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SDCC Exclusive: Joe Dante Takes Us into The Hole

Going back to ’80s horror

“I think you can say this is the lost Twilight Zone episode. But they didn’t do any in 3-D,” laughs director Joe Dante (Gremlins, The Howling). He’s minutes away from taking the stage of Hall H at the San Diego Comic-Con where he’ll show the crowd a trailer for his latest feature The Hole in 3-D. It’s his first feature to hit the big screen since Looney Tunes: Back in Action. Since that 2003 release, he helmed two Masters of Horror episodes (“Homecoming” and “The Screwfly Solution”) and a zombie-themed CSI:NY.

The Hole stars Teri Polo, Haley Bennett, Nathan Gamble and Quinn Lord. Written by Mark L. Smith (Vacancy), it concerns a family that moves into a new home. There they discover a hole in the basement that feeds off of their darkest fears and manifests them. (You can read about the footage shown at Comic-Con here).

“I read a lot of scripts, seldom do they strike me on a character level,” says Dante. “This is not a big movie, it’s a modest picture. I managed to convince them to do it in 3-D because I thought of the visuals and also the drama. It’s not a gore-fest. It’s more in the line of The Others or The Devil’s Backbone. It’s creepy and sneaks up on you, and it’s not filled with eyeballs on sticks poking out at you in the third row. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, that’s just not what this is, there are plenty of those movies out there. So the idea was to try and make the kind of movie they stopped making in the ’80s when you can take your family to a scary picture and they were not traumatized, they were scared.”

On 3-D duties is Paradise FX, the same company that tossed a pick-axe and Tom Atkins’ jaw in your face in this year’s My Bloody Valentine 3D. Dante says it wasn’t tough to convince the producers to tell The Hole in this technology which has inundated the horror market. “We found a way to do it that only added a modest amount to the budget an we went ahead and did it. I think it was a great idea. It’s an unusual 3-D movie in the sense that it’s not what you expect from a 3-D movie. It’s still got all of the stuff – breaking the frame – but to me it’s immersive. You feel a little more like you’re in the room with the people and what their problems are. I think you find that in some of the current 3-D movie, the animated ones at least.”

Aside from the challenges such as shooting during the winter in Vancouver and trying to make it look like summer, the director says shooting went smoothly and that his fans will “find this to be a Joe Dante movie. It has its silly aspects, of course, as I do. But it’s pretty straight-forward, a character picture. The kids are very good. I have Bruce Dern. It’s a small cast and not a lot of locations, but people who are movie fans will get a lot of the references.”

The Hole is still in post-production and doesn’t have a release date yet. While he ushers his film to completion, Dante is circling a project he can’t talk about yet and continues his work on TrailersfromHell.com. “The trick is to not repeat yourself, but then again, what is Small Soldiers but Gremlins 3, so you can’t escape that stuff.”

Source: Ryan Rotten, Managing Editor