“The Person You Put Up There Ain’t the Person That Comes Back”: Directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer on Pet Sematary

The filmmaking tandem of Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer (the team behind Starry Eyes) talk about their new version of Pet Sematary in my latest piece for Filmmaker Magazine.

Here’s Kölsch on how the filmmakers began working together decades ago as teenagers on Long Island:

Kölsch: We’re from the same area and knew people in common, so we’d see each other at parties or on the basketball court. As far as working together, we were both already writing on our own [before we became friends]. I had just written a script for a screenwriting class when I ran into Dennis at a mutual friend’s house. Our friend was like “Dennis, you write scripts? Kevin wrote a script too.” I lived around the corner, so we walked over to my house and I showed Dennis some stuff. From there we started showing each other our work and giving each other feedback.

We decided that while our other friends were getting together and drinking on Friday nights, we’d try to be productive. So we’d get together, bring our word processors, get some beers and play some music to make it fun. We’d work on pages of our scripts and at the end of the night we’d show each other and give feedback. That turned into helping each other—like if one of us got stuck on a scene, he’d turn to the other and say “I’ve got a problem.” So slowly we started contributing to each other’s scripts and eventually it was like “Why aren’t we just writing these together?”

And here’s Widmyer on the decision for “Jud” actor John Lithgow to not attempt the Maine accent used by Fred Gwynne in the original film:

Widmyer: That was an ongoing back-and-forth with John. At first he was up for it, but then he read the book and saw that our interpretation in the script was different. In the book King leans more into the folksiness of Jud and the locality of him. He’s like the quintessential Maine character. But [the accent] is kind of a no-win situation. If you nail it, you’re going to sound like Fred Gwynne, and if you don’t nail it, then you don’t sound like Fred Gwynne, who did a pretty good job with it.

John actually knew Fred. They’d been in a play together and he’d always joke that Fred was the only actor that was ever taller than him, because Fred was 6’5″ and John is 6’4″. He has a lot of respect for Fred Gwynne and so he purposefully didn’t watch the first film. We talked about it a lot and John tried the accent in the read-through and we all thought it was great, but in the end we left the decision up to John. He decided to go his own way and we were actually really happy that he did.

Pic of the Day – On the set of the original Pet Sematary (1989)

Pet Sematary behind the scenes

(Above) Actor Brad Greenquist in the makeup chair for his role as rotting corpse/guardian angel Victor Pascow in the original Pet Sematary (1989). A remake from Starry Eyes directors Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kölsch arrives this week.

Both films are based on Stephen King’s 1983 novel, which was inspired by a similarly misspelled graveyard for neighborhood pets located near a house that King rented in 1978 while teaching at the University of Maine.

We made you! A French Maximum Overdrive (1986) poster

Maximum Overdrive french poster

“The problem with (Maximum Overdrive) is that I was coked out of my mind all through its production, and I really didn’t know what I was doing.” – Stephen King, from the 2003 book Hollywood’s Stephen King by Tony Magistrale

Stephen King’s lone directorial venture Maximum Overdrive unleashed its sentient lawnmowers, pop machines, and goblin-faced trucks upon cinemagoers back on July 25th of 1986. The film was based on a short story by King that was first published in the July 1973 issue of Cavalier magazine and later included in King’s short story anthology Skeleton Crew (1978). Like Firestarter (1984)Cat’s Eye (1985), and Silver Bullet (1985)Maximum Overdrive was shot in and around Wilmington, North Carolina and produced by Dino De Laurentiis. David Lynch’s Blue Velvet – also produced by De Laurentiss – was filming at the same time in the same North Carolina town.

Behind the Scenes: Carrie (2013)

Carrie #6The website ScreenSlam has posted a trio of behind the scenes production videos of Kimberly Peirce’s “reimagining” of Carrie. Below are a few screen grabs from those videos offering a glimpse into how the film was made. They’re a bit fuzzy because the behind the scenes camera is handheld and therefore moving, but worth it to get a peek at some of the camera and lighting set-ups. (continue for more pics) Continue Reading ›

Behind the scenes stills, posters and more from Brian De Palma’s original Carrie (1976)

Carrie poster #2 (#25)

“I’ve made so many films and people still keep saying “The Horror Genre.” They never seem like horror films to me! Horror films are “Hammer Films” — vampires and Frankenstein. I love those pictures, but I don’t feel it’s exactly what I’m doing…” – Brian De Palma in a 1977 issue Cinefantastique

One of the arguments in the case against director (and noted Alfred Hitchcock fetishist) Brian De Palma is that De Palma is a cold formalist who places the style of his intricate set pieces above the human beings within them. Which is why it’s so surprising that De Palma’s 1976 version of Carrie is filled with significantly more empathy than the recent remake from director Kimberly Peirce, the humanist behind Boys Don’t Cry. (continue reading) Continue Reading ›