Burying the Ex is the clever name for the latest horror-comedy to come from genre vet Joe Dante. The film, poised to make its debut this week at the Venice Film Festival, features a young cast that includes Star Trek‘s Anton Yelchin, the Twilight franchise’s Ashley Greene and True Detective‘s Alexandra Daddario.
Yelchin plays a guy caught in a relationship with an overbearing woman (Greene) that he’s afraid to cut ties with. She’s sexy as hell, but a tad too much to deal with. When she’s killed in a freak accident, he’s free and it’s not long until he finds a new romantic interest (Daddario) who is a better fit for his personality. His life takes a macabre turn, however, when his ex rises from the grave to give him hell.
While the film wasn’t shown completely to press before its festival debut, I did get a peak at a two-minute clip that definitely demonstrated that Dante-esque blend of dark humor. To learn more about the production – Dante’s first feature since Holes – and its tone.
Shock: The film is based on a short film by Alan Trezza, how did the feature evolve from that?
Joe Dante: I had actually never seen his short, I’ll see it maybe when it’s a DVD Extra. I met Alan several years ago, got the script for the feature, which was not substantially different from the one we shot. I thought it was funny and different. Cut forward five years. Unexpectedly, after another project fell through, money appeared so we could make the movie, but we had to shoot cheaply and quickly. We shot in 20 days and it was a lot of fun, a hectic shoot, but there was a lot to do. We were clever about our locations and shooting all within the same area of town.
Shock: More or less time than you had on the equally hectic Masters of Horror?
Dante: [laughs] I think we had more time on those, that was a well-oiled machine and once it started they kept going. You go in, do your thing and move on.
Shock: How has horror-comedy evolved since The Howling?
Dante: The big change is the self reflexiveness. The Scream movies changed the whole concept of how they’re viewed. With The Howling we made sure the characters knew what werewolves were, they knew what they were from the movies. And that’s normally not the case. The characters were the audience in our film. Now, all of the cliches have been up for parody for a long time. It makes it different. You have to do something like The Human Centipede to shock them. Audiences have seen it all. I’m not in the shock business, this is comedy. I was very lucky because the cast was perfect. The four leads are really fun and creative and brought a lot to the table.
Shock: Yes, talk about the cast a bit, they’re all fun…
Dante: I got along great with everybody. Anton and I hit it off because he goes through these movie phases and just immerses himself in them. He was in a pre-code period and I started to give him some recommendations for horror pictures. He was sophisticated, but there was stuff he didn’t have. He reminds me of me when I was that age, looking for stuff to watch. In our movie, his character is a film buff and he’s surrounded by horror comics and magazines. We have this store in our story called Bloody Mary’s which is a collectible shop owned by Mary Woronov. Unfortunately, she’s been cut out of the movie though.
Shock: From the clip of the film I saw, I got a very EC Comics vibe – is that correct or am I way off?
Dante: Very EC Comics, but it’s not a comic book movie, I think the characters are a little bit more real. Then again, I hope none of this is autobiographical for writer Alan Trezza. [laughs] We had a lot of fun on this and it was hectic. But because the movie isn’t an extravaganza there was more time to work with the actors than you would get on a big FX picture. It was a kind of TV schedule, you had to work on certain number of pages each day. I was left alone in terms of creativity. I think this is film for my fan’s for sure.