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Interview with Ronny Yu
Horror and fantasy in Hollywood 1/1 - Page 2
Author(s) : David Vivier
Thomas Podvin
Date : 28/3/2004
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Chow Yun Fat
Ronny Yu Yan Tai
Movies :
The 51st State
Bride Of Chucky
The Bride With White Hair
Freddy Vs. Jason
The Occupant
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Page 1 : Debuts
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Page 3 : Hong Kong, his Jiang Hu*

HKCinemagic : Aren't you afraid you're going to be type cast as a horror movie maker because of the success of you two last movies (Bride Of Chucky & Freddy Vs Jason) in that genre?
R Y : It doesn't matter to me because I know I can try and do other things. I didn't know whether or not they would be successful. I always wonder that, when I pick a project of any genre: horror, love…, if I -Ronny Yu- as a part of the audience would pay 10 dollars to see that movie. You're being type cast in Hollywood because they wanna be safe on their investments, you know.
HKCinemagic : Do you feel restricted in Hollywood ?
R Y : Well, I just feel… lucky that I get the next show. Trying to get a movie made is so difficult. I'm not that kind of directors that are waiting five years to tell their stories. I don't feel pressure either. Time is running out you know, when you're getting old, you gotta keep getting movies out. I often say to my agent "if the script is good, don't worry on developing this or that, when comes the time of shooting, I will change some things". I just don't like to sit around and develop a script for years. I have no problems. For example, New Line gave me 2 projects, one is called Snakes on a plane, "snake-on-a-plane !!!(mocking)". I asked the executive producer what was the story, he said "well it's about a flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles , and when its halfway, at 20 000 feet, 500 poisonous snakes escape from the safe, and the first person they bite is the pilot". I said "That is a movie I wanna see! (general laugh)". Snakes give me goose bumps, even talking about snakes… so they sent me the script and I said "I wanna do this one" because I know it will entertain people. Its two human phobias: flying and snakes, so how can you not entertain??? (laughing). People are gonna say "oh, you're doing horror again", I will say "it doesn't matter".
HKCinemagic : So it's gonna be your next movie?
R Y : Yes, and after that I have a second one, a Freddy Versus Jason. I said "if you can get a good script, I'll do it".
HKCinemagic : A second one?
R Y : Yeah, it's actually Freddy versus Jason versus… someone.
HKCinemagic : Would the "someone" be Ash from the Evil Dead trilogy?
R Y : Yeah, right! Sam Raimi is going to produce. People will say "Oh, I see, you wanna get more money…", I'll say "Yes. Of course" (laughing out loud) I have no problem with that! If someone offers me a movie about a terminal patient, about to die and there's no hope, and everybody around cries for him, I'll say "well…hum…I don't wanna see that, I have cable TV for that". I think that even it's a movie about real things, you've got to give people hope, even false hope.
HKCinemagic : Were you familiar with the "Freddy" and "Jason" characters?
R Y : No. I told them (New Line head directors).
HKCinemagic : Maybe that is what the producer wanted, someone who's not that familiar with the characters…
R Y : Yeah, yeah, that's what they told me, someone with a fresh touch, like I did for the "Chucky" franchise. After I agreed to do it, and even so I had to watch all 17 movies (the 7 Freddy and 10 Jason movies) (laughing out loud). It took me a week for that, but I know the fans have been waiting for years for it, and I didn't want to be this arrogant director by deciding "this is my movie, so we're gonna change a few things". My mission was to satisfy the fans, and to keep a little respect for these movies. Even for this kind of slasher movies, the director and the director of photography had to keep some serious. That's why I hired the best people, most of he people behind the scenes had never worked on a horror movie, the cameraman did love stories, dramas, the director of photography worked on Mississippi burning... If those people respect the movie, I guessed the audience would see it, and appreciate it. We decided to go back to the first Nightmare on Elm Street, really scary…

We also brought some humour to it, some kind of relief for the audience. Freddy and Jason are two monsters, such as Frankenstein or King Kong in their time, so there had to be rooms for some action. These two had to be chopping each other… (laughing)

HKCinemagic : Confronting two highly known monsters is a kind of new fashion in Hollywood … don't you think you started this movement?
R Y : (laughing) I don't know ! I think it's easier because you already have an audience. And this audience is curious. Another thing I wanted to do is to put this amount of blood so that audiences will never feel this is real. This one is almost a cartoon! I didn't want to disturb.

The first that scared the hell out of me was the Julie Christie movie called Don't look now (1973) shot in Venice. It haunted me. And the second one was The Exorcist, because I was put in a catholic school (the best schools in Hong Kong are catholic).

This is why my actual name is "Ronny", I had to get an English name to go to the catholic school…I believed that God would save us all, and after seeing The Exorcist, I was like "Wait a minute, God is not gonna help me…"(laughing out loud).

HKCinemagic : It's funny you got involved in such movies because the ones you mention are far more suggestive… is that a kind of revenge?
R Y : Exactly! (Laughing out loud). I was so disturbed by those films that I didn't want to carry the responsibility of people coming out of my films and say "wow… that was disturbing!"
HKCinemagic : How come you made ghost movies such as Phantom Lover ? Does that reflect a part of your dark childhood?
R Y : I made 4 movies that are more love, action or horror. When I was a kid I watched a lot of samurai movies, and when you see a samurai chopping, the blood is so tremendous, almost like a fountain. But you journalist sorta pointed that out for me. I remember that woman journalist in England that told me that by watching my movies, we could notice a similar threat going through, in terms that the characters are inadequate towards life itself, somewhat handicapped. The Bride with White Hair is not from the normal society, characters in 51st State also and of course in Chucky. Those characters are way far from normal.
HKCinemagic : We heard you have a recurrent nightmare where you see yourself as a warlord…
R Y : Oh yeah… After I shot a movie in 1984 called The Occupant with Chow Yun Fat, about a possessed singer. The company he works for studies Taoism, so I had to learn about that. I went to a Tao temple, where people can talk to the spirits. There was this huge tray of sand, and a monk with 2 long bamboo sticks, and a room where you could pray or ask anything. When I went out from the room there was this monk, which had had a kind of sensation I triggered and wrote a poem in the sand. I asked him about the signification of it, he said "there's mention of a white horse, in your previous life". Since that, when I'm stressed, I always have this dream where I'm riding a white horse, as an armoured mounted general from China, who loves to conquer places and people, and I lead troops, and I love killing. And suddenly I kind of surrender and my horse is knocked down. I felt of the horse and my leg is broken, and we're surrounded by enemies armed with spears pointed at us. My second in command then says "we're dead.", and then I wake up. I asked some monk about this dream, who said "this is payback, because in your previous life, you were so bloodthirsty that in this life you had to suffer, that's why you had this polio…".
HKCinemagic : But you conquered Hollywood with a lot of blood…
R Y : (laughing) See? This is another explanation! Its funny because the last time, the guy I talk to in my dream is my cameraman who shot 51st State…so weird in a way!
HKCinemagic : What if there were less successful, would you still be doing films?
R Y : Yes, but still there are lot of people left to entertain. There are a lot of elements that contribute to the box-office success, like the advertising. You know 51st State is for me one of my favourites because I didn't have to deal with dolls but real actors such Samuel L Jackson, Robert Carlyle, it's such precious. Working in Hong Kong with Leslie Cheung, Chow Yun Fat is a tremendous opportunity.

Leslie Cheung in The Bride with White Hair
HKCinemagic : Do you regret your move to Hollywood ?
R Y : No, because I'm still working on Hong Kong movies, working on a script inspired by Se7en. I realised that I've never seen a Chinese movie dealing with serial killers, and there's so many restrictions, traditions that could be an obstacle to the investigation that it could be interesting…
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