Exclusive: Susco Talks Upcoming Projects

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Zero Dark Thirty, Monster Island & Sanctuary


Earlier this week, ShockTillYouDrop.com spent a good half hour talking to Stephen Susco, writer of The Grudge and The Grudge 2, about his upcoming revenge drama Red, starring Brian Cox, which has actually been in the works since before the first Grudge movie was released. That interview will be posted shortly, but as a preview, we wanted to share a few updates from Susco on some of the horror projects he’s been producing previously reported about here on Shock: Zero Dark Thirty Sanctuary ad the zombie movie Monster Island.

The first two are starting to move ahead as Susco locks down the script for Sanctuary with newly-announced director John Stockwell (Turistas) before going to actresses, but Zero Dark Thirty has also seen progress in recent months. A loose adaptation of Bob Clark’s Deathdream, it tells of a soldier returning home from the war in Iraq who is no longer completely human.

“‘Zero Dark Thirty’ we’re producing now with Michael Douglas and we just cast our lead,” Susco told us even though he wouldn’t reveal who that actor would be until everything is properly signed. “We’re very excited about who it is and they’re really going to bring a lot of uniqueness to the project. We’re pretty determined to keep it really independent and now we’re sort of waiting for money. You put these things together in pieces in order to protect them because if you take it down a studio road, you lose all that control and it can fall out of your hands and suddenly it can become a musical comedy. And what it is is a very, very dark film about war. It has a lot of provocative points of view and will probably elicit some interesting responses and to me that’s the only version of the film worth making.”

Susco wasn’t sure when they’d start filming, because they’re basically gearing up with this new actor after having to shut down production a few years back. “It’s one of those things where we were going to shoot it two years ago and we literally were moving to New Mexico and building locations and doing visual effects and then something went wrong with the investor. They had a three-movie package and ours was the third movie and the first two movies ran over budget and they tried to cut our budget in half, and we said, ‘We can’t change the movie that dramatically.’ Fortunately they were really good people and they understood that, and they loved the movie and they gave it back to us very graciously. So when we’re shooting, then I know we’ll be shooting.”

When suggested that the film’s ties to the war in Iraq might make it a harder sell to American moviegoing audiences who’ve refused to see any of the recent movies that deal with America’s war in the Middle East, Susco understands the dilemma. “One of the problems is with investors, they are very smart and they look at what’s performing, and the movie is a horror film, so they look at horror films of the same budget range and they say, ‘This is a goldmine,’ and then they look at the war films–they look at last year, at ‘Redacted’ and ‘Lions for Lambs’ and ‘Stop-Loss’–and they say, ‘This movie will make not a dime.’ They get really frightened and see nobody wants to see a movie about war. Now the thing is, ours does not involve Iraq or Afghanistan. You don’t even know where the war is being fought, and it’s not about the war, it’s about someone who comes home from it, so we’re walking a tight rope with it. I think because of that it will be very unique and there’s a huge audience for it. But again, when you’re talking to people who are the bottom line, they get nervous about it.”

We also asked for a progress report on Monster Island, an epic zombie movie that Susco has been producing from another novel (of sorts). “‘Monster Island’ is a book that I optioned by this author named David Wellington which is pretty good. He wrote a book online and published it chapter by chapter without going back to revising it as he put the chapters online. What I’m trying to do with my producing partner is say, ‘Let’s do something different for a zombie movie. Let’s not do a ten million dollar, five people trapped somewhere, really low-budget zombie movie. Let’s spend ninety million dollars and do the ‘300’ version of it and do the zombie movie nobody’s ever seen before which is a dozen people on Manhattan island fighting forty million zombies. Let’s do a huge version of it. It’s a lot to ask from a studio so we’re kind of developing it a little bit on the quiet side and trying to figure out the best way to sort of show people what the potential is.”

Check back soon for our full interview, as Susco’s early project Red is being released in New York on Friday, August 8.

Source: Edward Douglas