A Few Words With ABCs OF DEATH 2 Director Ohata Hajime
The idea of putting a person on trial by zombies is very clever ... where did that come from?
Since I was assigned a letter O, I looked up words that began with O in a dictionary to find a good title for my film. Then I found a word "ochlocracy" whose definition was "politics handled by fools" in a loose sense. It gave me an idea of making a strangely funny and weird drama. I always wanted to do a courtroom drama and also wanted to make a completely novel zombie film. When I combined those ideas, I got an image of zombies in a courtroom. That's how the concept of a trial by zombies was born. On the day of shooting, I was very excited when I saw all zombie extras with special makeup sitting on a gallery seat on a courtroom set.
What was the most challenging part of making the movie with the budget you had?
The cost of special effects makeup. However, Yoshihiro Nishimura who was in charge of special makeup on this film gave me many ideas and that helped a lot. For example, he said that zombies in this film were not actually zombies but "ex" zombies so they could have tried to disguise their scars and injuries with bandages or something. This idea allowed us not to give them full zombie makeup. In this way, we were able to cut costs and were also able to create unique-looking zombies. Besides special effects makeup, the rental fee of a courtroom set was very expensive. I didn't want to shoot this film on a cheap set. I thought the set should seem real so that the audience take one look and know it's a courtroom.
You're known internationally for doing a lot of work with creature effects and horror elements, are there other sorts of films you also want to do or do you want to stay in this sort of area?
I do want to do other sorts of films. Well, actually I kind of already did. "A Big Gun" which I made before "Henge" could be categorized as a suspense and action film. The story is about a man who works at an iron factory and is asked by people from underworld to manufacture illegal guns. He gradually gets into making them and makes one hell of a gun at the end. I also made a short film called "Trick or Treat" which is sort of like a political suspense whose story is about a woman in her twenties who tries to get intimate with a leading presidential candidate's daughter in order to kill him. Actually, I like movies which cannot be categorized clearly. "Henge" may be horror and "A Big Gun" and "Trick or Treat" may be suspense, but I didn't care so much about their genres while I was shooting them. However when it comes to business, filmmakers in Japan are requested to clarify the genre of the film they're making. In that case, I'm no exception. I want to make many kinds of movies. I don't think I'm quite cut out for making teen films though.
You used a lot of comedy in this after making a very serious film with Henge, was it important for you to show your range that way?
I didn't quite feel I was making a comedy. First of all there was a concept that zombies put people on trial and I just plainly and honestly shot scenes based on it. As a result of that, this film happened to be like that. I may be a kind of person who put comedy into serious situation and vice versa before I knew it. I saw many people laugh while they're watching "Henge", especially at the last scene and I liked it very much. I think a movie in which serious and comedy elements blend together has depth and fullness.
Is there another director in the ABCs that you were particularly excited to have in the project with you or who you found intimidating?
Vincenzo Natali, Julien Maury
[Yes, the author of this post also happens to be an associate producer on the film. So if you all watch it 500 times on VOD he'll get to take a fancy vacation. Do it!]