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Q&A: Joe Dante Talks “BURYING THE EX” – Part Two

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Yesterday, we ran an interview with maverick monster movie legend Joe Dante (GREMLINS, THE HOWLING, THE BURBS) conducted while on set filming his latest twisted horror/comedy BURYING THE EX, a new zombie romance  starring Anton  Yelchin (ODD THOMAS) and Ashley Greene (TWILIGHT) in a tale of a lad who can’t get enough of his livid, living dead ex-lady love. Today, as the film premieres at the 71st Venice International Film Festival, we follow-up with the filmmaker in a new interview conducted just days ago, wherein Dante reflects on what the movie became after post-production.

FANG: So after the smoke cleared, do you think BURYING THE EX ended up leaning more towards being a comedy or a horror picture?

JOE DANTE: Sometimes it is a comedy, sometimes it isn’t. It’s really hard to say what it is. You know, when I first broke into the movies, the producers I was working for would look at the dailies and be confused. They literally would say “is it comedy or horror,” and when they were doing that, it meant I was doing something right. ..

FANG: Is there a science to that balance? Or is it organic?

DANTE:  Comedy and horror share a great kinship and now, more than ever, the tropes in horror are ripe for comedy. Something happened post-SCREAM in that now, everyone is on top of the clichés and now people see them coming. They know they’re there, they’re aware.  To play the clichés straight is more difficult, but I feel that the only way they can work is to play them straight. The more absurd the situation is, the funnier it is, but you have to let the characters react believably. Remember, in THE HOWLING we were sort of pioneers of the concept of being reflexive in that the characters didn’t need to be told what a werewolf was. They already knew from watching the Late Late Show and that was the first time anyone did that, I think.

FANG:  We just ran a feature on actor Archie Hahn in FANGORIA #335 and it was a pleasure to see him end up in your film…

DANTE: I’ve known Archie since, gosh, since we were both in CANNONBALL together.  He’s been in lots of my movies and more often than not he gets cut out. He’s been cut out of at least two of my pictures. Arhcie was in Florida when I was prepping this and he flew out on his own dime. But unlike me, he’s gotten old [laughs].

FANG:  Did BURYING THE EX end up being a particularly violent film?

DANTE: Well, it’s not super gory, but our zombies do eat people. Really, what it is, is a monster kid film, about a monster kid who has grown up. It’s far too sexual a film for a real kid but the hero is a monster kid and a horror fan and I think there will be a lot of people who like what we like that will relate to it.

FANG: The best zombie romances—from Yuzna’s RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 3 to the recent LIFE AFTER BETH—work because they have strong undercurrents of melancholy and pathos. Are those elements alive in BURYING THE EX?

DANTE: Yeah, I think we managed that. The best thing about the movie is the cast. They’re all really great and we really feel for them.  With Ashley, the trick was, “How do you make her still attractive when she is a zombie?” I mean, she’s so gorgeous that it’s hard to make her unattractive, and she has this voracious sexual appetite and she can be both funny and scary. And we genuinely care about her, I think.  You know, we did this film quickly and without much money, but the screenings have been great and people are responding really well. I’m really happy with it.

BURYING THE EX is currently playing the 71st Venice International Film Festival. Keep an eye on Fango for more on the film. 

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About the author
Chris Alexander
Author, film critic, teacher, musician and filmmaker (not to mention failed boxer) Chris Alexander is the editor-in-chief of FANGORIA Magazine. He got his first professional break as the “Schizoid Cinephile” in the pages of Canadian horror film magazine RUE MORGUE before making the move to FANGO in 2007. His words have appeared in The Toronto Star, Metro News, Wired, Montage, The Dark Side, Tenebre and many other notable publications and he appears regularly on international television and radio.
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