s see the budget.” They were great. They gave us all of the resources we needed to shoot it and it wasn’t cheap. They were really behind us.

Q: What is the story behind Tony Todd’s character not appearing in the film with the exception of his voice?

JW: We knew that Tony wanted to do it and we thought about how we could do it, but in some ways we wanted to break from the first two to see if the franchise could go on as this one does; new characters facing similar situations. Because we wanted to do that we didn’t feel that injecting Tony in it would work because he is supposed to be from a different place. So we decided early not have him in the movie. As we were in the post process we really missed his presence and Jay our post supervisor said, “You know we should just have him be the voice of the devil. He would be so great as the voice of the devil.” We called his people and he was really gracious in wanting to help us and he was great. Once you hear his voice you can’t get it out of your head.

Q: Isn’t he also the voice of the subway announcer?

JW: Yes.

Q: Was all of this added during the re-shoot?

JW: Well, we put Tony in after the whole thing so we thought the devil and the subway announcer would be perfect.

Q: Did he try calling you during filming wondering why he wasn’t involved?

JW: He didn’t call, but we were given notice that he was totally into doing it, and we love him. We wanted to cast him for one of our TV shows way back when and he was in “X-Files”. If we thought it could work out then we would have definitely used him.

Q: You and Glen had said you would never do another Final Destination movie and here you are again. Are you now willing to do part four or five?

JW: I guess I should never say never (laughs). I don’t remember saying I would never do one; if I did I was mistaken. I had a lot of fun doing this one. I think I was doing The One and I was going up the escalator in Woodland Hills at the theaters there, and that was the first time I had seen an FD2 poster and it was sort of like a shot where the camera is craning up and I am riding up and I see this poster come up into my view, so I walk up to it and looked at all of the names on the credits and that’s when I really felt like, “Ah shit.”, (laughs).

Q: Kind of like seeing an ex-girlfriend with another guy?

JW: Exactly. But I’ve never had that feeling before (laughs). So I felt a little bit of a pain right there. I was really lucky that they called and asked us to do this one.

Q: What did you think of the second one?

JW: I liked it. It’s good. David did a great job; he”s a great guy.

Q: What is your favorite of the three big opening sequences in the Final Destination trilogy?

JW: I think for me the roller coaster was the most challenging one to shoot. It was the hardest to create. So in that way I think it is my favorite in the challenge of it that is my favorite. The car crash was pretty darn good.

Q: What else are you working on?

JW: I’m just chillin’ (laughs). I’m producing Black Christmas so I’m working on that. As for the next thing I’m still looking.

Q: Is there any more TV in your future?

JW: I’m actually researching for a TV show. It is a medical show. It’s not in the horror or sci-fi genre.

Q: So are you sick of working with Glen?

JW: (Laughs) I’m not sick of working with Glen. It’s the most amazing thing. I think back on it and realize that we”ve known each other since high school. We’ve had our ups and downs as partners do, but it’s great. It’s great to have someone there that you can trust and is watching your back and I do for him and he does for me and it’s like someone you can really count on; that’s hard to find.

Q: Your actors say that the two of you couldn’t be more different from one another. How do you think you complement each other?

JW: I guess we have found a way. That is the great thing about this partnership, especially in this business, is that when one of us is really down the other can recognize that and pick you up. We’ve both been at those places. I think we do complement each other in that he is interested in this one thing and I am interested in something else and together we can sort of meld the project into hopefully the best that we can do. It’s great.

Q: This third installment seems to have much more nudity than the second one. Why did you decide to go in that direction?

JW: I’m getting older (laughs). The real reason is that in a tanning booth I really felt that the characters would be much more vulnerable. I like that scene a lot because when you start it there are these really attractive girls with their clothes off and the audience goes, “Woo-hoo!” There is a little bit of that feeling, and it changes pretty quickly once bad things start to happen. I think the reason why you are titillated is the same reason you are horrified; because you are so much more vulnerable when you have no clothes on. I think that adds so much more to that scene. You can imagine your skin being burnt so you can almost feel your skin percolating because they”re naked. I just liked that switch of feeling a bit naughty and titillated to being horrified. It really worked for the scene not just because I wanted to see naked breasts (laughs).

Q: There have been some really bad remakes lately; The Fog comes to mind right now…

JW: You know the original Fog wasn’t even that great when it came out.

Q: When you”re ten years old, it was pretty cool (laughs).

JW: I remember going to see that and I was so scared going to see it when I was a kid. I walked into the theater and I was really ready to be scared, but when I came out I remember being pretty disappointed with it.

Q: But how can you take a bad movie and make it worse?

JW: Well there you go.

Q: I guess you’ll have to ask Mr. Wainwright. How do you make Black Christmas fresh after the remake of When a Stranger Calls comes out, which originally was a rip-off of the original Black Christmas?

JW: I know, I know. We didn’t know they were remaking it. Glen is actually shooting Black Christmas right now in Canada, so that”s why he couldn’t be here unfortunately. I feel a little naked without him here. The structure of the new version of Black Christmas, without giving too much away, is going to show more of how Billy became Billy. There”s going to be a twist as to… the whole killer thing is different. There are elements of the new version that are not even touched upon in the old one. So I think there”s some new stuff that is not only intelligent but creepy and scary, I just don’t want to give away too much. I don’t think you will be disappointed. [Editor”s note: BC remake star Katie Cassidy gave away plenty, read it here if you”re interested…]

Q: So the character’s name is still going to be Billy?

JW: Yes, the killer’s name is going to be Billy but we don’t even know if that is the real Billy.

Q: Was there ever any talk of filming in the original location in Toronto?

JW: I don’t know if that house exists.

Q: It’s still there.

JW: There wasn’t any talk about it because are crew is basically a Vancouver crew. We talked to Bob Clark and we do have Andrea Martin coming back. She’s going to play the housemother.

Q: Any other cameos?

JW: No that’s it. It was going to be either Andrea or Margot for the housemother. I think we have a great cast.

Q: What kind of involvement does Bob Clark have in the Black Christmas remake?

JW: He’s one of I think eleven producers (laughs). We have so many producers I can’t even imagine how the credit are going to run. We didn’t want to do it if he didn’t give us his blessing, so we met with him and his partners before there was a script or anything and he knew of our work. Glen basically did all of the talking but we told him what we wanted to do and how we thought we could update it a little bit. Then Bob says, “Well I have an idea about Agnes.” It was a really good conversation. His thing was that he didn’t want to be too involved, he just wanted to leave you alone and do your thing. He really hated it when people put their fingers all over his projects and he didn’t want to be that person. So he was very gracious and open. We later gave him the script and he really loved it. He was actually in Vancouver when we were finishing Final Destination 3. So I saw him a couple of times. He wanted to cast Mary in his movie he is shooting now and I guess Mary read the script and she would have to be topless most of the time so she said no (laughs).

Q: How hard was it to make a modern version of Black Christmas with all of today’s technology?

JW: Okay I’ll give you a little bit. The phone calls, when you look at the caller ID, are coming from the last victim’s cell phone. So I think it actually enhances it a bit.


Special thanks to New Line for allowing us to take part in the junket and to Mr. Wong for being so gracious with his time for us, despite his apparent vunerability without Mr. Morgan around. Final Destination 3 opens everywhere on Friday, February 10th, so be sure to get your asses out there and see it!

Sean Clark

Discuss Final Destination 3 in our forums!

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Vampire Hunter D: The Series Gets Writer For Pilot Episode

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It’s been a little while since we’ve heard news about “Vampire Hunter D: The Series”, the CG-animated series based on Hideyuki Kikuchi’s titular character. However, some new news broke today over at ANN as they’ve reported that Brandon Easton, who is writing the scripts for new Vampire Hunter D comics, has been tapped by Unified Pictures to write the pilot for the series. The pilot will be based on Kikuchi’s “Mysterious Journey to the North Sea” storylines, which make up the 7th and 8th titles in the book series. Unified is making this series in conjunction with Digital Frontier, the Japanese animation studio behind the CG Resident Evil titles.

Easton told the site, “I’ve had to manage the expectations of three entities: the creator Hideyuki Kikuchi, the producers at Digital Frontier and Unified Pictures, and ultimately myself. This means that you have to find new and exciting ways of telling a story that has a set of concrete rules that have been fully established by the novels.

Meanwhile, the studio has also announced that Ryan Benjamin is taking over as the artist and colorist on the Vampire Hunter D: Message From Mars series with Richard Friend inking the issues.

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Watching A Quiet Place’s John Krasinski Get Scared by Freddy on Ellen Will Brighten Your Day

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I was just researching the new Platinum Dunes horror-thriller A Quiet Place and stumbled across this video. It features the film’s writer-director and star John Krasinski getting scared by a man dressed as Freddy Krueger on “Ellen.”

It’s as much fun as it sounds, and I’m sure it will make your day. It sure as hell just brightened mine.

Give it a watch below, and then let us know what you think!

John Krasinski directs the film, which will be the opening night entry at this year’s SXSW festival in Austin, TX. Emily Blunt stars alongside Krasinski, Noah Jupe, and Millicent Simmonds.

A Quiet Place will then open wide on April 6.

Synopsis:
In the modern horror thriller A Quiet Place, a family of four must navigate their lives in silence after mysterious creatures that hunt by sound threatens their survival. If they hear you, they hunt you.

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Interview: Director Jeff Burr Revisits Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III

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Director Jeff Burr was gracious enough to give us here at Dread Central a few minutes of his time to discuss the Blu-ray release of his 1990 film Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. Recently dropped on 2/13, the movie has undergone the white-glove treatment, and he was all-too-happy to bring us back to when the film was being shot…and eventually diced thanks to the MPAA – so settle in, grab a cold slice of bloody meat, read on and enjoy!

DC: First off – congrats on seeing the film get the treatment it deserves on Blu-ray – you excited about it?

JB: Yeah, I’m really happy that it’s coming out on Blu-ray, especially since so many people bitch and moan about the death of physical media, and this thing made the cut, and it’s great for people to be able to see probably the best-looking version of it since we saw it in the lab back in 1989.

DC: Take us back to when you’d first gotten the news that you were tabbed to be the man to direct the third installment in this franchise – what was your first order of business?

JB: It was fairly condensed pre-production for me, and there really wasn’t a whole lot of time to think about the import or the greatness of it – it was basically just roll up your sleeves and go. It was a bit disappointing because a lot of times in pre-production you have the opportunity to dream what could be – casting had already been done, but certain decisions hadn’t been made yet. A very condensed pre-production, but exciting as hell, for sure! (laughs)

DC: R.A. Mihailoff in the role of Leatherface – was it the decision from the get-go to have him play the lead role?

JB: No – I totally had someone else in mind, even though R.A. had done a role in my student film about 7 years earlier, and we’d kept in touch, and I’d felt strongly because I’d gotten to know him a bit that Gunnar Hansen should have come back and played Leatherface, which would have given a bit more legitimacy to this third movie. He and I talked, and he had some issues with the direction that it was going – he really wanted to be involved, and it ended up boiling down to a financial thing, and it wasn’t outrageous at all – it wasn’t like he asked for the moon, but the problem was that New Line refused to pay it, categorically. I think the line producer at the time was more adamant about it than anyone, and Mike DeLuca was one of the executives on the movie, and he was really the guy that was running this, in a creative sense. I made my case for Gunner to both he and the line producer, and they flat out refused to pay him what he was asking, so after that was a done “no deal” I decided that R.A would be the right guy to step into the role. Since New Line was the arbiter of the film, he had to come in and audition for the part, and he impressed everyone and got the part. He did an absolutely fantastic job – such a joy to work with, and he was completely enthusiastic about everything.

DC: Let’s talk about Viggo Mortenson, and with this being one of his earliest roles – did you know you had something special with this guy on your set?

JB: Here’s the thing – you knew he was talented, and I’d seen him in the movie Prison way back in the early stages of development and was very impressed with him, and he was one of those guys that I think we were really lucky to get him on board with us. I really believe that The Indian Runner with he and directed by Sean Penn was the movie that truly made people stand up and notice his work. Every person in this cast was one hundred percent into this film and jumped in no questions asked when it was time to roll around in the body pits.

DC: It’s no secret about the amount of shit that the MPAA put you through in order to get this film released – can you expound on that for a minute?

JB: At the time, I believe it was a record amount of times we had to go back to the MPAA after re-cutting the film – I think it was 11 times that we went back. What a lot of people don’t realize is after Bob Shaye (President of New Line) had come into the editing room and he thought that it was very disturbing, and cut out some stuff himself. He thought that it would have been banned in every country, and it was banned in a lot of countries but so were the previous two. It was definitely on the verge of being emasculated before even being submitted to the MPAA, and I would have thought just a few adjustments here and there – maybe a couple of times to go back…but eleven? It was front-page news in the trade papers then, and I think that the overall tone of the film was looked at as being nasty. The previous film (Chainsaw 2) had actually gone out unrated, and with the first film being so notorious, I think it was a combination of all of that, and now even the most unrated version of this would be rated R – that’s how far the pendulum has swung in the other direction.

DC: Looking back at the film after all this time – what would be one thing that you’d change about the movie?

JB: Oh god – any film director worth his salt would look back at any of their films and want to change stuff up, and with this being 28 years old, I can look back and say “oh yeah, I’d change this, this and this!” You grow and learn over the course of your time directing, and this was my third movie and my first without producers that I had known, so the main thing that I’d do today would be to make it a bit more politically savvy. I had always thought that they wanted me to put my vision on this film, and that wasn’t necessarily the case, so maybe I’d navigate those political waters a little better.

DC: Last thing, Jeff – what’s keeping you busy these days? Any projects to speak of?

JB: Oh yeah, I’ve got a couple of movies that I’m working on – I’m prepping a horror movie right now, and then I’ve got a comedy film that I’m doing after that. You haven’t heard the last of me! I’ve had a real up and down (mostly down) career, but I still love it – it’s what I love to do, and it’s still great that after 28 years people still want to talk about this movie, and are still watching it – that’s the greatest gift you can get, and I thank everyone that’s seen it and talked about it over all these years.

BUY IT NOW!

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