Hills Have Eyes Interview

Alex Aja taking the reigns from Wes Craven and Aaron Stanford reveals more about his character in the upcoming X-Men movie

When it comes to horror, Wes Craven is one of the first names you should think of. The man just knows how to scare people. So, when the idea came up to remake his 1977 classic, The Hills Have Eyes, it was a no brainer to give it the green light.

Aaron Stanford, maybe better known for his role in X-Men as Pyro, stars as the son-in-law of the Carter family. After getting lost in the middle of the U.S. desert, the family is then found and tortured by a group of mutant humans, deformed by nuclear testing done back in the early 1950's.

Aaron spoke about shooting this film as being one of the hardest films he's worked on, but the environment helped especially filming in Morocco. "It's a pretty daunting thing to even be transplanted to the place that we were, to go that far away from anything that you recognize, to be in Morocco in Northern Africa. That was a pretty interesting experience, just completely immersing yourself into this entirely alien culture and I think it left a lot of us off-balance a little bit which we were able to use in the film."

Some of the supporting cast felt the same way; Emilie de Ravin had just wrapped up the first season of Lost and went straight from Hawaii to Morocco. "It was a little less comfortable; I'm not use to the desert and I hadn't really spent that much time there until then. You had to acclimatize and adapt to the heat which the first few days I thought I couldn't do it. It was insanely hot and it was in the middle of summer; the desert over there is sweltering it's so hot, but you get use to it. You start to not think about it after a while."

This is director, Alex Aja's first project since last year's High Tension (of course, it came out in France in 2003). Getting to do this film with Wes Craven came in a strange way; he was going in to do another film. "The first time he asked to meet me, we were working on The Waiting and during the meeting he said, in a very polite way, 'Do you know my movie The Hills Have Eyes?' 'Of course, we grew up watching The Hills Have Eyes, we grew up watching Last House on the Left, it was a big influence on High Tension.' And he said, 'I would like maybe to remake that movie and I would like you to think about a new approach, a new take on the material, something to justify why there's a new Hills Have Eyes today, 2006.' So with my writing partner Gregory we thought about how to update the movie, reinvent the movie and we came back this idea of the nuclear testing background, and he was very excited about the idea."

On this film, Wes was very hands off; yes, he is the executive producer, but he felt he needed to step away from the film and let Alex direct the kind of movie he wanted. And Alex felt more comfortable with Wes not being on set. "I was very happy, Wes was always very supportive and that was great."

Two weeks after this shoot was done, Aaron went from this in Morocco to Vancouver to start shooting X-Men: The Last Stand; he said it was a huge climate and feeling change. "It was more relaxing; there was a little time off, and then X-Men is such a big movie that you have a lot of down time. There was plenty of time to relax but it was funny; I went from the tip of the Sahara Desert where it's 115 degrees in the shade to Vancouver in the rainy season. I didn't know where I was."

Aaron's character, Doug, was wearing a Jewish Star necklace around his neck, and for me, that kind of caught me off guard; not too many characters in horror films are Jewish. I wanted to ask Alex what his decision was for making Doug Jewish. His answer surprised the heck out of me; it's because Alex is Jewish. "It was in the script that his name was Bukowski, but it was really in the sub-text. On set, Aaron realized that in reading the script, I put a lot of myself in there, in the character; he realized that I was always wearing the Star of David and he said 'I would like to have that also as a detail.' And I said 'Sure.'" There's hope for us Jews in horror films after all!!

But as far as Aaron's character in X-Men, he told us a lot about what Pyro's up to in this final installment of the trilogy. "It's bigger; he become Magneto's right hand man in this movie. He's not sure where his allegiance lies, he's friends with Professor X but he also has this urge to spread his wings and find his power with the brotherhood. In X-3, he's definitely off the fence; he's decided where he wants to go. He's with the brotherhood and he really is allowed to fully explore his power in this; he's off the leash. There's a lot of explosions, a lot of things being set on fire."

Of course, Emilie couldn't reveal too much about her role in Lost, but we did point out to her that after Maggie Grace did a movie, she was killed off. Emilie wasn't saying much, but that she's on a break from the show for about two weeks and then the whole cast goes back to Hawaii to shoot the final episodes of the season.

You can also check out Emilie in Brick, which opens in theaters March 31st; it's rated R. That film also stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt. And, of course, you can see Aaron in X-Men: The Last Stand when it hits the big screen May 26th.

The Hills Have Eyes opens in theaters March 10th; it's rated R. And make sure to read what Wes Craven has to say about any future remakes he'll be doing. That'll be coming very soon.