TMS: I’ve stated numerous times that the original I Spit on Your Grave is my favorite horror movie of all time and is definitely one of the most influential genre movies ever. It crosses the line between horror and vengeance film while featuring a strong message about female empowerment. What about that original story inspired you to remake the film and how were you influenced by that movie as a film maker?
SM: It was one of the films when I was young and wanting to become a director someday that showed me that I was definitely drawn to films that push buttons and make you think. It’s easy to make films where you tell people what to think and feel. I grew up with the films of the 70’s as my teachers and that was a time when films got made more for creative and dramatic reasons where as today pretty much every single film made is for financial reasons. The original pushed a lot of buttons, if you offend it’s because you have forced people to think outside of their comfort zone. Meir Zarchi’s film left a weight on me for days after I first saw it. That to me is a good thing.
TMS: Your 2010 remake was awesome. I’ve watched that movie numerous times in the past couple years. The kills are creative and it was exactly what I would consider a perfect remake to be. Was it hard trying to recapture the essence of the original while modernizing it?
SM: I’m glad you feel that way about it. It’s a very polarizing film, either people get it, or they literally hate it with a passion. Nothing in between. Yes, it was a difficult task but if it was easy there would not have been any point in doing it for me. The most difficulty was trying to walk the line of making the fans of the original happy and still trying to make a film that a new audience could be happy with also. Very fine line.
TMS: The sequel was just released this week. I have to say that it was a hard watch based on the amount of brutality. You truly pushed the envelope with this one. The kills were nastier and the brutality amplified. But, that’s what makes it such a realistic viewing experience. Everything that happens in that movie could happen in real life. There’s no pissed off hockey mask killers and there’s no returning from the dead. So, was it hard to come up with the premise for your sequel and is it even harder to keep the tension and horror realistic?
SM: Yes the premise was very hard to come up with. The producers had a layout of what they wanted to do when I came on board but there was still a long way to go. There were many, very long creative round table meetings before we had a production draft, and there was another concept that we scrapped earlier on that just was not going anywhere and to me felt totally unrealistic. It’s funny that you mention it feeling real, it goes back to what I said about it being very polarized in that if people like the film they think it felt real, believable, etc.. And those that hate the film call the characters Stereotypes and the situations totally ridicules… I work very hard to keep the “bad guys” believable and no matter what anyone thinks it is very, very important to me. Just ask any actor I have worked with.
TMS: What draws you to making these types of films and who would you say is your biggest influence as a film maker? On that same note, what is your favorite horror movie of all time?
SM: What draws me is not the actual type of film, I have done pretty much every genre and format even a lot of TV movies. With feature films it’s the actual project and what I feel I could bring to it. My biggest influence hands down is Kubrick, since about 7 years old. To me the greatest horror film of all time was and is The Exorcist.
TMS: Is it hard to put an actress through the hell of one of these movies? I can’t imagine it’s a simple task getting such an emotionally draining performance from anyone while they’re being dragged through the ringer of fictional rape and torture?
SM: It is very, very hard and difficult professionally and personally. Actors are generally very much ready to go and dive in, but for me im very protective of my actors so it is very difficult. It was with Sarah Butler and with Jemma. It was with the guys during these scenes too, its not like its easy for them to be this horrible to another person.
TMS: What’s next? Are you going to continue the legacy of I Spit on Your Grave or are you going to move on to new things? Personally, I like what you’re doing with this franchise. It’s like you’re reinventing the genre in a way. It’s not torture porn and it’s not the typical stuff the studios put out these days. What can we expect in the near future?
SM: Depending on how the response is to this sequel, Cinetel and Anchor Bay will decide on a number 3. For me I won’t be directing that one. The process this time around was quite excruciating and it’s time for someone else to bring something to it. I have a project with producer Stan Spry at The Cartel called THE TORMENTED with some of the cast of the I Spit series. It’s a very edgy paranormal horror film that I am really excited about. We plan to shoot this late fall.
I would say the response is going to be overwhelmingly positive. We thank Steven for taking time to do this interview with us.
I Spit On Your Grave 2 is now available on iTunes, Amazon Streaming, and on blu ray.