As the producer of the original Hills Have Eyes, as well as this year’s remake, Peter Locke has obviously done his bit for the modern horror movie. However, his career also takes in a brief stint as a director (including the rarely seen Richard Pryor flick You’ve Got to Walk It Like you Talk It or You’ll Lose That Beat from 1971) and the production of films as varied as television’s Divorce Court, the Rutger Hauer opus Bone Daddy and the creature feature They Nest (2000). When Kamera catches up with the producer is to talk about Snuff Movie, directed by Bernard (Candyman/ Paper House) Rose and due out in the UK from Lion’s Gate Films later this year. Snuff Movie is a low budget meditation on media manipulation – a ‘film within a film’ and it all comes to an end with a weird spoof of The Passion of the Christ. If that sounds like your kind of thing then stay tuned…
So what attracted you to getting involved in Snuff Movie?
I thought that Bernard could direct a good, scary movie and what a chance!
Didn’t the angle of the movie on the subversion of the media play any part?
Well it was really more just about the terror aspects of it, you know? The fear aspects of it… I thought it was a clever script and a good chance to scare an audience and if you can scare an audience then you are going to have a good movie. I think that The Hills Have Eyes last year – did you ever see that?
Right, well I just enjoy being a part of a scary movie and that is what attracted me to that and also to Snuff Movie.
Although there is a massive budget difference between the Hollywood-made The Hills Have Eyes and the low budget, Snuff Movie. Do you prefer one working environment to the other?
Well Bernard shot on hi-def, which was really interesting and he had a very good command of the camera. The picture itself was even smaller in the script form and so it was a very controllable movie and Bernard knew from the outset how he was going to do it, whereas The Hills Have Eyes is a big sprawling thing shot on a big desert landscape so it is really two different mediums, you know? They’re not even brothers (laughs). They are two very different things and the only two things they have in common – that make them kindred spirits – is that they both want to frighten an audience…
The UK release for Snuff Movie comes from the British arm of Lion’s Gate. Any news on the American release yet?
I’m still not quite sure who the distributor will be in the US but I’m hopeful we will find out shortly.
Do you expect that Snuff Movie, with its visual subversion of Christian imagery, will cause controversy in the US?
Well I hope that there will be some controversy. The President of the United States just yesterday denied stem cell research so what the fuck? (Laughs) I think this is more of a young person’s film – kids will always want to see something that is esoteric.
Bernard Rose told me that Snuff Movie was his answer to the success of The Passion of the Christ…
Well, that might be his opinion but it is not mine (laughs).
The remake of The Hills Have Eyes had to be cut down significantly to obtain an R-rating – how did that bother you?
Well we have the NC-17 version out on DVD anyway. Yeah, the original was heavily cut down to an R. Hey, that’s just the way it is. It didn’t bother me. I’ve made enough movies to know that and that is what is going to happen.
How do you think the remake compares to the original?
It is terrific. The original we made in 1976 with $325,000 and this is a much bigger picture. The bones of the story were from Wes’s movie in 1976 – one family against another…
If you had to recommend one of them over the other – which one would you tell people to watch?
Oh you could watch either one first (laughs). I’m not taking sides.
So you’re not against remakes, I presume?
I don’t think that you can be precious with a title. If something is still applicable 30 years later then it shows that it has stood the test of time and – tell me – what could be better than that?
And you’re doing The Hills Have Eyes 2 now, right?
Yeah, I’m in a casting session now. I actually just stepped out to take this call and speak to you. Martin Weisz, the German-American director will be doing the sequel.
Can you tell us anything about the sequel?
Anything about The Hills Have Eyes 2? It’s going to be terrific (laughs). How’s that? I’m not going to give away any plot but email me and when the information goes out I’ll make sure that you get it.
What do you think of the original Hills Have Eyes 2 that Wes Craven directed and which you produced?
Oh, that is unfinished. Totally unfinished. Wes needed money for re-shoots and I wasn’t able to get him the money together for re-shoots so we had to finish the movie prematurely. It was not ready… not ready to be shown.
What about the flashback with by the dog in Hills Have Eyes 2? Are you happy with that?
(Laughs) The flashback by the dog was genius, don’t you think?
It was certainly… unique.
Yeah, I think that scene is fantastic. To be honest, I can’t even remember the film from 1985. It’s been a long time since I saw it.
It was more or less a Friday the 13th flick in the desert…
Yeah, again I can’t remember exactly what the story with that one was. But I’m producing The Hills Have Eyes 2 right now. In fact, I’m looking at an actor right now who is ready to go in and read and he’s pacing back and forward right in front of me. He is pumped up man, he is ready…
So you’re a big horror movie fan, right?
Yeah, sure – I love them.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, I thought that was great. It was a big influence on The Hills Have Eyes and I thought it was a fantastic movie, a real classic.
You directed the late Richard Pryor in You’ve Got to Walk It Like you Talk It or You’ll Lose That Beat. What do you remember most about Pryor?
Richard Pryor was the funniest guy I ever met.
Will we ever see that movie on DVD?
I don’t know – who knows. It isn’t a very good film. I mean, Richard Pryor is great in it but as for releasing it… I don’t know about that. I think that film might be in the cemetery although you never know with DVD. It all ends up coming out so who knows…
Wes Craven told me it’s worth checking out…
He did? (Pauses) Wow, how kind of him. I’ll send him a cheque today (laughs).
So what are your future plans?
I have a script from a British director called Dice, which is Sawmeets The Grudge. You’ll love it.
The Hills Have Eyes are out now. Snuff Movie will be released in the UK later in the year (dtbc).