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Joseph Proimakis [Film Festival 02.15.10] movie news interview horror

Last week we put QE contributor Joseph Proimakis on the horn with modern horror icon Eli Roth to get the skinny on the new, unrated Blu-ray release of Cabin Fever (out on February 16, 2010).

Along the way, Roth scooped us on his dealings with the controversial Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (review), his burning desire to make a classic exorcism flick, where exactly he's at with his apocalyptic scifi actioner, Endangered Species, and much much more.

So, without further to-do, read our interview with Roth after the break.

So, Cabin Fever on Blu Ray sounds exciting. Have you had to revisit the film, perhaps make some enhancements of some sort?

Well, Lionsgate was really supportive about making a great Blu Ray, and we went back to the original negative to transfer the movie. So the picture looks spectacular, all the colors, everything, it’s great, we dust-cleaned it, it really, really looks like it just came out of the lab. And this isn’t something we’ll be releasing on DVD, this is Blu Ray, so people will be watching it on high definition televisions and it looks gorgeous.

Also, we remixed the sound. We took the 5.1 mix and did a 7.1 mix, and the mixing team were really terrific. They were able to actually clean up a lot of the dialogue and certain things that we couldn’t get done in the original sound mix, we were able to do now, so it actually sounds much cleaner and clearer, the way I had always hoped it would sound.

And what’s more, this is the first time my cut will be seen since the time of the Toronto Film Festival, in 2002. I’ve only screened it one time since and that was last August and it brought the house down. There’s not that much a difference, but for the fans that know the movie, there are some character stuff... Well, there’s one big jump scare, one that was cut, and then there’s just other funny lines and character stuff that once they were taken out, there’s some things in the movie that don’t make any sense, or they ask a question that’s never really answered, which was all actually in there, in the original cut, so I think it plays much better as a movie now.

And will there be any new extra features and stuff on the disc?

Yeah, yeah, I know that people love that kind of stuff, so we put on as much as we could do and afford. I’ve put in a photo gallery of my behind the scenes photos from the shoot, and there’s a lot of the original stuff from the DVD that’s on there, but we went ahead and recorded a new audio commentary. The original commentary was recorded before the movie ever came out to theaters --it was after the film was bought, but not yet released-- so we didn’t know how it was gonna do. This time I was able to get four of the five original cast members back, and we just sat there and remminesced, and told stories from the shoot and had a great time. So we had a really really fun commentary session.

I know there’s a sequel coming out pretty soon, also on DVD, and given that Cabin Fever was your first-born, and you’re not directly involved in the sequel I’m wondering what your thoughts and feelings are on it.

Well, I left the project on very friendly terms, I told them I don’t want to do this sequel, I’ve other movies I want to do, and frankly I wanted a break from it.

I actually suggested that they should hire Randy Pearlstein to write it, because he was my co-writer on the first one and he had a great idea about setting it at the prom, and it was my suggestion that they hire Ti West to direct it, because I’d seen [his feature debut] The Roost at a film festival and just thought that he’s a fantastic new film-maker and I wanted to see what he’d do, I thought that he’d do something competely new and fun and creative, and would while mainting the spirit of the original, make his own movie. So for me, I’m excited to watch it, you know?

I’ve never had the experience of objectively getting to sit down and watch a Cabin Fever movie. So much of my life is in Cabin Fever, that to me, it doesn’t even feel like I’ll be watching Cabin Fever 2, it’ll be like watching some other horror movie, that just happens to be called Cabin Fever 2.

So now you’re in the 3D revamp of Piranha...

Yeah, well, I’m friends with Alexandre Aja and he asked me to do cameo, so... It was a really, really fun time. It was going to be a surprise and then they put me in the trailer... it was going to be a surprise cameo and then there I was, the opening shot of the trailer...

And you’re also producing a home-made looking horror film called Cotton.

Well, actually, I’ve been wanting to make an excorsism movie, this is something we’ve been developing for years, with Strike Entertainment the producers of the Dawn of the Dead remake. And we found a terrific director named Daniel Stamm who did and amazing job, and we’re gonna have some very exciting news soon, about the release of Cotton. But the whole idea there, was to make an excorsism film, and it’s much closer to, well, the first part of District 9, much more of that style, rather than a home-made horror movie.

So what is your general viewpoint on where horror is headed right now?

I think we’re in a great point right now. In terms of what you’re allowed to do, there’s been a number of film-makers, along with myself, who’ve been able to shatter what was possible and put real graphic violence on screen. And you can see the audience clearly loved it and then hit the saturation point and we’re clearly going for Paranormal Activity. So now, there’s room for both. So what’s going to win is, what’s the scariest idea, and what’s the most original idea. And it’s great to see people going for an original scary movie, and once again showing that they don’t care what it cost, who is in it or wether it’s shot on film, or on HD or video. Is it scary? Then it satisfies the audience.

So I think that right now, I think that you’re in a position where you really can do anything. You know, back when I tried to make Cabin Fever, everyone said «you can’t have violence, you can’t have nudity», there were all these rules about what you can and can’t do in horror, and part of the fun in a horror movie is that you feel that anything can happen at any moment. I think that the problem is that it’s much more expensive to release a movie now and there’s much fewer companies releasing them. When Cabin Fever was out in the market there were six or seven studios bidding but now most of these studios are gone. But all that just means that people are gonna have to try that much harder.

And what direction is you new film, Endangered Spieces, headed at?

It’s a sci-fi film. I wanna do something that’s like scary science fiction. Not horror movie, but much more sci-fi. I’m writing it right now, but I’m having so much fun, you know, enjoying the awards season with Inglourious Basterds, and wanna make sure that I really fully enjoy every moment of this, ‘cause it’s gonna be over soon.

How do you feel about the Oscar season this year, with the ten best picture nominations and all that?

I think it will be interesting to see how it all plays out, but I’m just happy that a movie I was in, is in the mix.

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