Interviews are funny things; they often start off one way and then go off into completely unintended territories. Case in point: our latest chat with filmmakers Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, the twisted minds behind The Collection, which arrives in theaters everywhere this Friday, 11/30.
While chatting with the pair about their latest gorefest, somehow we also ended up talking extensively about several other topics including Jaws 3D and Jaws: The Revenge as well as Piranha 3DD, For Your Eyes Only and the influence of 90’s action flicks on The Collection and how the third Collector flick will be their own horror Return of the King.
Since it was a highly entertaining interview with both Dunstan and Melton, even if we did go off the rails a bit with the pair, we thought we’d share the entire conversation with you fiends right here. Check out our exclusive interview below, and look for more on The Collection (review here) from the film’s stars Josh Stewart and Emma Fitzpatrick soon!
Dread Central: I will wholeheartedly admit that I really wasn’t in ‘horror mode’ going into The Collection but absolutely had a blast with it once it started–
Patrick Melton: Yeah, the release date isn’t your typical date for a horror movie; we’ve actually had the movie done for a year now but had to play the waiting game. We finished up last year, but then we started getting into springtime, which we’ve done before so forget about it. Then there was summer, which isn’t right for a movie like this, and both September and October were already full, too.
We knew Sinister was going to be great so we didn’t want to go near that, and we knew Paranormal 4 was going to be huge so we didn’t want to go near that either. So we decided to do it right after Thanksgiving so we could play on the whole ‘holiday’ thing. Did you see the holiday trailer?
Marcus Dunstan: Yeah, it opens with (in an ominous voice): “This holiday season, some presents should not be opened…” (laughs)
Dread Central: It sounds like an old grindhouse-style trailer–
Marcus Dunstan: It does; it’s great! I also loved how we used potato flakes in the last shot, which felt a lot like snow coming down even though it’s supposed to be ash from the burning building raining down on them. We used a lot of holiday imagery in there actually; you know, when they find the character of Abby, her box is decorated like it’s a gift and she’s the little princess in the box. She’s really ‘the gift that keeps on taking’ (laughs).
Dread Central: Well, there’s still a lot of mystery to this character after the sequel even though we do get a few more of the puzzle pieces. So how difficult was it to walk the line of not giving too much away but still giving fans enough information to keep them happy?
Marcus Dunstan: It was a straight-up fight; it was a fight intrinsically because you want to give people the information–
Patrick Melton: What are his favorite books? (laughs)
Marcus Dunstan: Yeah, did he read “The Catcher in the…Die”? (laughs) But it seems to me that you never want to over-explain a shark. A shark is in the water; that’s what you need to know. Jaws 2 was on last night, and I’m sitting there watching it with soup and a sandwich. And for Jaws 2 they didn’t have to explain Jaws one iota; it was still after anything in the water.
And so what we wanted to do is have a land shark in The Collector–
Patrick Melton: I don’t mean to interrupt, but how great is it in Jaws 4 when the shark knows where the family is and then follows them back to the Bahamas- I like that.
Marcus Dunstan: Yes, that is a shark jumping a shark…
Patrick Melton: And Michael Caine?
Marcus Dunstan: Oh yeah, he dives into the water and then comes out without a drop of water on him!
Patrick Melton: Oh yeah! I love that movie. Mario Van Peebles…so awesome. He survives being dragged by the shark even. So great.
Marcus Dunstan: Lorraine Gary, in a cavalcade of seven different sweaters that have ever-growing shoulder pads; she was ready for battle with those things.
Patrick Melton: Can you imagine the pitch meeting? “So our lead is a 67-year-old woman…” Yes, that’s what the kids want! (laughs)
Marcus Dunstan: “And the shark will attack in fresh water.” “Fresh water, how does that happen?” “Oh, it’s not possible? We’re still doing it!” (laughs)
Patrick Melton: That’s the one we want to remake; not parts one, two or three- just part four.
Dread Central: Well, you wouldn’t want to do three because then you have to deal with 3D…
Patrick Melton: Have you seen that one recently? It has not aged well at all. It’s so like Mystery Science Theater, where the shark is coming towards them slowly and everyone’s screaming, but it’s hilarious because the shark’s tail isn’t even moving and it take FOREVER for it to even get close.
Marcus Dunstan: And with a bunch of Oscar winners too…
Patrick Melton: Talk about a pitch meeting- can you imagine what that one was like too? I would have been like, “That a fucking great idea- SeaWorld AND he gets inside? Yes! And the pyramid gag? All right!”
Marcus Dunstan: It was so good, we used it in Piranha 2 (laughs).
Dread Central: You know, I loved Piranha 3DD and I really don’t get all the negativity at all; it was just fun all-around for me. I don’t care what anybody says.
Patrick Melton: Man, I wish we would have had more time on that…
Marcus Dunstan: You know, he (Patrick) wrote a bit where one of the special pool guests was Spuds Mackenzie where Rick Astley was supposed to be playing and Spuds is so old and so over partying that he commits suicide by falling into the pool.
Patrick Melton: We wanted to have all kinds of celebrities there because it was originally supposed to be more than just The Hoff, and then right in the middle of all the madness, we were going to break out into, “Never Gonna Give You Up…Never Gonna Let You Down…” during all the crazy scenes.
Marcus Dunstan: We were even going to use his amps to electrify the pool and some unfortunate guests too.
Dread Central: That’s awesome; I know most of that got cut before John began shooting, but did anyone reach out to him before?
Marcus Dunstan: You know, that first script was on par budget-wise with the first Piranha, and then unfortunately what happened after our involvement ended was that they had to continuously rewrite the script as the budget kept going down. We were already busy doing other stuff at that point; it became a third of what we had originally written. So poor John Gulager had to invent this movie with modest resources on the fly; that’s tough. That’s really tough. So the nice thing is that the integrity of some of the jokes and the alchemy of horror and humor is still in there fighting the good fight.
Patrick Melton: Hey Marcus, are you…I don’t know…going to dovetail this back into The Collection at all? (laughs)
Marcus Dunstan: Ah yes… (laughs). But that’s my post-mortem on Piranha 2 right there.
Dread Central: Well, I thought both Josh and Emma were fantastic in this but I have to admit that the one name that excited me most of all (because I’m a huge 90’s action fan) was Lee Tergesen from Point Break. He was really fun in The Collection, too; his character felt very throwback-ish, like he was out of a Segal movie or something.
Marcus Dunstan: He’s so great; he trained for an incredibly long time with the stunt guys for the knife fight. We had a stunt guy ready to go and Mr. Tergesen was like, “No way, this is my moment and I’m doing it!” so every moment I would happen to turn around, I’d see him off in the corner with the stunt guy ramming those knives and learning how to work it.
So we wanted to justify why he’d pick a knife over a traditional weapon like a gun; at one point, he does use a weapon but that’s only when he loses control of the environment or he gets good and pissed off. It was great to see a knifesman take on a knifesman in this. There’s even a longer version of that fight, for like two and a half minutes, where you really get to see them go at it.
Dread Central: How on earth did you guys pull off the opening sequence? I can’t remember the last time I saw that kind of mass killing in a horror movie, especially in the first few minutes. Is it the biggest body count in cinema or close even?
Patrick Melton: I think so…or maybe For Your Eyes Only is more.
Marcus Dunstan: In regards to For Your Eyes Only, we wanted to have a James Bond-type opening for The Collection but to show it from the killer’s perspective. And in For Your Eyes Only, the Roger Moore one, they had an opening where they killed off a submarine of people so they may have beaten us in sheer numbers, but we could depict our deaths, which is a bit different.
Dread Central: I know you guys didn’t have the biggest budget to work with on The Collection but it still feels like a bigger movie; how did you manage to pull that off with the resources you had?
Marcus Dunstan: That is entirely dependent on two things; one is that we were allowed to shoot in anamorphic 35mm, which immediately gives the movie a sheen to it that evoked a feeling of the movies we were paying homage to in The Collection. This was meant to be the Die Hard-inspired sequel to Dario Argento’s Inferno.
And two was (executive producer) Tom Luse and the crew from “The Walking Dead” who, in between season one and season two, brought their friends and favors package so that every dollar was stretched to a hundred. That way, when we wanted to blow up a school but didn’t have six weeks to rig it like we should, we then did it in two weeks because it had been rigged for us so all we had to do was flip our camera negative, change a few things, shoot from a different perspective and then we had ourselves a fresh location. So that’s how you play ball when you want to ‘punch above your weight’ but maybe you don’t have the right glove size on (laughs).
Other than that, the real stress on the two of us was wanting to be different than the first film and even bigger but still knowing when it was time to put the toys away. I can pull off the six-hour action scene, and it’s incredibly hard, but you have to know when to pick the ten best shots instead of going for all 50.
Dread Central: How much have you guys mapped out The Collector as a character then? Is this a character you see going forward in the future too if all goes well with The Collection?
Marcus Dunstan: Yes, we could not invent him outside the perimeter without knowing him down to his very center. To go back to the shark metaphor, and Patrick said it best, you can’t just say he’s going after tax evaders or the salacious- no, he’s after everybody. If you’re in his proximity, you’re a target and to that effect, that led to any shadow around any person could very well be this gentleman lurking with a knife.
What was cool with this one is that we look at the people who have been wronged by him; can we engineer a scenario that will deliver bloody satisfaction when the first one ended on a note of despair and can we give the audience the feeling of satisfaction when you’re standing on the bully’s neck? And that felt good to us; that felt like a holiday movie in a sense too- from A Christmas Story to whatever- where you want to see good prevail. And for good to prevail in a horror movie, it can’t necessarily end on sunshine and rainbows so for ours, we went with the thought of, “You think the bad guy is bad? Sometimes the good guy can be worse!” (laughs).
Dread Central: Have you guys already started planning for a third installment? Is that going to be The Collective or something to that effect?
Marcus Dunstan: It’s actually The Collected; it’s already been written and we already turned it in two weeks ago. And that sucker is awesome. However, we didn’t want it to be like a cash grab scenario where we’re just doing another one to make money- The Collection was made like it was the last thing we would ever make but we still had enough material and weren’t painted into a corner or anything so we can go to new places with a third film. You said yourself, there are still questions to be answered and there might be some history that we take a look at too. There’s enough story there still to where we could have our very own Return of the King-type horror movie in the future.
Dread Central: You mean lots of walking and trees?
Marcus Dunstan: Yes, lots of walking and trees (laughs). Oh, and ten endings too.
When Elena’s (Emma Fitzpatrick) friends take her to a secret party at an undisclosed location, she never imagined she would become the latest victim of The Collector, a psychopathic killer. The Collector kidnaps and transports her to an abandoned hotel he’s transformed into his own private maze of torture and death. Upon learning of his daughter’s disappearance, Elena’s wealthy father (Christopher McDonald) hires a group of mercenaries to retrieve her from the vicious grips of The Collector. These mercenaries coerce Arkin (Josh Stewart), the only man to have escaped the wrath of this heinous monster, to lead them through the gruesome labyrinth. Now Arkin finds himself fighting for his own life in order to save Elena.
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