Ti West Talks with the Film Connection – Part 7
Dave Baker is a writer whose credits include work for Fox, Universal and many other film and media companies. He is also the writer and co-illustrator of the hyper-creative web-comic, The Action Hospital.
Film Connection Are you okay with the kind of genre name of “torture porn”?
Ti West: It’s a weird, reductive way to like instead of having a conversation about something to reduce it into a buzzword. So it’s just not that interesting to me.
Film Connection: I’m Dave Baker and today we’re talking with Ti West about horror trends. You know for the past decade we’ve been kind of living in this horror climate of torture porn and extreme excess and you don’t do that. Your films are very restrained and slow burned. Where does that come from for you?
Ti West: It’s just my aesthetic and my taste. You know, It’s not a, it’s not a real choice. “Oh, I wanna do this because someone else is doing that.” It’s more this is just … Look if there is ever a day that slow- burn-type of movies are incredibly popular, I’m going to flourish because it’s like so my wheelhouse. But as of right now, it’s not. I feel like if it was the ’70s I would be in a great situation. But because it’s 2014 it’s like, “Oh, what I’m doing is different.” But it’s just my aesthetics are just not where we’re at with wherever the sort of creative zeitgeist is right now.
Film Connection: Was there a specific filmmaker that you saw making those kind of slow movies when you were younger and went like, “Oh, this clicks for me for some reason.”
Ti West: No, and also like again it’s this weird thing like I don’t see them as … I understand that they are less cutty and different than the movies that are out there. But they’re not that because of, “I don’t want to do that.” It’s just this is just like … No one would call The Shining” or Rosemary’s Baby or The Exorcist slow burn horror movies, but certainly they are. They’re all like two hours long and there’s not a lot of … it’s slow burn, if you will. But they don’t call them that because they’ve already been established as just good movies or whatever.
So, now when you make a movie that is sort of taking itself seriously, it’s sort of like, “Oh, you have to label it as some sort of slow burn thing to identify it as something different, instead of just looking at it for what it is.” I think that horror has become … there is the exploitation movies of the ’60s and ’70s that we all think of when we think of exploitation movies. Then there is franchise-y sequels of the ’80s versions, and then there’s the terrible slasher movies of the ’90s version and then now … or when you reference the torture porn, things like that, it’s just like they’re all different versions of exploitation but they’re being less honest about it.
Like the movies in the ’70s that were exploited movies were very honest. We’re making a cannibal picture, and this is what it’s going to be. And what was great is that there were all these different outlets to sell it to. So you weren’t trying to get your cannibal picture into the mainstream. You just sold it to drive-ins and other weird theaters and porn theaters. And there is all this stuff. You could go have a total life of a movie without. Now that doesn’t exist.
So now your cannibal picture has to be like, “Well, let’s not make it too upsetting or this girl’s in prison movie. We gotta tone it down. We can’t just make it exploitation of girls in prison.” It’s like that’s what you want to make, but you don’t want to do it because you need to get it into an environment that is not going to totally embrace that. Where in the ’70s, it could just be nothing but like the exploitive elements and that’s it, that’s all you went to go see. There’s just more honesty to it then. So that I connect to better than I do now which feels like everything is this weird homogenized thing. Particularly with horror movies which is about being scary and confronting, just the movies are so safe, and it doesn’t make any sense to me.
Film Connection: Thank you for coming in and talking to me, Ti.
Ti West: It’s good to be here.