Don’t you do most of the stuff practical anyway?

Most of it is, but like in my episode, “The Finger,” DJ Qualls plays Clark, who’s by the way, the most fucking amazing actor – one of the most amazing actors I’ve ever worked with. Just loved working with him. So he’s walking along and he finds a finger, and then the next day it’s a hand, and the next day it’s an arm, and then it grows into this creature, and it becomes his friend, it’s like a dog. So it goes off and kills people and brings little pieces of those people back like a kitten. So there’s a couple wide shots we need of the creature, and that’s the creature we have with the rod puppet and the boom arm, so I hired a stop-motion animation guy, and he’s going to do the wide shots in stop-motions. I mean, if you’re going to do it and we’re going to embrace the old school vibe, I want to try to do it stop-motion. So we actually had the little scale model of it. I can’t wait for that shit. Did you see [Bob, the creature] out there? It’s so funny because I was editing yesterday, and the editor was like, ‘Dude, I love Bob.’ There was one scene in the script that called for Clark [being] asleep on the couch, and he looks over and Bob’s there, like all excited. And you think he wants to go out to go to the bathroom or something, but he opens the door and there’s like two severed heads. So, in the script, that’s what it says, and I was like, ‘I’ve got a better idea.’ So we have a shot of DJ sitting on the toilet, and the door opens, and he’s like, ‘What?’ and you see Bob at the door [acting excited]. He walks out of the bathroom and walks up and there’s literally two severed heads in the sink.

I love it.

The sounds, it’s a little sort of Gremlin-y. He’s so cute, but he’s covered in blood.

That doesn’t make you less cute!

I know! But Julia [Hobgood], who’s one of the producers, I’m like, ‘Record your cat.’ Because her cat makes all these crazy noises, and I want to give it so much personality. I love the contrast of it there with blood all over it and it’s all sinewy and creepy and weird-looking, and it’s like, [meows]. So I can’t wait. That stuff was really fun. I’ve done so much of that stuff, and honestly, this is the first non-zombie thing I’ve directed, and I was like, ‘There’s no zombies!’ I get to build my own scares and create these moments in a way that I’ve never done before. I’ve done for other directors, but this is like my thing now, so it’s so exciting.

Now that we’re in this anthology renaissance now with Twilight Zone coming back, what is it that’s going to set Creepshow apart?

I think Creepshow, just because of the comic book come to life vibe and all the panels and all that stuff, it’s a different experience. We are really embracing the split screen and going through the panels and telling the stories of, you see one of the characters get into a car and then we pan over and it goes into comic book panels and it tells a little bit of a story and then we come out of the panels. So it’s got that flair and that flavor to it, which is great.

That’s cool that you guys are keeping it like the original movie like that.

That was one of the things, and even when the network watched the first cut of one of the episodes, I don’t think they really understood how much we were embracing that aspect of it. The camera goes across the title page and the Creep is there and you hear the little giggling, and they were like, ‘Wow, you guys are all in!’ and I’m like, ‘If we weren’t all in, then it would probably just seem like another anthology show.’

There are certain stories that lean into it more. Like Rob’s Nazi werewolf thing really leans into it, and Rob’s got that background. He’s got that great comic book comedy background. And the great thing about this, too, which I think sets it apart from other anthologies is, the tone of every single story is dramatically different. There are some that are genuinely funny, and some that are really dark. When you get into certain anthologies, they always tend to have that same kind of theme that’s repeated over and over again, whereas with this one, I do think that the stories are dramatically different enough. Some of them are straight horror and might not have as many of those comic book elements to it, but other ones are just going to be fun.

I’m wondering if you would agree with the statement that there’s been a mini horror TV boom in the past few years.

Yeah, I would agree with that.

What do you think about it? What do you think that TV’s able to do now that it kind of didn’t necessarily do before?

Listen, I think Walking Dead started it. I remember when we shot Land of the Dead, George was nervous about how gory we could get for the ratings, and we did the first season of Walking Dead, and it was gorier than a movie was. So between that and Game of Thrones and being able to sort of push – Game of Thrones was a little bit after us, but I do think people went, ‘Wait a minute, you can do that kind of horror on television?’ And then American Horror Story, it really did just sort of explode. And now with streaming, Black Mirror, which I love, there are so many great shows. It allows that sort of short form storytelling, in terms of the anthology stuff, to really be appealing to people.

I’ve worked at a lot of different websites. I worked at Us Weekly, and The Walking Dead was a huge show. It was like, Housewives and Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. It transcends audience, and I’m wondering what you think about that, too.

When we first did it and we did six episodes, everyone was like, ‘Did you ever expect…?’ and it’s like, how would you ever imagine? I always attribute Darabont and putting that ensemble cast together, because the cast was so impeccable that there was something that everybody could relate to. I really think that that’s what makes it great. The thing I notice, even when I’m sitting in the editing room and I’m looking at all the dailies and I’m talking to my editors, and I’m like, ‘Listen, the monster is the monster, but it’s how the humans react to the monster that people identify with.’ If you see something gross, you’re going to be like, ‘Ew, that’s gross.’ But it’s like the whole Joe Dante werewolf transformation in The Howling. Dee Wallace is in the corner and she’s freaking out – of course I’m dating myself because I’m going to a 1981 movie – but it’s her reaction to the transformation that really makes it terrifying. Because the audience doesn’t put themselves in the place of the monster, they put themselves in the place of the person watching the monster. When we were shooting last week with Giancarlo [Esposito], their reactions to what’s happening is what I believe the audience will walk away with and remember. Because they’re like, ‘Fuck, if that guy’s scared, I really should be scared, too.’ So I think that’s one of the things that, again, spending decades crafting the gory creature stuff of it, the filmmaker part of it tells me that that’s another ingredient.

But if you don’t have the human emotion – and that’s what Walking Dead has, and that’s what all those shows have. That’s what Game of Thrones has, and that’s what American Horror Story has. It has that human emotion. I think people don’t often understand that, they don’t get that it’s the human emotion that people identify with and that’s why they keep coming back. They want to see what’s going to happen to Daryl or Carol or Rick or whoever. It’s interesting in this instance because I always talk about Walking Dead when Frank initially wanted to do this, he had always said, ‘I’d love to do a zombie story, but I just don’t know how to tell it in two hours.’ He wanted to do a zombie movie, because he loved Night of the Living Dead. But the fact that we’ve had 140 hours to get to know these people, and now I’m doing the exact opposite, because you’ve got about fucking fifteen minutes to get to know these people before something horrible happens to one or all of them. So I’m reverse engineering everything I’ve been doing for ten years, and it’s hard, because you literally have to set up these characters, get the audience to invest in them, take them on this journey, and do something awful in like eighteen minutes, not 140 hours that we’ve had on Walking Dead.

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