The term remake normally insights a sense of dread with HorrorHounds, followed by a desire to disgorge. Hollywood has been assaulting horror’s iconic classics for some time now with little success, due in part to the fact that many of these films simply do not need to be remade, or can not be improved on. A need to update these classics for a younger generation of movie goers does give this crime some validity though. In fact, low budget films can be remade with a much bigger budget, thus appealing to a larger audience.
Many GoreHounds have a different view of remakes because new gore means hopefully more and better gore. When the news was announced that H.G. Lewis’s nearly forty-year-old mindfuck splatter-piece The Wizard of Gore was being remade, both confusion and joy set in. One’s head may explode thinking of how great or terrible the result could be. So here is an interview with director Jeremy Kasten to help ease our twisted grue obsessed minds, and learn more about the mind behind this remake.
HorrorHound: How did you come to direct this film, and why of all the Herschell Gordon Lewis titles was The Wizard of Gore chosen?
Jeremy Kasten: Originally my partners in Sick-O-Scope and I planned on making new versions (I like to call this approach “Covers” – like with songs – rather than remakes) of several of H.G. Lewis’s movies. We planned on doing them fairly cheap. The Wizard of Gore was to be the first. As it turned out. this one film alone took so long to get made, and cost as much as we’d intended to spend on all three or four films combined. As my producer, Dan Griffiths and I learned, the lesson is that there is virtually no simple way to make a film that is worth making; each film that I truly care about requires absolute obsession to get it made.
HH: Did you discuss or speak to H.G. Lewis about his feelings, or did he give any input to the remaking of his classic film?
JK: No. I truly respect Herschell and love his movies, but we were not in contact in any significant way. until after the film was completed.
HH: Crispin Glover is a very intense actor to say the least. What was it like to work with him? Did he simply fall into the role or have trouble finding his motivations when playing Montag in the gorier moments in the film?
JK: Working with Crispin was very enjoyable because he is so dedicated to his craft. He works very, very hard as an actor, and he is extremely focused on making each moment as the character as real, interesting and spot-on as possible. I don’t think it was any different working with Crispin as a director in the gory or messy parts of the shooting than the parts where he is delivering long monologues. He was very involved in making both work really well. A possible exception of sorts is a scene where he was to bleed through his white tuxedo, and mop the blood up with his handkerchief. As I recall we only had two suits, so it had to be done in two takes perfectly, and as Crispin pointed out, it would take a long time to clean him up between. We decided to handle the effect as a digital to save time in fact, I like it as an effect better because he can clean up instantly (magically) and get bloodied all over again in the magic show.
HH: How did the Suicide Girls come to be cast in the film, and what was it like working with them?
JK: When screenwriter Zach Chassler wrote his take on The Wizard of Gore, he set it in the post-punk goth/fetish-y underground world of down town Los Angeles. The volunteers/victims in Montag’s shows were all naked, hot, tattooed and pierced girls from that world who get cut up by Crispin’s Montag. I had, at the time, recently stumbled onto the SG website, and shortly thereafter became a member of that community. It really was natural, for a long while I was pitching the film to producers and financiers, explaining why it would be valuable to work with the Suicide Girls on the film. I received permission from the site to cast the girls, and each step of the way I checked in with the people who own/run the site to make sure they were cool with what I was doing. It evolved, I think that in part because we weren’t creepy, and we were making a real movie, that the site is behind the film and supporting us and has allowed us to use the name, logo, etc. Working with the girls, and truly there are four main girls in the film (Nixon, Cricket, Amina and Flux), and several dozen others throughout, was a compete delight. I had a great experience with all of them, many of whom I am proud to say are true friends of mine now; I think, again this is probably due to us having good intentions. As my friend Fractal (Fractal Suicide on the site) says, there are many offers for SGs to audition for “movies” that creepy guys are making in their mom’s basements – the girls are naturally cautious.
HH: Was it your intent with the remake to top the level of gore seen in the original? Did you try to give more depth to the back story of why Montag mutilates his victims, and is able to trick the audience and his victims alike?
JK: I don’t think there’s any purpose to revisiting or remaking a film if you don’t have something new to bring to the story. Moreso, to try to top what H.G. Lewis did in 1968 would be silly. He did it so well that it made the film legendary. Simply making file movie again with updated effects seemed pointless. We did try to keep some of the psychedelic/mindfuck tone of the original while fortifying it with a compelling story about the reporter that is trying to figure out the mystery behind Montag’s tricks.
HH: Are you a GoreHound or avid gore film fan? Can you name some of the gorier films you have viewed?
JK: To some extent, yes. I love good horror movies. Period. I love H.G. Lewis, the classics and Cannibal Holocaust, Salo: 120 Day of Sodom, Irreversible, and I also love The Wizard of Oz and Curse of the Demon.
HH: How gory is the remake and will it satisfy the hardcore GoreHounds reading this article?
JK: There are some really lovely gore effects. As I said, the film is not simply made to display “gags” throughout, though. The gore is, I think, just enough to satisfy – we have burnings, beheadings, pulling guts from someone’s throat, a sternum/ribcage cracked open to slowly pull out innards, and the list goes on and on. I think the gore is both original and satisfying.
HH: In the original film, Lewis devised some very elaborate means of getting the grue to flow. Did you put a lot of thought into this or feel it was best to try to emulate what the “Godfather of Gore” had already created?
JK: The screenwriter, Zach Chassler, went out of his way to have new and original ideas for Crispin’s Montag to cut up and destroy the Suicide Girls.