TRANSCRIPT Switchblade Sisters Ep. 104: ‘Logan’s Run’ with ‘Paradise Hills’ Director Alice Waddington and Halloween Horror Recs with Jordan Crucchiola

‘Paradise Hills’ director Alice Waddington joins April to discuss ‘Logan’s Run.’ Plus, Vulture associate editor Jordan Crucchiola calls in with some horror movie recommendations.

Podcast: Switchblade Sisters

Episode number: 104

Guests: Alice Waddington Jordan Crucchiola

Transcript

music

"Switchblade Comb" by Mobius VanChocStraw. A jaunty, jazzy tune reminiscent of the opening theme of a movie. Music continues at a lower volume as April introduces herself and her guest, and then it fades out.

april wolfe

Welcome to Switchblade Sisters, where women get together to slice and dice our favorite action and genre films. I'm April Wolfe. Every week, I invite a new female filmmaker on—a writer, director, actor, or producer—and we talk in-depth about one of their fave genre films, perhaps one that influenced their own work in some small way, and today I'm very excited to have writer-director Alice Waddington here with me. Hi, Alice!

alice waddington

Hi, April! How are you? [Music fades out.]

april

Oh, I'm quite well. [Alice laughs.] Despite fires raging.

alice

Oh my goodness.

april

But I gotta say your pink jumpsuit—pink corduroy jumpsuit is really livening up the place.

alice

[Laughs.] Thank you so much. I'm—you know, I am on my Logan's Run stuff already. So. [Laughs.]

april

Absolutely. I mean, Halloween should be year-round. [Alice laughs.] Okay, so for those of you who are not as familiar with Alice's work, please let me give you an introduction. Alice Waddington was born in a rural background, but she was raised in the big city of Bilbao, Spain. At 16, she began working as an assistant to director of photography Enrique Lopez. She studied advertising at the public UPV university, and started shooting promotional stills and directing fashion films for the Spanish editions of Harper's Bazaar, Neo2, and a bunch of others. She worked as a creative producer and video editor in advertising, specializing as a storyboard and concept artist. But in 2014, with the help of Mexican producer Yadira Ávalos, she spent a year writing her first short film, Disco Inferno, which was nominated for awards in 67 international film festivals, including Palm Springs, Fantasia, and Sitges. At Fantastic Fest, Waddington was awarded Best Director and Silver Feature Film Project at the festival's film market, and that's also where she met Guillermo del Toro, who then helped her get a manager, an agent, who then introduced her to Núria Valls and Adrián Guerra at Nostromo Pictures to make her first feature, Paradise Hills. Alice brought on Nacho Vigalondo to co-write, along with writer Brian DeLeeuw, and crashed on friends' couches in LA for a few months, right?

crosstalk

April: Yeah. She's nodding. Yes. Alice: Mm-hm. Mm-hm! [Laughs.]

april

It's a few months. [Alice laughs.] Here she met Danielle Macdonald and then Emma Roberts, Awkwafina, Eiza González, Milla Jovovich, and then Jeremy Irvine, who all signed onto the film Paradise Hills, which tells the story of ultra-wealthy debutantes sent to a mysterious island to self-actualize, in a way, until one resident realizes something darker lurks behind the scenes. The film became the second Spanish female debut to be screened at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Currently Alice has signed on to helm Netflix's Scarlet, based on her own original idea, produced by Jason Bateman, Michael Costigan, and Roxie Rodriguez at Aggregate Films. And we'll probably hear a little bit more about what Scarlet's about, right?

alice

Yeah, exactly! I also have a television project, which is the adaptation of a series of fantasy novels, and the reason why it isn't in that list yet is because it hasn't been announced. Hopefully before the end of the year. But I'm very excited, because it's very inclusive and very female.

april

It's such a bummer that it takes so long for announcements to happen.

alice

[Laughs.] Yeah.

april

But I get it. Alice, the movie that you chose to talk about today is Logan's Run.

alice

Mm-hm.

april

Can you give us a little explanation about why it's one of your fave genre films?

alice

Sure! I mean, if you sort of brush aside all of the circumstantial 1970s intolerance, AKA sexism, [laughing] AKA the fact that there's no people of color in this film—

crosstalk

April: We are definitely going to get into that later on, too. Alice: [Stifling laughter] Oh, we're gonna get into that for sure! April: Okay.

alice

I would love to. And you have some pretty interesting thematic angles, and the main connection with Paradise Hills is the notion of freedom, and how we define young people's freedom for them instead of sort of letting them choose their path.

april

Yeah.

alice

And this can be from, you know, family members. It can be from partners. It can be even from friends. So I found the sort of sociological aspect of it really interesting. And of course you have the visuals, which is also a connection with my first feature.

april

Mm-hm.

alice

And we definitely used a lot of references from, you know, the production design in this film, and the color scheme, and the use of like, [stifling laughter] futuristic anxieties, so... Yeah! I love it. [Alice makes active listening sounds as April speaks.]

april

Yeah. It was very influential at the time. And we will get into that too, but in terms of just its look and its style.

alice

Mm-hm.

april

So for those of you who haven't seen Logan's Run, today's episode will give you some spoilers. But that shouldn't stop you from listening before you watch. As always, my motto is that it's not what happens but how it happens that makes a movie worth watching.

alice

Mm-hm.

april

Still, if you would like to pause and watch Logan's Run first, this is your shot.

alice

Bing! [Beat.] [Both laugh.]

april

Now that you're back— [Alice laughs.] I like the "bing" because it's like the storybook when you were a kid, with the record?

crosstalk

Music: "The Dome/The City/The Nursery," Logan's Run (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), by Jerry Goldsmith, begins fading in. Alice: Yeah! April: When it hits like, "Ding!" and you're like, "Oh, turn the page!" Alice: [Winding down from laughter] Yeah.

april

So now let's introduce Logan's Run with a short synopsis. Written by David Zelag Goodman and directed by Michael Anderson for release in 1976, Logan's Run stars Michael York as Logan 5, a Sandman, which is a kind of policeman in this future world. I love that name though, Sandman.

alice

Mm-hm.

april

He is one of the thousands of survivors of some kind of catastrophe, who've built a giant dome in what used to be Washington, DC. Everyone lives in the dome, and lives a life of absolute pleasure. That is, until they turn 30— [Alice chuckles.] —and they're sent to the Carrousel, where they're levitated and blown to bits under the guise of "renewal." [Music stops.]

clip

[A crowd is chattering.] Francis 7: Some of our guys are on Carrousel tonight. And Sandmen always renew, I know. Logan 5: But you don't know! You just assume. Music: Cheerful, tinkling bells, occasionally punctuated by something low and resounding. Logan: One for one! What everyone's been taught to believe. One for one. Francis: Well, why not? That's exactly how everything works! Keeps everything in balance. One is terminated, one is born! Simple, logical, perfect!

april

One night Logan 5 catches a Runner, i.e. a person nearing 30 who tries to escape his fate. The Runner holds an ankh pendant, which Logan 5 takes to a supercomputer. The computer tells him the ankh is a symbol of a kind of resistance group that helps people escape to Sanctuary, where they can grow past 30. Logan 5 is confused when the computer tells him they've lost more than a thousand Runners this way.

clip

Music: Eerie and ponderous. Synthetic chimes. [The computer has a very human voice.] City Computer: Unaccounted Runners one zero five six. You may state your question. Logan: One thousand and fifty-six unaccounted for? Computer: The number is correct. Logan: That's impossible!

april

He never knew they'd lost any Runners at all, really. [Alice chuckles.] The computer then ages Logan 5, taking away four years of his precious life so that he may go undercover and find Sanctuary, and destroy it. [Stifling laughter as Alice laughs] He's not very happy about losing four years. Computer refuses to give him an answer if he'll get it back.

clip

Music: More eerie synthetic music. Logan: I will get them back, won't I? Computer: You will take the object ankh with you for identification. [Logan breathes hard.] Logan: Question. [Nervous breaths.] Do I get my four years back?

april

[Alice is chuckling and April sounds amused.] Which means he's not gonna get it back.

alice

Oh, no...

april

Though Logan 5 has seen that ankh before, around the neck of Jessica 6. Logan 5, now nearing 30, begs Jessica 6 to trust him that he needs to escape.

clip

Jessica 6: I'm sorry I didn't believe you. Logan: But you—you do now? Jessica: Of course!

april

Francis, meanwhile, is following them. And Francis is maybe the hardened—the most hardened version of the Sandman. He's just like, very by the books—

alice

Mm-hm. [Alice repeats this as April continues.]

april

"I'm gonna catch these Runners. I don't care the circumstances; they have to die."

clip

[Sounds of violence, gunfire, and explosions in the background.] Francis: Nobody knows except me. You know I won't tell. I could have turned you in; I didn't! ...But she's a Runner. And it's over. Terminate her! Now!

april

So as Logan 5 and Jessica 6 are on this journey, they come across a robot. He's gathering food from the outside for the dome, but they realize that the robot also freezes Runners.

clip

Music: Dramatic strings. Box (Robot): [Cheerfully] It's my job... to freeze you!

april

And that people in the dome have actually been eating them.

alice

Nooo! [More quietly] Sorry. [Both laugh.] [Laughing] I apologize.

april

[Stifles laughter.] They finally get outside the dome. Wilderness has taken over the city. They discover an old man who cares for many cats! My hero! [Laughs.]

alice

That's me!

april

He's played by Peter Ustinov, my—one of my favorite men in the world.

alice

Mm-hm.

april

The old man shares his knowledge of the past and the outside, and it becomes clear that Sanctuary is a myth.

clip

Jessica: This is Sanctuary, isn't it? [A cat mewls.] Old Man: [Confused sound.] Sanctuary?

april

Francis then catches them, and tries to kill Logan 5.

clip

Music: Darkly dramatic. [A cat meows in distress as Francis loudly steps closer.] Francis: And now... I have to finish you. You are terminated, Runner. [Francis's voice briefly cracks on "terminated."]

april

But Logan 5 kills Francis instead. Logan 5 and Jessica 6 go back to the dome to explain to everyone that they can survive in the outside, but nobody listens.

clip

Music: Low resounding bongs, same as heard in the first clip with the supercomputer. Logan: LIVE! And grow old! I've seen it!

april

And they're captured.

alice

Mm-hm...

april

The computer then interrogates Logan 5. He tells the truth: that Sanctuary does not exist. But the computer insists it does, insists that everything it knows is factual. Eventually, the computer is overwhelmed by computational confusion and malfunctions. [Alice laughs quietly.] This in turn releases the seals on the city, and everyone escapes the dome to the outside, where they meet the old man and realize... they've been living a lie. [Alice gasps quietly. April then gasps more dramatically.]

alice

Oh my goodness.

april

The end!

alice

Awww.

april

I know! I know. What a—[sharp exhale]!

crosstalk

Alice: [Laughs.] And they— April: What a shocker!

alice

[Laughs.] They caress his beautiful face, realizing everything they've been missing.

april

[Sound of fondness/agreement.]

alice

It's very... tough.

april

It's a very beautiful face, I gotta say, too.

alice

Yeah. Yeah. [Alice makes a sound of acknowledgement as April speaks.]

april

It—I wanna get into something that Michael York, the actor who played Logan 5, has said in interviews. He was probably the most vocal about interviews, obviously, because he's a lead. But he's just a very charismatic person in general.

alice

Mm-hm.

april

And he said that Logan's Run pre-figured many things, "like the malling of America, these great, giant, indoor spaces that were soon anywhere, and plastic surgery on demand."

alice

Mm.

april

"There was a certain prophetic truth to what it was pose—" the—to what the movie was "positing about the future." Very true!

alice

Yeah, absolutely! I feel like obviously the computerized aspect of this dystopia can be considered a bit, you know, [laughing] "far out," to—[breaks off, laughing]

april

Mm-hm!

alice

[stifling laughter] to use the language of the time. But I would say that obviously if you replace those technological anxieties with a different sort of dystopia, you can easily, easily see how we are—as I was saying earlier on—asking these younger people that they need to change in order to fit in. And the goal of life is this sort of hedonistic pursuit, just because they're gonna pass out anyway—

april

Mm-hm.

alice

—due to this tremendous system that is ruling their lives.

crosstalk

Alice: And you can— April: It's like YOLO: The Movie. Alice: Yeah! Yeah. [Laughs.] April: Just like— Alice: [Laughing] Stop! April: —hedonistic, do-it-all-now...

alice

Exactly! And that's very linked, obviously, to consumerism, obviously to capitalism.

april

Mm-hm.

alice

It's kind of hard sometimes to know whether this film is the most progressive or the most—[laughs].

april

Regressive!

alice

Regressive, retrograde film ever!

april

Yeah!

alice

It's kind of hard to pinpoint, right? Just because you have all of these  1970s ideals of a freer sexuality, hopefully, and of a freer social structure. Perhaps more horizontal, even though—but at the same time, you have the fact that it's ruled by a, you know, technological dictatorship, and you have the fact that the—those structures are still judgmental of women's sexuality.

april

Mm-hm. [April agrees with Alice again as she continues.]

alice

So it's—there's kind of a lot to unpack there about whether it was meant to be progressive or not, [stifling laughter] or it was meant to be like a sort of strange warning, socially speaking.

april

Yeah, there's a bunch of—! And we should also mention the fact that this was a movie that had been written—well, there was a book—

alice

Mm. [Alice responds affirmatively and/or in acknowledgment several times as April continues.]

april

—that was written first. Logan's Run, by two authors, and that book was written in the sixties, with the express intent of actually selling it to be a movie immediately. Like, simultaneously as they were selling the book rights they were selling the film rights. 'Cause they were like, "Yes. This is going to be a movie." So this was announced to be a movie in 1968 and went through many writers, many producers, many directors, and you know, they weren't sure if it was ever gonna get made, and then of course it comes out many years later in the seventies. And the 1960s and the 1970s... lot of stuff happened between that time. I mean like, we always talk about like the death of the sixties and the free love movement, you know, Charles Manson and—you know, war and politics and things that were changing over. So it almost feel—like, it felt like a throwback in the 1970s—

alice

[Laughing] Yeah. [Alice again responds affirmatively as April continues.]

april

—to the 1960s, which is a fascinating thing to think about in terms of context of when it was released.

alice

Exactly. And at the same time the book itself, even though it was published in the sixties, does have a structurally 1950s visual aspect. Sort of like the big space epics of the time.

april

Mm-hm!

alice

But at the same time the ideals try to push toward that 1970s idealism, really. But at the same time the mixture sometimes works, and sometimes it doesn't. And at the same time, the book doesn't have much to do with the film whatsoever—

april

Yeah!

alice

—so if you read it, you don't really have a base for understanding the events in the movie, properly speaking, right?

april

Mm-hm. [April replies affirmatively a few more times as Alice continues.]

alice

The film itself starts by subverting them, just moving the action to the 23rd century, [laughing] instead of the 22nd like in the book. And there's plenty of differences. Obviously if we're gonna do spoilers of the film, as we do, a basic, basic thing is the fact that the protagonists are not teenagers anymore. Instead of being in their teens, they're in their 20s and about to turn 30.

april

Because 21 is the age in the book that you have to die by—

alice

Yes. Yes.

april

—which is like—it's—that's even more dire.

april

Alice: Yeahhh. April: That is—it is darker than—yeah. Alice: Yeah, it's pretty dark. [Laughs.]

alice

Yeah, and in the film it's just 30, so—

april

Mm-hm.

april

It's different in the book. For example, the robot is making ice sculptures of animals and then sort of torturing them.

april

[Stifling laughter] Yeah.

alice

[Stifling laughter] As odd as it sounds, that's what happens, and then in the movie—which I think is a bit more coherent, perhaps, even though less poetic—

april

Mm-hm. [April repeats this as Alice continues.]

alice

—he is freezing the runaway Runners that the people in the surface couldn't find and capture. And they're sort of being stocked, as you were saying earlier, as the—a source for food. I think that's interesting in many ways. [Stifling laughter] There is like a Soylent Green thing going on there; that's cool, but—

april

And it's an interesting thing you say that, too, because they say that this movie would not have been greenlit without the success of Soylent Green.

alice

Hmm! [Alice continues to respond with thinking noises/acknowledgments/agreement as April continues.]

april

Without the success of some of the sci-fi pictures at that time. And I think that that's—that's a huge thing. Talking about sci-fi fantasy has been a mixed bag for Hollywood for indie stuff for a long time. It's hard to get people to believe in those projects, because some fail pretty miserably. And it's not because of the movies; it's just like... people don't necessarily know how to target those audiences. And I'm curious about you—I mean like, your—you went kinda sci-fi fantasy for your first feature! [Alice chuckles.] I mean like, what does that say to you, that you're like, "No, I'm willing to take this chance and to like—to make this project now." Did you have to have other projects that were successful first for this one to be like... greenlit, or—?

alice

It's a curious story, just because I feel like it was my first short that perhaps attracted many of the actresses. They've also described the presentation that we put together for them—

april

Mm-hm.

alice

—as something that was appealing. For example we had, you know, some concept art in there.

april

Mm-hm. [April continues to respond similarly as Alice continues.]

alice

We had references to other features—Logan's Run was definitely in there, by the way. [Laughs.] We had the emotional evolution of the direction of photography in the story. Just a bunch of elements that could make you have a better idea of this insane, [laughing] wonderful world was going to be like. There was a character guide as well, because this is a young adult story so there was a lot of them. That is what they refer to when they talk about what drew them to the project, really.

april

So I mean, you being—you were a concept artist, as well, for advertising.

alice

Mm-hm. [Alice replies affirmatively a couple more times as April continues.]

april

So that kinda gives you a leg up on things, that if you're going to build a world, hopefully you have an art background, too. [Both laugh.]

alice

Listen, it's—in there, it can never hurt. It can literally never hurt, because what I did was in the very, very beginning of time when we started developing a—this story—

april

Mm-hm.

alice

—when I started writing it with Sofia Quinn Kai, the Spanish genre writer, I was able to develop concept art for the original presentation at the Fantastic Market. Which really, really helped us present it as something that was already fully realized—

april

Yeah!

alice

[stifling laughter] even though it was a 40-page treatment. [Laughs.]

april

Yeah.

alice

Which obviously if you're writing a film, don't do that. Don't write a 40-page treatment. [April laughs.] Write like, at most, 15, 20 pages if you wanna do a long-form. [April laughs.] Please, just because the producers just like, [laughing] laughed at us  when we brought it to—

april

"What am I gonna—" [laughs].

alice

They loved it, but at the same time they were like, [laughing] "Listen, we need to work on this." [April laughs.] And I was like, "Tch. Okay, whatever." [Both laugh.] But there were definitely elements from Logan's that were referenced. And some of them are overt homages. The fact that the—sort of the Ludovico method moment that Paradise Hills features, in which they bring the girls to be influenced into something that isn't them. Which is basically a transformation in the making.

april

Mm-hm.

alice

Or at least that's the way that the film sells it to you. [Laughs.]

april

Yeah.

alice

Um—is literally a carousel that goes up in the air.

april

Ohhh!

alice

[Laughs.] For example, the whole notion of mirror image, and the whole idea of competing against a future self. Obviously the obsession with youth that's ever-present in the story—specifically directed towards women in Paradise Hills

april

Mm-hm.

alice

—but that is mostly because I wanted to re-appropriate those narratives. I wanted to use films like the one we're discussing, or a series like the British The Prisoner to able to—

april

Oh man, The Prisoner's so badass.

alice

Yeah!

april

I fucking—

alice

[Laughs.] It's so great.

april

[Sighing/laughing] Sorry. I love—[laughs].

alice

That's okay.

april

McGoohan, I love McGoohan.

alice

[Laughs.] To essentially create a parallel universe that was protagonized, at the very least, by a woman, even if it takes place in our very planet. That's another thing that it has in common with Logan. The fact that it is a dystopia, that means that historically something has gone—if not wrong, at least differently.

april

Yeah. Yeah.

alice

A few, like—you know, centuries into the future. [Laughs.]

music

"Switchblade Comb" begins fading in.

april

We're gonna take a quick break. When we come back, I wanna talk a little bit more about that, and kinda get into dissecting some of the themes in this. Also get into the accents in Logan's Run and the theories behind those. [Alice laughs quietly.] Some blue screen/green screen acting stuff, and a bunch of other things. So we'll take a break and we'll be right back.

music

"Switchblade Comb" continues until the promo.

promo

Elliott Kalan: Have you ever watched a movie so bad, you just needed to talk to somebody about it? Dan McCoy: Well, here at The Flop House, we watch a bad movie, and then talk about it! Stuart Wellington: Yeah, you don't have to do anything! We'll watch it and we'll talk it. We do the hard work. Dan: Featuring the beautiful vocal talents of Dan McCoy— Stuart: —Stuart Wellington— Elliott: —and me, America's rascal, Elliott Kalan. Stuart: New episodes every other Saturday at MaximumFun.org, or wherever you get your podcasts, dude. Stuart & Dan: Bye byyye! Elliott: Bye bye! [Cheerful outro music.]

music

"Switchblade Comb" fades back in, fading back out as April speaks.

april

Welcome back to Switchblade Sisters. I'm April Wolfe and I'm joined here today by Alice Waddington, and we're talking about the movie Logan's Run. [Music fades out.] Hi! Let's get into something that I thought was really fascinating.

alice

Mm-hm.

april

And something that I know is… [searches for words] something on your mind. Um—that Michael York was saying, quote: "The issue was that we're in the future, so no one really knows what the action is going be in the 23rd century or whatever it was. But in order to fit in with the rest of the cast, Jenny and I sort of had a—not even a Mid-Atlantic accent, but an overtone, without being slavishly modern American." So he's talking about these accents that they were developing for this.

alice

Mm-hm.

april

'Cause I was like, "Oh, okay, they're just British accents." You know? Because Jenny Agutter and both Michael York—they're British actors.

alice

Mm-hm.

april

But they developed a separate accent, that was kind of like a—

alice

Ooh.

april

—Cary Grant-ish accent from, you know, like the 1950s,1960s films.

alice

Hmm. Mm.

april

Which I thought was fascinating.

alice

Yeah! I mean for sure there is—as I was saying earlier, a part of the psychological setting of the film does have elements of the forties and of the fifties, for sure.

april

Mm-hm.

alice

And—[laughs]. There is this very iconic, in the sense of almost monolithic, masculinity that specifically the character of Logan is representing.

april

Mm-hm!

alice

And I think that's something that's interesting about that, is how it sort of gets subverted a little bit? Though very shyly. There are scenes in which, for example, he's talking to Jennifer when he summons her for the first time, [stifling laughter] in the first bedroom scene, and—

april

Mm-hm.

alice

—you know, her being supposedly forced to engage with him. And her rejecting that is really, really interesting. So I think that the way that they were used... is slightly subversive, is one of the many ways in which the film tries to do something—

april

Mm-hm.

alice

[stifling laughter] contemporary in that sense.

april

Yeah.

alice

But a—

april

"There's sex on demand, but..."

alice

Yeah. Yeah! [Laughs.]

april

"They can say no." [Both laugh.]

alice

So it's like you're get—so it's like, "You're saying no to Cary Grant?" [Both laugh.] You know?

april

He's got like, that black robe on, too. You know?

alice

I know. He's like, the great seducer. It's like "He must be a great lover, because he's wearing a black robe."

april

Yeah. [Both laugh.]

alice

[Laughing] You know?

april

He's also like, [baffled, with a very smooth, even voice] "Why would you say no to me?" [Alice laughs too hard to speak, might be saying "Stop."] [Same voice] "I... don't understand."

alice

[Laughs.] And she just like, leaves, like bolts for the door and then he turns around—

april

[Laughs.] "Sorry, no."

alice

—and she's gone! [Both laugh.] Logan is like, "What is going on?!" [April laughs.] Very, very funny. [Alice responds affirmatively as April speaks.]

april

I mean like, okay, so sex is like, the—not—it's the text of this movie, not the subtext of this movie.

alice

Yeah, totally.

april

And I'm wondering how you felt like you would deal with sex and sexuality in your film.

alice

Mm. Yeah! Of course, because you know, ours is a PG-13 film, and what it has in common is that fear of the male character that considers that he can essentially purchase a person, in this case a woman.

april

Mm-hm.

alice

In Paradise, because we have Son, who is our main apparent villain—who later on turns out not to be, which is also something that's in common with Logan in a way—

april

Mm-hm.

alice

—tries to coerce Uma, our main protagonist—

april

Played by Emma Roberts.

alice

Played by Emma Roberts. Uh, to marry him. And there is definitely, you know, more subtext to that in the sense that you were discussing. And it was really important to me, because the film opens with a very complex scene of him essentially on their wedding night—that we are going to also hopefully subvert towards the end of the film—

april

Mm-hm.

alice

—but that in the beginning it just seems like she has no choice but to, you know, consummate during the wedding night. So, um... There's definitely nods to that sort of psychological aspect of the film as well, and we tried to just shoot it, you know, centered on her face. I was like, "If we're doing the anti–Logan's Run while paying homage to it—"

april

Yeah!

alice

"—to the parts that are interesting..."

april

Yeah.

alice

I want to shoot this scene just from a closeup of the protagonist, meaning that anything that she goes through, I want to see on her face. And then before anything happens that can actually go against her consent in that sense, I want something else to happen, that she motivates, that changes the tide.

april

I'm interested in the kind of technical aspects of...

alice

Mm.

april

...evoking something like Logan's Run.

alice

Yeah! [Alice repeats this once as April continues.]

april

You know, we already talked a little bit about some of the designs that you were doing, the concept art. But I'm curious, because the cinematography for Logan's Run...

alice

Mm-hm.

april

It was nominated for an Academy Award.

alice

Mm-hm.

april

And it was... People were not really sure why, necessarily. [Alice laughs quietly.] It is—it is both a beautiful film and also maybe... kind of sloppy.

alice

Mm-hm.

april

In cinematography.

alice

Yeah!

april

At times.

alice

Yeah! I mean the visual aspect is interesting, because this film was made after 2001

april

Mm-hm.

alice

—and before Star Wars? It almost seems unbelievable, [stifling laughter] because it's completely different to these other two interpretations of space. [Laughs.]

april

Yeah, where does it exist? Like, Star Wars was exactly the next year, and you're like, "What the hell?" [Alice laughs.] "How did, like—" It just—they just feel like they're out of time and place.

crosstalk

Alice: Yeah. April: They don't exist. You know? Alice: Yeah.

alice

Exactly, exactly right, and that felt that way as well already in the seventies, as we were discussing earlier. But what I would say is that the cinematography—the cinematography in Logan's Run is very much interesting because of the way it frames the sets. And that is mostly it in that specific sense? Because I feel like the subjectivity of the characters perhaps is not the most polished thing, but it's definitely a feature that—and this is another thing that it has in common with Paradise—is in love with the setting. [Laughs.]

april

Mm-hm. Yeah.

alice

More than in love with some aspects of the emotions, even at times in which it's necessary, which is sort of shading myself, and I'm doing it on purpose because, you know— [April laughs.] I'm a—I—you—listen, like, I'm a first-time filmmaker. [Mumbling jovially] Like, I—I feel like I made mistakes, I don't know. Uh, but—

april

[Laughs.] You come on here to be like, "Look, I would have done things a little differently." [Both laugh.]

alice

No, but it's true! It's true! Like, again. First feature, and I feel like there is an innocence that the two films have in common, that is very much along the lines of—we want to represent the future, and we are centered in world-building as a main asset.

april

Yeah. The world-building is—I mean, you start to understand why...

alice

Mm. [Alice responds affirmatively several times as April continues.]

april

...sci-fi's movies—well, not just that their budgets are much bigger, but just the fact that people are focusing more on the world that is built, necessarily, than sometimes the characters, too. Because the world is supposed to be telling the story as much as the characters and their emotion.

alice

Yeah. [Alice responds affirmatively several times as April continues.]

april

So if you can like, latch onto that and figure out how to elicit emotion from a set, elicit emotion from a production design, then it's doing some of that work for you.

alice

Yeah. Exactly. I absolutely agree. And listen, I was joking earlier on that we—that I didn't pay as much attention to every element as I could just because it's kind of difficult when you're trying to figure it out for the first time. But at the same time I did put a lot of love in working with the actresses in a way that, as you say, created relatable main characters?

april

Mm-hm.

alice

And sometimes people do tell me, "Oh, oftentimes I cannot identify with the main characters in science fiction, or in fantasy." Paradise has both, so it was also tricky in that sense. And it was important to me that—not only to work with extraordinary actresses like the ones we worked with, but also to make sure that every scene and every character had a main emotional core that was relatable.

april

Mm-hm.

alice

So for example, I would put something of myself in each character. I have anxiety, so Awkwafina's character Yu has generalized anxiety.

april

Mm-hm. What do you have in common with Milla Jovovich's character?

alice

The fact that I—

april

Are you evil? Are you not evil? Are you—?

alice

The fact that I grew up in the—yes, to all of the above. [April laughs.] But also, the fact that I grew up in the fashion industry. And I would see, you know, very young models suffer through the demands that would be thrust upon them, and the fact that they were never young enough, never beautiful enough.

april

Mm-hm.

alice

Never popular enough. It obviously got even worse with social networks; we can talk about that as well.

april

Oh, yeah.

alice

But part of the central conflict of Milla is just how she has this internalized toxic competition between women. That is part of her story. And that is what really makes her a monster, in a way.

april

Mm-hm.

alice

That is the actual beast in the story. That—it was really important to me that this narrative went against that.

music

"Switchblade Comb" starts fading in.

april

I wanna get into a little bit more about your directing style and process.

alice

Mm-hm.

april

But we're gonna take a quick break. When we come back, we'll get a little bit further into that. We'll get into music, and then some of the other themes as well. So we'll be right back.

music

"Switchblade Comb" continues until the promo.

promo

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promo

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music

"Switchblade Comb" fades back in, fading out as April and Alice speak.

april

Welcome back to Switchblade Sisters. I'm April Wolfe and I'm joined today by Alice Waddington, and we're talking about the movie Logan's Run.

alice

Yaaay. [Music fades out.]

april

Okay, so there's something that, you know, we had mentioned earlier in this conversation, and that was—you know. Is this movie progressive, regressive? [Alice laughs quietly.] There's a few things that we can definitely point out here that are—

alice

Mm.

april

—you know, interesting. One of the things that I thought was fascinating, and that people have written about, is Roscoe Lee Browne.

alice

Mm. [Alice continues to make sounds of acknowledgment/agreement as April continues.]

april

And he is a fantastic actor—or was a fantastic actor, who was on stage and screen and really, throughout his career, kind of resisted playing any kind of stereotypical roles of African Americans. Um, but he plays the person inside this robot costume. And there were a lot of... you know... essentially, people getting kind of angry that the only kind of really visible Black character was in this robot, and that his voice was, you know, audibly African American. You know, that it was—it sounded that way.

alice

Yeah. [Alice continues responding in agreement/acknowledgment as April continues.]

april

And there—I think there was like a—there's a series of movies where there's a character who's kind of in costume, who's kind of used in that sense. I mean we can go even further into film history. In Little Shop of Horrors we talked a little bit about that, too. And you know, what that means to have this person—you know... be a stand-in, in a sense, for kind of like, Black America, but it's...

alice

Yeah.

april

And they're in a costume, and they're a caricature.

alice

Yeah.

april

And it's—you know! It's a fascinating character, this robot, though.

alice

Yeah. I mean it's very terrible, because it's very minstrelsy. And it's very much part of why I'm not saying "Oh, this is my favorite film!" What I'm saying is that I want to take films like this and turn them into something that is inclusive.

april

'Cause it has potential!

alice

Because it has—yeah! Like, the world-building has potential. The sort of context it's—the sort of context it takes place in has potential. But my point is not saying that this film is wonderful. I'm quite saying the opposite in the sense of—basically any progressive values, socially or racially speaking.

april

Yeah.

alice

I want to—as I was saying earlier—re-appropriate narratives like this and hand them to... [stifling laughter] people who actually want to be outside of the robot. [Both laugh.] And I—

crosstalk

April: "People who wanna be—" Alice: I know! [Laughs.] April: "—outside of the robot." Yeah. [Both laugh.]

alice

So that is my point! And that is why I wanted to work with women, why I wanted to work with women of color. You know my next film, Scarlet, is all women of color as well, of course.

april

And like, we were talking about Mid-Atlantic accents—

alice

Yeah. [Alice repeats this a few times.]

april

—when it comes to Logan's Run. But there is a—obviously a lack of actual accents or anything.

crosstalk

Alice: Exactly. Exactly. April: And so, I mean like—and that's something where like— Alice: The— April: There are people who have a different way of speaking— Alice: Mm-hm. April: —if you're doing English movie, they have a different way of speaking English. Alice: Yeah. April: And so—is that represented, in a sense.

alice

Absolutely. And my point is a—that what we want is to analyze this to be like, "Okay. This is the past. How do we make that into something that is current? How do we make that into something that has a precedent?”

april

I wanna get into one of my favorite aspects of Logan's Run.

alice

Mm-hm.

april

Which is Peter Ustinov, as the—you know, as I said earlier, the cat man. [Both laugh quietly.] Here's a quote from Michael York at the time. He said "It was a sheer delight to be around Peter, for numerous reasons. For one thing, he was one of the most legendary raconteurs, so his stories were extraordinary, not to mention his delivery of the stories. The funny old man with his story about cats." [Alice laughs quietly.] "He was onto cats way before Andrew Lloyd Webber got hold of T.S. Eliot. We had to work on a set that was sort of quarantined. It was closed up. These animals lived there. It wasn't the most savory atmosphere to work in, but it was effective." [Alice laughs.] So essentially, what Peter Ustinov did is like—there was a script for him there, but he threw it away and he just spent a bunch of time with these cats, and then came up with all of this stuff. [Alice laughs quietly.] Sometimes—you know, contemporaneously, you know? Like, it was—it was a weird thing to just not know what Peter Ustinov was gonna do, and these cats were around. And this is a big budget movie! [Alice laughs.] And he wrote all of his own dialogue in his head as he was going.

alice

Oh my god. That—that is—I have no words. I mean, [laughing] he's such an extraordinary actor. But I didn't know this bit of trivia, that he actually like, filled it up with cats and just like, chilled. [Laughs.] [Alice makes active listening noises as April speaks.]

april

Yeah, and Ustinov, who's a British actor, decided to adopt a kind of Southern American accent, which is... very funny.

alice

Yeah. [Laughs.]

april

But also weird. And you know, he's supposed to be a guy whose only friends are cats, and he is appropriately strange. You know?

alice

Mm-hm. Mm-hm. I agree.

april

Just—his—if you look on YouTube, there's clips of him. Like of the scene of him talking about naming cats.

alice

Oh my gosh. [April laughs.] That is amazing. Tell me all about it. I'm a big cat fan. [Laughs.] [Alice makes active listening noises and responds affirmatively as April speaks.]

april

It's lovely. I just—I love that he went so far into his character. Even—you know, and he's like—he's a pivotal character, but he's not, you know, central. He's not a protagonist.

alice

No.

april

He's just one of the greatest character actors to have worked.

alice

I agree.

april

And I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about, in a sense, working with character actors.

alice

Mm. [Alice continues to make active listening/affirmative sounds.]

april

Awkwafina, for instance. I know that like, she kills in The Farewell as a leading actress, as a protagonist. But she's also been, you know, quite a solid, uh, character actress!

alice

Yeah!

april

In recent years, you know?

alice

Yeah.

april

And some of those people can really come up with stuff on the fly, or they can kind of invent. And I was wondering what your experience was like with that.

alice

Hm. Absolutely. I mean, I fell in love with her when I first met her. She had done—mm... comedy, as you say, mostly, before.

april

Mm-hm. [April makes active listening noises/sounds of agreement as Alice continues.]

alice

And she was sort of—not scared, but she was, you know, trying to be cautious about the way that she was going to go about doing a dramatic role, because she had just shot Crazy Rich Asians, and she was about to do The Farewell. And when we first saw her on set, we realized that she had nothing to worry about, because she was just a natural. With very little notes, she could latch onto very emotionally universal, but specific to her—you know, just emotional moments that she was able to develop into really interesting scenes. And when I first met her, I actually expanded her role. Because I thought that she—even though obviously Crazy Rich Asians hadn't come out—was going to be huge, because she had this tremendous emotional intelligence and also this sense of humor that could make—put anyone at ease. And I was—as I said earlier, you need that on your set. I was like, "We need this energy." We need someone that will be sort of like, [laughing] risking her life for a joke. As she has sometimes said. And that was important to me! Yeah. She's great. And Milla as well, has—is kind of doing that in this film. She has a character that is very sort of Tim Burton-esque, or very commedia dell'arte. It—very—[laughs].

april

Yeah, she kinda falls into it quite easily.

alice

Yeah! Yeah, very vaudevillian. I appreciate her taking my references seriously, because I show her Delphine Seyrig in Daughters of the Dark. I show her 1940s Joan Crawford films.

april

Oh, I can see that. Okay.

crosstalk

April: Yeah, Joan Crawford. Alice: And that's—yeah! April: Yeah.

alice

Yeah! And that's definitely there, you know? Which is really fun to watch. I think it's a very self-aware role, but at the same time she brings a sense of humor to it that is just a real joy to watch, so... Yeah, and also I feel like Emma Roberts has been quite a character actress as well in her career.

april

Mm-hm.

alice

And she sort of brought this bravery and this charisma to the story. It kind of pulls you from frame one to hopefully the end of the film.

april

Mm-hm.

alice

And it was just important for me for the audience to be able to empathize with her plight, even though—you know, she's an awkward character—for her to slowly realize, uh, well, the comparison of her privilege towards what happens in the third act of the story without spoiling anything. [Both laugh.]

april

Alice, it was so wonderful for you to join us and talk today about Logan's Run and your movie Paradise Hills.

alice

Thank you so much.

april

Can you tell people how they'll be able to see Paradise Hills?

alice

Of course. So Paradise Hills is in theaters right now. It's been since last Friday, October 25th, and it will come to your digital screens on November 1st! Yeah!

music

"Switchblade Comb" is fading in.

april

Wonderful! [Alice laughs.] So check it out in theaters, and then also if you don't—

alice

Mm-hm!

april

If you miss it in theaters, make sure you look for it online.

alice

Mm-hm! Exactly, exactly. [Laughs.]

april

Alright. Thank you so much!

alice

Thank you so much!

april

But don't hit "stop" on this recording just yet, because before we go we have a special guest here for the Halloween season. I have a call-in from Jordan Crucchiola, who's associate editor at Vulture, and also a horror fiend. Hi, Jordan!

jordan crucchiola

Hi, April!

april

Jordan, you're here to talk with us today about some horror movies that we should maybe watch this season! [The music has stopped.] Is that correct?

jordan

Yes! No, that is absolutely today's mission with you.

april

God, I was hoping so. [Jordan laughs.] Because otherwise I wouldn't know what to talk about the next ten minutes. So I was hoping that you could maybe start us off! What's one good one that we should see, that we might not have before?

jordan

I wanna start with—because it's the ten-year anniversary and it's a very tidy intro point—to Jennifer's Body. I think if you haven't seen it before, you absolutely of course should correct that mistake, and I think if you have seen it before but it maybe didn't land with you the first time because of misgivings you may have had in 2009 about the creators and star, or because you were misled by a terrible marketing campaign, it's time to re-evaluate. And if you love it, it is always a good time to watch Jennifer's Body again. So that would be my first recommendation.

april

And two things, too, as an addendum to that. One, Isa Mazzei—her episode with us on Switchblade Sisters was amazing and was a great deep dive into Jennifer's Body. And two, Jordan, you hosted a sold-out screening at Beyond Fest very recently that included Karyn Kusama and Megan Fox. Correct?

jordan

I did! I did, and it was a tremendous day. Karyn's people told us afterwards that she felt like the movie really got a second premiere.

april

Can I stop you and ask what is the—like, what is one thing that you learned through that Q&A about Jennifer's Body that you thought was, you know, the biggest takeaway?

jordan

The biggest takeaway for me was truly—I mean, I—I've always been a fan and a proponent of Megan Fox. I think she's always been better than a lot of the material she was given very early on in her career. Not including Jennifer's Body in that statement, which was actually absolutely wonderful. But to hear the perspective she had on that time in her life, and the ability she had to sort of work through it and metabolize out her very justified anger at the way she was mistreated, while not being bitter or resentful, because she factored that experience in as a process of learning and growth to her life. Um—was so mature, and she was so wise. And to hear her and Karyn speak about it for what I believe was the first time since the film came out, and to have, you know, therefore a really fresh conversation about why the movie resonates, you know, with them in their careers and with audience broad—audiences more broadly now. To hear the pride that Karyn has in the work, and the pride that she had in Megan's performance, was really wonderful and special. And to see these two creative people sort of finally get on the same page and be like, "Yeah, we did do something great! And we never had the chance to really check in about that, because the experience was so rough getting it out the door." And to see them be very happy together about what they had done was a really special moment, and I'm so proud that I got to be a part of it.

april

Okay, let's move on. What's another one?

jordan

Another one is going to be—I'm gonna go with a newer one, came out this year, it's called Level 16, by the director Danishka Esterhazy. And it is a—I think a sort of a timeline, either in our own or in the near future. It is set in Russia. There is a sort of a—there's an underground dormitory facility where young women are raised to be the best, most pristine versions of cleanliness and femininity. For the purposes of being—they are told—"adopted" by good upstanding families one day. And obviously since we're talking about horror movies here, the intentions of that dormitory facility are not as, uh... altruistic as the girls are led to believe.

crosstalk

April: Yeah, this is not a Punky Brewster story. Jordan: And then one of them sort of comes to consciousness about the circumstances around them.

jordan

She starts to rise up. And it's a great example of like, small-scale science fiction horror world-building that is just executed really cleanly and concisely.

april

And also she has another movie coming up that looks pretty insane. Based on a children's show, a little-known children's show with a lot of big, fuzzy, furry costumes in it, that looks pretty nuts! [Jordan laughs.]

crosstalk

April: What else you got? Jordan: That sounds tremendous.

jordan

Next up let's go with—let's pull back a little bit, and I will go with Fatal Frame, from Japanese director Mari Asato. She has directed quite a few movies, actually, but this one... It kind of draws on that lingering dread feeling, that deliberately paced lingering dread feeling we get a lot from Peter Weir's Picnic at Hanging Rock.

april

Mm-hm!

jordan

And then ties in a sort of queer "coming of age in a boarding school" narrative where a young girl takes to her bed, essentially, and locks herself in her room, and afterwards the sort of students around her who have come to fall in love with this very charismatic, beautiful girl. They mourn her absence and not knowing if she's ever coming out, as more girls sort of succumb to a mysterious malady, or—I don't know, perhaps curse—

april

Mm-hm.

jordan

—that is creeping through the school. And so it is longing, it is desire, it is the disappearance of young women, it is sort of the queering of coming of age. And Mari Asato's a great woman whose filmography is good to start getting familiar with.

april

Yeah, and you know, as a companion to that—not necessarily horror, but more kind of fantasy and grounded realism—Anna Rose Holmer's The Fits kinda fits into that as well.

jordan

Mm-hm!

april

You know, these strange maladies that affect women, or you know, affect like a—a population, and you're never quite sure if it's hysterics or not.

jordan

The Fits and The Falling as well, who I can't recall the director of that at the time, but it's about a—

april

Oh, she's wonderful. Um—director Carol Morley. Fantastic. Love it. Okay, so what else do you have?

jordan

In honor of the Soska Sisters' next film, Rabid, finally getting its stateside release coming up in December, I will say their highly stylized rape revenge feature, American Mary.

april

Mm-hm!

jordan

About a young woman who is a medical student, who is sexually assaulted and, in taking back control in her life and sort of reclaiming her power, she starts doing body modification procedures for people who come to her. Sort of specialty requests. It sort of—it very much fits in the fetish space, a lot of her clients. And also her honing her skills as a surgeon in anticipation of exacting vengeance upon the man who harmed her.

april

Mm-hm!

jordan

And it stars the tremendous Katharine Isabelle of Ginger Snaps fame, and is really—I—still I think to this day the Soska—the Twist Twins' signature piece, and I think that's a great way to honor Rabid coming out pretty soon.

april

And also we do have our episode with the Soska Sisters, where they  talk about not just Rabid but they also talk about David Cronenberg's Dead Ringers, so another accompaniment for that. Jordan, that's all the time that we have, and we're so happy that you were able to join us and give us some recommendations. And I'm sure that our listeners probably have some new ones to check out, and old ones to re-watch.

music

"Switchblade Comb" begins fading in.

april

And have a happy Halloween, Jordan!

jordan

Happy Halloween to you too, April! Thanks so much for having me on!

april

And thank you for listening to Switchblade Sisters. If you like what you're hearing, please leave us a five-star review on Apple Podcasts. If you do, we'll read it on-air. We've got one from dryjel19, and they say: "If I could give this podcast six stars, I would. After hearing the ads for Switchblade Sisters for the past few years, I finally decided to listen to this absolutely incredible podcast. Between April Wolfe and her amazing guests, I feel like I'm back in college again." [Stifling laughter] I hope that's a good thing. "I wish I could have pursued a film degree, but I'm getting all of my credit hours from an absolutely amazing program." Man. I mean, I had a decent time in college. [Laughing] I hope that you did too, so that it's a positive—[breaks off, laughing]. If you want to let us know what you think of the show, you can Tweet at us at @SwitchbladePod or email us at switchbladesisters@maximumfun.org, and please check out our Facebook group too. That's Facebook.com/groups/switchbladesisters. Our producer is Casey O'Brien, our senior producer is Laura Swisher, and this is a production of MaximumFun.org. [Music finishes.]

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About the show

Switchblade Sisters is a podcast providing deep cuts on genre flicks from a female perspective. Every week, film critic April Wolfe sits down with a phenomenal female film-maker to slice-and-dice a classic genre movie – horror, exploitation, sci-fi and many others! Along the way, they cover craft, the state of the industry, how films get made, and more. Mothers, lock up your sons, the Switchblade Sisters are coming!

Follow @SwitchbladePod on Twitter and join the Switchblade Sisters Facebook group. Email them at switchbladesisters@maximumfun.org.

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