Welcome to the first Scare Magazine Interview Series with The Wasteland Reviewer!
This episode focuses on Shudder Original Film V/H/S/94 is now streaming exclusively on Shudder.
Thank you so much, Jennifer, for joining me to talk a little bit about V/H/S/94.
Jennifer: Thanks for having me. Very nice to meet you.
I always like to start off by asking about how you got involved in the project.
Jennifer: I got involved actually pretty late in the process. It was this spring and Josh Goldblum and Brad Miska, two of the producers contacted me when David Bruckner, who’s also been involved in the VHS world for a long time, got pulled off of VHS 94 to direct Hellraiser. David was supposed to direct the wrap around for V/H/S/94. Then, you know, Pinhead came calling and they needed to find a new director. And I don’t know if they had lots of people they talked to before me, but when Josh and Brad called, I was really curious. They had two versions of the wraparound script, one that David Bruckner had written, and I think the other one had been written by Simon Barrett, neither one of them were quite fleshed out. I mean, they both did have this you know, a kind of a SWAT team raiding, what they thought was drugs super lab. And so I said that I would love to be involved, I was dying to, to make another film in general, you know, over just the quarantine year, everything shut down. I thought it would be a really cool opportunity to be part of a much more kind of commercial franchise than I had been that I’d ever been connected with. But I wanted to also kind of take a stab, so to say, at kind of revising the scripts that David and Simon had written and so I said, okay. Honestly, the Rattma had been already shot, and Simon and Ryan’s were, I think, getting ready to go into production or in the middle of production when they contacted me. So, the train had left the station by the time that I had to jump on it.
I know, for me personally, this was my first ever V/H/S film watching. So, I hadn’t seen any of the previous ones. And it starts right off with a very specific feel to it. Felt very much like watching a VHS back in the 90s. And really had that feel to launching into the film, and what were some of the inspirations that you brought into your section of the film that you were able to direct?
Jennifer: So, my inspiration wasn’t another found footage film. It was another Canadian film. I mean, this isn’t a Canadian film, but we did shoot in Canada. My influence was more like David Cronenberg’s Videodrome. I’m a Cronenberg fan in general, but I just think that that film is so is, you know, so kind of ahead of its time. And when I was brought in, or asked, you know, if I was interested in becoming part of, you know, I immediately wanted to make something that felt kind of meta to the V/H/S universe, and, you know, try to answer the question of like, who is really making all these tapes? Or how do these tapes get into the world, and very coincidentally, I had just rewatched Videodrome, like, the week before, Josh contacted me, and I thought, “Oh, this could be really interesting”, to make something where the drugs, so to say, or the drug lab, or the drug make being made in the drug lab is actually something like the video signal itself and I just thought even contemporarily, my kids don’t know what a VHS tape is, but they are somehow I think, addicted to still something like, I mean, it’s a digital signal now, you know, but I mean, they’re just constantly glued to their phones watching moving images. I just thought it would be that it was it was right for the time. But it was, but it also I thought could resonate now just in the way that we’re sort of addicted still to the signal.
Absolutely. And I could definitely see that kind of Cronenberg feel to it. And it’s such an interesting idea because Videodrome is a very unique film and obviously has its own places for videos and its story and definitely having that kind of feel. And that was definitely really shocking things like watching that film being so visceral and you seeing what’s really going on behind the scenes with that. Obviously, this was a project that had a lot of moving pieces, a lot of people being involved. And so, Jennifer, what is the thing that you enjoyed most about being a part of making this film?
Jennifer: Well, I’ve never done an anthology like this. I’ve made so many short films in in my life, probably more short films than most, most people have made films. And I had those short films, screen, for instance, in programs with other short films, and I got to meet the filmmakers, but obviously being part of an anthology is quite different. And so it was I like so much the work of the other filmmakers. So it was, I mean, we didn’t ever have a conversation about you know, before I did well, before I did my section, we did have a conversation. But it was not so much about how to how to collaborate or where we collaborated, because they really still are very distinctive shorts and short films. But I would say that the best part was working with Simon and Ryan and Chloe and Timo, they’re just very interesting humans and very interesting filmmakers.
At the end of the day, it’s so interesting to when you’re thinking about anthology film, because it’s like, what makes it not just a bunch of short films strung together just paired together and having that through line and what really brings it together, so essential, and, but there’s a very unique and interesting way of stringing all these different ideas together, because I know sitting and watching pretty terrifying, some of these different shorts and different stories that are a part of this particular film. And, you know, being able to be a part of that. And I always like to ask, it’s like, obviously, it’s like, you put a lot into this, it’s like, this is your part of your creation here. What’s the one thing that you’re like, this is why people should go out and watch V/H/S/94?
Jennifer: Oh, gosh. Well, I mean, aside from it being scary movie season, you know, and so I think everyone is looking for some new movie pics, and there’s plenty of great vintage horror to watch. But this kind of does both, right? It’s like both a brand new film and also kind of pays homage to, you know, some vintage horror. I mean, I think that V/H/S/94 does very much feel like if you are like a vintage horror fan, I’m not gonna name names necessarily, but if you like, kind of classic, or I think that, but you’re still looking for something that that has just come out it’s like, that’s the, it’s a perfect combination. Yeah, because it’s like, sometimes it’s great to just sit back and watch something you’ve watched like, a dozen times and just enjoy that, especially, you know, it’s October.
It’s like you have Shudder and there are so many of things to choose from. Sometimes it’s nice to watch something fresh and new. That’s like, I don’t know what’s going to happen here. And that’s always the big fun about being scared, right? It’s like you don’t know what’s going come next.
Jennifer: That’s right. And I said, I think that sometimes in anthology not just as a maker, but I think sometimes anthologies as a consumer, either like you love them or you are I think that I think that the V/H/S franchise has a lot of super fans. I would say that it actually has a lot of super haters. I mean people who kind of like love to hate the V/H/S franchise, or hate to love it or something like that. But I think in general, you know, if you love if you love an anthology, if you love a horror anthology this is one with some familiar faces, you know like Simon, and then Timo and then you know, Ryan and Chloe and I are kind of like new, you know, new to new to the franchise, obviously. And I think that, you know, I think it’s significant that there are two women writers and directors involved and V/H/S/94 and you know from draft experience that there’s lots and lots of horror and genre super fans that are women, you know who, who want to, you know, who will watch all of who will watch anything and everything. But you know, I hope we have also been, you know, waiting for some women to be attached to V/H/S/94 behind the camera. And that’s exciting too.
When you’re thinking about especially with like, anthologies. You could have such a diverse group of people coming together creatively and bringing different perspectives to it. I really appreciate this kind of film because like you mentioned this before, where it feels vintage and like, having grown up in the 90’s and watched old VHS tapes from the 90s. Like, it feels like you’re watching something from the 90s on a VHS and thinking about like, I know you talked a little bit about some of those like you could watch some of those horror films that you love. What are some of your favorite horror films that you like to put on come October time around Halloween?
Jennifer: Well, I feel like I go all the way back to something that’s not that’s maybe not considered like a horror, but I do think it’s a ghost story, which is Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca. I mean, that’s a real old one. I love Rebecca. I love the 78 version of Carrie so much. I love Rosemary’s Baby. I love the first Halloween. I’m a big Cronenberg fan. So you know The Fly. I mean Dead Ringers isn’t sort of like that old and it’s also maybe a different kind of a different kind of genre film. It’s not necessarily one that you would be like, I’m gonna you know, it’s October or not, you know, I’m going to go through the catalogue of the Cronenberg catalog. But that’s it, you know, that’s sort of a handful of, you know, some of the some of the older ones, but there’s been some great new stuff I loved. Speaking of Cronenberg, I loved Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor, I thought was just brilliant. I love St. Maud. And I haven’t seen Titane yet, but I’m really excited about that, you know, I just think and I have not even seen that Nia DiCosta Candyman yet. You know, I’m looking forward to that. So, you know, I think it’s like, you know, and the ones that I that I said, I mean, Rosemary’s Baby I’ve seen so many times and the same thing with Rebecca and Carrie, and even, you know, Halloween and so those are ones I am not ashamed to be like, let’s watch Halloween again tonight, even though we watched it last night or whatever, you know, I think that there’s that there’s films that fit like your favorite food. You know, if you love a favorite food, it’s not you’re not gonna say like, we already had that once this year, you know what I mean? You’re like, no, let’s have it again for the fourth time this week or whatever. But there’s been some great, yeah, some really great new stuff that’s come out, you know, in the past, like two years.
Absolutely. And, Jennifer, I appreciate all your perspective on all those great ones. So, it’s like anybody watching, there’s a lot of great recommendations there. And you will not be disappointed by Titane. And experiencing that is quite an experience.
Jennifer: Yeah, I’m very much looking forward to I loved Raw. So, I mean, this one is like Titane getting such great kind of acclaim from, the commercial world and also, you know, for it to have one at a genre film to have won an award it can just as like, you know, that speaks very well. That’s a big deal.
Exactly. But, Jennifer, this was a pleasure. And thank you so much for giving me time to chat with you about your new film, VHS 94. Hopefully everybody goes check it out on Shudder and thank you so much.
V/H/S 94 is now available on Shudder