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Interview: Sam Raimi for "Boogeyman"

By Brad Miska Wednesday February 2nd 2005 10:30PM
Sam Raimi for "Boogeyman"

Question: What can you tell us about Spiderman 3?

Sam Raimi: I am not allowed to say, I think Sony wants to make their own presentation, and probably not for about a year until they get near to releasing the picture.... They wanna keep it quite.

Question: Evil Dead?

Sam Raimi: I can tell you everything that we know: new made the first evil dead 25 years ago. We feel like it's so long ago that its time to bring it to a new crowd. If we can find the right director with a great vision, we know that the script and the characters and the dialogue can be improved. The directing can be improved. Not very many people saw it on the big screen. So we'd love to see Evil dead on the big screen. It didn't even hit all the cities; it never had a big theatrical experience. It's a fun scary campfire story, and if we found the right director, the right scripts and he had the right take on it; we think it'd be a great picture to produce.

Question: Will it be Faithful to Evil Dead II?

Sam Raimi: I wouldn't want to put my paws all over it. I want a new, young, hungry director who has aromatic vision to make a brand new picture. Something different...

Question: Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Ash? What changed your mind?

Sam Raimi: I would wanna direct Evil Dead 4. I don't want anyone else to do that. But as far remaking the Evil Deads that have been done. I feel that a new director could bring things to them that I couldn't. I think that would be really exciting. I really loved Dawn of the Dead. I loved the new one too. It was a last. I don't feel pictures, even if they are remakes, can take away from the original. The original movie is what it is, and if the remake is good to, then its good. I don't feel protective that way in the flms I have made, it's just the stories I haven't finished that I want to continue telling. That particular story I want to tell (ED4). I 'd rather finish it.

Question: After Spiderman 3?

Sam Raimi: I really would like too, and I have let Bruce know that.

Question: Do you still have to fight in your producer role to get things made?

Sam Raimi: Spiderman brought me as a director in the industry financial success. Evil Dead has made 28 times back the original investment, it's still not considered a successful film or a hit movie. Same with Darkman. That movie made some money for Universal, but it wasn't considered a hit movie. So for the first time in my life, after Spiderman, after working in the business for 25 years, and I had basically given up, I had a hit movie! It gave me opportunity to start this company with Rob Talpert and our partners Nathan Drain and Joe Drake where we could get financing to make really fun, really cool, new director-type horror films. So it gave me opportunity, and I can't say it's allowed me to make the kind of movies I have always wanted to make, because Spiderman is the kind of movie I have always wanted to make, or Evil Dead also, years ago, was the kind of movie I always wanted to make. At the time, Darkman was the kind of film I always wanted to make. . But Spiderman has probably bought me a few more years in the business. You know how directors, people like them for a little while and finance their pictures, and then all of a sudden it's not "cool" to work with them anymore. Its unfair, for a lot of really fine directors. My number was coming up, and it bought me two or three more years before they go "he really sucks and we're not giving him anymore money.

Question: Was making the Transition to producer difficult?

Sam Raimi: I have often been a producer. I was an exec on Evil Dead. We got our briefcases together and put in the legwork together. He was the brains, though...we produced Hard Target, and Time cop.... Then we did television together. I didn't look at it as a new thing. Spiderman has made a great hit in the world of film and now Rob and I can use this to build a company to produce motion pictures. We have always liked producing. Some of our heroes are Dino de Laurentis. Not just the director, but we've always admired him. His ability to weather all sorts of studios that come and go, regimes that come and go, he is always there making pictures. And he makes a lot of great pictures! All throughout the years he made Fellini's La Strata, one of Fellini's earliest pictures. And he was still there 20 years later making King Kong, and that was 30 years ago...it was made in 76. He made U571, that great sub movie. I have admired great producers, and we have finally had the chance to produce our own films. Modern producers are just hired by the studios, and they are often replaceable in the studios minds. W didn't want to be in that position. We have a hand in the sales, determine who is the right director, we are our own masters.

Question: Ghost House developed Boogeyman from ground up?

Rob Talpert: When we first formed a partnership to make Boogeyman, they already had a script. . At that time it was actually more of an 80's monster movie. At that point Stephen Kay and the development turned it into more of a psychological movie. You met the Boogeyman at page 3 and he was taking people all the way through. We changed that.

Question: Test Screenings?

Sam Raimi: My favorite scene in Darkman got cut out by a tests screening audience. Anything odd and out of the ordinary, the test audience is automatically going to reject it...There were scenes in Darkman that made me howl every time I saw it. It was too off-the-wall for a test audience. It stayed in the movie. The test audience is kind of the average. Anything different or out of the ordinary gets rejected. Hen you get right down to a focus group they say, "I didn't understand why he split apart and the lava poured out him" anything you can't easily explain they reject...if you have time to digest it, not five minutes after you see it, you may get it. So the testing often hurts whatever is out of the ordinary in a film.

They simply did not understand what you're trying to get by them. You have to go back and try to address, through editing or re-shooting, some of the questions the audience has. It is a hand that gives and takes at the same time. It rejects that which it doesn't understand, but also points out where they might actually be a problem. What they say isn't as important as what you feel when you talk to them about it.

The best way to listen is to be in the audience with them. You can feel what's dragging or what has to be tightened up, or the joke that you were gonna take out, they're really laughing at, I guess I'd better leave that in. Or you think.. You know what, they already got this; I thought we needed to establish it, but they have come in with some knowledge and they already have it. I don't need this line in here. You can feel things like any audience member can. That's the best way to listen. When you make the audience a critic, these weird moments that are weird and out of the ordinary, they don't hold up to critical analysis from a non-trained professional critic very well. I have been very fortunate working with Amy pasqual. She trusts her hear. You need to listen to them, but trust your heart. Some people, with a test audience. ...In Darkman, one moment, you're not sure if someone is exactly the person he seems to be, and we didn't know if this character is an evil person, but one inkling you get is when he takes this bucket and dumps out on his bed all of these gold coins, and drops his robe and stands nude above the bed, and swan-dives and rolls through them. You realize he's not exactly who you thought he was... What are they gonna say? "I thought it was original and interesting." No. They say,"It was stupid!" So the studio made us loose all the naked swimming in gold coins, of course. Things that are original and striking you don't want them put to a non-professional critic opinion. People have social situations, their friends are there..."

I have not grown accustomed to it, but I haven't had to deal with it on any Spiderman pictures. On The Grudge and on Boogeyman, ...less so. Takashi Shimizu was surprised that the audience needed so much explained. The preview process...Directors would love to play movies in front of test audiences of 500 people. You can't do that now because of the Internet because someone's gonna run out and review it the next day, that's the downside of the Internet. You can't take your movie out and run it to see what's working. Someone might panic and dump the movie....

The Spiderman movies are not personal artistic films. They really are films that are made just for the audience. There is no higher goal than to take the audience on a heroic journey. I am fearful at all test screenings, but I need them. My producers aren't afraid if the audience doesn't like something as long as it works for the film.... I thrive on honesty and good ideas. Even if it's not exactly what I believe in. I love the collaboration. We find the truth together.

Question: Evil Dead influence on Boogeyman?

Rob Talpert: I don't know. It seemed appropriate for this movie. It's a learning experience. The sound designers. They did this and watched Spidermans and Evil Deads... we worked with Joe Lalucca. He worked with us on all the Evil Deads. Great composer. He knows how to get in there and make it work when the scene isn't working.

Sam Raimi: Like the first Evil Dead.. He made it work. It wasn't really scary without the music. It was just this big goofy show. There was a lot of shouting. We showed it without the music to some woman... She had a direct comment towards me. She said I was depraved and that I had a fascination with things coming out of people's mouths. Once the music was in there, people said it was scary! Joe added that with his tempo, his soul, and his music.

Question: Was the Doc Op hospital killing scene in Spiderman 2 considered too harsh for test audiences?

Sam Raimi: That was a usual situation. We shot that scene early cause we needed the effects. That was contained, we could get a lot of work done, work with the puppeteers, get a body of experience that we could take with us into the rest of the film. And because of that it was finished early. We said, "What can we show to the fans at Comic-con?" I said, "The only thing we really have is that scene in a near-finished state. I was ill at the time and couldn't go, but they had a great response from the kids there. In isolation they got a very positive response, so I Think Sony was very happy with that scene.

Question: Ok, Sean William Scott as ASH?

Rob Talpert: I don't know who he is.

Question: The dude in American Pie?

Sam Raimi: The truth is we are looking for a director; someone who can really say, "This was good, I can improve this, " and he would be prominent in all the casting decisions, so we wouldn't even get to the casting until then.

Question: Any casting ideas for Ash in an Evil Dead remake?

Sam Raimi: Do you guys remember when we first heard that they were gonna remake the mummy, and all I could think of was, somebody going "grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr", and I was like, "Well, that's kind of a bad idea." And then when you saw Steven Sommers bring to life a whole new take on The Mummy, we thought, "Okay, we've got zombies running around, how can we improve that?" so it's waaay to early. And besides, when I envision anybody in that I keep thinking of Ted.

Question: Any directors they want?

Rob Talpert: There are people in whose footsteps, and who Sam, and Bruce and I admired greatly and think that they are the right kind of people, however, its doubtful that they would want to do that right now. James Cameron, for instance!

Question: What would Evil Dead 4 be like?

Sam Raimi: My brother and I have written down some ideas, but when Spiderman is done, we'll really sit down and get going on the script.

Question: Will they be casting same people from past films?

Sam Raimi: Definitely Rob, Bruce Campbell, Myself, I'd love Tom Sullivan to be involved. I'd love to get as many of the cast of Evil Dead II as I could get.

Question: Will there be a Re-release of Evil Dead II in theatres?

Rob Talpert: They run them min theatres all the time, on Halloween! If the distributors think they can make money off of it, because we don't really control Evil Dead II, we have been asked to be involved in remastering it, and Anchor Bay has been trying to partner some kind of remastered packaged set. The people who control Army of Darkness haven't responded to that. I did the 10 am morning geek thing and went to Golden Apple, and Lo and Behold, there was Army of Darkness the comic book. They never told us!!! Lol We are also working on Evil Dead III: Regeneration... video game.

Question: Other films called Boogeyman?

Rob Talpert: 20 years ago they made two boogeyman movies. It was odd; they had a different take on it. The boogeyman came out of the bed. I think most people's ideas are that he's under the bed or in the closet. We tried to play with the idea that everyone has their own boogeyman, whether its under the bed or whatever...something your house that scared you the clothes on your chair, the dark.

Sam Raimi: it was a surprisingly good picture, Virginia Madsen and Tony Todd.

Question: Spiderman Villain...One last try to get something out of Sam...

Sam Raimi: Whom do YOU guys wanna see as the new Spiderman villain?

Question: Venom, hands down. We agree.

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