Jeff Burr is one of those rare directors whose career is so varied never being held to one genre. And even though he will always be known for titles like From A Whisper to a Scream (The Offspring) Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III etc he has done many other great films like the wonderfully off beat drama "Eddie Presley" which earned him both praise from the critics and awards to match. If you haven't seen it I highly recommend it. It features maybe the best cameos of all time Bruce Campbell and director Quentin Tarantino working in a mental ward. With the release of "From A Whisper To a Scream" on blu ray from Scream Factory director Jeff Burr sits down with Gorehound Mikes and talks about his films and actors he`s worked with.
GM: Leatherface Texas Chainsaw III is less over the top than TCM 2 in terms of both style and performances. Was that a studio decision or was that a style choice of yours or abit of both?
JB: The first film was more real and the second one is as far as that as you can get. The candy colored over the top satire of 1980`s America and had a very recognizable actor Dennis Hopper so I feel that the third film falls between the poles, kind of in the middle. Unfortunately its not as over the top as number two so its not as memorable and certain not as scary and real seeming as the first one. The other was that it was shot in L.A which I do think it gives it a totally different air than if it was shot in Texas because all the other sequels were shot in Texas. Its a big different because Texas is its own country if you will.
GM: I think its one of the underrated horror sequels
JB: Well when I say it falls between the poles I think its the identity issue. Ok you have a new family but their not so different from the first family. To me it didn't have enough personality to really stand out from number two. And it was a much lower budget movie.
GM: I heard you had problems working with New Line?
JB: I feel on a corporate level you cant re create the circumstance`s from the first movie the only want to make that movie was independently otherwise its not going to be that movie. Leatherface was always a corporate movie and at New Line they had there own ways of doing things. You could only go so far in terms of the production so that influenced everything. Honestly the line producer and I didn't get along, I think he dismissed me from day one so it was not a good relationship on any level.
GM: Hard shoot?
JB: It wasn't the toughest shot I`ve ever had but it was a last minute film and it would have been a much film if the MPAA and New Line didnt get involved. But it delivered more of what it was suppose to deliver, it was never going to be a classic it was an unfortunate thing all the way around but ultimately its my still my most known movie which is kind of depressing twenty five years later. I am very proud of some of the stuff we were able to get on the screen. I`m also really proud of the cast.
GM: Which leads me to my next question, having worked with R.A before had you always had him in mind to play Leatherface?
JB: Absolutely yes I did. Basically in a sense I felt obligated to Gunnar. I had met him and he had not been in number two and I felt I should offer it to him. So I offered it to Gunnar and I thought it would increase awareness of this movie and I thought since the title was Leather and having the quote unquote real Leatherface would be a perfect marriage. But unfortunately he wanted more money than what New Line was willing to pay and what he wanted wasn't out of line as all it was absolutely a fair figure. So once Gunnar was out of the picture I went right to R.A and hes he just gave it 100%. We had to jump through a few casting hoops. Even if I said this is the guy Bob Shaye would still have to sign off on it. But he got it and everyone loved him.
GM: After Leatherface you did "Eddie Presley" a very different kind of film. What drew you to that project and was a break from horror needed?
JB: I love horror films but they aren't the only kind of films I want to make. Just like Vincent Price he didn't want to only make horror films. But with that movie it was defiantly a direct response to having done Leatherface i`m sure. It (Eddie) was an independent movie and I developed the script, found the project and shepherded the whole thing. It was a project that meant a lot to me and i`m sure every directors got one or two of these kind of projects, the ones you put your heart and soul into but nobody saw it. But its out there and it can be seen and that's the victory. Theirs a special edition DVD out and hopefully it will be on blu. Its one that makes me smile every time I think about it.
GM: The blu ray of From a Whisper to a Scream just came out. What can fans look forward to seeing from this release?
JB: I`m not good at shameless self promotion but in this case I have to say this is one of the best packages for a blu ray of his type, a low budget independent movie from the 80s. I cant think of any better blu of a movie in terms of the whole package, the transfer and the supplements. My goal when I was putting together the supplements was to never have to speak about this movie again. In other words any information you would ever want to know about this movie is on the blu ray.
GM: The blu features some really awesome documentaries.
JB: There is a prequel to the documentary its called "The Decade Under Innocent" its all about my childhood in GA and the people that influenced me, my super eight movies. Its kind of the real J.J Abram`s "Super Eight" without the alien sub plot. Both documentaries are feature like. "Return to Oldfield" is about two hours long and I save everything creative wise and in this case i`m glad, so much behind the scenes stuff. Danial Griffin really master minded the whole thing he produced and directed the two documentaries, he was the real creative force behind it all i did was supply stuff but he really shaped everything. He did a wonderful job. On the documentary "Return to Oldfield" it also pays tribute to my brother who produced the movie and he passed away a couple years ago, so we wanted to do the definitive documentary in honor of him, the movie wouldn't exist without him. Between the commentaries and the documentaries its everything you`d want to know about the movie. Its a capsule of my life up to age twenty four. Its a very very special thing for me to have out their.
I`d again like to thank Mr.Burr for taking the time to talk to our readers. And check out the blu ray which has some amazing features.