Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton are two twisted guys. If you don't believe me, just check out the red band clip from their new horror film The Collection. In just six short minutes, there's enough blood, guts, and gore for three horror movies.
Fortunately, Dunstan and Melton are also friendly, funny, and have a terrific knowledge of horror movie history. Recently, I had the opportunity to meet the pair, as well as The Collection stars Josh Stewart and Emma Fitzpatrick, to discuss the film and how it's different from 2009's The Collector.
SR: With The Collection, you were able to come back to revisit the characters and revisit the story with a little bit more budget. How has that changed the scope of the story? What are you able to do in terms of effects, big set pieces, and how have the characters evolved in the second film?
Marcus Dunstan: I'd like to throw the character question straight to these two [Stewart and Fitzpatrick], because there was no movie with 'The Collector' if there wasn't Josh Stewart and Arkin. Because that movie was allotted something that you don't see anywhere in horror, which was 15 minutes to devote to the character. We had two seven minute scenes and one minute of peppering throughout the farm house. Normally, in a horror movie, you get enough to go, "Oh what's his name...? Oh, he's dead anyway."
So in this one, the sequel took advantage of knowing some things about Arkin, but, as writers, we were like, "No, no, no. We've got to play ball like this guy has never existed before." So it's once again a fulfilling experience and he has to have a full arc again.
Far too often, sequels feel like an endless middle because the character has already been set up and they just keep going in the same state of mind - "Well, I'm scared of him. But then in the third act, I finally figure out how to use a gun and maybe shoot him, but he's still alive."
Josh Stewart: Character-wise, it does completely stand separate. If you watch the first one, the character has a complete arc there. Into the second, there's a complete arc there. You could use the first to -
Patrick Melton: [interrupting] Arc-in?
Emma Fitzpatrick: [Sarcastic] Oh, see what he did?
SR: That's why you're the writer. It's the theme bubbling up.
JS: So you can use the first movie as sort of backstory, like personal preparation for the second movie, from a character standpoint. There's a little bit of the bull getting the best of you in the first movie, and the second time around I get to go back and get my payback so to speak. But, with that said, it still stands completely alone and separate from the first.
PM: 'The Collector: Vengeance,' that was the old title.
SR: In terms of set pieces and upping the ante for the actual production, just looking at the opening scene [the above clip], you did some pretty messed up stuff.
MS: Well, thank you!
PM: The first one was really hard. We just never had enough money, never had enough time. We were giving back salary just so we could shoot on film as opposed to video and for simple things like finishing the day, or getting certain songs that we wanted. We had probably four or five additional photography sessions after the first film was done because we had about 75% of the movie done and we had to do more back in L.A. And it wasn't like a glamorous reshoot. It was like, "Hey Josh, can you come out to Apple Valley?"
MS: "Drive yourself."
PM: "Bring some food, do some craft service." And it was like someone shoots a hose in the air and says, "Josh, run!" then we chase him with a camera.
At this point in our interview, Patrick called a time-out so we could say hi to Rowdy "Roddy" Piper who was passing through. After taking a moment to say hi (and realizing my childhood dream of entering the "Piper's Pit"), we resumed the interview.
SR: So you have to go back and do reshoots on The Collector...
PM: Not reshoots, like there were literally scenes that were missing chunks.
MS: That precious 15 minutes of character development? There was a moment where Josh and I were in the trailer looking at the schedule going, "Really? In a 19-day shoot, you've allotted two hours, and we have to shoot in a doorway, the entire backstory."
We were like, "How much?" "How much what?" "How much to buy the scene?"
We figured out the dollar amount to buy the scene from the company to do it on our own. Josh drove himself out to Apple Valley and over two days, in a big set that we took over, that's what it took to do seven pages and develop a character. And it was great. Then, all of a sudden, what do you know? The ripple effect of that is that you care.
SR: And you have a better movie and are able to make a sequel.
PM: Yeah, so this one we had more money, but...mo' money mo' problems.
EF: Oh God.
EF: I'm taking out my phone so I can tweet what you just said.
PM: But the truth of that is that suddenly your eyes are bigger and you're able to have more toys, but we still had the same problems. There's inevitably not enough time, not enough days. It seems pretty big in scope, but $10 million isn't that much money. That's like craft services on 'Jurassic Park,' you know. And they eat a lot on that movie.
EF: [Laughs] Yeah, the dinosaurs eat so much.
SR: Emma, you had a role in The Social Network. Was it a big change of pace to go from a sort of prestige picture to having blood and body parts dumped on you?
EF: It was a huge change of pace, but this was also my first chance to carry a film. And what a gift to get to do it with these guys, and I mean that with no sarcasm at all.
MD: Well, she defined herself as a character that wouldn't be the under dressed lady, where you're waiting for her top to get wet and all that crap. She was like, "I'm going to be somebody that can save her own ass and not wait for the boys."
SR: I would have died immediately.
SR: If I could transport myself into the movie, I'm certain I would have died. In the first trap. The movie is actually a little hard to get into, because I'm like,"Nope, I'd die." I can't tap into this reserve of strength that these characters have.
EF: You just would have been dancing.
SR: Yeah, like "Screw it. I don't care."
EF: "This E is amazing!"
The Collection comes out this weekend. For information on Dunstan and Melton's other projects, including God of War and Pacific Rim, check out the other half of this interview. You should also check out last week's episode of the Screen Rant Underground Podcast, which featured Marcus Dunstan as a special guest.