Haven’t checked out Escape from Tomorrow (review) yet? You should! Recently we had a chance to sit down with director Randy Moore and talk with him about making an undercover horror movie at both the happiest and scariest place on Earth… Disneyland!
DC: Do you feel like the circumstance of shooting Escape from Tomorrow on the sly as you did has stolen the thunder from other aspects of the film? I mean, it’s a neat and unusual feat, but is that all critics and audience talk about?
Randy Moore: Yeah, it took away from the story, but it’s also a double-edged sword. There’s just so many films out there now that without the “gimmick” you probably wouldn’t even be interviewing me. So I always knew it would be an issue to deal with, but I told everyone, cast and crew, on our very first day of shooting that if we can get past all the gimmick stuff and just make the best film possible, then we have a real opportunity to do something really special and unique. And going back to the whole gimmick thing, people said sound was gimmick and color and now 3D. Everything’s a gimmick to some degree. And isn’t paying someone 20 million dollars to act in your movie a gimmick because you’re banking on people to go out and see it just for that actor. So I don’t know, I wish people talked less about it, but I’ve learned to accept it, I guess.
DC: Where does the issue with Disney now stand? I read they’ve just chosen to ignore the film… is that true?
RM: We’ve never had any contact with them so I can only speculate. But we have a great fair use attorney on our side.
DC: Escape from Tomorrow has been described as “early David Lynch” in tone and feel. Is he an influence of yours, or were you surprised by that when you started seeing the reviews? What’s it been like, getting fan feedback and reading critiques?
RM: He was and remains a major influence. But I wasn’t exposed to him until college – same with Stanley Kubrick, although I clearly remember watching The Shining at birthday parties in junior high… Also, I grew up just going to the video store and renting pretty much whatever they had on the shelf – so I saw a lot of bad movies. Really terrible films, mostly B-movies distributed by Cannon.
The fan feedback certainly opened my eyes. Twitter is amazing and also completely evil. If you decide to read the critiques, that is. There’s really no difference in my head between getting slammed hard by a major critic or some kid in Iowa. It all hurts just the same. And, of course, those are the reviews you tend to remember the most, the ones that just tear out your heart. I had to stop reading them for a while. It got to be too much – and ruined a lot of family dinners.
DC: What’s the scariest thing about “Disneyland” – whether metaphorical, or actual?
RM: The scariest thing are the fanatics. The people who use their kids as walking fig leaves and berate them in public for not behaving (in a place for kids!). Also, I’ve recently read that they’re building another Disney-themed community in Orlando, like the failed town of “Celebration,” so people can now live out their dreams nestled safe and sound in the white-gloved hands of Mickey, where everything is always perfect! It’s just so scary – that this is what it’s all boiled down to — a literal Disney World. Imagine all the kids who will grow up there… the horror!
DC: What’s your favorite Disney film, and are you a fan in general – I mean of the old school Disney… Walt, Roy, the whole backstory and history, or was this just kind of a fluke to make a film that’s so specific to one iconic American dynasty?
RM: Without a doubt, my favorite Disney film is 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. James Mason as Captain Nemo just dominates every scene, and I cried my eyes out at the end when he dies – and he’s a fucking murderer! I was probably six or seven when I first saw it, but it really got under my skin. It was the also the first film I ever saw where I wanted the bad guy to prevail. Peter Lorre’s pretty great in it, too.
Am I a fan of Disney? Yes and no. I loved going there as a child. And my kids enjoy going there. But I can’t stand the Disney channel, which my children are addicted to like crack. And I wonder if their constant fantasy to be a princess or, God forbid, Hanna Montana, will scar them for life, but hopefully it’s just a phase. Growing up, I liked EPCOT a lot – which was not cool to admit at the time – but now it’s really showing its age and kind of sad. But I think Walt was a visionary and not just someone who cared about the bottom line (he let his brother worry about that).
DC: Since we are a horror and suspense website, can you tell us a little bit about the more suspenseful and scary aspects of Escape From Tomorrow and what it was like to bring those to the fore?
RM: Well, just walking around the parks, especially in Orlando, you see some scary things – like once we saw this very large couple that had just decided to lie down and take a nap under the ball at EPCOT, wrapped in each other arms — and no one ever said or did anything. Park security walking past them, not batting an eye. Eventually we had to move on and get our next shot, but in my mind that couple will always be there, sleeping peacefully, under a giant testicle.
DC: Who are some of the your directorial influences?
RM: Hitchcock, Lynch, De Palma, Ridley Scott, Lars Von Trier and Guy Maddin. I’m probably forgetting a few, but those were the first that came to mind.
The most provocative film from the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Escape from Tomorrow should not exist, and yet it does. Like nothing you’ve ever seen, Randy Moore’s directorial debut is a bold and ingenious trip into the happiest place on earth. An epic battle begins when a middle-aged American husband and father of two learns that he has lost his job. Keeping the news from his nagging wife and wound-up children, he packs up the family and embarks on a full day of park hopping amid enchanted castles and fairytale princesses.
Soon, the manufactured mirth of the fantasyland around him begins to haunt his subconscious. An idyllic family vacation quickly unravels into a surrealist nightmare of paranoid visions, bizarre encounters, and an obsessive pursuit of a pair of sexy teenage Parisians. Chillingly shot in black and white, Escape from Tomorrow dissects the mythology of artificial perfection while subversively attacking our culture’s obsession with mass entertainment.
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