Ronny Yu (Director of 'Freddy Vs. Jason')
’Yu Better Get Ready, ‘cause Here’s Freddy!'
Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) is in hell – literally. It’s been nearly ten years since Krueger, one of the scariest horror movie characters of all time ('A The Nightmare on Elm Street'), invaded peoples’ dreams to exact his deadly form of revenge and murder. But now, his memory has been systematically erased by a town determined to put an end to Freddy once and for all. Like an inmate with a life sentence, Freddy’s been reduced to plotting a fantastic revenge that will never happen.
Until, that is, Freddy resurrects Jason Voorhees (Ken Kirzinger), the equally iconic madman from the 'Friday the 13th' film series. Jason is the perfect means for Freddy to once again instill fear on Elm Street, creating a window of opportunity for him to emerge from his purgatory. Recognizing how easily manipulated Jason is, Freddy tricks Voorhees into journeying to Springwood to start a new reign of terror!
’Freddy Vs. Jason’ Director, Ronny Yu was born in Hong Kong. After graduating from Ohio University, he became a production assistant in Washington D.C for the ABC Evening News. He returned to Hong Kong in 1975 and became production manager for Leong Po-Chin’s ‘Jumping Ash’ (1976) and ‘Foxbat’ (1977). His credits as Director include ’The Saviour’ (1980), ’The Postman Strikes Back’ (1982), ’The Trail’ (1983), ’The Occupant’ (1984), and amongst a whole host of others, both ’Bride of Chucky’ (1998) and ’Formula 51’ (2001).
Taking some time out recently with the seemingly always-laughing Director himself, Ronnie Yu, I first wondered why there had been an Animal Trainer listed in the end credits! ”The animal trainer, that is a real funny story,” he laughs. ”There’s a scene with maggots and we need a trainer for the maggots because it’s by law! They are protected in Canada, I’m not kidding you! Our maggots were from Brazil, because I wanted those whitish-looking ones, so they found me these maggots from Brazi. And they imported them and I am told that I can not, I CAN NOT,” he stresses ”damage them! So I can not even have a shot of a foot stepping on them. And then also, in the movie we had those eels and the story is supposed to be that the guy throws up the eels, but then the trainer said, ‘Sorry Ronny, but we can’t do that!’ Because, by law eels can not be droped over two feet! So we ended up having to scrap that idea and just place the eels on the floor and because the floor is covered with blood that means that the eel can not be in the blood for more than five minutes! It’s because they are fresh water eels and cannot be in this bloody water! I was so astonished and you would never have thought of it back when you were storyboarding. And then there was the goat and that goat can again not be shot for a long time. Because that goat would not stand there for a long time! So, there’s so much education in making movies, you know!”
And the Dialogue Coach? ”That’s because we shot it in Canada and we had a lot of Canadian actors and then if they are speaking like a Canadian or like an American I myself wouldn't have know! So the dialogue coach was working with the actors on that.”
OK, so why begin the movie with some naked, big-breasted chick running around! ”Now, to be honest with you, I cut it out in my first cut, and then we did a test screening and the audience said, ‘We want more T&A!’ So the studio told me to go back to everything you shot and put that shot back in because they wanted that put back on. But, I didn’t think any of that stuff was that offensive, but coming from Hong Kong I was just being a little conservative,” he laughs.
And they were so lovely as well! ”Yes,” he says bursting into a fit of loud laughter. ”But they weren’t real,” he continues to laugh.
You spent a lot of time re-introducing both the iconic characters at the beginning of the film, but was that your idea or did the studio enforce that theory? ”Yes, I think that was basically on the script because the studio thought that it was very important that we have a lead in for the people that were not familiar with these characters. So they could get a background story on both of them. But I spent a lot of time trying to cut that scene together, because I don’t want to drag it on and on and on. So, I had to cut it in a way to be very economical and yet still get the impact and the story out.”
And talking of people not familiar with either character, nor were you! ”Yeah, it was really funny, because that was the first thing that I told the studio. I said I’m a little bit embarrassed to tell you, but I only watched the very first ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ and the first ‘Friday The 13th’ in Hong Kong and so I didn’t get a chance to follow the whole franchise. So, I told them that if they really wanted me that I’d love to do it, but I have to be honest with you! And they said, ‘Look what you did with the ‘Bride of Chucky’ when you knew nothing about the ‘Child’s Play’ franchise.’ So, I said okay and then for the next few weeks I watched every single one of them – all 17 of them. And then I spent a lot of late nights talking with Robert Englund because he’s the only one, in my opinion, that can play ‘Freddy.’ And what is most exciting about Robert is he still had the fire in him and the enthusiasm. Every time we talked about Freddy Krueger he had so many stories and he would tell me all the ins and outs. Because, I’m not trying to come in as a smart-ass director, I just had to go back and respect all the rules and all the characters that have been built up all those years. So, all I had to do was just turn up the notch on the cinematic and entertainment aspects of it.”
Especially in the cornfield scene, there seemed to be way more blood spilled in this movie that in any of the others! Was this a conscience decision made by you from the start? ”I think that was inspired in me by all these old samurai movies I saw growing up in Hong Kong. And so that machete for me is just like a samurai sword and then 'Jason' is so powerful! I mean, whoever comes up to ‘Jason’ and gets slashed, the blood has to be tremendous just to emphasis how powerful ‘Jason’ is. Even though it’s a little bit over the top, I thought it was more entertaining like that.”
Because EVERYONE in the audience want’s to see one of these great warriors die, do you think that the ending was a huge cop out?! ”No, because I’ve been fighting for this ending that you saw right now for a long time, because originally the ending wasn’t like that. The original ending just ended on the girl and boy, but I thought that the movie is about 'Freddy' and 'Jason' and then we don’t want either the hardcore fans of 'Freddy' or the hardcore fans of 'Jason' disappointed when they come out of the theatre. That’s why I came up with this ending so that the audience can argue about who the winner was! They can say, ‘I think 'Freddy' wins because he winks’ and the 'Jason' fans can say, ‘No, no, no. All 'Freddy' has got now is a head, but 'Jason' is the champion because has his full body.’ So, because of this they can continue their expectations that there could be another battle.”
What did you learn from directing this type of movie? ”By making this movie it has really educated me more and I have learnt more about the genre. I’ve learnt more about making Hollywood movies.”
What was your own personal favorite scene from the movie? ”I think I love the end battle between the two monsters! That for me was a total high.”
Finally, any behind-the-scenes secrets you can tell?! ”I think the amount of blood that I used,’ he laughs. ”I keep telling everybody and everybody has laughed at this story. So, I’m going to tell you this now. During the last week of pre-production and it was the last chance for everyone to ask me questions and the Special Effects guy raised his hand and wanted to ask me a very important question: ‘You gotta tell me how much blood I should order, because it has to come from L.A. and we only have one week!’ So, I asked him what he needed to know and he said, ‘Tell me by the gallon or by the pint or by what?!’ I said, don’t worry about it, just order by the barrel,” he laughs. ”So we ended up spilling like about 300 gallons!”
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
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