SDCC: Live Bloggin’ the Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark Panel

ON

Remake of the ’70s thriller

ShockTillYouDrop.com is attending the Hall H panel for Miramax Films’ Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark directed by comic artist Troy Nixey and produced by Guillermo del Toro, both who will be attendance. Starring Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce, it opens on January 21, 2011. We’ll try to keep you posted on the panel as it happens live.

One of the film’s producers and CHUD owner Nick Nunziata is moderating the panel. He starts by introducing director Troy Nixey, who wrote and drew “Trout” and “Jenny Finn” with Mike Mignola. Of course, the crowd goes wild for Guillermo del Toro, who is beloved by anyone who has ever attended Comic-Con.

Guillermo points out the chocolate at the panel and lets out an expletive almost immediately.

They started off by showing a creepy teaser trailer which opens with pretty much nothing but blackness and some creepy sound FX and an even creepier whispered voice that says,

“You’re a city man and in the dark, but don’t worry. There’s nothing to be afraid of.” There is a moment of complete blackness and then we see each word of the title flashing cut together with lots of images of Katey Holmes and Guy Pearce being terrorized in their new house, a few glimpses of the creatures. It then flashes “A Guillermo del Toro Production” and we see a final bit involving a little girl crawling underneath the sheets of a bed, slowly creeping forward and she gets to the end and one of the creatures screams in her face as everyone in Hall H probably jumped.

Guillermo is now talking about how he got the rights to the picture and how he and Matthew Robbins wrote the screenplay in 1997 or 1998, and how hard it was to make the movie, because they didn’t want to worry about a studio that would make them change the way they wanted to make it.

Nick is now asking Troy Nixey how he got involved as a director for a movie written and produced by Guillermo del Toro, saying how his short “Latchkey’s Lament” was seen by del Toro and how that got the ball rolling on Nixey directing the remake. Nixey is gushing about what a fan he was of del Toro and what a dream come true it was to hear from him. Nixey is still talking about how he hooked up with del Toro and producer Nick Nunziata.

Guillermo tells the audience that the best way to get his attention is to draw something and hand it to him on the convention floor, because he doesn’t read screenplays and that’s the best way to get his attention. (He loves sharing his Email address with Comic-Con audiences as well.)

Guillermo’s now talking about how they’re doing this remake different by not screwing with the original and not chickening out while still getting a PG-13 rating. The MPAA came back to them and gave them an “R” for “pervasive scariness” and when they asked if anything can be done, they said, “Why ruin a perfectly scary movie?” He says that horror is like a pirate ship, the more “R” the better (ha ha) and something about wrinkly balls which I missed cause like everyone, it’s hard not to laugh when Guillermo gets on a roll.

He’s now talking about the general plot about a little girl who arrives at a house with her parents and discovers creatures that live in the ashbin that want to drag her below the earth, something that’s based on fairy tale mythology, which Guillermo was hoping to explore. It’s similar to the original in that it’s a mix of horror and fairy tale.

They’re showing some footage, essentially the prologue to the movie.

The opening takes place in 1918 and it’s the first thing Guillermo wrote. We will write up what they showed in a second, but it was a really scary and disturbing clip and the audience seemed to love it.

The extended prologue beings with a horse-drawn carriage riding throught the night with a man with a beard driving it, but that’s irrelevant as it’s really the house in the background that’s of importance and the camera slowly creeps forward toward that house.

We’re now inside the house and we hear a clock ticking. It’s a creepy library setting with candles and we see a maid dusting the bookshelves. A bell rings to call her and she climbs down the stairs, picks up a candle and pushes open a door where plates are sitting on the floor. The room on the other side of the door is completely dark, and she walks into the room and approaches the bed. “Mr. Blackwood?” she asks. “Mr. Blackwood, Sir?” We now see that this is the basement and there is stairs leading down but there’s no response so she turns around and starts walking out the door. Then, she hears a plate crash and she turns around with the candle flickering eerily. She walks slowly towards the stairs as the music builds and she walks towards the stairs

“Mr. Blackwood” she asks again “I’m sorry, you did ring sir?” She stutters.

“Come down,” a voice says and we see the shadows of an old man.

She slowly walks down the stairs one step at a time… slowly slowly… we focus on her feet as she goes downwards and we see that there’s a tripwire about halfway down the stairs which she trips over and falls down the rest of the stairs and ends up on the floor at the bottom of the stairs.

The creepy old man reaches for a phonograph and starts the record and walks over to her, picking up a hammer and a chisel as he approaches. She’s still alive and moaning, and she looks up at him standing above him with the tools. He apologies to her and says “They made me do it.” He sits on top of her chest with the hammer and chisel ready to do something rather nefarious.

“If I want to see my child again, I must comply. Please understand,” he says as he smiles and we see that he’s missing most of his upper teeth. He then sticks the chisel into the maid’s mouth and raises the hammer above his head and then brings it down on the chisel (which is thankfully out of shot at that time, not that it had any less impact as the audience groaned, feeling the pain of the maid.)

We hear the music rise and she is lying on the floor as he crawls around the floor trying to find all the teeth. “Precious teeth, beautiful teeth,” he says as he gathers them up before placing the teeth into a plate, stands up and then dumps them into a bowl full of bloody teeth.

“Daddy?” a voice calls out from the dustinbin and a tear comes down the man’s eye as the camera pans towards the darkened dustbin at the other end of the basement. He picks up the bowl and walks towards the ashbin and looks in with the candle. “I brought you something more to eat,” he tells the creatures in the ashbin. “Look children’s teeth, like you wanted.” He places the teeth inside the ashbin as a gift in order to get his son back. He hears awhispered voices from down in the dustbin and he starts crying.

The voices whispers down below say, “Your son is down here, reach for him,” and he responses by calling “Son, son”… we see the deep hole at the back of the ashbin and he reaches his hand forward to get his son back, but then we see the creatures rushing up from the bottom of the pit and they latch onto his hand. We’re then back outside in the basement and we see his entire body getting pulled into the ashbin, his legs and feet sticking out before being pulled in as well.

Guillermo said that Troy has tried to put humor into it but that it’s “as serious as a case of gonnorhea” and he’s making reference to the work of Joe Dante and John Landis and how they use humor in their horror.

Guillermo just said that he’s hoping to revive the horror anthology series on cable television with something that focuses on chills rather than gore, and they talked a little bit about what the effects of the new AMC show based on “The Walking Dead” might have if it’s successful.

Guillermo mentioned that he’d still love to do a movie that pits vampires against masked Luchador wrestlers, but hasn’t gotten it quite right just yet.

Sorry, missed a bunch of stuff while trying to write up the clip shown but we’re well into the Q ‘n’ A section of the panel, most of the questions for del Toro, asking him about his general feelings about horror and remakes. We’ll probably have to go back later and share what he said, although we also have our own interview with him later.

Guillermo just said that he still hopes to do his version of Frankenstein as soon as possible, and he made reference to his next project which he says will be real horror as well.

Clearly, this panel is becoming more about Guillermo del Toro than Troy Nixey’s movie, but I guess that’s expected… he is one of the Gods of Comic-Con after all.

He says that his first movie Chronos will be out on Blu-ray sometime next year.

There was a question about how Guillermo has fared in the industry over the years and he gave some great advice on how to deal with all the studio bullsh*t when you’re just starting out.

It also seems that many if not all of the people asking questions are either Mexican or Spanish, and there was just a question about him doing more Spanish language films or representing Mexico in the foreign language category in the future.

In terms of future projects, Troy Nixey has a script he wrote called “Simple Machines” set up at Phoenix Pictures that Nick Nunziata is also producing, and he’s ready to start working on another script. Now it’s Guillermo’s turn. He says they’re actively developing a stop-motion animated “Pinocchio” with animation by Gris Grimley and music by Nick Cave, and that he is going to very shortly announce the next movie he plans to direct with plans to start shooting in May, that it’s horror, and he’s going to finish cowriting the third book in “The Strain” trilogy, and he’s going to be touring in September with the second book “The Fall,” and he’s also working on a play and a video game, as well as writing and producing The Haunted Mansion for Disney, as mentioned yesterday. He says how going on the original Disneyland when he had a kid had a huge effect on him and that he plans for the movie to be a huge “love letter” to that ride.

Someone just asked Guillermo about what happened with The Hobbit and he says he hopes Peter Jackson will direct it.

That’s all for now, but we’ll go back and fill in any blanks sometime in the next hour or so, particularly about some of those upcoming projects.

Source: Edward Douglas