Friday, November 03, 2006

Eric Red Returns

Eric Red wrote some of the best B-movies of all time: Near Dark, The Hitcher and, particularly, Cohen and Tate - which bridges the narrow gap between Larry Cohen and Quentin Tarantino quite beautifully. Red has a way with pulpy material, often putting a sinister, sometimes nihilistic twist on genre norms until his scenes become genuinely mysterious and frightening. The tone of his work is often fairly threatening, and while films can't really be scary ("It's only a movie" don't you know?), Eric Red has regularly managed to fill his scripts with troubling ideas and disturbing inventions that would make for the most memorable nightmares. And I think that putting these bleak thoughts and fears down on paper could well have been as cathartic for the author as for the audience - in fact, likely more so.

The strange twist in the story of Eric Red, however, shouldn't be overlooked. I already related a link to the LA Weekly in this blog, but I simply have to link to the story again. In case you don't have the time to read the whole thing now, before going on, here's the precis from Wikipedia (as of 4.50pm GMT on 3rd November 2006):

On May 31, 2000, Red was involved in an automobile accident on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. Red, driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee, hit the back of a stopped Honda Accord at a red light. When the driver got out to speak to Red, the Jeep began driving forward, propelling the damaged car into the intersection.

Due to the emergency brake, a passenger was able to escape. The Jeep then crossed Wilshire, hit a bus stop and a waiting rider, and then crashed through the window of a billiards bar. One patron was fatally crushed against the bar by the Jeep. There were few indications that the Jeep had braked at any point, and Red seemed lucid immediately afterward, but then tried to commit suicide at the scene, and has since claimed to have suffered a blackout.

Following a lawsuit filed by the relatives of the deceased, a judge determined that Red acted intentionally in driving into the pub "in a fit of uncontrollable rage," causing the deaths of the two men.

Now, this is not the kind of event that all scriptwriters have been present at, let alone taken part in, or more to the point, maybe, caused. The LA Weekly article actually finds a number of (debatable) comparisons between the details of this tragedy and the content of Red's screenplays (and I've even been wondering how much of Tarantino's Death Proof has been inspired by these events).

the news has broken that Eric Red is to make a new movie, directing 100 Feet from his own script. The scoop is up at Jo Blo's Arrow in the Head site - to which Red is a contributor. The synopsis they offer tells us that "A young woman, Marnie Watson, is granted early release from her prison sentence for manslaughter (killing her husband – a violent NYC cop – in self defense) on condition she wear an electronic ankle bracelet and remain within her home... for the remainder of her sentence."

Her late husband’s partner keeps tabs on her from a patrol car parked across the street, hoping she’ll violate probation and he can send her back to prison. But the 100-foot radius her ankle bracelet allows isn’t the worst of her problems. Her dead husband --now a malevolent ghost--is still in the house, where he died -- intent on savage revenge."

I'm not surprised at all to see this as the next Eric Red project, but I do wonder what the amateur psychoanalysts out there (either reading this or writing for LA Weekly) make of that plot. Have the trials and torments of the last six years manifest themselves as a screenplay?

Arrow in the Head have more info, straight from Red's mouth, but as they are calling it exclusive, I suggest you hop over there to read it and not get me in trouble by twisting my arm until I cut and paste it here. Not even the bit about the filming being set for Hungary, or the scenes of "visceral horror".

Even if I admit mixed feelings about all of this, just like I'd 'feel funny' watching a film directed by Ian Brady or Mary Bell, don't be mistaken - I expect 100 Feet to be a very strong B-movie when it's finished. But the question remains: will I be more disturbed by what I see on screen, or by my knowledge that the film's director once deliberately drove his car headlong into a crowded bar, then tried to slit his throat in front of whatver bar staff and customers were still standing?

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