EXCL: Trick’s Release a True Treat for Dougherty

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What he would do with an anthology series

“All of these screenings have been awesome, because rarely, as a filmmaker, do you get to see your film with an audience this many times,” says writer-director Michael Dougherty, joining ShockTillYouDrop.com for a quick lunch on a summer afternoon. He’s fresh from a screening of his horror anthology film Trick ‘r Treat in San Diego where it played to a packed audience. “With a wide release film maybe you’ll drive around on opening night to a couple of theaters but every time this has been with a film-loving, enthusiastic audience. From Screamfest to [Ain’t It Cool’s] Butt Numb-a-thon, it’s been really cool.”

Since its completion in the summer of 2007, Trick ‘r Treat has shouldered the unfortunate distinction of being “the film Warner Bros. wouldn’t release.” The “why” of the matter is still unknown. Regardless, the film has enjoyed a festival run and is finally making its DVD and Blu-Ray debut on October 6.

Dougherty, now on the press circuit, says he’s thrilled people are embracing the film. Something he had to do all over again months after it was completed. “I stepped back and didn’t want to see it. I was done. But Butt Numb-a-thon was when I was re-introduced to it and I fell in love with it all over again.”

Looking back, he’s grateful and surprised by the cast he attracted which includes Anna Paquin (True Blood) and Brian Cox (both of whom starred in X2: X-Men United which Dougherty co-wrote), Dylan Baker, Leslie Bibb, Rochelle Aytes, Tahmoh Penikett and Lauren Lee Smith. “It was a dream come true because we got my first choice on every single role. You create that dream list of who you want and assume you’re never going to get them, because that’s usually the case, or maybe a couple. But every actor said yes.” Cox even showed a certain exuberance when he came to getting into his character, Mr. Kreeg, a Halloween “Scrooge” of sorts who doesn’t follow any of the holiday’s traditions and is visited by “Sam” the film’s sinister little character. “He designed the look for [Kreeg]. He wanted the long hair, the nose, a prosthetic scar on his face. He really worked with the makeup people and we warned him it’d be two and a half hours of makeup each day, but he said he’d do it. On his final day, on the final shot, he reached up and ripped his face off like in V. ‘Never again,’ he said.”

Pressed for his take on what’s behind Hollywood’s palpable contempt for anthology films, Dougherty seems to be in the dark as the rest of us, but he offers this: “It’s really weird studios don’t like anthologies. Especially, a format which had a genuine golden era in the ’80s. When you think back there was Amazing Stories, a reboot of the Twilight Zone, a reboot of Alfred Hitchcock, Tales from the Darkside, Tales from the Crypt and feature movies of those things. There was a good eight years of horror and sci-fi anthologies then it went away like someone pressed a button and it all went away. No one has really tried to bring it back.”

Granted, there have been some attempts with Masters of Horror and Fear Itself. But both faded away. That doesn’t deter Dougherty from scheming a potential Trick ‘r Treat series. “I would love to maybe do it as a cable TV show or a Sci-Fi Channel show,” he says. “It would be amazing to see if it became a mini-series or special event TV show. Could you run enough Halloween-themed stories? What I would love to do is bring together all of talents – both established and merging – because there is an amazing group of horror filmmakers right now. I think it’s time to put the old masters and the new generation together. That’s the fun of the anthology format is that you can bring together different voices.”

More on Trick ‘r Treat to come. Expect the Blu-Ray to be packed with all sorts of treats including Dougherty’s original “Seasons Greetings” animated short (featuring Sam), deleted scenes, a commentary and a featurette on the history of Halloween.

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Source: Ryan Rotten, Managing Editor