Skip to main content

Lucky McKee, Jack Ketchum & Andrew van den Houten Discuss 'THE WOMAN'

Dennis's picture Posted by Dennis

Lucky McKee, Jack Ketchum & Andrew van den Houten Discuss 'THE WOMAN'

Confiscated & Burned: An Interview About 'THE WOMAN'
Dennis Widmyer
Lucky McKee, Jack Ketchum & Andrew van den Houten Discuss 'THE WOMAN'

This year at the Sundance Film Festival our friend Jack Ketchum premiered his new film THE WOMAN to a crowd of unsuspecting press, filmmakers and festival-goers. The Woman was co-written with Lucky McKee, who also directed it.  Lucky is, in my opinion, one of the best horror filmmakers working today. With films such as May, The Woods, Red and what was easily the best entry of the Master's Of Horror anthology, Sick Girl, you could understand how excited I was when I read the news that both he and Ketchum would be teaming up to not only pen the script for The Woman together, but also collaborate on a movie tie-in novel at the same time.

Along with tenacious producer Andrew van den Houten and a talented cast and crew, the team spent the next two years bringing the project out of the murky woods and into light.  But what exactly was ambling its way out of those dark groves?  And were we really prepared to see it in the flesh?

In February of 2010, we received the following statement from Lucky:

“THE WOMAN is an exploration of the very definition of horror. It is designed to incite feelings of fear, shock, nervousness, dismay, anxiety and disgust. It is designed to make you question what it is to be civilized, what it is to be feral and all the shades of gray in between. On a surface level, the film will make you jump, it will make you squirm and, for the more sensitive, it might even induce nausea. It will make you question my intentions in making it, as well as your own desire to watch it."

Then news came in the fall that the film had been accepted into the Sundance Film Festival.  This was around the same time that Ketchum was actually hosting and teaching a one month Workshop with us.  January rolled around and the elite of the independent filmmaking world descended upon Park City, Utah.  The Woman was slated to have its official worldwide premiere on Sunday the 23rd. 

And moments after the end credits began to roll, this happened...

Then this happened as the man was escorted to the lobby...

I watched the above the clip early Monday morning and like most people who have seen it, was immediately transfixed by this upset man's rant in the lobby of the theater.  I felt we had something special in our hands with this clip.  Something that would touch a nerve with people and boil up feelings of intense curiosity, doubt and fear.  So I went ahead and Tweeted the clip out to over 305,000 of Chuck Palahniuk's followers on Twitter.  I then did the same thing to about 260,000 of his fans on Facebook.  And I guess a lot of other sites did the same, because pretty soon the video went viral.  As of my typing this, it's about to hit 50,000 views in under a week.  

Around this time, writer/journalist and close friend of the site, Joshua Jabcuga (who runs Ketchum's official Twitter) began feeding me inside information from the Ketchum camp as the spectacle of this event evolved and grew legs.  During a week when everyone was supposed to be talking about Kevin Smith and his pseudo-auction stunt during the close of his premiere for RED STATE, everyone was instead glued to news about this upset gentleman, who had seen something in The Woman that led him to proclaim that the film should be "confiscated and burned."  When Josh suggested that I interview Jack, Lucky and Andrew van den Houten, how could I say no? 

A day later, I was on the phone with Andrew and Lucky (still in Park City at the time) and Jack, via snowy NYC, in a four way call that lasted almost 90 mins.  Here, for the first time, is the exclusive reaction and backstory to what went down that cold night in Utah, from all three of them.  I started with Andrew and Jack, as Lucky was running a little late due to another interview with the LA Times.

Dennis: I want to start off talking about the controversy that went down at the premiere of THE WOMAN.  Jack, you weren’t there, but what was your reaction to the drama as it was unfolding this past week?

Jack: I’ve spent the past few days glued to my computer, because I’ve been getting all these Tweets and Facebook messages. I’ve been watching the numbers rise on that YouTube video from the people who have seen the guy’s rant.  And then seeing all these reviews come in which have been so good and supportive.  You know, this has been a pleasure.  I wouldn’t want to do this for the rest of my life though.  It would be nice to get back to writing at some point.  But you know, it’s been a fun ride for me.

Dennis: Andrew, what about you?  You were actually in the audience when it happened.  What was that like?

Andrew: Not that I don’t believe in freedom of speech… I do – but there’s certainly an etiquette and a time and a place to voice one’s opinion and I felt that that moment in particular was completely inappropriate; to try and lambaste the director in front of the audience right after the credits rolled… for God sake’s, man, it wasn’t the right venue.  Just sit down and comment or question as you will during the Q&A.  Or just leave the theater if you don’t find the film to be something you’re respecting or are into.  You know, Sundance offered to refund this man’s ticket back?

It was just ridiculous to see this guy try to grandstand and take the attention away from Lucky who, quite frankly, was more stirred up about the fact that this girl had tried to get out of the theater, tripped and fell, and was practically unconscious for about twenty minutes.  And here’s this clown standing up and trying to divert all the attention to him like a circus ringmaster, meanwhile there’s a woman in the back of the theater still trying to recover from an accident.  When that [women fell] , Lucky immediately jumped up and actually said “Stop the film.”  He was really concerned. 

Lucky is probably one of the most sensitive and empathetic directors I’ve worked with in that, he really responds to people and cares about them.  He would put someone else’s own safety and health over his own ego or movie any second of the day.  And I just think this clown was a high-falutin asshole.

Jack: Lucky’s got a lot of heart.  He’s got a lot of heart.  Hey, I’ve got a question for Andrew.  I’ve been asked this several times by people who have seen the video: He announces that he’s been in several films.  Not to name names, but do we know who this guy is and is there any possibility that he was grandstanding to get a job?

Andrew: Honestly, it would’ve been a brilliant move as the producer of the film, to go and hire this jerk to get up and do something like this.  (laughs)  But I think our film evokes enough emotion in an audience on its own.  Our immediate reaction was that this guy must have been a left-over protestor from Westboro that was just disgruntled because of the Kevin Smith debacle and therefore was trying to carry it further without film.  Several people said they recognized him.

Angela Bettis in 'The Woman'

Dennis: I wondered that too though -- what this guy’s story was and if there was another reason he was doing this.  Because the entire time he was in the lobby being escorted out, he was holding his phone up like HE was recording everything as well. 

So tell us what happened after the video.  After the film ended and the Q&A was about to begin, what was the general reaction from the crowd?

Andrew: People were shaking.  They were shocked.  They were overwhelmed by the barbarism of the third act. There was just this underlying tension during the entire screening that culminated into this whirlwind of drama with the woman passing out as well as the gentleman getting up and screaming.  I think people were ultimately more surprised and shook up because they saw how shaken up Lucky was too.  It just all felt like we were part of some traumatic experience.  I’ve never felt a room feel that uncomfortable after a screening.  I suppose Jack Ketchum’s THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, which I produced, also evoked a lot of emotion and there was certainly a level of tension that builds up over the course of that film too.  But the thing about this movie was that, unlike THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, it’s fictional.  There was therefore something about going into a film that felt like a family drama but then culminates into a horror film.  So when that happened, I think people were just like, “Am I on acid right now?”  The vibe was just very unsettling and discomforting. 

Jack:  Were the questions good?

Andrew:  There weren’t many actually.  Two girls in the front row actually stood up and apologized on behalf of Utah to the entire audience -- and these are women --  because the guy that stood up was saying that this was a poor representation of women and that it showed them in a bad light and was degrading.  And these two women in the front row just wanted to say that they found the film to be extremely compelling and was something that really spoke to them.

Dennis: So you guys are still in town with another screening yet, right?

Andrew: Yeah, ever since this video came out, it’s been crazy.  Last night’s screening, I think Variety was there.  The LA Times too.  I’m really happy the press is coming out to see our film because they all went to go see RED STATE on Monday. (laughs)  Meanwhile our film was the one that really deserved to be covered.  And last night we didn’t have one walk-out during the entire film.  The Q&A was brilliant.  It was really the way a Q&A should be.  Everyone stayed and was completely respectful and was interested and intrigued.  And Lucky was in a place last night where he wasn’t shaken.  So we got to see the Lucky McKee that was really proud of the film he made.

Dennis: Has anyone tried to reach out and contact the man who got upset?  Or has he tried to contact you?  Or is he really just out of the picture at this point?

Andrew: No, we don’t know where he is at this point.  I’m curious like you!  What the hell was he doing with his camera phone?  Very strange. 

Jack: Well, you have to wonder what he’s thinking right now.  He’s got to know that all of this has gone viral and that his face is plastered all over YouTube.  What’s on his mind, I wonder.

Dennis: You guys should try to reach out to him.

Jack: No, you don’t reach out to quacks.  That’s the way you get shot.

Andrew: Honestly, this happening like two weeks after the Gifford shooting, the festival was on high alert and they said they normally wouldn’t remove someone from the audience like they did.  Quite frankly, the guy sat back down like he was going to shut up and part of me was like, if this shooting hadn’t happened and there wasn’t this tension in the air and Utah wasn’t such a liberal gun state, I’d think, maybe yeah, what they did might make sense.  But once he sat down and shut up I don’t think they necessarily needed to remove him from the theater.  If he did it a second time, you know, I’d say toss his ass out.  Some people agree with me, some disagree with me on that.  He definitely sat down and bit his tongue after, I just wish he had done that from the beginning.  And Lucky even said “Assholes have their right to express their opinions any way they want. It’s a free country.” And you know what, he’s absolutely correct. 

(at this point, Lucky joins us)

Dennis: So what the hell, you snubbing me for the LA Times?  What sort of rag is that?

Lucky: (laughs) Hey now. 

Dennis: Lucky, I talked to Jack and Andrew about the event that transpired during the premiere of THE WOMAN.  What was your take on it?

Lucky:  At the time it happened it was extremely upsetting.  I had been waiting to show this film to people since we all dreamt it up two years ago.  When you make these movies, it’s an incredibly personal experience that you share with people that are really close to you.  And it’s really nerve-racking to show it to an audience for the first time.  And then to have someone pass out and almost be psychically hurt by your film… that was really disturbing.  And then on top of that, to just have this guy blow a gasket in his brain and just lose it on everybody, I just wanted to crawl into a hole, you know?  It was just a very upsetting situation.  I’ve been talking about it quite a bit and just trying to analyze it in my brain and what it all means.  Ultimately I think it’s going to be a good thing for that guy.  Because it obviously made him question things.  But you know… nobody was on his side when he was freaking out like that.  It would’ve been a totally different thing if there were people that were like “Fuck yeah, you’re right!”  But all he did was add fuel to the fire and make people question if they could handle the movie.  Now the response I’ve seen online from people is like, if it made that guy freak out that bad I definitely gotta see this, which just went against what he was trying to do by speaking out about it in the first place. 

Andrew: There were two people in the back of the theater that I think agreed with him.  But they stayed quiet and listened to the Q&A. 

Lucky McKee directs Pollyanna McIntosh on the set of 'The Woman

Dennis: What’s the buzz been around town about the film?  I know a lot of people like Patton Oswalt and Drew McWeeney of Hitfix have come out in support of the film. 

Lucky: The general vibe has been beautiful.  It’s nice to be encouraged and have big hitters like Patton and Drew behind you.  Drew wrote such a beautiful piece of writing of his experience watching the movie.  It just moved me.  My family read it and every single one of them, including my father, were reduced to tears.  That the movie had such an emotional impact on somebody… It’s amazing that you can do something like that to somebody with just pictures and sound…  Especially these days when it seems like we’ve seen everything.  It’s kind of a beautiful thing.

I still think the guy may surface.  I mean, like it or not he’s become a viral sensation. 

Lucky: Movieline was asking me in an interview the other day if I’d ever like to do an on-camera interview with the guy.  And I was like “Not really.” (laughs)  Obviously the guy hates me and hates the work that we’ve all done.  It’s already being accused of being a planted situation, which it’s not.  If you were there you would know that it was a complete genuine reaction

Jack:  Did the girls really form a phalanx and lead you up to the stage?

Lucky: Yep. My girls had my back.

Jack:  Which ones? 

Lucky:  All of them!

Dennis: Talk about the genesis of THE WOMAN.  How did you go about writing a script and a movie tie-in novel together at the same time?

Jack: Instant messenger.

Lucky: Yep, exactly. 

Jack: How long did we do that?  Couple months?

Lucky:  Yeah, we’d get on the instant messenger and bang out the story and I’d go off and write a few pages and bring them back and then it would flip and Jack would go off and write and it was just a beautiful collaboration.  You know, I’d always say it’s like we’re living in the future.  Here I am sitting in the woods of Oklahoma and Jack is in NY and we’re having this intimate conversation and creating this story together.

Jack: We had a lot of fun.

Lucky: Jack really has held my hand and taught me a lot about storytelling and pacing yourself as a writer.  He kind of opened this whole new door for me, you know, which is just exploring things from a literary point of view.  What a book can do that a movie can’t do is enable the reader to inhabit a person.  So it was really a wonderful experience for me.  I now feel that anything I write in the future has to have that same attention to all the five senses.   My ultimate goal when I end up with a film is sight and sound, but with a book you get all five senses.  You get the interior of the mind.  And it’s just fantastic stuff to have access to for your actors and your crew when you finally get to the point that you can actually film it.  It was a beautiful process.  I hope we do it again, hint, hint!

Jack:  (laughs)  Me too.  Me too.  I’m on it.  I should add that, as part of this process, Lucky would save all the instant message logs, so by the time we finally started writing we had a really good outline.  It would’ve been really difficult if we had done this by telephone.

Dennis: Andrew, I heard you were inspired after seeing Pollyanna’s performance in OFFSPRING and that’s what led to all this. 

Andrew: Yeah, Jack wrote the novel OFFSPRING, which I was getting ready to direct.  And a friend of mine said, “Andrew, if you don’t keep the character of The Woman alive in the end, you’re missing out on one of the coolest characters in the story.”  I knew Polly would be phenomenal in that role because I know how strong she is as a woman and how powerful she feels on screen when she wants to.  I’d seen her in SEX & DEATH 101 and she had this S&M character she played that was pretty hardcore.  And I saw that she had this to side to her that was pretty animalistic and wild.

The poster for Jack Ketchum's 'Offspring,' directed by Andrew van den Houten

So after it was suggested to keep her character alive in OFFSPRING I immediately called Lucky about it.  I just knew that he would be the perfect person to take this character and, along with Jack, turn her into something much larger and grander.  So I flew down to New York City and we all watched the movie (OFFSPRING) at the Kodak screening center.  And after it was over, I realized that what I had directed was a beautiful 82 minute screen test for Pollyanna to basically have her own franchise built around her with this character.   So that’s where it all started.

Dennis: But why the idea to also turn it into a novel?  Where did that idea come from?

Jack: We decided to do this simultaneously as a novel and a screenplay.  We knew that we wanted to do both.  Lucky did the heavy lifting on the screenplay and then he’d pass pages to me.  I’d do the heavy lifting on the novel and then I’d pass pages to him.  And that’s how it worked out.

Dennis: When will the novel be released?

Jack: It’s already been out in hardcover limited.  It’s actually a really gorgeous edition from Bloodletting Press.  It’s pricey as hell (laughs), I warn you.  But it comes with a real human bone embedded in the cover.  It’s really quite something.  (Order it here)

'The Woman' by Jack Ketchum & Lucky McKee (Limited Ed. Hardcover)Lucky and I made a deal early on with Leisure books.  But they are in the process right now of “restructuring” which really means, we don’t know what in the hell is going on with the book right now.  We may have to be looking at other options.  We may even look at ways to get it out in a different way and in a different form.  So really I can’t tell you when the book’s going to come out, but hopefully very soon because we want to get it into people’s hands simultaneously with the film’s release.

Lucky, we know that Jack has written other screenplays, but was this your first crack at writing a novel?

Lucky: Yes.  After I attempted to make Ketchum’s book Red and then that ultimately fell apart for me as a director and was finished by someone else, I took a couple years off and read every John D. MacDonald book, I think about eighty books, and just tried to rebuild my brain, you know, after the devastation of having a movie be taken from you like that.  And finally I was just like, “Fuck this, I’m gonna write.”  So I started toying around with some prose and doing what I can and exploring that world and then ultimately discovering that… I’m a director, you know?  That’s what I do.  That’s what I’m trained to do.  Yeah, I can write, but in terms of prose and writing books I don’t have the special ability that someone like Jack has to do that. I communicate my stories through pictures and sound.  I’ve learned so much by studying the literary side of things and being a part of that with Jack but… any artist needs to be completely honest with themselves about what they’re good at and what they’re not.  And I can write scripts and I can make movies and I can appreciate great literature, but Jack just has a gift in that world.  Thankfully, now I have a book with my name on it because I contributed a bunch to it but… I make movies.  That’s what I do.  The book thing is just a cool bonus.

Jack: Lucky was cool enough to invite me to the shoot for the entire thing so I learned a hell of a lot about movies too.  So it’s been a back and forth, you know?  Straight down the line.

Dennis: Lucky, I want to talk about RED a little bit and the controversy with you stepping down from that film.  (Authors Note: I'm not talking about the shitty Bruce Willis film, but a film of the same title that came out a couple years earlier.)

Lucky: Actually I didn’t step down.  I was removed.

Dennis: Well, because of that, when I went into the movie I said, “This is going be a piece of shit.”  Because whenever you hear about a director being removed from a project, the film always suffers for it.  But I have to say, for the most part that film really worked for me.  I really thought it had some moments of beauty in it. 

Lucky: The reason for that is because it’s a great story.  And that’s all Jack.

'Red,' co-directed by Lucky McKee

Dennis: Well if enough time has passed, I would really like to get your take on the true account of what went down there.

Lucky: It was me surrounding myself with the incorrect people to make a movie...  People who weren’t intelligent enough to make a movie in an intelligent way.  And we got halfway through production and they ran out of money.  And of course, it was all my fault.  And when we disagreed, the movie got shut down right in the middle of production, which was horrifying .  And when we tried to decide how we would remount and get the thing finished, we disagreed on the correct way to go about that and I was removed.  I was removed from the situation. 

Jack: They shut down for about how long, Luck?  It was weeks, right?

Lucky: Yeah, weeks.

Andrew: Here’s a good little anecdote.  The day that it shut down, I get a phonecall.  Jack is like, “Look, these guys wanna talk to you.”  And I was like, sure I’ll talk to anyone.  I’m a huge fan of Lucky’s, I wanna see the film get done.  Of course at that point, all my company’s funds were put into THE GIRL NEXT DOOR.  I mean, we were literally sitting there in the color correction suite on that film and we get a call from one of the producers on RED and he’s like, “Hey man, we need $250,000 by Saturday.”  And this was like on a Thursday or Friday he’s saying this to me.  They then pitch me the entire movie, which I already know.  And they tell me that if I give them the money, I’m gonna save this movie.  And I’m thinking to myself, if Lucky McKee is no longer involved with this project then someone over there did something very incorrect.  I mean, producing 101… you don’t run out of your production budget halfway through filming.  So when I heard that I was so flippant because, a) Jack is someone I’ve produced several films for.  And b) Lucky is somebody who I looked up to myself as a young, fledgling director throughout the years.  And so it just absolutely perplexed me that this situation could even happen.  It is such an irresponsibility of a producer to even go to that world.  I was shocked. 

Lucky: Yeah, and ultimately all that stuff going really bad, in a way, created the foundation for the way that Andrew and I work together.  And why we want to continue working together.  It’s respect for what we both do, and honesty about what the resources really are, and not holding anything back from each other, and just, being a fucking team, you know?  Not working against each other, but working with each other.  At this point, I’m glad things fell apart like that on RED because THE WOMAN is the most unique thing I’ve ever been a part of. 

Andrew: For me, going into THE WOMAN, I had agents in Hollywood saying, “You’re gonna work with Lucky McKee!?  You’re out of your fuckin’ mind.”  I had people saying that to me.  And I just said to them, you guys have no respect for someone who’s made so many great films.  I just said, fuck these people, I’m going to let these guys make their film and they’re going to have full creative freedom.  Jack Ketchum has been highlighted by greats like Stephen King as being one of the most authentic writers of his time.  So I’m going to let these guys go and create art.  And Lucky was so thankful and respectful of my film resources.  You know, in this industry you kind of fail upwards a lot, and in the independent film world you take the losses and it’s a lot of time and energy making a movie and a lot of them don’t always make money.  But fortunately I’ve been able to keep pushing along, and Jack has been so supportive.  And to see how Lucky works…it’s really special, man.  I feel like I was allowed to enter a club that I had been a fan of for years.

Jack: Lucky did an extraordinary thing: At the end of each week’s shooting, he’d have the editor cut together highlights from the week that he’d then show to cast and crew.  And I mean, I’ve never seen morale jump like that on anything.  It was like, “Wow, we’re making a real movie here!  Let’s go shoot some more!’  It was really just smart and generous and made a real camaraderie on that set that was just wonderful to watch. 

Dennis: Andrew, shortly after the outburst at the premiere of THE WOMAN, you released a video response on YouTube in which you called Lucky’s movies “feminist films.”  Can you elaborate on that a little more?

Andrew: I certainly can.  It’s pretty straight forward: He makes strong female characters that prevail in the end.  In order to represent a feminist statement at the end of the film, one needs to represent, realistically, misogynistic themes.  Lucky succeeds on many levels.  I was talking to Mark Olsen from the LA Times at the end of the second screening and literally, Mark looks at me and says, “God, this film makes you feel horrible for being a guy.”

Jack: There was a discussion from some men in my local bar recently about, how many men we knew who really genuinely liked women, as opposed to how many really preferred the company of men better.  And these guys felt that maybe we just had women in the world and tolerated them so we could have sex with them.  But Lucky and I are both guys who genuinely like women.  And there’s no fuckin’ way we’d make an anti-women film.  I mean, I’d rather talk to most women than to most men.  And I think Lucky feels the same way.

Lucky:  Yeah, look at my movies.  This movie is in fact the first time I ever had a genuine connection with a male actor.  Sean Bridgers, the connection that we made, I’ve never had that before.  I mean, all the films that I’ve made in the past have always been female-centric.  My brain works a lot better with women than it does with men.  Bridgers was actually recommended by Angela Bettis.  It’s like he was already cast.  She just said, “This is the guy.  Lucky, I know you and I know how your brain works and how your heart works and this is a guy that will work in your world.”  And she was totally right.

Andrew:  As a producer you look at Lucky McKee and Jack Ketchum’s work and there’s just a certain level of “wrongness” that happens throughout the story. It’s horrific.  The films are definitely tragic.  I almost liken them to Shakespearean in that, they have this certain level of visceral quality, but on the other hand, they really do get psychological. Which is fascinating. And I think the psychological and social horror that you find prevalent in Ketchum’s stories, such as RED, THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, RIGHT TO LIFE… there’s definitely a commentary that’s consistently happening.  So it’s dangerous and risky material to get into but it’s the kind of material that, if you do get into it, you can really make art.

'Cover' by Jack Ketchum 'The Girl Next Door' by Jack Ketchum 'The Lost' by Jack Ketchum

'Right To Life' by Jack Ketchum 'Off Season' by Jack Ketchum 'Offspring' by Jack Ketchum

Dennis: Yeah, I call it “reality horror.”  Whenever I read one of Ketchum’s books, you know there’s never really a monster or anything that supernatural (although he has written some).  But the books I like that you write deal with reality, like COVER or THE LOST.

Lucky: Yeah, the monster is you. 

Jack: That’s what makes it terrifying. 

Dennis: So once you had a screenplay, how quickly did the production for THE WOMAN come together?

Lucky: That’s all a testament to Andrew who somehow mounted a production during one of the most difficult economic periods in American history.  Andrew just keeps pushing.  He won’t let up.  I don’t have a brain for that.  I mean, I can write the stuff and say what I wanna do and have all these aspirations but I would have no idea how to navigate the business world in terms of how to physically make that happen.  Andrew just busts his ass and gets shit done.  And that’s why I wanted to work with him.  Look at his track record.  This guy’s made half a dozen films already within a very short period of time.  So it was a long time coming for me to find a producer who actually clicked with me.  The mutual respect was there and… I just hope we keep doing it.  I really do.

Dennis: It’s probably too early to ask, but has there been any offers for the film yet?

Lucky: I think our key with getting this movie in the right hands, distribution-wise, is patience.  Because it’s so out there and it’s just so… audacious in it’s approach that I think there just needs to be time for everyone to realize that people are responding to it.  That video right now is up to like 40,000 hits.  And each hit that video gets is a ticket sold.  If the film is able to elicit that sort of response from a person, people are thinking, “I need to see it.”  So as a result I’ve got nothing but positivity from people as a result of someone being so negative.  I mean, someone saying my film should be burned!?  Are you kidding me!?  It’s crazy.

Andrew: I’ve made so many films now and I’ve personally sold a couple of them, and then also had reps sell a few, and I’ve been screwed over so many times in this business that—and I don’t wanna say that things haven’t worked out with a couple titles.  They did.  They’re on their way and they’re doing nicely. And all our stuff’s been distributed, whether it’s Sam Raimi’s company at Lionsgate or Anchor Bay.  But let’s be honest, the business is stacked against you as an independent filmmaker and they’re looking to make as much money as possible without paying you any of it.  And so from my standpoint, right now, I feel like I’m the coke dealer on the block, and I got the best product.  And I know that someone wants to get high on our supply.  And I’m just not going to give it away until the right buyer and the right price comes along.  It’s the type of thing that really is addictive, and as you can see in the YouTube video, 40,000+ people are addicted to hearing about it, but wait till they watch the movie.  That’s all I have to say.

Lucky: Yeah, the screening last night was just the polar opposite of what we experienced at the first one.  There were a couple hundred people there and it was just… love and excitement and understanding of the whole thing.  It was just fucking gorgeous.  It was just so relaxing to be able to enjoy the film that way.  And part of the reason why it was so beautiful of a screening was partly because people had heard the word on the movie by then, and they were prepared.  They knew that this was going to have to be something that they were going to endure.  And so they didn’t just walk into it blindly not knowing what it was.  Because, you know, we didn’t even do a trailer for this.  We were very vague with our synopsis of the film.  We just wanted to show it to people and let them talk about it instead of us telling them what they should think beforehand.  And now that people are responding… the beauty of things like Facebook and Twitter— if I had those [outlets] when I brought May here nine years ago the movie would’ve done so much better.  Because it’s people!  Genuine human reactions to the thing.  Not a bunch of industry types telling you what you’re supposed to think about it.  Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, that’s all made by the audience.  It’s been a blessing.

Dennis: By that rationale, what’s your take on what Kevin Smith did at his premiere for RED STATE.  (this is what Kevin Smith did)

Andrew: Lucky is not buying his film for $20, I’ll tell you that right now.

(laughs all around)

Lucky: I guess the Kevin Smith thing is politically charged, and I avoid politics like the fuckin’ plague.  I’d rather make stories about human beings than try to tell people how to vote or how to influence how they feel about things in a political way.  Jack’s the same way; all we care about is human emotion and how people treat each other.  And that’s why most of my movies are named after the lead character.  MAY is about May.  THE WOMAN is about The Woman.  Character is everything.  It’s one of the things Jack and I really click on.  It’s why I love his books so much and why he digs my movies.   It’s because we spend so much time building a human being before all the bad shit goes down.  Because there’s a reason why people have such a psychological and emotional reaction to this stuff because they’re invested in these people and their situation.  Its people like you.

Lucky McKee and Angela Bettis, behind the scenes on 'May'

Jack: With this movie, I think by the time the shit hits the fan, you care about every single person in it.  And that was our goal.  To leave nobody out.

Dennis: So what’s next for you guys?  Do you have any other film festivals that you’re playing in?  Tell me you’re coming to Los Angeles.

Lucky: Well, I would love to play AFI’s festival again because that’s one of my best memories form touring around with May.  It’s just a beautiful festival.  So hopefully we get to do that. 

Andrew: We just got an email today to attend the Second Fantasy / Horror Awards show in Italy.  They want to bring us out for the premiere of the movie in Italy.  And they refer in the invite to “Lucky McKee and the master Jack Ketchum.” 

(Ketchum laughs)

Dennis: If you have any interest, please bring it to Fantastic Fest down in Austin.  That’s become one of my favorite festivals and you’ll get to screen it at the Alamo Drafthouse.

Lucky: Yeah, I’m dying to show that movie at the Alamo Drafthouse.  It’s the best audience in America.  Beyond, the Brussels Film Festival in Belgium and the Sitges Festival in Spain, those are the best festivals.  I mean, this movie is designed for those audiences.  They’re gonna lose their shit when they watch this movie.  Sitges is your dream of what a festival should be if you’re a geek like me.  It’s a theater that holds around 1,200 people and the screen is giant.  And you’re sitting on a hotel on a cliff overlooking the ocean.  And everyone is mingling and there’s no velvet ropes anywhere.  It’s just filmmakers and fans interacting.  It’s beautiful.  I can’t wait for October.  I mean, a big reason of why we took such a crazy approach to this movie was for those audiences. I’m just so excited to show it.

'May' 'The Woods' 'Sick Girl'

Dennis: Jack, you think you’ll be attending any of those festivals yourself?

Jack: (laughs) Yeah, I’m pretty sure of that.

Lucky: (laughs) There’s nooooooo way you’re gonna get out of going to Sitges, Jack.  I will drag you there.  I will stuff you in my suitcase. 

Dennis: Well, you guys have all said you had such a great time working together and that you’d totally want to do it again.  So I have to ask, do you have anything planned next?

Jack: Not planned, but we do have some ideas.  Basically, Lucky’s been in a hermitage with The Woman the past couple months.  So things are pretty much on the back-burner right now.  But I’ve got some ideas, he’s got some ideas.  We’ll put something together. 

Dennis: You think it will be something original, or an adaptation of one of your novels?

Lucky: Both maybe.  All of those options are on the table right now.  I really want to make THE PASSENGER.

Dennis: Weren’t you originally trying to make THE PASSENGER before THE WOMAN?

Jack: Yeah, Lucky’s had an option on that for several years now. 

Andrew: It’s funny, that’s actually how I first met Lucky.  He came to me to do THE PASSENGER.  I had just finished THE GIRL NEXT DOOR and I was like, I really don’t want to go back to this sort of story right now.  At the time I wanted to do something more in the vein of 70s horror... with that sort of feel.  Something like CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. 

So we had set THE PASSENGER up as a deal with this TV network but Lucky and Jack both definitely wanted to have the freedom to do it without having it be edited for TV standards.  But they know I’m interested in doing it.  I will literally do whatever Lucky wants to do next.  I have basically not taken any projects on except for this one movie called GHOUL by the director of THE GIRL NEXT DOOR which is based on a Brian Keene novel that we’re going to shoot in May. 

Dennis: I want to close with some fun questions.  Being a huge horror hound myself, I always need to ask filmmakers and authors what some of their favorite films in the genre are… say, in the past five years.

Lucky: INSIDE.  A French film.  That’s like early Cronenberg right there.  Just fuckin’ phenomenal.  The French stuff, like MARTYRS too, just amazing.  People are always asking me what the best horror films of all time are and nobody’s ever going to top THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE.  It’s just not gonna happen.  That is THE horror film. 

Dennis: Andrew, what about you?

Andrew: I have to say I love Gaspar Noe, and I think IRREVERSIBLE—

Jack/Lucky: Yeah, that’s a great horror film.

Dennis: Jack, what about you?

Jack: You’ve nailed most of them already.  I thought A SERBIAN FILM was pretty damn disturbing.  Really nasty.  The first time I watched it I wasn’t real fond of it, but I was a   little drunk.  (laughs)  But I watched it a second time and there’s this strange, real intelligence going on in it.  And it’s really pretty vile, but it wants to disturb you.  And I think it’s not just the next slasher flick or the next “Saw 12.”  It’s got more on its mind than that.  And the other one recently that disturbed me… umm, what was it, “Caterpillar Man?”

All three of us answer at the same time: “HUMAN CENTIPEDE?”

Jack Ketchum's 'The Girl Next Door'

Jack: Yeah, that’s pretty whacky too.  So I like those both. 

Dennis: Alright, final question.  And this one is solely for the filmmakers:  What’s your favorite Jack Ketchum novel?

Lucky: (thinks long) THE WOMAN.


Dennis: Hey, that’s not a fair answer.

Lucky: Ha, no.  I’d say THE GIRL NEXT DOOR.  It’s one of the most powerful pieces of writing I’ve ever experienced.  It’s the roughest thing I’ve ever read.  But it felt so worth it by the time I got to the end of it because of what it means.  It’s just beauty, the fact that you can do that with just ink on paper, it just blows my mind.  I’m so in awe of that writing.  There’s just nothing like it. 

Andrew: Yeah, I’d agree with that too. 


Film Makers