Seth Grahame Smith Talks DARK SHADOWS, the BEETLEJUICE Sequel, Tim Burton’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING, UNHOLY NIGHT, and More

by     Posted 2 years, 137 days ago

Seth-Grahame-Smith-Beetlejuice-Sequel-interview-slice

With director Tim Burton‘s Dark Shadows opening this weekend, I recently got to interview screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith. Starring Johnny Depp as a vampire who awakens in 1972 after having been buried for 200 years, Dark Shadows is based on the 1970s TV series with the same name and it also stars Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer, Chloe Moretz, Jackie Earle Haley, Gulliver McGrath, Helena Bonham Carter, Bella Heathcote, Ray Shirley, and Jonny Lee Miller.  For more on the film, here’s 20 images, 9 clips and 12 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage from the set, and Matt’s review.

During my extended interview with Grahame-Smith, we talked about how he got involved in the project, his anxiety about having his first film released, how John August contributed to the project, deleted scenes, and what might be on the Blu-ray.  In addition, with Grahame-Smith involved in some other high profile projects, we also talked about the Beetlejuice sequel, Tim Burton’s Night of the Living, Unholy Night, and a lot more.  Hit the jump to check it out.

Here’s the time index of the interview with selected quotes.  You can watch the entire conversation further down the page.

seth-grahame-smithSeth Grahame-Smith Time Index

  • 0:30 – Seth Grahame-Smith talks about the weeks leading up to Dark Shadows, the anxiety behind his first movie release and his hopes for the film’s critical and fan reception.
  • 1:55 – Grahame-Smith concedes that The Avengers will certainly take first place at the box office with Dark Shadows coming in second.
  • 2:30 – Grahame-Smith calls Dark Shadows “a little different; a weird movie,” but touts the fun and cross-genre appeal of it.
  • 3:20 – John August submitted a draft for the film, which Grahame-Smith drew from for his own draft; he comments on it here.
  • 4:40 – Regarding deleted scenes, Grahame-Smith talks about all of the material that didn’t make it into the final film. There’s a minor spoiler at the 5:30 mark where he talks about specific deleted scenes.
  • 6:45 – The deleted material is planned for release on the Blu-ray, according to Grahame-Smith.  He says he’d “personally love to see an extended cut of the movie.”
  • 8:20 – Grahame-Smith talks about his current projects, including Night of the Living, Unholy Night and a third script for Warner Bros, possibly the Beetlejuice sequel.
  • 8:55 – Grahame-Smith comments on the progress of Beetlejuice.
  • 9:20 – As an author in addition to his screenplay work, Grahame-Smith mentions figuring out what book to write for the upcoming year.
  • beetlejuice-2-sequel-Michael Keaton-poster9:40 – Grahame-Smith discusses his schedule as a writer along with his movie-related work.

“I just finished the first draft of Night of the Living, which is the animated movie that, hopefully, we’ll do with Tim [Burton].  So Tim needs to read that but he’s a little busy right now.  And then I’m pivoting right into doing the first draft of the adaptation of Unholy Night for Warner Bros., so that’ll be the next stretch of time, will be me writing that script.  In the meantime, there will be a third script this year for Warner Bros.  I’m not sure what it will be yet, but there’s a possibility that it’s Beetlejuice. But I’m also working, when I can, on the Beetlejuice story and Tim’s waiting for me to crack that egg so that’s going to be a while because we don’t want to proceed with anything that’s…just because we can make a Beetlejuice sequel doesn’t mean we should.  And then thinking about, later this year, I’ve got to start thinking about what the next book is and then write that book next year”

  • 10:25 – Back to Beetlejuice, Grahame-Smith says “a lot has to go right” in order for the project to become a reality, including his own task with creating the right kind of story.

“I think it’s possible.  To get what you’re getting at, I think a lot has to go right, not the least of which is, I need to write the story that feels right and not just taking advantage of the fact that we can, because I’ve said it before, I would rather not make this movie than have to look fellow fans in the face and go, “I fucked up.  Sorry.” You know? Because I don’t want that failure on my tombstone, especially not with a movie like Beetlejuice because it’s hugely important to me.  I think there’s a reality to it.  Look, there’s a desire, a real desire from Mr. [Michael] Keaton to come back and do it; there’s certainly a real desire on the part of Warner Bros.  Tim is amenable, he’s going to produce it with us if it goes, but he’s not opposed to the idea, he likes the idea in concept.  It’s just, “Can I crack the story?”

  • beetlejuice-2-sequel-Michael Keaton11:00 – Does he think it’s more a pipe dream that Beetlejuice 2 might happen? Grahame-Smith comments that Michael Keaton has a “real desire…to come back and do it.”

“I think it’s possible.  To get what you’re getting at, I think a lot has to go right, not the least of which is, I need to write the story that feels right and not just taking advantage of the fact that we can, because I’ve said it before, I would rather not make this movie than have to look fellow fans in the face and go, “I fucked up.  Sorry.” You know? Because I don’t want that failure on my tombstone, especially not with a movie like Beetlejuice because it’s hugely important to me.  I think there’s a reality to it.  Look, there’s a desire, a real desire from Mr. [Michael] Keaton to come back and do it; there’s certainly a real desire on the part of Warner Bros.  Tim is amenable, he’s going to produce it with us if it goes, but he’s not opposed to the idea, he likes the idea in concept.  It’s just, “Can I crack the story?”

  • 11:30 – Grahame-Smith talks about Night of the Living, an “ode to the B-movie monsters and the horror movies [he] loved as a kid, but flipped on its head.”

“It’s an animated movie, stop-motion animation like Frankenweenie, like Corpse Bride and it’s a story that’s been in my mind for a long time.  It’s basically…the clues are right there in the title.  It is my ode to the B-movie monsters and the horror movies that I loved as a kid, but flipped on its head.”


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  • 90ina30

    Wow…..i gotta say that Dark Shadows was a real letdown in the story…..it was all over the place with no narrative follow through….i felt like i was watching just a bunch of vignettes that had no momentum to put a full story on the screen.

    my grade is a B- at best.

  • niccey

    omg just been to watch dark shadows really good stpry line and amazing graphics!! actually wanna go see it again :D cant wait until its out on dvd!! 10 out 10 XD

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  • roy

    Saw Dark Shadows yesterday and was pleasantly surprised. The positives far outweighed the negatives. It looked beautiful. I’m surprised that they tried to make it PG-13 instead of just going on with a little more gratuitous violence and made it an R. I think I saw some deleted stuff that was more gruesome than what I saw.

  • Pucksprite

    Niccey and roy, do either of guys read any kind of literature? Do you even have an idea of what good writing is to compare? Dark Shadows was the worst example of writing I have seen in a long time. Messy, unfocused, tepid dribble that devolves into an anti-climatic finish of silly, juvenile visual effects. I was like, WTF did I just watch? The story had no cohesion, things just seem to be made up on the fly. Helena Bonham Carter was completely wasted. Ridiculous! I will never see another movie with Seth Grahame-Smith’s name on it.

  • Tyler

    who cares “puscksprite” the couch critic. The movie was entertaining and fun. I loved it. It wasn’t brain surgery, but simply a good time.

  • Samuel

    Considering it was a twist from the original and placed in the time of 1972, it was rather theatrical, realistic, and dramatic. The innocence of Barnabas in 1972 was thought oriented. Whereas Barnabas from the original and Barnabas by Ben Cross were all knowing creatures whereas Johnny Depp’s Barnabas was not. I loved this aspect; the touching of Silverware, the Lava Lamp, the Little People in the TV (Carpenters), the Headlights etc… I left not knowing what or how I felt about it. Loved it for the creative nature and the stars who played. Gave rise to thought and discussing like Einstein, Freud, and Gide – Sartre too!

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  • Anthony

    I saw dark shadows and it was very enjoyable, I just loved it. I WANT TO SEE A SEQUEL! :)

  • Anthony

    And I would like a Beatlejuice sequel as well :)

  • gigs

    I totally agree Pucksprite. But honestly you should know better than having that sort of expectations from those two easily entertained simpletons. They are exactly what this drivel was aimed at and this Grahame Smith character is beyond awful.

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