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THE COLLECTION, creators Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton
will be the first to tell you, is a different film. Whereas the first introduced
us to the masked madman— an almost human spider trapping his prey— in a shroud
of visual black, THE COLLECTION is an often lush, gleefully twisted affair. The
Collector, in all manner of surreal color, is on display for those who dare
enter to see.
In the film, a young woman (Emma Fitzpatrick) is taken by
The Collector amidst a bloodbath, as the original’s Arkin (Josh Stewart)
escapes. Being of wealth, Elena’s father and a team of mercenaries coerce the
newly free man to take them into the killer’s home, an abandoned hotel, constructed
to be one of horrors.
FANGORIA: THE COLLECTION is quite immediately a much more
colorful film. Was that a result of bigger budget, or rethinking visual
MARCUS DUNSTAN: We had some more toys, and it was a little
bit of all that. Also, conceptually, it just had to be a different movie. It
had to be not akin to even the first one. It had to be its own, individual
experience. We wanted to take advantage of all the trust and leeway we were given
to go off and make this, and go off into our dreams. I have such a love for
SUSPIRIA and the Technicolor system used there, and INFERNO, and I thought “What
if some action characters walked into the hotel from INFERNO and the damsel in
distress from SUSPIRIA wasn’t in so much distress all the time, and what if a
male lead had a little more middle finger in him? What if you put it in that
color palette?” So, it was only fitting to call it The Hotel Argento, because
that’s where it was coming from in our imaginations; to pay homage to that
great giallo feel. I also think, for
horror, found footage and some of the more down and dirty approaches which are
very effective on a visceral level, left a wide door open.
PATRICK MELTON: There was a lot more. If you ever want to
turn off a Hollywood executive, start talking about Italian horror movies from
the ‘70s [laughs]. So, we didn’t talk about it, we just did it. The hotel is
his lair and we didn’t want it to be like a SAW movie, kind of dirty and all
that. We’re trying to give The Collector a certain personality, and so in that
would be the way that he decorates. We tried to evolve it from the basement up
and get more colorful as he goes from “hell to heaven.” And some of it had to
do, because we had people all over the place, just distinguishing the rooms and
the levels. Another part is obviously his love for the Italian horror movies.
It’s fun, people are aware that when Lucello, they just went
into that hallway with the mannequins and at the end of that hallway is that
blinking red light. The savvy audience goes, “oh, that’s not going to be good!”
DUNSTAN: Red means dead!
FANG: While you are differentiating yourselves from the SAW
movies, there are moments in flashbacks and very quick edits that feel reminiscent.
Do you ever feel obligated to have a visual touchstone to your past, in a way?
DUNSTAN: Well, on a technical level, the look of SAW started
with a 2:40:1 matte and then became 1:85:1, 1:85:1, 1:85:1. It was also short
on film. It started out on a digital format, actually, and then graduated to
film. So, okay, they’ve done every color palette. They’ve done gold, they’ve
done rose, they’ve done emerald, so how can we take that step up and play with
color, but look different. That was the fight to do 2:40:1 anamorphic Super
35mm, and let Sam McCurdy and [camera operator and HATCHET 3 director] BJ
McDonnell operate and photograph this place.
That was a big fight, because anamorphic is tough, but it
allows you to go into the movie. You know you’re in the movie. You see the
sheen of it, those impossible, beautiful lens flares. It helped us feel bigger
and reach back to the era of the movies that we fell in love with and inspired
FANG: You mentioned INFERNO’s hotel and Argento, but
the hotel in the film also seems a callback to H.H. Holmes.
MELTON: Oh yeah, completely. I come from Chicago, so we’re
all familiar with what old H.H. used to do back in the day. That was how we
described it, I think, when we were first pitching it to the producers on what
it could be. After seeing what he’s done in this farmhouse in two hours
[laughs]. “What? How’d he do that?!” What would his house look like? It should
have these hallways that lead to brick walls and all sorts of bizarre things
and passages and such. It was interesting, because we ended up having to build
that to a certain extent. We shot at an abandoned elementary school, which is
cool because elementary schools always have those really small hallways for
little kids. So, that worked out really nice. But the first place we actually
looked at was the mansion of Asa Candler, who was the heir to Coca-Cola. He was
this really rich, eccentric guy who lived in Atlanta and had this house. It was
H.H. Holmes. He had all these weird passageways and his master bedroom was
above the ballroom so he could watch the party before he would make a dramatic
So, this house got turned into an insane asylum after,
because it was just too big; too big and ridiculous. Not an insane asylum, a
mental health facility. Emory University owns it and they just wouldn’t let us
shoot there. It was really neat, we ended up just taking the look and feel of
it and putting it in the location, the elementary school. It was probably beneficial
in the long run, because it was kind of small and it would’ve been hard to
shoot there. But, it was all inspired back to H.H. Holmes.
FANG: Not to give anything away, but there are moments
toward the end that are very playful, almost frustrating with an unmasked
Collector and what you don’t show. It feels like you enjoy keeping him at a
distance. Are you interested in exploring him in that sense and revealing more?
DUNSTAN: That’s what’s so great about Michael Myers in
HALLOWEEN. That’s what’s so great about JAWS. You’re in the water, you’re a
victim. You’re in the wrong house, you’re a victim. So, the more you know about
a killer, it sometimes really just takes the balls off the universality of
where you could be vulnerable.
MELTON: It could be deflating. We were talking about we’ve
all seen horror movies, or serial killer movies, and there’s the moment where
they get to the reveal and it’s always so deflating. “Oh, it’s that guy.”
Sometimes, when you get too deep into the origin story of your killer, you’re
telling too much. A. You’re not going to be sympathetic. “Oh, he had a shitty
childhood.” Sometimes, it’s better to keep them silent. I thought THE STRANGERS
was so effective in telling you nothing.
We knew about that during the whole development process and
the studio was so adamant that “we need to know the motivation, we need to know
the motivation” and he’s like, “No, it should just be when they ask, it’s
because you were home.” It was just chilling that you didn’t know, and then you
never saw their faces.
DUNSTAN: There could be disconnected youth targeting you
just to do it. Your Friday night was going to a buffet, watching a movie.
Theirs is destroying your life.
FANG: You guys are fantastic scenarists, but after a
multitude of SAW movies and two COLLECTORS-
MELTON: Where do we go from here?
FANG: Totally, you must hear that all the time.
DUNSTAN: A lot of it is just turning up the volume on real
life scenarios, or trying to always go back to that point where a bully poked
you in the chest and where your mind would go for what could be justifiable in
that moment. Whenever we see something we care about get hurt, how badly do we
want to stomp on that entity. The movie becomes the playground to unleash it and
to give life to that death.
MELTON: It’s also, early on trying to think of a theme, like
where it takes place. If it’s in a certain location, everything can spin out of
that. SAW 6 was supposed to be a zoo, the abandoned city zoo. It often doesn’t
become that, in the end, but there was a lot of set pieces and stuff where the
lead character is watching things through glass. So, this one, we knew we were
going to end up at this demented hotel and everything would just come out of
that. Plus, in designing we had the bottom floor as hell and then we’re getting
higher to heaven where everything is much more lush and colorful. It’s a
process, and we’ve been through it before. Sometimes, it works better than
FANG: It was nice to see the influence carry over to the
soundtrack. The mysterious Abby has a bit of an Italian theme.
DUNSTAN: Yes, we’d hang out while Charlie [Clouser] was
composing and listen to Goblin. Also, where he creates, he has all the albums
on display that he’s worked on. Sound wise, we had this goal to create the
bastard father of THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL. Literally, in the opening credits song,
you have that strong backbeat like “Closer,” and then in the end is “The Day
the World Went Away” when we take out all the dialogue and just becomes about
the looks between these two desperate people. Man, he started working on that
cue first and spent nine weeks always going back to it, taking away, putting
more in. That was masterful. He’s a guy that I think he’s still 15 years-old in
his heart. He just rocks back and forth with a cigarette and some Starbucks and
you just watch these sounds come back that are instantly a part of forever.
FANG: Abby’s cue is fantastic. She’s strange, at first. She’s
almost reminiscent of Emily in THE BEYOND.
DUNSTAN: A lovely story about Erin and how an actor can come
in and instantly own something, and educate you on how much further that character
can go. In my head, I was going to Carol Kane and a little bit of Amanda
Plummer, but it should be more delicate, it should be more frail, but there’s
something in there that when it has to get loud, it does. And so, she
auditions. She came into a room that was way too bright to think of anything
dark and she does this full bore scene. Another actress out in the lobby heard
her through the wall, picked up her pages and threw them. After that, we ended
up tripling the size of her part because she was just too good of a thread to
be an appearance. This was a character, this deserves to be that.
For more on THE COLLECTION, see Fango's review here.
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