Horror movies &stuff Interviews: "House of the Dead 2" screenwriters Peter Scheerer and Michael Roesch|
Peter Scheerer and Michael Roesch had a tough assignment ahead of them, but they got it done. With "House of the dead 2" premiering on the SCI-FI channel Saturday February 11th at 9pm, who could've ever imagined that we'd be here? That a sequel to one of the most hated horror films ever created would actually have been developed?
In this interview, the two screenwriters of "House of the dead 2" reveal how they planned to reinstate some value into the series, as well as write a better overall movie while trying to avoid the pitfalls that befell the original "House of the Dead".
MR H:Michael were you and Peter contacted to write "House of the dead 2", or did you two want to write the film, and took the initiative to get in touch with the right people to make it happen?*
Michael: We are horror fans, and wanted to do a zombie movie for a long time. We were on the set of the first HOUSE OF THE DEAD, and neither the director Uwe Boll nor producer Mark Altman, nor the other producers were really happy with the results. So we pitched them our ideas about following an AMS anti zombie platoon into their final mission, and they liked it much.
Peter: So we had been hired at this early point to write the sequel, long before the first movie even was in theatres.
MR H:Did you guys see the original "House of the Dead" that Uwe Boll directed? What did you think of it?
Peter: Nobody involved in the production was happy with this movie. There were many reasons why the movie failed. Director Uwe Boll didnīt like the script and started to change it. Changing a script while shooting the movie will always result in problems.
Michael: Another problem was the tough shooting conditions. The movie was shot during several weeks in a Canadian rain forest, and it was raining all night. That lead to the situation that several scenes had to be omitted because the production was running out of time. Fortunately the shooting of HOUSE OF THE DEAD 2 went very well!
MR H:What were the major things about "House of the Dead" that you guys felt needed to be changed or avoided in the sequel in order to make it be a success?
Michael: We wanted to stay closer to the HOUSE OF THE DEAD game story, to be more true to the game. The HOUSE OF THE DEAD games are first person shooters, are all about action. So HOUSE OF THE DEAD 2 focusses on the AMS anti zombie unit, and their fight against hordes of zombies.
Peter: Our plan for the sequel was easy: Avoid as much as possible that has been in the first movie. We wanted to create a darker story with more realistic brutality
MR H:Have there ever been plans to send "House of the dead 2" to theaters, or has it always been in the cards for it to be a made for tv movie which would then eventually get a dvd release?
Peter: First there were rumors for several month that Lions Gate would release it in theatres.
Michael: But obviously the SciFi channel made Lions Gate a very good offer. Lions Gate will also release the movie on DVD, it will hit stores end of March.
MR H:Ever since the sequel was announced, there were plot rumors floating around ranging from zombies running amok in a major city, to agents Rogan and G that we saw at the end of the first "House of the Dead", showing up to investigate the island house. So what really is the basic plot of "House of the dead 2"?
Michael: We wanted to go in a completely different direction than the first movie. In HOUSE OF THE DEAD 2 the AMS anti zombie forces are sent to clear a campus overrun by zombies.
Peter: They are on search for material of the very first zombie, the zombie that spreads the whole zombie plague. If they found the material, they could develop an antidote. The idea was to send a platoon to the very heart of the zombie plague, to a point of no return, and then let hell break loose
MR H:Will "House of the Dead 2" have a major lengthy shootout scene similar to "House of the Dead"'s graveyard scene?
Peter: There is not a single lenghty shootout scene, but numerous action scenes throughout the movie.
Michael: It is packed with action, 90 minutes of zombie action fun!
MR H:Ok this is a question everyone wants to know. How on earth is Ellie Cornell coming back as Col. Jordan Casper? And will she carry any evidence of losing both legs in "HOTD", or of the explosion which took place shortly after that?
Peter: We have not seen the whole movie yet, so we donīt exactly know how she has survived.
Michael: Her character was not in our original draft, Mark Altman added her later while rewriting the script!
MR H:Quite a talented cast has been assembled for this film. Kirk Jones, Victoria Pratt, Sid Haig, Emmanuelle Vaugier, and Ellie Cornell. Did you write the roles with those specific actors and actresses in mind for the parts? Or was it just an issue of we couldn't get person A. so were going with our back ups?
Peter: No, as screenwriters we are not involved in the decision which actor gets casted for which role. But itīs a great cast!
Michael: The script was written 2 years ago, long before the movie got casted. As in nearly every movie there were several drafts between your first draft of the script and the final shooting scripts.
Mr H:Will there be a "House of the Dead 3"? Or is it too soon to tell since "House of the Dead 2" hasn't hit dvd yet and therefore you can't yet measure its success? If there was a third film, would you two be interested in writing it? Have you already penned a script for "HOTD 3"?
Michael: We would have some ideas for a third HOUSE OF THE DEAD movie, but this is a decision to be made solely by Lions Gate and the producer, Mark Altman.
Peter: But it would be fun. We have some more ideas for zombie movies in store
Mr H:Did the script require any rewrites? How many drafts had to be written up before you guys got one everyone was pleased with?
Peter: We have written our original draft, and delivered it to the producer, Mark Altman. He is a writer himself, and has done some rewrite.
Michael: Usually the director and the producer do rewrites, thatīs an experience nearly every screenwriter makes. Often you donīt recognize the script in the end.
This is the reason why so many screenwriters direct their own movies sooner or later. Like we did - we just wrapped our movie BROTHERHOOD OF BLOOD, which stars Sid Haig, Ken Foree and Victoria Pratt.
Mr H:SCI-FI as most people know edit their films heavily sometimes. How much footage was cut out of "House of the Dead 2"? A lot, a little, or are you not sure?
Michael: We have not seen it completely, so we donīt know exactly.
Peter: But the good news is: Lions Gate is releasing the movie end of March on DVD. With all the blood and gore! So donīt miss the DVD.
Mr H:Looking at the cast list, I noticed the character of Alicia will be played in this movie by Danielle Burgio who looks a lot like Una Grauer from the first film. Is this a different Alicia, or the surviving Alicia from "House of the Dead"?
Peter: This was also a character added later by Mark Altman
Michael: So we donīt know exactly, but I think she has only a short cameo.
MR H:Did you two quickly get on the same page writing the script, or did one or the other keep putting in all these different things until you realized we have a three hour film here and some stuff had to go?
Michael: We work very structuredly, usually even the first draft of our scripts works very well. Thatīs a reason why many producers hire us. First we start to work on the concept and the storyline. We don't start to write before the storyline with all twists and turns works perfect.
Peter: Then we start writing rough drafts of the scenes. Weīre sending the scenes forth and back via e-mail. A few weeks later we have the final, polished script. You only have 100 to 120 pages to tell your story, so structure is very important.
MR H:Were you guys given creative freedom with the script like choosing what direction to take the sequel in, or were you told to stick to a pre-planned plot outline?
Peter: Fortunately the producers liked our concept, so we had creative freedom while writing the script. The one thing which was set, was the location: The movie should take place on a college campus.
Michael: If a producer or director hires us to write we try to exceed their expectations. But also we try to stay close to their vision of the movie. But in nearly every production your script gets changed later. Some changes are because of the final budget, some changes are because of new ideas by the director. In a finished film you see the vision of the director
Mr H:What were the two most difficult scripts you guys have ever had to pen?*
Michael: Certainly ALONE IN THE DARK. We had only four weeks to write the script.
Peter: It was a very difficult script. The concept of ALONE IN THE DARK sounds easy in the beginning, but is really tricky. In the end there were a dozen drafts from different writing teams
MR H:What scripts are you two guys currently working on right now? Are they solo efforts or are you guys reteaming to write any future horror movie scripts?
Michael: We have just wrapped our movie BROTHERHOOD OF BLOOD, which we have written and directed. The movie stars Sid Haig and Ken Foree from THE DEVIL REJECTS, as well as Victoria Pratt from MUTANT X.
Peter: The shooting went very smooth. And we had a great cast. When we started the project two years ago, we had not expected to get horror legends like Sid and Ken for our movie. But then the script began circling in LA and a lot of agents and actors liked the story and the way it is told, and so we were able to get a great cast - even without a big budget.
MR H:Michael and Peter...if New Line, or Dimension called you up right now, and said we want you to pen the next "Halloween", "Friday the 13th", and "Nightmare on Elm Street" sequel, which one would you choose to devote all of your energies to?
Peter: Oh, it would be great to write the next installment of any of these franchises! But if I had to choose, I would prefer "Halloween". This movie was a milestone. And I liked the performance of Donald Pleasence very much.
Michael: Weīre big horror fans! We would be very happy to write a sequel for one of these film series
Mr H:Final question for both of you: What are your top 5 horror movies in no specific order?
Michael: There are so many great horror movies! From the newer ones, for example "28 Days later". Of course the movies of George Romero. And not to forget two of my all time favorites, "Aliens" and "Jaws".
Peter: "Braindead", "Psycho", "Nosferatu", "Halloween","Scream"