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DVD Stalk Blog - Stalking You Daily!

Re-Animated Corpses and Body Piercing: One Night with Stuart Gordon

Greetings from Tromaville!

I've given a lot of advice to young filmmakers, inspiring them to make their own damn movies. The Make Your Own Damn Movie! DVD box set is full of my ideas and theories on filmmaking. For the Direct Your Own Damn Movie! DVD box set, I enlisted other filmmakers to contribute their expertise of filmmaking. Stuart Gordon is an expert on horror filmmaking. Right around the time I made my indelible mark on the horror genre with The Toxic Avenger, Stuart Gordon made the horror classic Re-Animator. He has also dipped his toes in another kind of horror as a writer on Honey¬ł I Shrunk the Kids. While in college, he organized a stage production in which the aim was to get the audience to leave. He should have known that all he had to do was show Troma's Big Gus, What's the Fuss?, now available for download here.


Horror is a good way to start in the business. That was the advice given to me. Someone said the easiest movie to raise money for is the horror film and no matter how badly it turns out you'll probably be able to sell it to someone and your investors will get their money back. It's even truer today because horror is more popular than ever. I think that probably has something to do with 9/11. Audiences are flocking to see horror films.

One of the things I have learned is that horror is slow. Horror is about anticipation and the audience knowing that something bad is going to happen. Stretch that moment out as long as you possibly can. There are lots of shots in horror movies of people walking down hallways or opening doors or approaching bodies - those should be done slowly so that you really build up to something. The audience is just waiting for the horrific something or other to happen. John Carpenter says it's easy to scare someone, to make them jump, you know "boo," but it's moments that lead up to that "boo" that really separate the men from the boys in terms of making horror films.

I've also learned that it is the little stuff that scares you the most. Godzilla destroying Tokyo is not scary, but a guy taking a razor blade and slicing the tip of his finger is terrifying. It is the things that we can relate to that make us cringe because we can imagine what this would be like. When things get too enormous it goes beyond human comprehension.

The other thing that is really important is having characters that the audience cares about. We really have to want to see these people survive. I'm not a big fan of the Friday the 13th movies where you have these obnoxious teenagers getting bumped off one by one because you're really on the side of Jason. You want to see those kids get it and so there is no real fear in those films at all. It just becomes a question of how they're going to die. With my first horror film, Re-Animator, there is a character, Herbert West, who is this guy who invented a serum that would bring the dead back to life. He was a really difficult character for the audience to really sympathize with - he's kind of a mad man. What we really needed in this story was a normal person to interact with him, so we created the character of his roommate. We made this guy a poor kid who was at the University on a scholarship and dating the dean's daughter. He had all of these things going for him and all these things he could lose when he started teaming up with this crazy man scientist. It made him very vulnerable and it made us really want to see him succeed.

I think the biggest mistake you can make is to censor yourself. I was making a film called From Beyond. I shot a sequence involving a woman being tortured and a big nail being pounded through her tongue, and ended up cutting it out of the movie myself because I thought there was no way that it would ever be allowed on screen. I thought, "Oh, that's the most disgusting thing in the world!" Now you walk around and you see all these women with pierced tongues, and it's exactly like what I was thinking. So that was a lesson to me. Don't ever do that.


Lloyd here. I agree with Stuart. I haven't censored any movie since Sgt. Kabukiman, NYPD. Nobody tells me what to do anymore... except my wife. During Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, she put a stop to filming Joe Fleishaker's unsimulated bowel movements. But aside from her, nobody tell me what to do!


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