In Part 2 of the Frank Darabont Interview, I asked the
director of The Mist about his roots in the horror genre. Yes, his professional
life in film began when he was a production assistant on Hell Night (starring Linda Blair) back in the
early 1980s. But his love for the genre goes farther back, perhaps as far back
as the womb.
Then, we talk about how his relationship with Stephen King began
and evolved. Finally, we go deep into what really makes The Mist scary.
not just the monsters: it’s the people and how they react, how awful they become as
the crap hits the fan.
Check out Part 2 of my interview with Frank Darabont after the jump….
HG: You started in this business as a production assistant
on Hell Night. So you knew back then
that you were interested in the horror genre.
FD: Oh, yeh. I knew when I was four years old when I would
watch Frankenstein or those great
Universal monster movies on television. I was always drawn to that. (Bangs on
table.) I don’t know why. It’s a genetic predisposition. It’s like being born
straight or gay or with green eyes or (slaps his bald head) male pattern
baldness. I’ve always loved it and I’ve always been drawn to it again and
again. My home in L.A. has these beautiful, vintage posters I put up and it’s mostly genre pictures.
It’s mostly War of the Worlds and Frankenstein and Invasion of the Saucer Men, even.
HG: For me, it was around the age of six, ordering
Scholastic Books Edgar Allan Poe short stories.
FD: (Gets excited and points at me) Yeh, yeh, yeh! Poe was
it for me. I was always drawn to that which was kind of creepy or fantastical
HG: How did the Stephen King relationship evolve? How did it
start and what did it become?
FD: In 1980, I sent Mr. King a letter. There was a short
story I wanted to film as a short film. He granted me the rights to do that –
as he was doing – very generously – with a lot of young filmmakers.
HG: The rights went for a $1.
FD: Right. As a way of giving back for some of the success
and opportunities that he had had. I spent three years doing this 30 minute
short with my friends. He really liked the result of it. And by the time I went
back to him a few years later once my writing career kicked into gear as a
screenwriter, I went back to him to ask him for the rights to Shawshank. That went on the back burner
for about five years. It simmered there until I was ready to write the script.
All along the way, he’s been delighted with the movies that I’ve made. And this
tremendous trust has developed between us. And a personal friendship that I
really treasure. Aside from the professional relationship, I like him
tremendously as a person.
HG: What do you bond on aside from horror?
FD: We bond on the music thing. I have to admit we do not
bond on the Red Sox thing. I’m just not a sports fan. Unless it’s Norman
Jewison’s Rollerball, I’m behind
that. We love stories most of all. He’s always giving me recommendations for
books. I’ll send him a few on occasion, too. We also bond very much on
sociology, morality, politics. We both have a healthy suspicion of authority. I
think we’re both convinced that it’s never up to any good and it’s always to be
questioned. Definitely a healthy suspicion of extremists and extreme positions.
It’s certainly seen in his work.
HG: And certainly in your movie. You play on so many things
that we should be or are suspicious of or perhaps paranoid of. There’s Mrs.
Carmody, who so believes that the mist is God striking us down. There’s the
government, which may have screwed something up scientifically.
FD: Who is it who said, Maybe we’re not paranoid enough?
HG: Is there one of these things that frightens you the
FD: The politics.
HG: More than the religion.
FD: Well, that becomes politics, too. Religion doesn’t
bother me. It’s the politics that arises from it. It’s the extreme points of
view or the extreme human behavior that results. Somebody who’s a reasonable
person who believes in God, I got absolutely no problem with. It’s the people
who use it as a political weapon, a tool, or as a lever for intolerance or
devisiveness. Boy, I got no use for those people, and I don’t care what God
they worship. But you don’t hear from the reasonable people very often.
HG: You just hear from the extremists.
FD: They’re the loudest.
HG: And often, the canniest. What would you as Frank
Darabont have done in that supermarket (where everyone is trapped when the mist
FD: Probably exactly what Tom Jane did. Probably try to keep
my head down and try to be as reasonable as possible. And duck when the s—t hit
HG: Could this film have been done without the monsters?
FD: Absolutely. Maybe
this is an answer that only another writer can appreciate. But when I finished
the adaptation of the story, I read my own screenplay and I thought, if the
story was still working without the creatures in it, then I’m on solid ground,
and this is a movie worth making. And I felt if it would work beautifully without
the frosting on the cake, that the cake would still work.
HG: That’s what got me: that Lord of the Flies aspect: we’re all stuck here and the all this
crap is going to happen.
FD: (Throws a demonic glance) And not everyone will behave
well. No good can come of this. Bad things will happen. (Laughter all around.)