Contrary to popular belief, Santa Claus does not punish the people on his naughty list by placing a lump of coal in their stockings. In Silent Night, the man in red trades in his usual rocks for a blowtorch, a hatchet, and a scythe. Steven C. Miller, known for his previous films The Aggression Scale (2012) and Scream of the Banshee (2011), has directed the remake of Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984), about a killer Saint Nick that terrorizes a small town on Christmas Eve. I was lucky enough to speak to Miller about his holiday thriller. In the interview, he described what he thinks makes a worthy remake, his next movie Under the Bed, and his advice for aspiring horror directors.
Kalyn Corrigan: What’s your favorite horror movie and why?
Steven C. Miller: Alien is one of my favorites. The film is just so good. You rarely see the alien and when you do its easily the scariest thing ever. I love how they crafted the film and how it looks. Just an all around terrifying experience that still scares people.
KC: What made you want to remake Silent Night, Deadly Night?
SCM: I was a huge fan of the original. The script was pretty different from the original, and that was a good thing for me. I didn’t want to do some shot for shot remake, I wanted to bring something new to the table. I’m also a huge fan of holiday horror. Anytime you can take something so clean and completely destroy it, it’s tons of fun!
KC: What will set your Silent Night apart from the 1984 cult classic?
SCM: Definitely the look and tone. The film is really slick and feels like a studio film. The tone of the film is also less hokey. It does have some dark humor, but I feel it still has a darker sensibility to it.
KC: What’s it like working with Malcolm McDowell?
SCM: Malcolm is fantastic! He is one of the nicest men alive. He loves to work and really has a passion for his job. He is a complete professional. We had a blast making this film.
KC: What factors led you to choosing Jaime King? Were her previous roles a factor in her hiring?
SCM: Jaime is such a strikingly beautiful woman, and I wanted someone who had that kind of presence. Her previous work definitely played a factor, because she is so great in them. It was an honor to have her!
KC: What do you believe makes for a better remake: sticking to the original, or recreating the plot from your perspective?
SCM: Recreating definitely. You want to give the audience something new and fun. If they’ve seen it, and know what’s going to happen, where’s the fun? We really tried to take this film to another level!
KC: Why is the killer wearing a mask in this version?
SCM: I love masked killers from the ‘80s. I love ‘80s cinema. I wanted my killer to be more menacing and more reminiscent of those great ‘80s icons. I felt it gave him more personality and a more striking tone. He just looks menacing.
KC: What was the process like for choosing the mask?
SCM: I had that design in my head from day one. We literally built it from scratch. It was really fun to see it in different stages. Some had larger beards, smaller eyes, no eyes. If you look closely, you can see all the different versions at the beginning of the film.
KC: What was the inspiration behind the weapons that the killer Santa wields?
SCM: We wanted to use things that people had not seen. That was really where it came from. Trying to separate them from past films, and making them more exciting.
KC: What is your most memorable Christmas experience – good or bad?
SCM: I have a big family, and we would always get together for the holidays. I remember all the kids pitched tents in the backyard and had massive water balloon matches. Was a really fun time in my life.
KC: What is it about Christmas time that adds an extra element of fear to a killing spree?
SCM: The vibrancy and the beauty. I think combining that with brutality is terrifying. It’s a really great contrast and helps the audience connect even more to the holiday that we are destroying.
KC: What can you tell me about your upcoming film Under the Bed?
SCM: It’s a total homage to old Amblin films like Goonies, E.T., and Gremlins. Two brothers fighting a creature that lives under their bed. It’s a crazy fun ride that gets hyper violent. People are really going to dig it!
KC: You went to California with $100 in your pocket, and now you’ve directed seven different projects, one of which is being released in theaters. What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers who may not be financially stable?
SCM: Fight for everything. You have to have the passion to do whatever it takes and that’s the best advice I could give. Never give in– never give up.
Silent Night hits theaters November 30th, 2012.
You can follow Steven C. Miller via twitter @stevencmiller