Considered one of the good guys, Joe Dante has brought us classics like Gremlins and now turns his hands to 3D family-friendly horror.
Q. How did you get involved in this project?
A. I get sent a lot of scripts, but The Hole felt a little different because the third act is not what you would generally expect from a horror film, as it’s a character piece. It is the story of a slightly dysfunctional family of a mother and two boys that move from New York to a small rural town. The older son (Dane) is not happy about it until he meets the girl next door – that changes everything for him and he starts to think that maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea to move there…
Q. And then they discover this mysterious hole…
A. Yes, they discover a hidden hole in the basement with locks on it. And like all kids they have to open the door to see what’s down there.
Q. What is down there?
A. A horror movie…
Q. And you chose to shoot it in 3-D?
A. Yes, I dropped that idea in the first meeting with the producers. I fully expected them to kick me out of the room; but they were intrigued by the idea and we agreed to do it. And we even won a 3-D award at the Venice Film Festival!I’ve always been attracted by 3-D. Actually, one of the first movies I ever saw was They Came From Outer Space in 3-D. I enjoy the format because, if you use it correctly, the addition of depth gives you becomes an extra story-telling tool. For this movie I thought we could give it a little more scope if the picture were in 3-D. And for me it was great because I enjoyed planning my shots in 3-D. I just found it a very entertaining and challenging process.
Q. Some directors prefer not to work with kids; but that isn’t your case.
A. I have done many movies with kids; which is ironic for a man who doesn’t have any. And I like helping young talents. I remember perfectly well when I discovered Ethan Hawke, who wasn’t even in the business when I decided to cast him for Explorers. I think I have had a pretty lucky run with kids.
Q. The Hole comes across as a horror film that most of the family could watch.
A. My aim was to make one of those entertaining movies from the 80’s, like The Gate or Gremlins, that the whole family could see without anyone getting traumatized.
Q. Why do we like being scared?
A. Horror stories have been around since cave paintings and they will always exist because there will always be things people don’t understand. The only way to deal with the unknowable is to confront it; but as you don’t want to do it in real life, you enjoy doing it within the safety of a movie theatre It has been proven to be more durable than others like the western or the musical and has now reached the point were people have recognized that it is a viable genre. I think it’s because it deals with death, which is something we all have to go through. Young people love it for the same reason they go on a rollercoaster, as it is a safe confrontation with danger.
Q. When did you become a fan of horror films?
A. I grew up in the atomic fear era with movies like Them. And, even though they were terrifying to me, I just had to see them!
Q. The Hole has a very classic feel to it.
A. That’s because I have seen many movies, and The Hole goes to the basics of what scares us.
Q. And what scares you?
A. Many things… One of them is to not work in a business that is constantly changing. Luckily, I am happy welcoming the idea of doing different things and embracing the future, with its emerging technologies; which is maybe why I am still in the business.