Richard Stanley is an artist in every sense. We are fortunate to have a glimpse into his vision of a bizarre yet beautiful otherworld where he exists on a daily basis. Brilliant, abstract and child-like in wonderment, he offers a new perspective on reality.
Richard Stanley on Characters in his Films:
I especially held feminist views when I was younger because it was the only thing my mum had taught me. By the time I grew up I was of the opinion that men were either useless or dangerous. Clearly Stacy Travis’ character, “Jill” in HARDWARE (1990) was the only competent one in the movie. At the time of that film I was a teenager and carried a feminist point of view.
Actually all of the lines in HARDWARE were inspired by real life. The character of “Lincoln” was inspired by this pervy fat guy who was trolling the midnight movie theaters. Many of his crazier lines in HARDWARE come directly from real life. While smoking joints outside in HARDWARE, “Lincoln” inquired, “You smoke a lot of dope don’t ya… Does that get you hard or what? I give dope to people sometimes when they come over to my place and it gets them hard.” That was taken completely from real life. Ironically Harvey Weinstein took the character personally. He felt that “Lincoln Wineberg Jr.” was some sort of caricature of himself. I had to explain that this was based on a pervert from my hometown.
Richard Stanley on Studio “Involvement”:
DUST DEVIL (1992) was kind of a mutant movie, like most movies are, because of the trade-offs and the crisis of getting it from the script to the screen. Miramax was opposed to me using black South African actors because nobody could understand their accents. This was during a time when they were still dubbing MAD MAX (1979) and they were still dubbing TRAINSPOTTING (1996) so one could kind of see it from their point of view. But in the course of me fighting to retain actual African actors in the role of Africans in the film, BOYZ N THE HOOD (1991) had just released and they wanted to put American rappers in the roles of African natives. I just could see that this wasn’t going to work. Plus American actors are much too cock sure about their ability to master the South African accent.
I’ve seen a lot of people stumble over that one. They think it’s a really easy thing, but it’s actually quite hard to speak like you’re a local. I could see that was going to be a problem. As a result, in the course of that trailer I lost control of the female lead. The deal in the end included the casting of Chelsea Field who had just finished THE LAST BOY SCOUT (1991) and for some reason Harvey really liked her. He insisted that Chelsea be the female lead, and if we have Chelsea then I can cast the rest as I wished.
So we have this tradeoff which unfortunately robbed DUST DEVIL of some feminist potential. Chelsea and I never quite saw eye-to-eye all the way through the process. I had just met her on the set about a week before we started shooting, trying to establish at least some degree of empathy or an effect of discourse kind of got in the way of me developing her in a way that I would have preferred.
So… with Linda Hamilton in THE TERMINATOR (1984) and Sigourney Weaver in ALIENS (1986) we were seeing a number of heroines emerging from Hollywood. Many of them since have an out-an-out warrior vibe, but dressing them up in the accouterments of the previous male leads seems to be the mistake. I never got the chance to do a HARDWARE sequel to show how “Jill” might develop.
A HARDWARE sequel, has existed now for about 20 years. It has been effectively blocked due to corporate and legal skullfuckery surrounding the first movie. Because the first movie made so much money, it ended up being partially controlled by Miramax, Buena Vista and MGM. Getting all of the powers that be to synchronize to do a video game, comic book or anything to do with a second film has been thus far impossible. So the sequel has been ready since the late eighties / early nineties and then has been smoldering for a number of years. It never died. Fortunately it’s still relevant after all these years.
Richard Stanley on his Next Big Project:
I’d like to do H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out of Space”, which at this point is affiliated with Elijah Wood’s company, Spectrevision. It seems like an ideal time for this to be made since it concerns the contamination of an entire water table from an element beyond space.
H.P. Lovecraft himself said that throughout all of these stories he wanted to maintain an atmosphere of cosmic horror. If that was his intent, I don’t think a single film being made so far has nailed it. I have yet to find a cosmic horror or a fight for man’s position in the cosmos in the Lovecraft adaptations. I’d like to see the Lovecraft movie as made by Ingmar Bergman or Andrei Tarkovsky. I think you apply this approach to any of the stories in the canon. I’d like to see THE DUNWICH HORROR done this way as well. THE COLOUR OUT OF SPACE takes place on one farm in New England, which makes it much more accessible and a budget more within reach than some of his other films.
THE COLOUR OUT OF SPACE is a horror movie. I’ve never made a pure horror movie before. HARDWARE is a sci-fi hybrid and DUST DEVIL is an African western movie / drive-in movie hybrid. I have an obligation with THE COLOUR OUT OF SPACE to be as scary as possible, deeply unsettling and downright terrifying. Some very dark and negative things happen to all of the characters in true Lovecraft fashion. There are no happy endings, and it wouldn’t be a proper Lovecraft movie if there were. Part of our problem right now is trying to get the movie made.
There are more and more people working in the same direction. If it actually gets made and I relocate to the states, I’ll spend a couple of years there working on the film. The powers that be control the magic cookie kept in the invisible jar so to speak. But idle hands make for the Devil’s work.
Richard Stanley on his Use of Color:
Color has always been very important to me and I always think very carefully about the colors I use. I have never liked the desaturated style and have always pushed the opposite direction like the opulence of Dario Argento. THE COLOUR OUT OF SPACE will be an endeavor to find a color beyond the human spectrum, which is technically impossible. The human spectrum runs from ultra violet to infra red. So something I will be working with is the new generation of Flir cameras, which would be infra red cameras seen in color. This would be similar to the reds used in HARDWARE, which was a first at that point in time.
Also we’ll be delving into the realms of sound and ultrasound. We’ll be exploring frequencies of sounds that were previously inaudible to imply the presence of something that can’t be perceived, like the sweet smell of roses that had come from the apparition. I’d say we have an olfactory range with, say, sulfur on one side and sweetness on the other. In THE COLOUR OUT OF SPACE we never see the thing that’s in the well, so we have to imply its presence through scent. Basically we’ll be making a psychedelic movie. It will be quite an arsenal of the weird, taking some good old fashioned psychedelic stuff and throwing a monkey wrench in it.
Prior to the filming of HARDWARE I looked very carefully at SUSPIRIA with regard to color and tried to improve on it. Argento was my influence. During the first two movies I employed Steve Chivers, who is a total genius. The light sources were shifting around within the plane instead of staying static. At times we had a tray of dust that would be thrown into the fan to promote the shifting of light. I prefer the organic effect of color on set. Always keep CG with regard to color to a minimum if you can. I don’t like the texture and I’m very old school so the CG stuff jumps out at me. I hate it when a creature pops up and it’s just a cartoon. The best thing is to get it right on set.