This particular director had written and produced a film called Over the Edge which is about teenagers running wild, in some ways a similar movie. It was shot in a certain kind of milieu and I thought it kind of killed the movie. Just because it wasn’t interesting and it didn’t give you anything in particular. So I went in to meet the guy to tell him, I know you aren’t going to hire me, I know you don’t have the money, I know that this is a decorator and a location guy picture so I’m here to plead with you, don’t shoot it as written. This is about savagery, this is about de-evolution, this is about people losing their civility and becoming savages. The sidewalk should be cracked by the trees, you know, bla bla bla, and he totally went, You are the guy. You’re going to do this movie. I’ll find the dough somewhere.
I remember when I found the house I talked to the director and I said, I found a perfect house for these people, and I said, but you may not like it. And he said, What do you mean, does it look bad?
No, it looks fabulous but it’s gonna be a nightmare, because it’s built all wrong. It’s like some carpenter thinking he was an architect built a modern house. There’s no place to put a sofa in the living room, the hallways are the wrong width, the ceilings are too low, it’s just a nightmare. But it’s perfect for the movie. And sure enough it was perfect for the movie but it was a nightmare to shoot in. Very difficult. But this guy was smart. Tim Hunter. Another guy that I’m surprised hasn’t done more movies that we know. Although he’s worked a lot. He’s done some of the detective shows on TV. Very interesting, smart guy.
So smart that he told me that he would not allow me to do any drawings. Because he knew that I was going to try to get it into his head. By chance I was going through a book of Gustave Doré engravings, and there was a drawing of Adam and Eve. They were sitting on the banks of a little teeny river and Adam was sitting on his butt with his knees up, and Eve was next to him lying there asleep. And they were both naked. And she was asleep but she looked like she was dead. I said, Wow, this is just like River’s Edge. So I brought it in and I showed it to him and the DP at the same time. The DP was this guy Fred Elmes, very good DP, not a lot to say, never talked very much. And they just looked at it and went Ehh, whatever, no reaction. I didn’t think much more about it until I saw the movie. The master shot of that movie is that engraving. Once it was in there heads…
AS: It stuck with them…
JM: It is the image. He sits the same way, she lays the same way. The river’s on the same side. So that was a great lesson to me about getting images into people’s heads.