|Interview conducted by Stefan Blitz|
One thing you can say about Kaare Andrews and his work is that he likes to be involved in every aspect of production. His second feature, Cabin Fever: Patient Zero definitely has the indication of a potential auteur in training. And unlike some other filmmaker’s who place their name above the title, Kaare’s input is less about ego and more about being involved in every facet of the film. He’s also back in comics, writing, drawing, inking and coloring Iron Fist The Living Weapon for Marvel Comics.
Kaare took some time from his busy schedule to discuss the film, star Sean Astin and why Iron Fist’s origin story sets itself apart from any other crimefighter.
FOG!: How did you get involved with Cabin Fever: Patient Zero
Kaare Andrews: Cabin Fever: Patient Zero was a pre-existing script that was written by a writer who I shared the same agent with at the time and it was kind of passed my way. I had a small conversation with the producer Evan Astrowsky, who was one of the original producers from the first Cabin Fever movie, and he liked my take on the material and he asked me to do the job. It was actually pretty easy.
One thing I really dug about the film was the lack of CGI. It seemed like most of the effects were practical. Was this a stylistic choice or was it due to budgetary restraints?
I’m a huge fan, since I was a kid, of practical, special makeup effects. I used to read books like Dick Smith’s Monster Make Up Handbook or Tom Savini’s Bizarro and I would even do a lot of that stuff myself and at a certain time of my life I could I could pull a life cast off.
I love that stuff; I love sculpting, I love painting and special effects and design, so it was a lot of fun to have a movie that I really could specifically spend some energy and effort on that kind of filmmaking.
We teamed up with Vincent Guastini, who has done a lot of movies including Dogma. He was great.
We didn’t have a lot of money, we were a low budget movie, but with our limited resources he really pushed what we could do.
It was exciting just to explode some heads and have fleshless bodies ripping each other apart; it was a lot of fun. I really wanted to make it feel like a practical, tactile experience.
I thought that Sean Astin delivered one of his best performances He had a certain weight and authority in the film. How did Sean get cast and what was the experience like working with him?
Well, we were looking for someone like Sean; someone who added a little bit of credibility to the movie and had a bit of a name and it just so happened that at that same time Sean was looking to do a horror movie.
He had never really done one before and I think that the Patient Zero character in our script is kind of an interesting character for an actor to respond to.
They get to play a few different tones; it’s really a transformation for him; There’s the father that is devastated by the loss of his family, and the man that will do anything to escape his situation. Sean really stepped up, he did really great. He’s been acting since he was a kid, since 9 years old, so he really knew his game.
Sean was totally “on” all the time, a super excited guy who loves filmmaking.
Even to the point where we took a 1 or 2 day break, he went out shot his own short film with some of our crew in the middle of the night.
He’s a cool guy, and it was really good working with him. I asked him to grow a beard because I have never seen him with a beard before and I thought it might make him look both kind of fatherly, but also a beard is a symbol of power which is why a lot of politicians or whoever will grow beards to show their power, so I thought that might be an interesting choice. Another thing is that Sean showed up a little heavier than he normally is and I think that he just wanted to build up his physical presence in a way. It was a little interesting having a combination of having the kid from Goonies become this bearded, “Kurtz esque”, Apocalypse Now-esqe caged Patient Zero. I thought it was an interesting situation.
Well I think a lot of times in films like this when you see someone who’s a recognizable icon which I think at this point in his career Sean definitely is, but he didn’t come across as “Oh look that’s Sean Astin”. He actually was able to separate himself as a completely different character and I thought that was really effective and his performance was really great.
It wasn’t just one of those throw away cameos either, like, “we just got this guy in for two days, let’s just give him a little part and put him on the poster”. He is the Patient Zero, so he was the true star of the film in every sense of the way.
There were a few sequences in the film that seemed to pay a little bit of homage to Evil Dead 2, in particular the shot where the guy fired the gun and his arm blew off and stabbed himself in the face. Were there discussions regarding the overall tone of the film or was that determined in post-production? There were definitely scenes amid all of the seriousness that felt like you were trying to have a bit of fun (such as the end fight with the two infected females).
Yes totally, when I started, I got a nice little email from Eli Roth which he welcomed me aboard the Cabin Fever franchise and that the franchise can stand as much crazy as you can throw at it, so just feel free to just go for things.
When I first read the script, it was a dark and serious version of Cabin Fever. I really loved the first Cabin Fever and I loved that it was not afraid to push things and I thought really to keep this in that franchise, I gave myself permission to push things in kind of crazy ways.
You know I grew up on those movies like Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, all those movies so I’m sure that made their way in there. It wasn’t an intentional homage but I love Sam Raimi’s stuff, I love physical sequences and I was really excited to film that, what I call “fleshless catfight”. I had never seen that before and you always look for things in a movie to do that you’ve never seen before because otherwise, what’s the point of me creating things that have already been done?
That was a situation where with our very limited resources, we filmed it all in one night, no stunt performers, it was all actor action. Our two ladies, after nine hours of makeup, start filming at midnight and we only have six hours before the sun rises to capture that entire fight scene. A fight scene that included all the makeup gags, with all the arms busting apart, all the vomit and all the rolling around the fire, the flames, and sand.
I think there’s only one way to do a Cabin Fever movie, that’s just to do it with abandon, with disregard for consequences, you have to go for those things. I think some of that stuff is what the movie will be remembered for when it has come and gone; the cat fight, the gun gag and I had one deliberate homage to the original Cabin Fever which I’m sure you’ll recognize where we homage the finger bang scene from the first movie.
So that was something I created as real call back to that first movie to tie it in. We had nothing else to really tie it in; we had different characters, different environment, different locations, same virus but even the virus was a little different. There was one point where I was like, “ok I can really connect this first movie with this interesting thing, it’s cool, funny and it’s kind of weird, sexual, disgusting”. I really tried to play with it.
You just came back to comics after a bit of a hiatus with Iron Fist The Living Weapon. What drew you to that character?
Well I’ve always been a huge fan of martial arts.
I dabble in martial arts myself. I’m more a fan but I’ve done a little bit of karate, a little bit tae kwon do and I love UFC and action movies too (Scott Atkins, Tony Jaa, Jean-Claude Van Damme), I love all those guys.
It was like a weird fit, I wanted to do, I wanted to write and draw something and I had spent so much time writing movies in the past few years, I hadn’t written a comic book in a while.
Marvel said if you are thinking of writing and drawing something, here are five different things we’re thinking of doing things with.
I was just like, let me just sit with this for a while and go out and researched all of the original back issues and I immediately got inspired to think, oh I can do something with this character.
He’s awesome; he’s got the darkest origin story of any superhero known to man.
He watched his father get thrown off a cliff, his dad’s business partner tries to make a move on his mom, then his mom basically refutes the advances and they go further up to the mountain and then she gets eaten by wolves and he gets taken in by these monks. He then trains ten years, not to become a better person, not to save the world but to become dangerous to people and get these mystical powers just to kill the guy that he feels is responsible for the deaths of his parents.
That’s just the darkest, craziest origin known to man. I felt like we haven’t seen that guy in a while, I like that Danny. Let’s bring that Danny back; because if you ask any kid who had a horrible thing happen to them, even if it’s just that they got beat up by a little kid at school, that sucks. And then watching your mother get ripped apart by wolves when you’re nine years old, like that’s gonna stay with you, so there’s a lot of opportunity to just go crazy.
The cool thing about comics is that I can own that process completely, I can write and draw it and ink it, and I can own it in a way that I can’t own a single movie yet. So I just did this film Cabin Fever, it’s an amazing and thought inspiring, creative and collaborative but I’m the director of a preexisting script but with Iron Fist I can own the whole thing. It’s a yin and yang, comics and film. I love them both and I love jumping back and forth
I guess the next question is what else do you have coming up? Are you on Iron Fist for the foreseeable future?
I’m on for twelve issues.
I’m already on issue seven but that’s still another five issues to go so for the next few months I’ll be completely invested and making those deadlines, getting the book out because I want to create a monthly reading experience; the only way I can justify doing all the jobs myself is if I make that schedule.
I have a film that’s brewing in the background; one is strangely kind of a kissing cousins to Iron Fist.
It’s a concept I’ve worked on a couple of years now but it is kind of a martial arts, action movie.
It’s interesting to be working in that genre concurrently, in comics and the very early development of the script of the film project, you really get to identify the differences between the two media.
Well considering they haven’t made a formal announcement yet, would you be interested in being a part of the Iron Fist Netflix film or series?
Oh yes, sure man, who would say no to that. I think it’s fun, exciting and brave, I’m sure they already have their team in place and working on that guideline. I am completely uninvolved in that situation
so far but I’m so curious to see what they do with this character because I’ve been so immersed in him for the last year or so. I’m just excited to see what they do with him. I am working on my own martial arts, action movie project so I don’t feel left out (laughing)
Your martial arts project, is that something you’re writing and directing?
Yes, it will be the first film that I actually own in a way I own a comic book. I did this small section in an anthology film called the ABCs of Death. I did the letter V for Vagitus which translates to “The Cries of a Newborn Child” in Latin.
The experience doing a short film where I’m like, “Oh yeahh!! This is what it feels like to own a film”; write it, to direct it, to design it, do every job. I even did all my visual effects, it was like fun, fun to just own it. Cabin was an amazing experience, I loved it, I’m proud of the work we did but the next film, I really wanna own it in a way that I can own a comic book.
What are you currently geeking out over?
I’m super excited to watch Snowpiercer. I’ve been trying to avoid reading too much about it, paying too much attention to the trailers, I love that movie, I’m just so excited. I just picked up the blu-ray collection of True Detective, which is amazing and those are my movie and TV hits right now. Then for comic books, my good buddy Steve Skroce just finished up this book Doc Frankenstein with the Wachowskis that is finally gonna hit stands in a few months, so I’m super excited to finally read how that epic nerdy of monster mayhem ends. Those are the three different genres I’m excited about now.