Exclusive: Master of Horror Joe Dante Talks The Hole, Gremlins 3 and More
After a long three-year wait, fans will finally get to check out Joe Dante's latest family-friendly fright flick, The Hole, when it arrives in theaters on September 28th and will also be available on iTunes on October 2nd.
Starring a trio of up-and-comers – Chris Massoglia, Haley Bennett and Nathan Gamble - The Hole follows a group of kids who uncover a mysterious portal to another world in the floor of their basement. When they finally unlock the door, their worst nightmares are brought to life, and soon it's up to the trio to either face their fears or forever fall victim to the terrors of The Hole.
To celebrate the film's long overdue release, Dread Central recently chatted with Master of Horror Joe Dante about his latest project, his thoughts on working with and making horror movies for kids, and the future of the Gremlins franchise.
Dread Central: Can you discuss what you enjoyed about the script for The Hole that first made you decide you wanted to be the guy at the helm?
Joe Dante: I get a lot of horror scripts these days, but they haven't been all that enticing to me; I think that has a lot to do with the fact that it is so difficult to do something new. With The Hole there's a lot to this movie that has been done before, sure, but not really like this. We've never really seen secrets become a tormenting force against kids like they are in this movie; we go to some unusual places with this story in The Hole, and I really responded to that. I also really thought this would be a fun movie to make in 3D so then I pushed to shoot in 3D, which was a great experience, too, since that was something else I hadn't done before.
Dread Central: Let's talk about some of those fears- I loved the idea of clowns being in there because I completely hate them myself, but I also thought the use of the abusive dad as a tormentor was really effective because I don't think we've seen someone go there in a kid-friendly film before.
Joe Dante: You know, I thought making this movie about the things we fear the most was interesting, especially when you're a kid because that's when you're the most vulnerable, really. I love that we have a clown in The Hole as one of the fears because clowns are intrinsically scary and creepy- I don't care what anyone says.
The idea to use their father as one of the kids' fears was a really shaky tightrope that we had to walk. It was important to the story because it really made you invest in this broken family, but because this is still a family movie, I didn't want to do anything gratuitous with that storyline either so we did a lot of alluding to what happened to these kids and their mom before we meet them in The Hole. That was probably the trickiest aspect of our story for the film.
Dread Central: Was it challenging at all creating the fantasy world of The Hole? What inspired the look?
Joe Dante: The fantasy world of The Hole had a very specific look to it, almost like a warped hyper-reality spinning in the darkness. I knew it had to have fantastical elements to it, but I also wanted it to be this weird version of reality because that's what was going to get in these kids' heads. We did a lot of those shots just on green screen stages and then found our balance in bringing this world to life by playing on the dark colors and the blackness of this world to make it something really creepy and to give this really "huge" feeling to it; I just love how it turned out.
Dread Central: Throughout your career you seem to specialize in working with child actors- from Gremlins to Small Soldiers to Explorers and a few in between, too. Most people always tell you to never work with kids or animals, and yet, you've never seemed to shy away from either of those.
Joe Dante: I've always found it really easy to work with kids even though everyone tells you not to work with kids or animals. The kids I have problems working with are those Disney kids who are taught "tricks" and how to be cute for the camera. That does nothing for me as a director, and I've always been lucky to find great kids over the years for my movies: Corey (Feldman), Zach (Galligan), even Ethan (Hawke), who starred in Explorers for me. That was his first movie, and I knew then that this kid had something special the very first time we met. Those are the kids I want to work with, the ones who aren't manufactured and feel like genuine kids you either know or would want to know.
Dread Central: The Hole is a movie I know you've been talking about for a few years now so I would imagine that it feels pretty great to finally be releasing the film later this month.
Joe Dante: You never want to paint a picture and then hide it away in the attic for years and years so I am incredibly happy that this movie is getting the release that it is getting now. Of course I wish the movie had been able to come out earlier, but either way I'm just really excited fans are finally getting to see it now.
Dread Central: I'm sure you get asked this a lot, but have you heard anything on the Gremlins front recently? It seems like every few months there are new "rumblings" that never pan out so I was curious if they keep you in the loop at all on the future of the franchise.
Joe Dante: Honestly, at this point I think if anyone does anything, they’d probably reboot everything, start from scratch and go in a different direction. I don't know if there's much interest in picking up with the characters now since so much time has elapsed since Part Two, but I do know everyone wants to see Gizmo and all those creatures again (laughs). I just don't know for certain if or when we'll see another Gremlins movie; I would imagine that eventually we will, just based on our current climate of remakes and sequels though.
From visionary director Joe Dante comes a suspense thriller that explores the fears and secrets buried deep in the human mind. Life couldn't possibly get worse, or so thought 17-year-old Dane (Chris Massoglia) and his 10-year-old brother, Lucas (Nathan Gamble), when their single mother, Susan (Teri Polo), uproots them from New York City to the sleepy little town of Bensonville. For Dane the only exciting thing about their new town is the beautiful girl next door, Julie (Haley Bennett). With Susan spending more and more time at work, Dane and Lucas are left unattended to explore the depths of their eerie new residence. With Dane paying more attention to Julie, he has far less time and patience for his little brother. But then everything changes when they find a sinister bottomless hole under a locked trap door in the basement.
As the brothers experiment with the hole, they realize that the cold pit goes on forever. They drop a nail and never hear it hit bottom. They lower a flashlight and a video camera, and they get consumed by the darkness. Hoping for some answers about the house's past, Dane and Lucas bring Julie in on their new discovery. When the hole is exposed, evil is unleashed. With strange shadows lurking around every corner and past nightmares coming to life, the trio will have to come face-to-face with their darkest fears to put an end to THE HOLE.
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