Weird Weird West
When the original director quit Ravenous, ANTONIA BIRD stepped in at short notice. The result is a horror- western hybrid, as bizarre as it is bloody. Words: Miles Fielder
For the goriest of horror movies. go to Sam Raimi's Iiril Dead trilogy. Peter Jackson‘s early splatterfests. Bad Taste and Brain Dead. or Stuart Gordon‘s Reunimumr. Apart from arcing arterial sprays and bucketloads of dismembered and disembowelled body parts. what those films have in common is humour of the slapstick variety. Antonia Bird‘s cannibal holocaust horror western. Rai'wzous gives the above titles at run for their blood money on both counts.
'ls it really that gruesome‘." inquires Bird. ‘1 like horror movies. but I haven‘t watched many recently.‘ Then she admits: ‘Blood‘.’ There was gallons of it. We ran out towards the end. We were in desperate trouble and — don't tell the actors — we had to start using pig's blood from abattoirs. It's not easy to get that in the Czech republic.’
The cast and crew of Rtll‘t’IIUHS had been shooting in Prague studios and on location in the Tatra Mountains of Slovakia for some weeks. when the original director. Milcho Manchevski (Before The Rain). left the film following disagreements with Twentieth Century Fox. One of the leads. Robert Carlyle. stopped the project grinding to a halt and brought on board Bird whom he had previoust collaborated with on Safe. Priest and Face and with whom he has since launched (with third partner Mark i Cousins) a film development company. 4Way Pictures.
16 THE “81’ 9—23 Sep 1999
'We were in desperate trouble and - don't tell the actors — we had to start using pig's blood from abattoirs.’ Antonia Bird
Troubleshooter: Antonia Bird filming Ravenous
‘I think I had five days to prepare.” recalls an amused Bird. What? How'.’ Difficult. no‘.’ ‘Very. very. very difficult and not to be recommended.” she confirms. ‘The whole film was shot on adrenaline. If I hadn’t been as experienced. I wouldn't have been capable of getting through it. but it's a dangerous game to play. Normally. for a feature of this size. you would be preparing for six months or a year.‘
Six months — five days. Mmm. 'l did have a huge advantage in that I knew Robert and. obviously. the film wasrft going to carry on if someone didn‘t come along. so people were very pleased they still had jobs. I had quite a warm welcome.‘
Rurwmus is a film of two halves. very different halves: the first eerie and atmospheric. the second a black-humoured bloodbath. lt's tempting to equate the two tones with the two directors. but. as Bird confirms. that isn‘t the case: ‘l didn‘t use any of the existing material. I would never use anyone else's material and I would never step onto anyone else‘s shoes unless it was really over — that would be really wrong. I completely started again and created my version. It was frustrating in that I had to inherit a shooting schedule. but I‘m not complaining because I‘m very proud of the film. I'm surprised to say that. but I really am.‘
Was Bird's take on Ted Griffin's (Bast Laid Plans) script very different from Manchevski’s'.’ 'Yes. because everybody sees everything in a different way.‘ explains Bird. 'but I have no idea what the original take was. I suspect that my film is perhaps more energised than the original was going to be. because l happen to be a very energetic director and because I was working on adrenaline — this one was particularly frenetic.
'lt‘s funny as well as horrifyingf continues Bird. ‘That‘s perfect horror for me: you gasp in shock. then think. "Oh. my God". then it makes you laugh. It‘s quite a bizarre film.‘
Bloody. bizarre and diabolically funny. Rurwmus has its meat and eats it.
Ravenous is on general release from Fri 10 Sep. See review.
Lights, camera, action . . .
SCOTLAND'S AWARD WINNERS at the 1999 Edinburgh International Film Festival included Lynn Ramsay, who recieved her the Guardian New Directors award for her debut feature, Ratcatcher. Edinburgh College of Art student Tim Hope scooped The 10th Anniversary Post Office McLaren Award for New British Animation for The Wolf Man, while The Fox Searchlight Award for Best British Short Film went to Morag McKinnon's Home, with special mention going to Edinburgh College of Art student Joern Utkilen’s My Job and Martin Radich's In Memory Of Dorothy Bennet.
FILMFOUR LAB, THE low budget filmmaking initiative launched at the Edinburgh International Film Festival last month, has announced its first feature project, Daybreak. Director Bernard Rudden (Hunger Artist) will shoot Daybreak, which is also financed by The Scottish Arts Council and was developed by Scottish Screen and British Screen, on digital video in Edinburgh and other Scottish locations in October.
STARRY NIGHT, SCOTLAND'S first co-production with Hollywood to be shot entirely on digital tape — through Edinburgh-based Hammerhead Television and Digital Facilities - will be screened at the Edinburgh Filmhouse on Sun 19 Sep. Director of Photography Dave Smith will introduce the film.
GLASGOW FILM AND VIDEO WORKSHOP, the scheme that supports new Scottish directors, production and technical talent, premieres Screenworks 99 on Sat 11 Sep at the Glasgow Film Theatre.
FILM AND VIDEO ACCESS CENTRE screens the best of five years of Lottery funded films and videos on Sat 11 Sep at the Edinburgh Filmhouse.
SCOTLAND'S NEWEST MULTIPLEX. the nine screen Virgin Cinema in Dundee is to be launched on Thu 16 Sep (opens on Fri 17 Sep) with an advance screening of Runaway Bride.
I 1. Going Dutch: Abbott Alexander as Vincent van Gogh in Starry Night