Classic horror inspires Drive Angry director Patrick Lussier



By Steve Newton

Vancouver native Patrick Lussier has made quite a name for himself in the Hollywood horror scene, having edited all three of Wes Craven’s Scream films before taking on the slasher genre himself with the 2009 remake of My Bloody Valentine. He also helped kick-start the past decade’s vampire craze with Dracula 2000, which featured Gerard Butler in his first leading role. And now he’s got the supernatural action flick Drive Angry 3D—which stars Nicolas Cage as an escapee from hell bent on rescuing his baby granddaughter from a satanic-cult leader—coming out in theatres on Friday (February 25).

Back when he graduated from Burnaby Central High School, though, and set his sights on a film career, Lussier didn’t always get the postsecondary encouragement he might have deserved.

“I tried to get into the SFU film school and they wouldn’t let me,” he says with a laugh over the phone from his office in L.A. “They told me I had no future in the movie industry. So I went to Capilano College [now Capilano University] instead.”

Whatever he picked up at college continues to pay off, as Lussier’s name has also been attached to such future fear projects as Halloween 3 and the remake of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, for which he’s currently writing a script. He got into horror as a kid, reading Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, but back then he wasn’t allowed to watch scary flicks. To him it was “forbidden fruit”.

“My sister, who was older than me, would go to the horror movies and she would come back and tell me all about them,” he recalls. “Like Race With the Devil—which is one of the inspirations for Drive Angry—and then movies like the The Parallax View and things like that. She would just fill me in on all these horrific details, and I would just be mesmerized by it. So I really became fascinated in that way, and then one thing led to another.”

Lussier wanted to shoot another movie in 3-D after My Bloody Valentine—though “not one of those shitty post-conversion jobs”—and started trading story ideas with Drive cowriter Todd Farmer.

“Todd and I were sitting around and suddenly we started talking about these great old ’70s car movies,” he says, “like Dirty Mary Crazy Larry and Vanishing Point. And then we said, ‘Well, one of the most fun things about those movies is that the characters are all sort of versions of bad—nobody’s really good.’ And that really appealed to us as the story point.

“But the film that was really a guiding light in all that,” he continues, “was High Plains Drifter—not a car movie at all, but a quintessential ’70s movie. The real antihero that Clint [Eastwood] created became the model for Nic Cage’s character [in Drive Angry].”

To help energize his new film—and as a patriotic nod to the music of his home and native land—Lussier embedded it with classic Canuck-rock tunes by the likes of April Wine and Trooper.

“There’s definitely a couple of Canadian gems in there, and those are obviously from my collection,” he explains. “That Trooper song [‘Raise a Little Hell’] was perfect. We played it for our producer, Michael De Luca, and he was like, ‘That song’s awesome!’”

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