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[Interview] ‘Let the Corpses Tan’ Directors Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani

[Interview] ‘Let the Corpses Tan’ Directors Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani

Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani, the duo behind the stunning Giallo inspired Amer as well as The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears, will throw glitter and gold all over the Toronto International Film Festival with their Let the Corpses Tan (Laissez bronzer les cadavres!), which premieres tonight at the ongoing event.

Adapted from Jean-Patrick Manchette and Jean-Pierre Bastid’s 1971 crime thriller, Let the Corpses Tan takes place during a Mediterranean summer where 250 kg of gold is stolen by a gang. Their perfect hideout turns to bloodshed when surprise guests compromise their plan turning it into a gruesome battlefield. Elina Löwensohn, Stéphane Ferrara, and Bernie Bonvoisin star in the film said to be “relentless and mind-blowing.”

Cattet and Forzani make incredibly complicated films and Let the Corpses Tan is no different. While the duo’s preparation included extremely detailed notes in the script, they had to think on the fly with this new film.

“For Amer and The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears, all of the shots, sound effects, the music, and editing are all in the script,” they revealed in our exclusive interview. “But for Let the Corpses Tan we had to prepare a lot right on set in Corsica during the pre-production because the space wasn’t exactly what we had in mind when writing the script. We had to adapt what we wanted to do in the location.”

It gets even more complicated, they add: “Since the set wasn’t accessible by trucks or cars, but just by helicopter (and no electricity, water…nothing but rocks!), we had to get creative to make this adventure possible. So the main focus of our preparation was based on this challenge – we had to think about every single detail in advance because once the shooting would begin we would be trapped and couldn’t improvise or add more material!

“In terms of preparing the shots, we kept the same high rhythm as on our previous films (an average of 30 shots per day) but for some specific shots (with stunts and pyrotechnic effects), we had to take a bit longer. But everyone was really efficient so we managed to shoot everything we needed.”

Speaking of the locations, “The main ghost town is located in Corsica,” they explain. “we had been scouting for nearly a year before choosing this one. We went to the South of France (where the original book takes place), Italy, Sicilia…this set was the one because it was surrounded by the sea. All the other ones were surrounded by rocks like in classical westerns… and here the color of the desert was blue!”

This is the duo’s first shift from Giallo, and this time they looked to Mario Bava and Andrea Bianchi’s films, while also attempting to tackle Italian Westerns.

“When we read the book, we thought Mario Bava’s Rabid Dogs would be a reference for the main mood of the film but in fact Andrea Bianchi’s Cry of a Prostitute was closer to what we wanted to do, a kind of western/poliziottesco set in a Mediterranean location, far from big cities. Also the Italian Westerns’ mood, especially Keoma – we love the Castellari way of directing – or Giulio Questi’s Django Kill…If You Live, Shoot! 
For the sound design Bullet Ballet from Tsukamoto.”

There an intense fire pit sequence early in Let the Corpses Tan that sets the stage for the entire film. Here the duo explains building that masterful sequence that everyone will soon be talking about:

“The atmosphere comes from the way it is described in the book – a fire pit is set in a dark basement. So we wanted to do a contrast between the extreme daylight of the film (full of natural colors) and an extreme darkness (as if it happens during the night). This sequence might bring to mind the westerns’ nocturnal outside fire sequences (or slasher sequences around a fire at Crystal Lake!) but setting this during the day allows us to bring a fantastic atmosphere to this scene.”

Speaking of shooting during the day, it’s one of the biggest lessons the duo learned over the course of their career:

“The way to shoot fast and to use only natural light for outside locations (we always work with the same crew, so we have built an efficient system film by film). We were a bit afraid to shoot sequences with gunfights because we only used knives and razors in our previous films, but we tried to keep our spirit through sharp editing and heavy sound design. And for the final duel, we went back to a mood very close to the short film “O is for Orgasm” we made for The ABC’s of Death.

While the duo hopes to complete their Giallo trilogy, their next film will be a pinku anime! Unfortunately, a slasher isn’t in the cards. “It’s not in our future projects, but why not, we never know… something like Cruising could be fun! And when you see projects like It Follows or the Maniac remake, slasher films have real possibilities!”

As for their favorite horror films: Profondo Rosso, Black Sabbath, Zombi 2, and of course, A Nightmare On Elm Street.

Let the Corpses Tan will premiere tonight at the Midnight Madness program within the Toronto International Film Festival.



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