Yet another press conference we attended at Comic-Con was for director Karyn Kusama’s upcoming horror film written by Oscar winner Diablo Cody, Jennifer’s Body starring Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried. Kusama, Cody, Fox, and producer Jason Reitman were all in attendance and eager to promote their zany new film. Fox admits to not being a horror film fan, in fact the last horror film she saw was in 2001 and while having to do ADR for this film she managed to scare herself. Cody on the other hand seems to be proud on her jump from Academy Award winner to over the top horror film writer and doesn’t seem to be scared away by much of anything.
Check out the interview below…
Megan, how was it to play a character that is so over the top and so incredibly outrageous?
Megan: What I loved about the movie is that itâ€™s so unapologetic and completely inappropriate, at all times. That was my favorite part about the script and about the character. Itâ€™s fun to be able to say the shit that she got to say and get away with it, and see how people find it charming.
Diablo, can you talk about the challenges of creating a new horror mythology, in a world where weâ€™re inundated with remakes and re-boots? Did you face any resistance to creating something new?
Diablo: For me, I was simultaneously trying to pay tribute to some of the conventions that weâ€™ve already seen in horror, but at the same time, kind of turn them on their ear. So, it was truly like a post-modern thriller in that, on the one hand, I grew up watching these amazing 80′s genre movies, like The Lost Boys, and I wanted to honor that. And, at the same time, I had never really seen this particular subgenre done with girls.
Were there any horror films with a strong female angle that you did like?
Diablo: Whatâ€™s interesting, and itâ€™s been pointed out many times before, is that often the last survivor standing in the typical horror film is a woman, like Nancy (in Nightmare on Elm Street) or Jasonâ€™s mother, or any of the great heroines of horror, if you choose to look at them that way. I think horror has always had a feminist angle to it, in a weird way. And, at the same time, itâ€™s delightfully exploitative. One of my favorite things about doing a horror movie is that we got to do a little of both.
Karyn: I think also a lot of horror is about femaleness, whether itâ€™s Carrie or Rosemaryâ€™s Baby. I feel like thereâ€™s a lot of fear of the female or a celebration of it, in some weird way, and something about this movie managed to take the fear and the sense that itâ€™s the female that ultimately survives, and marry that in a really interesting way.
Diablo, horror often has a sense of humor about it. When youâ€™re writing it, do you find things that you thought were funny that could be injected, so the audience had some relief from the horror aspects of it?
Diablo: The funny thing is, when I first set out to write this, I intended to write something very dark and very brooding, that was a traditional slasher movie. And then, I realized, about a third of the way into the process, that I was incapable of doing that because the humor just kept sneaking in. I have a macabre sense of humor. A lot of the things in the movie that are horrifying are funny to me. Iâ€™ve always said that I think comedy films and horror films are similar, in the sense that you can actually witness the audience having a physical release. Theyâ€™re laughing and screaming. Itâ€™s not a passive experience. So, I actually think comedy and horror are similar, in that way.
Megan, that vomit scene we saw was pretty outrageous. How did you shoot that, and what other crazy stuff did you get to do?
Megan: That day, I think what I was actually throwing up in the scene was chocolate syrup, initially. We did a few takes where I would just do this scream and puke chocolate syrup. And then, special effects did a rig that clamps onto my ear and you revisit it in the pool scene, later on in the movie. It clipped on and went around the back of my ear, and then I had to bite down on it, on the side of my face, and it projectile vomited.
Karyn: It was kind of old school.
Megan: Yeah, and it projects whatever that material was. Iâ€™m not sure. It was pretty intense. I think it was worse for Amanda because sheâ€™s the one that got puked on. I was the one doing the puking.
Did you have to go with more practical effects on the set, as opposed to CG?
Karyn: Yeah. It was a choice that we all made, organically. I think we appreciate those kind of effects in older movies and I question sometimes how much more effective it is to use a ton of CG. So, we always started with a practical effect and then moved forward from there to lay a groundwork of something thatâ€™s actually physically, materially there. It was more fun, too.
Jason, this is considerably different from the movies that youâ€™ve been making, as a director. Does this scratch an itch that you have for genre? Are we ever going to see you do anything along these lines?
Jason: I found Thank You for Smoking to be terrifying, personally. It doesnâ€™t work that way for everyone. Iâ€™ve always loved horror films, and I certainly go see more horror films than probably any other genre, in the theater. I hope Iâ€™m as capable of doing it as Karyn is. Itâ€™s an intimidating genre because there are people who certainly do it very well. But, I love horror films.
Karyn, how did you get involved in this?
Karyn: I was blessed to read this script at a moment where the producers were meeting with directors, and it just knocked me out. It was just so original and so imaginative. What it is about this script and the world is that it feels like a fairy tale gone psycho, and I think thatâ€™s what most fairy tales actually started as. Theyâ€™ve just been neutralized, over the years. Thereâ€™s something about this story that felt old, like coming from old stories, but itâ€™s totally fresh, and I just went to bat for myself.
When I read the script, the first thing I felt, viscerally was, â€œMan, if I was 17 right now, this is the movie I would see 10 times in the theater.â€ I just feel a pull toward it thatâ€™s speaks to me, and itâ€™s not intellectual. Itâ€™s just emotional. I think that the best horror and the best comedies speak to you on just this very visceral level.
Megan, did you have any trepidation towards playing this type of role? And, once you actually started doing some of these scenes, how was the experience for you, in terms of the acting?
Megan: Obviously, there are not distractions, like robots, to distract you from whatever performance I do give. So, if itâ€™s terrible, youâ€™re gonna fucking know that itâ€™s really terrible. That, of course, is intimidating, but I think the character was so much fun for me. I wasnâ€™t really sure what I was doing. I was just trying to have fun with it and I felt like I was able to make fun of my own image, as to how some people might perceive Megan Fox to be. I was just flying freely and I hope some of it works.
We got a sense of how scary and how funny this film can be, but how sexy is it?
Megan: Oh, this movie is so sexy. You better put on your sexy shoes for this movie. Thereâ€™s a relationship that happens, between my character and Amandaâ€™s character. Thereâ€™s a hint of a Lesbian relationship that happens. Thereâ€™s a girl on girl kiss. I feel like itâ€™s an homage to that, but also we poke fun at how common that is in horror movies. And, beyond that, before every kill, thereâ€™s a seduction that occurs. These boys have to be seduced into getting close enough to this dead girl for her to devour them. So. it does get sexy. I think Iâ€™m pretty sexy in it. I donâ€™t know.
Diablo: For sure.
Karyn: Itâ€™s pretty sexy.
Karyn, in all three of your films, you deal with different facets of violence. Thereâ€™s the science fiction over-the-top violence of Aeon Flux and the more grotesque, dark violence of this. How do you deal with the various types of violence that you see in the different films? Is there a different approach to them or is it all the same, from your perspective?
Karyn: Itâ€™s definitely different with each movie. With Girlfight, it was important to actually be authentic to the world of amateur boxing and to the emotional dynamics within the ring. And, with Aeon Flux, I think that there were some approaches to violence I was trying to take. I think the finished film didnâ€™t really reflect that entirely but there was a different kind of interest in just the way the body moves through space. That was interesting to me. With this movie, it was really important to know the mechanics of violence as a movie tool so that, for instance, when Jennifer pukes, it should be black as tar and it should come out big and loud and it should be a shocking moment. I feel like in a way somebody mentioned that the movie feels kind of over the top. It was important to know when to go there and not back down from it feeling like a genre movie while trying to keep it real between the characters and keep the world of it real.
Was there ever a push and pull with the MPAA? Did you guys ever go for a PG-13 cut or was it always set as an R?
Karyn: We always knew.
Diablo: Just because of the language alone.
It wasnâ€™t too long ago that, if a filmmaker had had the kind of breakthroughs that you guys have all had in different films, they would never do horror because they would have done horror before the breakthrough. You guys went back and did it. What do you think that says about whatâ€™s going on in the trends in filmmaking right now?
Diablo: For me, itâ€™s personal passion. To me, horror is better than anything. To me, anything I could have done would build into this, so this was what I wanted.
Jason: Youâ€™ve got a generation of directors here who grew up on horror. And, weâ€™re also all from the VHS generation as well
Karyn: And, I think you can watch a lot of horror and, just like with Pandoraâ€™s Box, crazy shit just keeps coming out of that box. You can find so many amazing movies. When I look at the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I basically feel like itâ€™s a crazy art movie that just happened to become this event. That movie would never get made now, in that way. Itâ€™s been remade in a different way. In a way, horror speaks to all of us. Itâ€™s definitely the genre to try to get to and to try to achieve, in my opinion.
Jason: I remember cracking open my fatherâ€™s laser disc of Nightmare on Elm Street and having the coolest movie moments of my childhood, and I canâ€™t imagine having that experience with any other genre. I canâ€™t imagine dangerously opening a broad comedy, in the middle of the night, hoping I wouldnâ€™t get caught. I have an idea thereâ€™s a kid out there who will be secretly opening up a Blu-ray of Jenniferâ€™s Body, and I think itâ€™s pretty exciting to all of us. Itâ€™s a crazy enough movie.
Megan, are you a fan of horror? Is this a genre that youâ€™re naturally drawn to?
Megan: Iâ€™m actually not. I donâ€™t ever, ever watch scary movies because I have a very intense fear of the dark. The last horror movie I saw was called Tooth Fairy, and it was out in 2001 or something. I saw it and I slept with my mother for 2 weeks, afterwards. I get really affected by them. So, for me to be able to play something that I would normally be frightened by was really intriguing and interesting.
How did you react when you saw the movie?
Megan: I was doing ADR on it recently and I didnâ€™t know that they had done more sound design since the last time Iâ€™d seen it. So, we were watching the clip that I was going to add a scream to, and I remember the screams that I did on set, but I didnâ€™t know they had added more. And, when I got to that part, I literally jumped and screamed inside the looping booth. It frightened me and it shook me up for 5 minutes. I couldnâ€™t do my ADR because I was like, â€œHoly shit! That was really scary!â€ Itâ€™s cool to see myself being able to scare people because Iâ€™m just a little girl. Look at me, Iâ€™m so sweet!
Diablo, I know youâ€™ve been to the Toronto Film Festival, and now youâ€™re going to premiere Jenniferâ€™s Body at Midnight Madness, in front of a intense crowd to say the least. Are you excited about that?
Diablo: Iâ€™m so excited. Thatâ€™s all I can say about it. I love Toronto, and I was excited when I found out we were going to get to do that, especially with that crowd. I love the tradition of the Midnight Madness. I think itâ€™s going to be so cool.
Jason: Iâ€™ve been going to Sundance and Toronto since I was a teenager, bringing short films to both, and Iâ€™ve always been an enormous fan. When Iâ€™ve gone through the catalogs, frankly the Midnight Madness movies always seem more exciting than the dramatic fare. Every dramatic film reads exactly the same, and then youâ€™re like, â€œOh, finally, Nazi Zombies in the Snow! This is what I was looking for!â€ Thatâ€™s the one youâ€™ve been wanting to line up for. So, the idea that weâ€™re participating in it is pretty great.
Diablo, you had a cameo in the footage that we saw. Will you be in more of the film?
Diablo: No, no, that was it. I think that was even just a pity shot that you saw from Karyn.
And Jason, might we see a cameo of you in the film?
Jason: Absolutely not.
How important is the music, in a film like this? Diablo, were you involved in the music selection, or at least the band poster selection that was on the walls of the bar?
Karyn: The music was a huge component of the movie. First, the songs that we see and hear performed, but then, just the vibe of the movie. As the movie progresses, it becomes a pretty clearly music-oriented movie. Itâ€™s a youth movie. Some of those bands were totally made up and some of them are not.
Diablo: I wanted Screeching Weasel in the movie, really bad. That was important.
Are there any horror movies that stand out to you as some of your favorites?
Karyn: Iâ€™m a Near Dark junkie. I need to see that movie every year, just to get through life.
Diablo: My all time favorites are Rosemaryâ€™s Baby and Donâ€™t Look Now.
Jason: Iâ€™m a Shining guy. I know some people donâ€™t like it, but I remember seeing that as a kid and it scaring the living shit out of me, and the imagery really staying with me. I remember seeing the original Alien. In fact, my father took me camping when I was a kid and told me Alien as a campfire story, and his version continued. His alien made it back down to Earth. And then, later on, I started watching the movie, Alien, and started realizing I knew exactly where everything was going to go — the face sucker and the thing bursting from the chest. Honestly, I was young enough to have a moment of, â€œOh, my God, they ripped my father off!â€ And then, it came to me that, no.
Diablo, the fire scene in the barroom that you appear in, all I could think about was the Great White performance in Rhode Island and that whole crazy event. Was that where this came from?
Diablo: Not specifically. Itâ€™s weird. It has come up a few times. To me, I am afraid of fire and fire technics and all that stuff, which is why I donâ€™t know why I asked to be in the bar scene. Iâ€™ve never exploded before.
Karyn: And you asked to be set on fire. Do you remember?
Diablo: That was me trying to conquer a fear. By the way, they would not allow me to do a full burn, for insurance purposes, even though I argued that Burt Reynolds had done it once. But, apparently, he got really hurt, so they would not let me. To me, thereâ€™s nothing more horrifying than being stuck in a claustrophobic space as it is burning down, so it was more like tapping into a personal fear.
Diablo, are you going to get behind the camera and do your own horror film now?
Diablo: If I were to direct, I would want to direct a horror movie, I think. I donâ€™t know if that will ever happen. I need to improve my skill set.