A couple of years ago, Hughesy sent some questions to Scott Glosserman, the mind behind quite possibly one of the best slashers of all time, Behind The Mask: The Rise Of Leslie Vernon. With news developing last week of a possible movement on a long awaited sequel, we checked our HCF records and found that this interview was somehow missing from our vaults!
As the very talented Mr Glosserman, kindly gave up his time to answer some questions, we find it quite rude that we somehow can’t find it anymore, so Hughesy has gone digging into his old files and has decided its best to re-post it, especially as fans are now waiting for the return of Leslie Vernon once more:
HCF INTERVIEWS SCOTT GLOSSERMAN
Hughesy: Welcome Scott to Horror CultFilms First of all can we say how honoured that you have found time to answer a few questions. Have to ask because I have been dying to do this inter view for a while, How was your vacation?
Scott Glosserman: Glorious. Got married and took an impromptu honeymoon, eating our way through Northern Spain.
Hughesy: So I guess you are feeling refreshed and full of energy so are you ready to talk about one certain film?
Scott Glosserman: JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN? Not so much.
Hughesy: First of all a deep apology off me personally. I am known on HCF as being the Slasher fanatic, I am in the process of doing a full Slasherthon, a review of every single slash film ever made. You can guess that is going to take a few year s (laughs)and it was because I was scanning some slash films that I came across BEHIND THE MASK-The Rise Of Leslie Vernon, a film that came out over six years ago yet only now I stumbled across it. How I missed it is a huge shock and I thought if I ever had a chance to talk to you then I need to apologies, so I am sorry, I hope you forgive me?
Scott Glosserman: It’s great, actually. So, now you AND my mom have seen it. Fabulous.
Hughesy Please tell our readers what BEHIND THE MASK is all about?
Scott Glosserman: BEHIND THE MASK is a mockumentary about the next great psycho-slasher (note: serial killers are different. See MAN BITES DOG). The movie takes place in a world where Freddy and Mike and Jay exist. And when they’re not working they’re just like you and me. Kind of. Anyhow, the movie is really a respectful, celebratory deconstruction of the true conventions and archetypes of the slasher-horror.
Hughesy: The reason I came across BEHIND THE MASK is because it comes in many and I mean many lists of best slashers ever made and it always seems to be in the Top 10, that must be a tremendous feeling for you, a film to have such love and critical acclaim?
Scott Glosserman: It is often times surprising, but exciting. Encouraging, but bittersweet. Flattering, but awkward.
Hughesy: I was like ” What is this film?” because I pride myself on trying to watch every single horror that gets released and over the years I have been shouting from the r oof tops about MaleVolence, an unheard Slash film by Stevan Mena. So when Isaw this BEHIND THE MASK title so high above many great films, I thought it was impossible to be that good, so I actually bought it on that night of discovery and had next day delivery. Of course as soon has the DVD arrived I watched it and I could not believe what I was seeing. Can you guess the moment of the film when you made my horror heart melt full of appreciation and love?
Scott Glosserman: Hmm. Was it…I’m gonna throw something out from near the beginning. Was it Church and Zoe? I mean, wouldn’t those two turtles melt anyone’s heart?
Hughesy: Haha, no but nearly….It was in the first five minutes when Taylor Gentry (Angela Goethals) showed us Haddonfield, Camp Crystal Lake and Elm Street, it was right at this moment when I knew I was beginning to watch something really special. Such a clever concept, informing the viewer that these three icons of horror were actually real life and the world was awaiting for the next bogyman to be born. How did you come up with such a fantastic original idea in a genre that really has bled itself dry over the years?
Scott Glosserman: Well, the irony is that I had to look to post-modernism to be original. That’s how derivative our genre had gotten (with a few key exceptions – SAW being the most obvious. Later, THE DESCENT and MAY, PAN’S, etc…).
But it WAS time for someone to offer a love note to horror by way of illustrating some of the more sophisticated themes and conventions to whomever would listen. This genre is often times dismissed as superficial dreck (and, admittedly, some of it is), but at its best, horror provides some of the most compelling social and political commentary to be found. I was hoping to indirectly remind film critics of that and to reassure horror fans.
Those shooting locations are actually walking distance from my house (Not Crystal Lake. I sent my production designer out to my old summer camp in Maine during the winter to shoot “Crystal Lake”). When I did some research into where the Haddonfield house and where the Elm Street house were I was floored. I nearly pass by Haddonfield every day (Orange Grove just north of Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood.
Hughesy: It must have been easy to get the finance for this movie with such a brilliant concept, considering many same old slash films get released each week, I would be stunned if the studios were not begging to be involved?
Scott Glosserman: The studios were not begging to be involved.
It used to be that the production department at a studio would green light a film, then tell the marketing department to figure out how to sell it. These days the marketing department green lights a film and tells the production department to figure out how to make it. The marketing departments looks for slam dunks like big star-driven comedies or derivative fare (ie: scripts with underlying material such as comic book movies, toys, children’s books, etc.). So, original screenplays are tough because they don’t come with any elements ‘attached’. Genre hybrids are, historically, nearly impossible to get made because a marketing department doesn’t want to/need to take a risk on figuring out how to sell them. BEHIND THE MASK, being a horror and a comedy, suffered that no-man’s-land fate.
Thusly, one of the things I’m most proud of is that we, along with a spattering of other horror/comedies, opened up a new sub-genre. I think BEHIND THE MASK (’06) and SHAWN OF THE DEAD (’04) and SLITHER (’06) and SNAKES ON A PLANE (’06) and HATCHET (’06) provided a lighter entrée to the second half of the decade, the first being rightfully dominated by the helpless, hopelessness and despair of the post 9/11 torture-porn horror fare, giving way to the sub-genre’s crowning achievement, ZOMBIELAND (’09).
Hughesy: How did you come to cast Mr Leslie Vernon himself-Nathan Baesel, an actor who clearly deserved more credit in the horror field for such a brilliant unique performance?
Scott Glosserman: Nathan came into the auditions like everyone else. But, he was unlike anyone else.
Hughesy: Robert Englund of course was the eye catching name above the title, how hard was it to convince the great man or did he see the special quality of the script straight away?
Scott Glosserman: I was hopeful that, if Robert were to read the script having received it within the context of a sense of credibility, that he’d respond to it, positively. The trick was to figure out a way to get it to him at a high enough level to where he’d take a serious look at it. So, I brought in a company to executive produce called Code Entertainment, because one of the partners, Al Corley, was something of a mentor of mine. With executive producers, I gave my little outfit an air of legitimacy and I also was able to have Al get the script to Robert through Robert’s agent. That was enough to convince Robert to take a serious look at it, and I guess it paid off!
Hughesy: Its amazing that in each scene there seems to be such a clever nod to films of old. While Scream probably made this vice popular for this generation, it seemed more in your face from Ghostface. BEHIND THE MASK does it in a more gentle way, that you seem to discover more on each watch. Only once you actually go for the big gag and that was the ” girls in white dresses and skipping” in the school scene which was a clever Elm St riff. The rest of the clever in-jokes were more reserved, I loved the RED RABBIT reference and little moments like the ” Stay Awake” bottle and the name of the turtles. How did you manage to come up with all these, I mean it was only on the third watch I noticed a small thing called the Lament Configuration.
Scott Glosserman: My intent was to run the gamut of references from blatant to obscure in order to please the casual horror fan as well as the most discerning horror aficionado. We had a lot of fun with those. There’s more where that came from…
Hughesy: Does all these references suggest that you are a massive fan of horror ? I would ask you which one is you favourite but there are so many clues in BEHIND THEMASK, I can probably take a guess and say its The Shining? Its not because of the giveaway clues like a certain name but the use of the colour yellow and a certain song, I am not going into this more in case I am way wrong? (Laughs)
Scott Glosserman: Way to spot the use of yellow! Yellow, in some Native American tribes, symbolized sacrifice. Kubrick used yellow, prominently, to show us what the sacrifice meant in THE SHINING. I paid homage to that by dressing the sacrificial librarian in yellow, among other things. The SHINING is, indeed, my favorite film. I could go into it more, but I wrote my college thesis on the film and then explicated much of it in BEHIND THE MASK, so there you go!
Hughesy: BEHIND THE MASK was refreshing because it did not dive into the wave of this all gore porn that seems to be the main thrust of horror these days, was this your intention from the off, to become a more Halloween (the original) than say a Jason bloodbath?
Scott Glosserman: My intention was to harken back to the early ‘80s when the slasher franchises really took off. The terror in those films was all about the anticipation of a kill. The kill (or attempt at a kill), itself, was rather mundane (e.g. a coat hanger to the eye in a dark enough area to not see any blood – HALLOWEEN).
Lots of running and hiding. Creeping and sneaking. Doors opening and bodies falling out. Then a few signature moments (e.g. Kevin Bacon taking the knife through the chest in FRIDAY THE 13TH). So, that’s the type of horror I was alluding to – from our film format (16mm gave us the graininess that harkened back to those films) to the shooting style (remember those shots behind Michael Myers in the front yard looking into the house? Chilling!).
Hughesy: I believe looking back that BEHIND THE MASK was one of the first docu horrors in which we do not see much of the cameraman? I believe its only when we cut from the documentary feel to full on Slasher that we see Doug. This is something that probably only Cloverfield has done since, how did the actor Ben Pace feel when you told him that for the majority of the film he be just a voice to the viewer s.
Scott Glosserman: That’s really funny you should bring up Ben, specifically. Let’s just say it wasn’t the easiest, trying to explain my vision to him of being revealed only when the movie became omniscient, but not during the docu parts, themselves. Ben kept cheating his face towards the camera and I had to yell, “No Pace Face!” – it became a running joke.
Hughesy: There are some surreal moments in the film that made me shake my head with awe. I am serious Scott when I say this film is one of my favourite of all time. After like I did with many other films, I told a few mates who always go by what I say and they rushed out to get it. What we all shared in agreement is the brilliant way you set up the cliché moments of Slasher . You know the moments when the lights go out, the weapons that fall apart The scene where Leslie tells us how the bogymen make these things happen was outstanding, did you realise that by doing these moments you would make fans like myself never look at a film like Friday 13th in the same light again (laughs)
Scott Glosserman: Thank you! I think I knew that since I was elucidating for the audiences the true, no-kidding conventions and archetypes of the slasher horror genre, then whether the audience loved the movie or hated it, they would not be able to watch the classic slasher films without a heightened sense of awareness as to what was going on, sub- textually. Now, I hoped (and still do) that I’ve elevated their experiences when they revisit those films, not ruined them…
Hughesy: I suppose as I have got older , horror films do not scare me anymore but saying that I watched Halloween when I was only 5 years old, so no film has got to me like that Carpenter film. What gets me going now is moments of a real freaky nature. BEHIIND THE MASK sums up a feeling like this in one brilliant scene, its when Leslie becomes the guy he wanted to be, silent and deadly, its like there is no going back when he is in this zone. It made the film for a moment have this very haunted feel, are you glad you had this effect on many considering its very hard to make an impact on slash fans these days?
Scott Glosserman: If I succeeded in doing that, then I am thrilled. Truly. When we shot the scene where Leslie gets into his ‘staging area’ on the second floor, and he gears up, alone, we were all crammed into the next room, quiet as can be, watching on a monitor. We were watching the movie, real time! All of us, holding our collective breath, not making a sound. After Leslie says, “Time to dance with the devil,” and I’d cut, we could feel the relief. It was an intense scene and, tonally, we were taken to a dark place. I felt then, for the first time, that I’d shot a scene that viscerally disturbed people. Myself included.
Hughesy: I can not do an interview with out asking our talented guests the famous three HCF inter view questions so Scott can you please tell us one interesting fact about yourself?
Scott Glosserman: Interesting to whom? (For those who don’t find the following interesting, I also maintain a kickass vegetable garden.) So, spring semester, senior year in high school, I taught a class on Quentin Tarantino, where I pointed out all the references and homages from RESERVOIR DOGS and TRUE ROMANCE (speaking of which, what are the two board games in view during the scene in which Eric Stoltz/Travolta administer the adrenaline shot to Uma Thurman?). For our last class, we all snuck off to watch PULP FICTION, which was on its final legs, playing at a cinema draft house that no longer exists.
Hughesy: If you had a chance to spend the evening in a pub talking movies with any director, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Scott Glosserman: At the moment it’d be Terrence Malick. There’s so much I want to ask him. But, that’s between us…
Hughesy: Who are your influences?
Scott Glosserman: Too many to write!
Hughesy: Back to BEHIND THE MASK and the most important part of the slash formula is the mask. Were you proud of the final design and how did you come up with the look?
Scott Glosserman: I was really pleased with the mask. We spent a great deal of time and effort on the mask, the costume, the music – all of the iconic imagery that defines the slasher genre. For the mask, we drew inspiration from photos of fetal faces. I know. Disgusting. But, well, I think the symbolism is justifiable.
Hughesy: I suppose you can liken the film to say From Dusk Till Dawn in which we have two films for the price of one. The first part is a reality TV Show and then the second half was a full blown slasher and it works brilliantly, but was you tempted at first to stick to just the documentary feel?
Scott Glosserman: The goal was always to explain how something was going to be done and then to show it being paid off in classic slasher style.
Hughesy: I talked about Robert but you also had Zelda Rubinstien in what I believed sadly was her last role, I bet that was a huge honor ?
Scott Glosserman: It was. Absolutely.
Hughesy: Also Scott Wilson was brilliant but I have to ask you, that scene of him sleeping underground was a gag that went straight over my head, please explain why he did that?
Scott Glosserman: These guys have to lay low when the heat is on them, so some of them actually choose to lay low – underground. Also, it’s psycho slashers’ way of keeping physically fit. You know, basketball players work on their vertical, these guys have to work on playing dead. I mean, they get killed a lot.
Hughesy: Was the wife Jamie named after a certain Halloween actress?
Scott Glosserman: Indeed!
Hughesy: Great use of ” Psycho Killer ” at the end, I mean all Slash fans were expecting that to happen before we even got to the climax but you done the final ” he is alive!” cliché so originally, damn even thinking about it makes me want to watch the film again!, did you choose the most perfect song himself?
Scott Glosserman: Thanks! Psycho Killer was a song that carried a ton of significance for my university crew of hooligans. From the get-go, I needed that song to be in the movie. I wasn’t expecting to be given the rights to use the song in its entirety, so until I received approval, I didn’t know where I’d be able to use it. When I was told I could use the whole song (after waiting over a year for an answer), it was one of the happiest moments of the entire process of making the film.
Hughesy: So we get to the end. The credits go up, I am sitting there and all I want to see is the sequel. Its been five years Scott, this is a film that is in many official top ten lists of all time best slash films, even Urban Legend had two sequels (laughs), in normal occasions I should be inter viewing you questions on BEHIND THE MASK pt 4:Leslie gets Punked!, why the long wait?
Scott Glosserman:There have been many, many factors that have contributed to the long wait. And, I suppose we are still waiting. We continue to try to find funding for the spreemake. (This is a sequel-prequel-remake. Ergo, ‘spreemake’.)
Hughesy: Who is coming back, is Englund signed and maybe Angela Goethals? I suppose Nathan is already on boar d?
Scott Glosserman: The entire cast is eager to return. No one is signed because we haven’t green-lit the movie, but we have verbal intentions from everyone.
Hughesy: Does it frustrate you that a film like The Last Exorcism which is similar to yours has already being green lit for a sequel and you are still waiting?
Scott Glosserman: No. It wouldn’t do me any good to take a temperature read of others or of other films and to compare myself or my film to them. That’s time, wasted.
Hughesy: Another thing that maybe went against BEHIND THE MASK is the timing. Over the last year , well since Paranormal Activity went huge, this found footage genr e is all the r age, and because of the way BEHIND THE MASK is, it would fit perfect in today’s market, but then again what would you rather ? a film that is just waiting to be discovered and when it is, instantly loved? or would you have rather have seen it topped the box office? Its a tricky question because the appeal of your film is that its out there just waiting to be found, a bit like last year s House Of The Devil!
Scott Glosserman: A utilitarian question: Would I rather deliver some joy to lots of people or lots of joy to some people? Hmm. How about I direct an insanely successful commercial box office crusher and then I’ll revisit the question and let you know?
Hughesy: What is the plan for the future?
Scott Glosserman: I’d like to reinvent the way films are distributed, theatrically.
Hughesy: I really hope Scott that I get to interview you soon over BEHIND THE MASK pt 2, its the only slash film I want to see get made now and not only do I thank your for taking up your valuable time in doing this interview for us at HCF, but for making a film that is one of the greatest in the long running genre. Good luck for the futur e and I wish you well!
Scott Glosserman: You are very kind. I appreciate you shining a light on BEHIND THE MASK and on our endeavor to make the next one.
Check out Hughesy’s review of Behind The Mask: