Scream upped the fright level of 905 horror movies, and now Mimic picks up the baton. Director GUILLERMO DEL TORO gets all bug-eyed.
Words: Nigel Floyd
It was his enthusiastic pitch for a scene in which the heroine is dragged away by a giant cockroach that secured young Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro the £28 million budget for his first English language film. Mimic. an arty ‘big bug‘ movie. was originally conceived as one part of a portmanteau movie called Light Years. with complementary segments to be directed by Danny Boyle (Trains/mitng) and Bryan Singer (The Usual .S'uspt't‘ts).
Although initially daunted by the idea of making a credible giant insect movie for the 90s. Del Toro later rose to the challenge. "I‘he moment I thought. “This is impossible. it‘s suicidal". it became as perverser appealing to me as showing a 60-year-old man licking blood off of a bathroom floor.‘ he says. referring to the most
memorable scene in his stylish vampire movie C mum. Gurllermo Del Toro
Del Toro collaborated with several scriptwriters. including sometime Roger Corman acolyte turned indie filmmaker John Sayles. who had written two previous low-budget mutation movies. Piranha and Alligator. It was Sayles who introduced the idea of genetic manipulation. together with the concept of an artificially created strain of cockroach designed to breed with. and bring about the extinction of. disease-carrying roaches. Working with effects specialists. the director then created a species of sleek. beautiful bugs that could pass in the gloomy subterranean world of the New York subway
Don't look down: Charles S. Dutton. Giancarlo Giannini, Mira Sorvino and Jeremy Northam in Mimic
“Tl‘s‘: If "_ H. '\ 8 is
'Mira looked absolutely devastated because of the terrible dreams she'd been having in which I would extract fluids from her internal glands.’
system for grubby homeless humans.
‘Our watchword was that they were all creatures of God. so we should make them as beautiful and etymologically correct as nature would have made them.’ Del 'I‘oro explains. ‘The insects in most giant bug movies look like fussy Volkswagens. with big. chompy mandibles. So we used dozens of books on ants. termites. praying mantises and cockroaches to
research the design of the creatures — in terms of
movement. texture. colour. everything — so that they would be absolutely organic and real.‘
The casting of Mira Sorvino as the intellectually arrogant entomologist Dr Susan Tyler. soon after her Oscar-bagging performance as the helium-voiced hooker in Woody Allen‘s Mighty Aphrodite. injected a little class and dramatic seriousness. Naturally. Del Toro treated her with all the respect due to an Oscar- winning actress — terrorising her from morning to night. forcing her to flee from giant insects. and smearing her with their revolting internal fluids.
‘It was a very taxing role for Mira.‘ concedes Del Toro with a sly grin. ‘The sort of Method acting she does has to do with the internalising of feelings. Many times she arrived on the set looking absolutely devastated. because of the terrible dreams she‘d been having. Absolutely ghastly nightmares in which I would extract fluids from her internal glands and say. “Now we have to rub this all over ourselves".‘
For Del Toro. though. this stomach-turning imagery was
metaphysical meaning. ‘I call it “redemption through secretions".‘ he says. ‘lt's literally blood. sweat and tears. There is something humbling about these arrogant scientists having to drench themselves in that revolting stuff.
‘One of my favourite scenes is where Mira is saying goodbye to her husband as he prepares to
leave the besieged subway car. It‘s a very tender
scene. but at the same time she's smearing him with goo. It’s quite a romantic moment. because she‘s almost caressing him. but at the same time it‘s absolutely disgusting.‘
General release from Fri 26 Jun.
Gossip left on the cutting-room floor. DIRECTOR LYNNE RAMSAY, a former Famespotting star in The List and winner of the Prix du Jury at this year's Cannes Film Festival for short film Gasman, is a major step nearer her feature debut. Filming on Ratcatcher, with Ramsay directing her own script, begins this summer in her home town of Glasgow. Ratcatcher, a co-production between Pathé Pictures and BBC Scotland, is a wry look at first love and family rivalry seen through the eyes of a twelve-year-old Glaswegian boy during the refuse workers strikes in the early 70$. Pathé Pictures' first slate of three films, produced under its Arts
the key to the film’s deeper
Council of England lottery franchise, also includes an adaptation of Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband (with Julianne Moore, Minnie Driver and Gabriel Byrne in the cast) and The Darkest Light, the directorial debut of The Full Monty writer Simon Beaufoy.
THE CELTIC FILM and Television Festival returns to Scotland next year, bringing an expected 400 delegates to Portree on Skye. Based in the new multi-purpose Aros Centre, the event will showcase new work from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany. It's appropriate that this, the 20th festival, should take place in the Hebrides, as the very first festival was held on Benbecula in 1980.
BUDDING SCREENWRITERS should sit up and take notice of a new script competition being organised by Gerry 0’80er and Frank Murray, the team behind the Mavericks Film Festival in London. Unrepresented writers are asked to send their scripts by 31 August to Mavericks Screen, PO Box 18039, London, EC1R 1YL. A cash prize — to be announced in October after adjudication by an industry panel — awaits the winner.
Lynne Ramsay's Gasman: feature debut beckons
ZS Jun—9 Jul 1998 THE LIST 25