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The following interview was conducted by David W. Bostaph. It was originally scheduled to appear on Dread Central...

David W. Bostaph: What is it about H.P. Lovecraft that keeps you making films based on his works?

Ivan Zuccon: It was accidental. In 1998 I was writing a short film called "L'Altrove", a war story, and I remember that I wasn't able to finish writing it; I had no more good ideas. So I started reading some books, and I read an H.P. Lovecraft collection called "Necronomicon" that was a truly great discovery. The discovery of a new world, the world of Lovecraft. After reading the collection I decided to put some of Lovecraft's elements in the short film, and after a few days the script was ready. Then a few years later the short was expanded into a feature film called "The Darkness Beyond". This was the beginning of true love. I love Lovecraft, although I'm much more interested in the man than in his stories. Someday I'd like to make a film telling his life story as it really was.

David W. Bostaph: What made you choose to do Colour Out of Space?

Ivan Zuccon: I love all of Lovecraft's tales, but this is one of the most intriguing stories Lovecraft ever wrote! Also, the monster is not a big tentacular Lovecraftian thing, but a strange entity that eats colors, energy and the minds of people. Great stuff for a filmmaker!

David W. Bostaph: The trailer for Colour indicates a few changes to the story, how did you approach these?

Ivan Zuccon: There are a few changes, you're right. Our idea was to do it as a horror movie and not a sci-fi feature. For this reason we decided to drop the meteorite from the story. The entity is hidden under the Earth, inside a well. One day, while drawing water from the well, the protagonist of the story produces a casual and apparently insignificant incident, which frees something evil from Earth's womb. The other changes concern the fact that the story is set in Italy during World War II, so there are some elements that are not present in Lovecraft's story, like the German soldiers or the persecution of the Jewish people by the fascists. I think that there is also a sort of a parallel aspect between the two types of evil in the movie, fascism and the entity from the well.

David W. Bostaph: What are the key elements to creating an effective Lovecraftian film?

Ivan Zuccon: This is a difficult question to answer. You know, Lovecraft is more atmosphere than action, so the risk is to think too much about the movie and less about Lovecraft, trying to do a fast paced and solid movie, but this is not a good choice to do an effective Lovecraft movie. But we can't make an atmospheric movie only, because this would be commercial suicide, so you have to make your choices and think about these two aspects. I usually use a lot of Lovecraft's atmosphere and as little action as possible, and I try to film the unfilmable, that is the most exciting thing for a filmmaker.

David W. Bostaph: What should film-makers avoid when attempting to adapt Lovecraft?

Ivan Zuccon: I don't know what to avoid, but I know what to do when approaching the author: respect him. I'm not saying to respect the story or to adapt the story in the same way it is written; I'm saying to respect the ideas of the author.

David W. Bostaph: What is your favorite Lovecraftian story? Why?

Ivan Zuccon: That's a difficult question! I love many of HPL's stories, and have already used some of them in my movies. I'll probably use more in the future, but there are some I know I'll never use since I feel they are impossible to shoot. I really love The Shadow over Innsmouth, which I prefer to The Dunwich Horror, but to tell the truth, I love all of Lovecraft's stories. I love his letters too! His biography, the transcript of his dreams and nightmares.

David W. Bostaph: What film do you think best captures Lovecraft's writings? Why?

Ivan Zuccon: I really enjoyed Dan O'Bannon's The Resurrected, based on The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. I saw this movie many years ago during a festival. I don't remember it perfectly, but it made a great impact on me. The title is impossible to find in Italy, since distributors don't take the horror genre seriously. In spite of its not being inspired by any particular Lovecraft tale, I loved John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness. It's evidently Lovecraft-inspired and a very peculiar movie. It tells a lot about the workings of fear and has a powerful and original structure.

David W. Bostaph: Very few directors are able to do Lovecraft effectively. What makes Lovecraft's writings so difficult to adapt?

Ivan Zuccon: Lovecraft is so cinematic, really! Some of his visuals are really perfect for the screen, but the problem is the slow pace of his style of writing. I love his rhythm, but it is not easy to transform this onto the screen.

David W. Bostaph: Independent films and their creators celebrate Lovecraft, while Hollywood ignores him. Why do think this is?

Ivan Zuccon: Hollywood ignores HPL because his stories are not commercial. If you see the movies that do well at the box office you can understand perfectly what I'm saying. In one word: action, action, action.

David W. Bostaph: In The Shunned House/La Casa Sfuggita, I thought you did a terrific job with the Music of Erich Zann segment. The image of the darkness outside the window was simple and yet so terrifying. Tell me a bit more about this scene, and how you approached it.

Ivan Zuccon: I'm really proud of the results of that Shunned House segment. I must admit that I spent a lot of nights thinking about how to realize the music outside the window. The only approach was with the music. When I had found the right music, in this case Paganini's music, all the elements of the scene became clear in my mind. For some aspects of the segment I found that thinking about and watching Sam Raimi's films, like the first two Evil Dead chapters, was useful. I tried to use the movie-camera in the same way when the strange music came from the window, and it worked out.

David W. Bostaph: One thing that took me out of Shunned was the digital look of the film. Colour looks much better. How do you approach improving the look of your projects as they progress?

Ivan Zuccon: We are working really hard on Colour from the Dark to give it a cool film look. We shot the movie in High Definition with the Sony HDcam, and the detail will make the process of color grading easier without compromising the image quality. We also gave a lot of attention to the look of the film's photography. Another aspect is the frame rate, by using the HD camera we were able to shoot at 24p which looks very cinematic.

David W. Bostaph: Any ideas of what you would like to do after Colour?

Ivan Zuccon: No ideas really. I'm writing a couple of scripts but there are no plans for a new movie at this time.

David W. Bostaph: What is your dream project?

Ivan Zuccon: My dream is to make my own films and find enough money to realize these without too many compromises. I have a lot of ideas and projects and all of them are interesting and are dreams of mine. I don't know which one will be my next or if I will be able to make a new one after this, but all of them are dreams of mine!

David W. Bostaph: What H.P. Lovecraft adaptation would you like to see made?

Ivan Zuccon: I can't wait to see Guillermo del Toro's At the Mountain of Madness. This is definitely an adaptation that I'm looking forward to!


You can find our previous interview with Ivan here...

all content © 2011 David W. Bostaph, Ivan Zuccon and Craig Mullins unless otherwise noted