Exclusive: Director Patrick Lussier Talks DRIVE ANGRY DVD/Blu-ray, HELLRAISER and HALLOWEEN 3

     May 31, 2011


The outrageous action-adventure flick Drive Angry arrives on DVD and Blu-ray in both 2D and 3D on May 31st, with bonus content the includes audio commentary with director Patrick Lussier and writer/actor Todd Farmer, deleted scenes, “Milton’s Mayhem,” through which viewers can track the trail of carnage throughout the film, and an “Access: Drive Angry” special feature (exclusive to the Blu-ray release).

During a recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, Patrick Lussier talked about what fans will get to see on the DVD/Blu-ray, why he enjoys doing filmmaker commentaries, filming such epic car chases and fight sequences on a tight budget, and why bad-ass characters appeal to him. He also talked about how he and Todd Farmer are currently developing their take on Clive Barker’s Hellraiser for a remake, and said that they also hope to be able to do Halloween 3. Check out what he had to say after the jump.

drive-angry-movie-posterIn case you didn’t catch the film in theaters, here’s the synopsis:

In Drive Angry, actor Nicolas Cage stars as the undead felon Milton, a man who breaks out of Hell to even the score with killers who murdered his daughter and kidnapped her baby. He has three days to stop a vicious and bloodthirsty cult, run by deadly leader Jonah King (Billy Burke), before they sacrifice the baby beneath a full moon. He’s joined by Piper (Amber Heard) – a young, sexy waitress who liberates her ex-boyfriend’s cherry-red muscle car in order to help Milton. Now, the two of them are hot on the trail of Jonah, who believes it is his destiny to use the baby to unleash hell on earth. While the police are after him, an enigmatic killer, known only as “The Accountant” (William Fichtner), has been sent by the Devil to retrieve Milton and deliver him back to Hell. With wicked cunning and hypnotic savagery, The Accountant will relentlessly pursue Milton at high speed, across the country until his mission is accomplished. Fueled by high octane and pure rage, Milton must use his anger to go beyond all human limits to avenge his daughter’s murder, before his last chance at redemption is revoked.

With the special features and extras on the DVD/Blu-ray, is there anything that you’re most excited about fans of the movie getting to see?

PATRICK LUSSIER: Yeah. There are a couple of deleted scenes, one in particular that involves Bill Fichtner’s character, The Accountant, who’s a real favorite of everybody who has seen the film, so it will be fun for them to see a new scene with him in it, that was removed from the film. And then, they did an amazing job on this “Access: Drive Angry,” that is a whole presentation of the film where you can access all this information about how the movie was made. It comes up and there are different pop-up windows as it goes, and it has a series of interviews with Bill Fichtner, Amber Heard, Billy Burke, Todd Farmer and myself, throughout the film. There’s also this amazingly awesome “Milton’s Mayhem” meter that is basically like a game show. It racks points for all the carnage he creates, throughout the entire film, which is a blast. I’ve never seen anything done like that before.

Do you think people will be surprised there are only two deleted scenes from this film?

LUSSIER: Nothing else got deleted. Everything else was in the film. We didn’t have the money to shoot anything extra. There’s no other ending. What you see is what we shot because there was no money to shoot anything else. It’s the only time I’ve ever done that, where we literally shot the movie that we were ended up with. It’s a testament to the planning and the skills of the whole crew, in order to accomplish that in the time and for the limited bag of dough that we had to make it.

Because so much went into making a film like this, with the stunts, the effects, the use of 3D and a budget that you really had to make the absolute most out of, is it important to show audiences behind the scenes features of just how much goes into making a film like this?

LUSSIER: Yeah, I think it is. Ever since Star Wars, there was a rash of how a movie was made. I remember that, as a kid. I never really understood how movies were made, until that movie, because it was such a technical accomplishment. Since then, you’ve seen more and more and more, for all different kids of films, about what goes into the process. If people enjoy the film, it can be really intriguing to see what created that film, how each one of those unique components came together, who the people are who did it and what it meant to them to do it. That’s a great thing to put out there, especially if it is a film that has different technological aspects that are unique. There’s not a lot of that that’s been done before, so I think it’s good for people to see.

drive-angry-3d-movie-image-amber-heard-nicolas-cage-001Do you enjoy doing filmmaker commentaries for your films? Is it fun to go through the film again, once you’ve had some distance from it?

LUSSIER: The one we did for Drive Angry, I wish we had done a couple months later, mostly because when we did it, I was unbelievably sick and had completely lost my voice. It’s entertaining, but it literally sounds like I’m at death’s door. But, it is fun to do. It’s fun to do it six months after you finish shooting it and a couple months after you finish the movie. It’s also fun to do it a couple years afterwards, have the recall of what that experience was and see how time looks back on something, with that kind of introspection. Movies, over time, as they do or don’t find their audience, or they find a different audience, they change in your memory and in the eyes of those who see it. At any given time, if you did a commentary, it would have perhaps a very different content, based on that.

When you’re doing so many crazy things with and to your actors, in a film like this, do you ever feel bad about any of the things that you put them through, or do you have to make sure that you’re going to work with people who are game for whatever you throw at them?

LUSSIER: It’s full disclosure, at the beginning. You tell everybody what they’re in for, and then protect them when you’re doing it. You want to make the set completely safe, so that they feel comfortable being able to present whatever they have inside and really unleash that on film, whether it’s nudity or just emotional vulnerability. You want to make sure that people feel safe and comfortable, and know that they’re going to be supported when they do that. I don’t think any of the actors were surprised about what they were going to do. I remember when we were shooting the opening of the movie, which was about half-way through the schedule, when Nic [Cage] is coming up, shooting hands off, shooting people in the legs and shooting people in the face, and he was just like, “Oh my god, what have you done to me?” I just said, “You know, it’s not Family Man 2.” And, he laughed and said, “No, no, I read it. I’m in!” He had a blast with it, just letting himself go and embracing the madness of what it was. Each one of the actors did that. They had a great deal of faith and trust in me, which I appreciate immensely. I love them for it. It’s a big thing to ask of people, to expose themselves in that way, with everything from the emotionality to dropping their pants.

You seem to be attracted to stories with really bad-ass characters. Is that intentional, on your part, or is that just what subconsciously appeals to you?

LUSSIER: It’s probably both. It’s probably something that’s always subconsciously appealed to me and is something I’ve always liked, even in the movies I liked as a kid. And then, it’s fun to do stories that have those extreme characters. It’s fun to present stories that have a character that really everybody wants to be. When we were casting the movies, we had so many actresses who wanted to be Piper because she wasn’t the girlfriend. She wasn’t just the pretty chattel in the corner. She was this amazing, vibrant character who was vital to the story and who became the heart of the story. She wasn’t just the romantic lead, or the second fiddle. And then, everybody else wanted to be The Accountant because he has the best dialogue, always looks good, and is wickedly funny and viciously violent, simultaneously.

Do you know what you’re going to focus on next?

LUSSIER: There are a few things that we’re splitting our focus on, as we go. Shooting Hellraiser is one of the prime things that we’re focusing on right now, although both Todd [Farmer] and I would like to make Halloween 3, as soon as somebody says we can. We both love that script, and love the franchise. Hellraiser is an amazing world that Clive Barker created and it is such a beautifully vibrant and surreal world within which to work. It is also not an undaunting canvas. It is a canvas created by an artist. Hellraiser wasn’t created for business. It wasn’t created to be like Prom Night, or even the original My Bloody Valentine. I loved remaking My Bloody Valentine, but playing in the Hellraiser world and trying to take it back to a theatrical venue is something that we’re doing very carefully. We’re certainly in conversation with Bob Weinstein at Dimension Films, who are incredibly supportive and passionate about the project, and it’s something that we’re all striving to get right because of that.

hellraiser-pinheadIs what you’re looking to do with Hellraiser something that you would consider a remake, a reboot, or a parallel story that happens to live in the same world?

LUSSIER: Probably the last one is more what we’re looking to do – a story that takes place in the world that exists and that follows threads that were created by Clive. It doesn’t remake his story and doesn’t retell his story, yet it features components of his story and the world that he so beautifully fabricated

When you’re dealing with a film that has an iconic image like Pinhead, how do you approach that character and how much you can change it?

LUSSIER: It’s iconic for a reason, so if you’re going to change it, you better be damn careful about it. You have to know why things are what they are. We’ve had a few different versions where it was presented both differently and yet exactly the same, almost simultaneously, which was really intriguing. We have a different version that we’re working on now. The image of Pinhead is iconic for a reason. It’s something that we want to preserve. There may be components to it that are presented in a new way and in a way that you haven’t seen before, but at the same time, to play within Clive’s world is to really focus on Clive’s creations and how he presented them. What is it that would update them? What is it that would bring them into the 21st Century? How do we feature that in a way that is both new and exciting, but at the same time, completely respectful of Clive’s original version?

drive_angry_3d_image_02.jpgWhere would your take on Halloween fall between the original feel of it and what Rob Zombie created?

LUSSIER: The goal of our Halloween was to basically have this incredibly exciting, prolonged opening that took you on a continuation from the exact second that Rob’s Halloween 2 ended, and then took you through some surprising events for the rest of that night, and then picks up a year later, as Halloween is rolling around again, to take the movie back to its Carpenter roots, to really take Michael Myers back to his origin and how he started, and to travel the rest of the movie with him in that state. That was something that we were and are still incredibly excited to present.

What is it about Todd Farmer that makes your collaboration together work so well?

LUSSIER: Todd is just a great writer and a great friend. He’s really smart with character and dialogue. We compliment each other in so many different ways. There are things that I lean towards that he doesn’t, and vice versa. As such, we sort of make a whole person, as odd as that may sound. I love Todd. He’s brilliant, through and through, and an incredibly passionate storyteller. The key is to work with people who are passionate about storytelling and who have a similar sensibility of the type and nature of the stories that you want to tell.

Do you enjoy making the type of films that you would want to see? Is there also something that you would love to do, at some point, that would really surprise people?

LUSSIER: There is. I love making genre films. It’s something I’ve really been attracted to since I was a kid, mostly because, as a kid, it was forbidden fruit. It was the thing I wasn’t allowed to see, and became completely obsessed with, as I grew up, and really wanted to work in that environment. I got very lucky to work with Wes Craven, very early on in my career, and continued to work with Wes for almost 19 years. I learned so much from him, and about his sense of story and his sense of horror, and that was great to be a part of. In terms of projects I’d love to do, I loved doing something that was more action-driven, on Drive Angry. I thought that it was incredibly fun to work with those kinds of extreme cinematic mechanics. That was very exciting. I’d love to do something more along those lines. We have a couple other projects that I don’t want to mention right now, but that lean that way. And then, there are some that lean completely in the direction of horror, which would be fantastic to do. We’re chasing a bunch of different things, but it’s too early to unleash what they all are.

drive_angry_3d_image_01Were you surprised, at any point during filming, that you were allowed to make exactly the movie that you wanted to make?

LUSSIER: Yeah, I was shocked! I was utterly shocked! I was shocked that nobody came down and said, “What?! You can’t have a baby in jeopardy! What do you mean they’re fucking and killing at the same time? You can’t do that!” But, nobody ever said that. There was a lot of trust and we managed to go forward and present this mad journey that is Drive Angry. There was many a day that we were shocked we were getting to do exactly what we set out to do. There were a few budgetary limitations, but the good thing about that is that it forces you to be clever and work around them. We got the cast we wanted. Bill Fichtner was the first person we wanted to play The Accountant, and we got him. Billy Burke’s audition for Jonah was incredible. Instantly, we started re-tweaking the script to be what he did in his audition, which was incredibly unique and had this really wickedly clever aspect to it that we hadn’t anticipated. And, Amber Heard was somebody we wanted, from the very first conversations we had. To attract that cast, to attract Nic Cage, to get Tom Atkins back, to get David Morse and Katy Mixon, and all these incredible character actors, was amazing.

Did you always want to be a filmmaker and a storyteller, or did something lead you down that path?

LUSSIER: I always wanted to tell stories. From the time I had 20 cents or a quarter in my pocket, I could peddle my old Rambler 500 down to the corner store and buy comic books. I loved that visual storytelling medium. And then, I realized that there was an actual job of making movies. They weren’t created by elves. I learned so much about the making of Star Wars and that became a real drive for me, right from the time I was 12 or 13. I was a kid from Canada and, at the time, there was no real film industry in Vancouver. Obviously, there is now, but there wasn’t then. So, it was rarely heard of, to be able to do that. Who were the prominent Canadians in the film industry, at that time? There was Norman Jewison and William Shatner. It was something that was a pipe dream, but my dad used to always say, “If you want it bad enough, you’ll get it,” so I just kept wanting it and kept wanting to pursue it and was lucky enough to make my way into it.

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