Now in theaters everywhere, Patrick Lussier’s Drive Angry 3D (review) is the anticipated follow-up to the director’s previous horror hit, My Bloody Valentine 3D, which grossed over $100 million worldwide back in 2009.
The difference this time around is that the film is an original creation as opposed to a remake (thank you!), featuring heavy-hitting actor Nicolas Cage in the title role of a man who escapes from Hell to avenge the murder of his daughter and kidnapping of his grandchild by a Satanic cult.
B-D reporter Chris Eggertsen recently chatted it up with Lussier, quickly picking up steam as one of the foremost faces in horror in the 21st century, to talk about working with Cage and the rest of the cast, what old films he and co-writer Todd Farmer were influenced by during the writing process, and whether he’d be open to doing a sequel.
See inside for the full interview and don’t forget it’s now time for you to write your own review to tell all of BD what YOU thought!
Beginning his career as the editor of several of Wes Craven’s latter-day films, including Scream and New Nightmare, Patrick Lussier’s first movie as director was the 2000 direct-to-DVD sequel The Prophecy 3: The Ascent, and later that same year Dracula 2000 for Dimension. Following the latter film’s big success on home video formats, he then helmed two direct-to-DVD follow-up sequels – in addition to White Noise 2 – before breaking out onto the big-screen once again with My Bloody Valentine 3D in 2009. That film’s commercial triumph served as Lussier’s big breakout, and now with Drive Angry 3D and an upcoming Hellraiser reboot – not to mention Halloween III 3D (currently languishing in development limbo) – the director has joined the ranks of directors like Aja, Roth, and Wan to become a major force in 21st century horror.
Bloody-Disgusting: The movie was exactly what I wanted it to be. I feel like you guys knew exactly what the audience wanted and exactly what the movie was, and you just kind of went with it. So I definitely appreciated that about it.
Patrick Lussier: Oh good, I’m so glad you liked it.
BD: What was the inspiration going into it? I was kind of asking the actors yesterday if they had a viewing list or anything, and they said `no, not really’, but I was wondering what kind of movies, if any, you watched beforehand or were inspired by.
PL: We were definitely inspired by those sort of `70s road movies, sort of pre-`Jaws’ movies, when heroes weren’t exactly heroes. Everything from `Vanishing Point’, to `Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry’, to `Seven-Ups’, `French Connection’, and then a really key one was `High Plains Drifter’.
BD: Oh, I really like that movie.
PL: That was really the whole model for Nic’s character in the film.
BD: I think he actually did mention that when we were back on the set visit in May.
PL: Oh, yeah, yeah. Doesn’t surprise me. He sort of found that on his own, he saw it in the material and watched it…
BD: Nic is really known for bringing a lot to his performances. What if anything did he change from the page to his performance in the film?
PL: I mean, one of the things Nic did which sounds very simple but actually added a lot to the character is that his character never curses. He’s one of the only ones that doesn’t swear, and that was Nic. We had not written it that way. He was very much like, `I don’t think he should do that, I think he’s too direct for that.’ And I guess really that was one of the things that he brought to the character, a real directness. He really focused Milton’s journey, and we would talk a lot about why he was doing it, how he was improvising his plan on the way…he basically just sort of plunked back down on the planet without really knowing exactly where to go or what to do, and how he was going to force his way through the journey to make sure he got what he wanted.
BD: I also liked how he and Amber Heard characters…it was kind of a like a buddy movie between them. In any other movie, I feel like there would’ve been at least more sexual tension or something. But in this…obviously Amber Heard is beautiful and everything, and you have to focus a little on her sex appeal…
PL: Yeah, it was very much written that way. We had wanted this to be a father/daughter movie, like a movie about a guy who completely failed his family and had a shot to redeem himself in some fashion, and Amber’s character sort of becomes the surrogate daughter, in place of the daughter he failed. And you know, they start off as sort of weary strangers, and become partners, and then by the end you really feel the sort of father/daughter relationship…it was all built to that. Amber’s character is very much the heart of the film. She’s the one who you encounter all the insanity via! It was really important to have somebody who could pull that off, and somebody who wasn’t going to…we didn’t want any sexual tension between these characters, which was important in the tone of the story…and she really understood [that]. So did Nic. Nic really wanted it to be a partnership, he wanted it to feel like that. He wanted it to feel like a buddy movie. So that’s how it was created.
BD: I love William Fichtner in the movie. He really nails the sort of lizard-cool kind of vibe that’s required for the character. Some of the lines he delivers, the way he delivers them, is just so perfect. He was really was the perfect actor for that role.
PL: We couldn’t agree more. One of the things that we really wanted was somebody who could both be wickedly funny and incredibly threatening back-to-back, [where] seconds apart you could feel that they were highly dangerous yet so entertaining and compelling the you couldn’t take your eyes off of him.
BD: He’s so deadpan in it. I loved that.
PL: He’s a really brilliant actor and [understood] what we wanted, of both comedy and danger and to really put all of that into the same moments, unlike anybody else.
BD: He’s like a Wall Street banker or something.
PL: [Laughs] I don’t think he’s that evil!
BD: Probably not, probably not. Billy Burke too definitely had like a Jim Morrison kind of vibe going on, which he said was kind of the inspiration for his character.
PL: Yeah, you know, we had talked a lot about the character being not totally like David Koresh, not totally Jim Jones, but with elements of both of them in it. And having it have a lot more Jim Morrison, and perhaps a smattering of Neil Diamond…and he really brought that on, all the sort of sex, charisma, charismatic danger of that character. He figured out how to create this really delicious psychopath.
BD: I loved the Godkiller element too, this otherworldly kind of weapon. Talk about developing that.
PL: Yeah, as we came up with…the Accountant character [played by William Fichtner], we realized we needed something to be able to slow him down or deter him. And it just felt like this was something that would definitely exist, that the Devil would have, and nobody would ever have the audacity to take it, which means that it was probably a lot easier to take than anybody expected!
BD: You leave it open for a sequel. If all goes well with this one, is that something you’d be interested in doing?
PL: You know, we love the characters, Todd Farmer and I, the characters are very close to our hearts…if the audience was kind enough to embrace the film, then we would certainly love to take another road trip with [these characters]. They’re great fun to write, and…all the actors did such a brilliant job. It’d be amazing to see what they did next.