This issue Kenny Mathieson dives into The Abyss with director James Cameron, while overleaf
Trevor Johnston talks to Canadian writer/director Atom Egoyan, plus Kenneth Branagh gets his tuppence-worth in (as usual).
INDEX16 lISTINGS: WEEK 0NE25 WEEKTW027
That Sinking Feeling .
Kenny Mathieson talks to James Cameron about his new underwater ﬁlm The
After the sustained fury ofA/iens. director James Cameron has opted for a more contemplative excercise in tension in The Abyss. A logistical nightmare to make. the film is shot almost entirely underwater, using new techniques in special effects and sound-recording. but its real strengths lie not so much in visual spectacle as in the strong human relationships at its centre, drama on a marooned experimental sea-ﬂoor oil ‘11 is pointless to have good special effects if you i rig. which comes to grief while trying to salvage a don‘t also have a good human story“ Cameron nuclear submarine. The problem with the film is argues. ‘l tried to do that with The Terminator that Cameron cntwincs two further plot lines andAliens‘ but in this mm I allowed the human around that central strand. one involving the story to move out in from OfIhc hardware to a arming ofa nuclear warhead on board the rig by a much greater extent. The man and the woman demented naval officer. the other the presence of are given equal weight and complexity — too often mysterious but benign alien beings. The result. a the woman is really only a cartoon or an object of kind of fusion of Close Encounters with The desire. so I tried to balance that up. There is a Poseidon Adventure and Far/safe. crams too great predominance of male over female much into its length. Unsurprisingly. Cameron film-makers. and men tend to be more confident defends their validity. in making films about male rather than female ‘The aliens act more as a symbol in the film. sol problems.‘ wanted them to be enigmatic. They are certainly Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio less threatening than the aliens in my other film. are the estranged couple caught up in a tense but it was a monster movie. whereas this film has
very different goals. The response to these creatures is basically emotional. The danger of nuclear war,‘ he continues. ‘is one of the many forms of abyss. whether literal. psychological or symbolic. The anti-military message is definitely there. but it is not black and white — what we see is an individual forced by his training into a moral decision which he makes badly. while another member of his team goes in the opposite direction. All of my films tend to place the individual in opposition to the structures of authority and society.‘
The Abyss may not go down in film history as one of the great artistic achievements, but it has pushed the boundaries of the possible in film-making even further back. The eight-week underwater shoot created massive problems for east and crew, not to mention the studio accountants.
‘We were in a potentially life threatening environment. so there was always danger. Each actor had a ‘guardian angel', a diver whose only job was to look after that actor underwater, and we had no accidents whatsoever throughout shooting. Communication was also a major problem, as was sound — dialogue has never been recorded underwater before. I told the studio at the outset that the budget would be our best estimate. but they knew that they were partners in a project which contained a number of unknowns. Our estimate was $35m. and the final budget was $43m, but the studio always approved any additional costs which were necessary to complete the film to the highest possible standards.
‘There have always been ocean films.‘ the director adds. ‘but perhaps we are seeing more now because space is no longer such a suitable arena for our imagination. We know we are not going into space. except perhaps with unmanned probes. and it may be that we need a new unknown to explore.‘
_ Horror of
While 1990, as we are already well aware, gives Glasgow the mantle of European City of Culture, for fans of the fantastic film the most exciting news is that the city is also to host the first ever Scottish festival of horror films. Organised by two enterprising aficionados David Bryan and Malcolm Dalgleish as a follow-up to their highly successful Black Sunday event earlier this year In Manchester, a marathon screening of ten new horror movies is planned for 24 and 25 February at the
Salon Cinema, Hillhead.
Inspired by the example of London's Shock Around The Clock gorelest, the 1989 programme included British premieres of Ken Russell’s Lair of The White Worm, Bernard Rose's Paperhouse and Tommy Lee Wallace‘s
Fright Night 2, and the hope is that the forthcoming selection will feature a similar cross-section of largely mainstream material. Titles being talked about at this stage include Wes Craven’s newie Shocker, William Peter Blatty's Exorcist 1990, Tom Savini’s
remake of Night of The Living Dead, Brian Yuzna’s subversive Society, and a slew of sequels including Nightmare on Elm Street V: The Dream Child, Lethertace: Texas Chainsaw Massacre Ill, and The Stepfather 2. Special guests lined up include authors Shaun Nuntson and Ramsey Campbell and top effects man Bob Keen.
Obviously only a limited number of tickets will be available for this unique event, and for further information comprising covering letter, a booking form and a full preliminary list of films please write to David Bryan at 70 Thatch Lane, Whitefield, Manchester M25 DEW, and don't forget to include an A4 SAE. Booking will be on a first come, first served basis so get writing . now. (Trevor Johnston)
The List 27 October — 9 November 198913