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Philly2Philly Interviews Breck Eisner- Director of The Crazies

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The Crazies is a remake of the 1973 cult classic from horror maestro George Romero. Director Breck Eisner clearly had some big shoes to fill in "The Crazies" director Breck Eisner. Photo: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/images/events/SGG-059765.jpgmany regards, but the film is a clear success, opening to positive reviews and great word of mouth. Eisner sat down with Philly2Philly to talk about horror films in general, remakes, and his approach to getting an audience’s skin to crawl so effectively.

Philly2Philly: What’s your first priority when shooting a horror film?

Breck Eisner: You want to make a movie that first and foremost appeases your core audience and but at the same time try to make a movie that might broaden out a bit too.

P2P: The movie opened last weekend with around $17 million at the box office, which considering the competition was very impressive for a genre film! How do you feel about that?

BE: I am definitely psyched about that. The movie cost just under 20 million to make, and there was very little money to advertise. We spent a lot of our effort on the online community, to build word of mouth, and we obviously benefited from good reviews so that helped a lot too.

P2P: How did you get involved with The Crazies? Was it something that came to you or a project you had wanted to get involved with for some time?

BE: Well, it had been in development for about 3 years from start to finish. The producers who had gotten the rights from Romero himself originally approached me, which I thought was great. A lot of times remakes are done and the rights are coming from studios where rights are removed from the original filmmakers. It was nice to know that Romero optioned the movie himself, and that gave me a good bit of confidence.

P2P: There is definitely bloodshed in the movie. It is a horror movie after all. However, The Crazies seems to rely primarily on suspense and tension. Was that the intention?

BE: My approach first and foremost is to create characters and place that are of interest. It seems to me that there are guys who can do kills better than I can, but the thing I really respond to is connection to characters and place that they exist in. You are then invested in their survival emotionally when they become threatened. It makes it tenser because the tension comes from desire to have people survive. The gore is fine, but it should service the story, and not define the movie itself.

P2P: Was the script changed during shooting?

BE: They had a draft script, the Kosar script, which was good, but I had a fairly different take on it. That script was primarily told just from the townsfolk So Ray Wright re-wrote the script including the military and that basically was the version that was shot. Of course, we made changes as we went because the budget was pretty tight.

P2P: Will there be an alternate cut of the film with more footage to be released on DVD?

BE: In terms of the overall movie there is very little that actually got cut out. We knew that we couldn’t afford to shoot things that were extraneous. There was some trimming attributed to pacing, but overall there wasn’t much left on the floor.

P2P: There is a rumor about an alternate ending which was to be the original ending. Can you offer any clarification on this?

BE: (SPOILER ALERT) In terms of the ending, there was an additional ending shot…that was designed from the beginning of the movie. It was a very bleak ending that I always loved. Everyone said I was crazy and it would never work with an ending that dark so just cover yourself with alternate ending. I said it cannot end happy; there is no way it can end with everyone walking out in the fields surviving.

In that other ending… they make it to the diner, and they order bottled water. David has a short outburst and Judy tries to alleviate him. Then she recognizes his nose is bleeding and that he has the disease, and we cut out on that look. It definitely will not be incorporated back into the movie for DVD, and I haven’t decided yet whether it will be included as a deleted scene. Sometimes with that ending I am not sure if it feels like the movie we made, so still undecided on that.

P2P: The Crazies was originally made by horror legend George Romero (Night of the Living Dead). Did you feel pressure disappointing him when creating this update?

BE: Anytime you re making a horror masters movie, it’s intimidating for sure. The thing that gave me a bit of confidence was that he optioned the material personally. Romero’s point of view on the movie was “look, I’ve done it. Do what you guys want to do.” So we shot the movie and I screened it for him, and he was very positive about the movie. One of the most stressful parts was dialing the phone to talk to Romero after the screening.

P2P: The Nightmare on Elm Street  remake opens in April. What are your thoughts on that film and on horror remakes in general?

BE: I have not seen it, but it looks good from the trailer. I think there has to be a reason to remake the movie. With The Crazies, there was a purpose for when it was made in '73, and I think the world today has gone in a similar cyclical situation with Iraq/Afghanistan and the movie comments on all that. There also has to be some limitation of the original that makes it worth the remake. It was limited by budget, scale, and actors. We were not a big movie, but it was bigger than what Romero had available.

P2P: Looking to the future, there seems to a rumor that you may be involved in a remake of David Cronenberg’s  The Brood. Is there any truth to that?

BE: It’s just a rumor at this point. There is a good script out there by Corey Goodman, and I’m a big fan of the original and not sure if I would be comfortable making it. It’s just in the thought process right now.

You can contact Jim Teti at: itetmij@gmail.com