The film Shiver is now available on DVD and you can read my review for it here. The film stars Danielle Harris, John Jarratt, Casper Van Dien and Rae Dong Chong. I got a few moments with the director Julian Richards to discuss Shiver and find out his vision behind the terrorizing film.
The Gryphon is a serial killer with a flair for the dramatic – and a grisly trophy case of victims. But when he sets out to add shy, young secretary Wendy Alden (Harris) to his macabre collection, he gets more than he bargained for. Unfortunately, Wendy’s escape from his first assault only deepens the killer’s twisted obsession – and affection – for her. Always one step ahead of pursuing Detective Delgado (van Dien), the brilliant psychopath penetrates police lines at will, circling ever closer to the target of his deranged fantasies. Until, finally, the only thing standing between Wendy and the Gryphon’s unthinkable desires is her own desperate, indomitable will to survive.
I would like to thank Julian Richards for his time.
How important was it to establish the Gryphon’s sexual nature in the first scene of the film?
I suppose the key thing is to get some idea of what it is that drives him. Why does he pick on women and what is his agenda? So that scene that actually happens 12 years before his first killing and sets up his character. It depicts his character as loner, sexual consumed and frustrated. And as far as women are concerned its always been about rejection. So that was the first time he ever felt empowered over a woman. Obviously in a very transgressive kind of way.
There are some pretty big names in Shiver John Jarratt , Danielle Harris, Rae Dong Chong and Casper Van Dien. What kind of challenges did you face working with a cast of that magnitude?
John Jarratt and Rae Dong Chong were already on board. As we moved towards production we we able to get Casper Van Dien and Danielle Harris on board and obviously I was aware of their iconic status in a way. And Jarratt with Wolf Creek was such a success. Rae Dong Chong I had the biggest crush on in the late eighties and early nineties.
So it was actually quite surreal to think that I was going to work with this cast. It was a little intimidating but what I did find is they were all really great people.No egos they were there to do the best job that they could do. The project and the screenplay were very challenging. We all had to do a lot of work to get the best out of it.Everybody just knuckled down and did their absolute best. It was a real pleasure to work with them.
In regards to the cop scene you guys filmed did you visit an actual police station?
That was actually filmed in a prison. It’s a prison that built in Portland Oregon and it was never used. So now it’s secretly used for films.
I really enjoyed the brutality of John Jarratt’s portrayal of the Gryphon in Shiver. How was it working with him?
It was great! John had a very strong idea of what he wanted to do. The thing about the character Franklin Rood in Shiver is that character is quite different from the character that he played in Wolf Creek. He really did not want to repeat his Wolf Creek performance he wanted to do something different and this offered him that opportunity. But it was also from what I thought, very risky to take the character off in that direction. Because you know we are making a horror film, we are not making a comedy. So there is always the danger that it could work incredibly well or fall flat on it’s face and get intentional laughs. So to deal with that risk element what i did with John is we did about three or four takes of every shot with John. I let John do exactly what he wanted to do on the first take, and the next take I would refine it until we had sort of a bracketed arrangement of his performance. That gave me the latitude in the edit to adjust to the tone of the performance. If at anytime it went over the top or got an intentional laugh. So with Danielle’s character, Caspers character and Rae Dong they would often get it in one or two takes, but I had to work very closely with John. It was a great collaboration he took it off in another direction and I would have probably played it safer but he didn’t. He took risks and it worked.
Do you think fans will have a problem seeing so much of Gryphon instead of more giallo style who done it type film?
Well I suppose there are two types of horror films. One where you don’t show the monster and then there is a big reveal at the end. That's an almost child like adolescent approach to the genre like what’s underneath the bed, what’s hiding in the water. The more adult approach which is actually playing it more like a drama, more like a character study is to what Stephen King brought in and embraced to the movement. Rather than hide the monster you show the monster in it’s full glory, you get to know him, embrace him and you get to understand him. Thats was pretty much the approach with Shiver.
The Gryphon is defined as a keeper of valuable possessions. Are the victims in Shiver Franklin Roods valuable possessions?
Yes they actually are. He is a collector. He has collected all the heads of his victims and turned them into a bizarre theater show in his cabin in the woods. A big influence for that particular scene was a Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The whole idea of the house being full of the parts of the victims that family killed. I suppose that relates to real life with killer and the relationship they have with their victims.
Once again I would like to thank Julian Richards for his time. Shiver was released on DVD October the 8th and is available for SRP of 27.97. Shiver is directed by Julian Richards and stars Danielle Harris (Halloween), John Jarratt (Wolf Creek) and Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers). It is being distributed courtesy of RLJ/Image Entertainment.