Exclusive Modern Masters of Horror Interview Series: Fede Alvarez on Evil Dead
Fede Alvarez came out of nowhere. No, really though, he just showed up in town a few years ago and here he is grossing nearly $50 million with his first studio production, Evil Dead.
Plucked from seeming obscurity by the producers at Ghost House Pictures, Fede was lucky enough to get noticed by an animated short he created in 2009, called Panic Attack. The short went viral on YouTube. A few weeks later Fede’s phone rang. Ghost House was on the line. The next day he was flying to Hollywood to discuss a contract for his first feature.
People can point a frustrated finger at Fede’s fairytale rise to fame. But for Fede, his journey did not begin with Panic Attack as his first project. Fede had been making films his whole life. More importantly, before he was taken on by a studio, Fede was making films simply because he wanted to; a career in Hollywood was never the end goal.
Fede was no more than your average film nerd growing up. In his hometown of Montevideo, Uruguay, he passed the time by watching movies, discussing movies, and once he got his hands on a camera, making movies. It was the most fun that he could have with his days off, and the result: some surprisingly quality cinema. Just look to his first short, available on YouTube, with subtitles. It’s a comedy called El Cojonudo, and for a bored Uruguayan kid with a few friends and a camera, the movie is pretty impressive.
Fede’s perspective is interesting because he is at the beginning of a long, exciting road. He is overflowing with inspiration and theories on the craft. He’s the perfect example of rising director that is just coming in to his own. He has wide eyes, big ideas, and passionate ideals. For him, this is so much more than a paycheck. This is what Fede loves to do, and with a little boost of credibility from YouTube, he’s doing it full time now. In an exclusive interview with Dread Central, Fede Alvarez spills his guts about his first big project, and the strategy that it takes to make a good film that’s both entrancing, and more importantly, horrifying.
Dread Central: So here you are stepping up to your first big budget film, and it happens to be something in the Horror genre. When you were making films back home, for fun, in your wildest dreams, did you ever imagine that you would make it out here? And even then, did you think your first project would be a horror project?
Fede Alvarez: I never had the goal to work in this industry because it was something so surreal. Being all the way from Uruguay, I never thought it would happen. My only goal was to make a movie, one day I had to make a movie. I love genre, I love sci fi, I love horror, I love action movies. I’m a kid from the 80s so whatever was great in the 80s really defined my life. I grew up watching older horror movies. I don’t find it as a surprise, my friends, everybody that knows me, they don’t find it as a surprise, they know I love this stuff.
DC: How did you prepare for Evil Dead knowing that you were going to have to make something that would scare people?
FA: Well, I watched a lot of Horror movies. We started with a blank page and all we had was the original film. But we knew that wasn’t going to be enough. I promised Sam was that we were going to try and write the scariest movie ever. So when you set that bar, the first thing you have to do is book a lot of research… We did our homework. We watched a lot of movies and read a lot of theory on horror movies.
DC: How do you go about creating an image on screen that is both visually and audibly disturbing?
FA: For a director, usually what you are doing is ripping off everything that you saw before, right? Some people will put it in a fancier way than I, but what we always do is we just rip off everything we’ve seen in the past that we love and we re-create it.
I was always kind of embarrassed to say that, but I think it’s the truth. The movies is a mix of all ideas from all this stuff that we’ve seen in the past, all mixed together and that creates an original and new and fresh thing usually. Even though it’s a mix of a lot of things it’s always going to turn out to be something fresh because every creative process is like that. You combine things from the past into something new.
One of my favorite moments in Evil Dead is when Natalie is just beating the hell out of David with a crowbar on the floor, and I don’t remember where I’d seen that, I know that I had seen that somewhere, I still don’t remember till this day… I think I saw it in some Korean film, I don’t remember. But that’s how I do it. I just naturally quote stuff that I remember from other movies.
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