'All Cheerleaders Die' directors on remaking their high school horror movie

What do Cecil B. De Mille, Alfred Hitchcock, Michael Mann, and Michael Haneke have in common? They all remade movies they had themselves previously directed. Filmmakers Lucky McKee (May, The Woman) and Chris Sivertson (I Know Who Killed Me) can now claim membership of this small but illustrious group thanks to their new collaboration All Cheerleaders Die, a remake of the pair’s 2001 horror movie.

Released to cinemas tomorrow (and also available on VOD) the revamped All Cheerleaders Die stars Caitlin Stasey, Brooke Butler, Amanda Grace Cooper, and Reanin Johannink as a quartet of cheerleaders who die in a car crash but are brought back to life by a high school acquaintance (Sianoa Smit-McPhee) and face off against the jocks responsible for their death.

Below, McKee and Sivertson talk about returning to the scene of their previous cinematic crime.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why did you decide to follow in the footsteps of Cecil B. De Mille and Michael Haneke by remaking your own film?
LUCKY McKEE:
[Laughs] Well the original All Cheerleaders Die was the first feature that either Chris or I had made. We decided to tackle something that was fun and light and wasn’t taking itself too seriously and it was a great learning experience.

We got to this place where we’d been making these really dark, heavy movies for about 10 years separately from each other and we we felt like, “Let’s shake things up, let’s go back to that light place.” It was also a good gauge for what we’d learned over the last decade, to see what new spin we could bring to that same initial concept.

I must confess I haven’t seen the original. How different is it from the new version?
McKEE:
It’s violently different, wouldn’t you say Chris?

CHRIS SIVERTSON: Yeah, definitely. The basic concept is the same in that it’s a battle of the sexes, a feud between football players and cheerleaders that’s out of control. The cheerleaders are killed — it’s kind of an accident, kind of the football players’ fault — and then they come back for revenge. But in the original they come back as these rotting zombies, and in this one we wanted to not lose these cool characters that we got attached to in the first act of the movie. So when the girls come back, even though they’re undead, they still have to deal with getting through their first day of school and all the drama that that entails.

I assume the new version was made on a bigger budget. Was this easier to make than the original?
McKEE:
Oh gosh, I don’t think any film is easy to make. I mean, it’s hard work but that’s the fun of it. There’s never enough resources to go as far as you might want. It’s always about maximizing what you have. It was easier in some ways. I mean, Chris and I didn’t have to operate the camera or hold the boom or anything like that. That was nice.

You didn’t have to make sandwiches for the cast?
McKEE:
[Laughs] Right, exactly.

SIVERTSON: Well, Lucky’s mom did that on the first movie.

McKEE: That’s true.

You shot in a real high school?
SIVERTSON:
Yeah, it’s high school in downtown L.A. We actually had to comp out some skyscrapers in the background. That football field in the movie is formerly the oldest cemetery in Los Angeles and they moved the cemetery when they put a school there. So it’s exactly like Poltergeist and there’s a bunch of stories about how the place is haunted. It was the perfect place for us.

Was it difficult finding a high school that would let you shoot a film called All Cheerleaders Die?
SIVERTSON:
 That’s kind of funny because the public schools kind of had a problem with it. The school we shot at was a Catholic school. We were having a sex scene in their bathroom and all kinds of crazy stuff and they didn’t bat an eye.

How much do you guys now know about cheerleading?
SIVERTSON:
 Quite a bit more on this one because we actually got a real cheer coordinator. The first one, I don’t even remember how we did it, we just kind of winged it.

One of the things I liked about the film is that no one seemed to really give a crap that one of the characters is a lesbian.
SIVERTSON:
Yeah, we tried to treat that as something that’s completely normal — which I feel like, with teenagers these days, that’s probably how it is. I mean, I’m no authority on current teenage culture but each successive generation seems to evolve more than the next in that fashion to where it’s a normal part of life.

Is this a world you would like to explore further?
McKEE:
 Absolutely. We talked about this being the first act of a larger story. We’ve definitely got the next past pretty well thought out. Hopefully people will be clambering for more.

You can check out both a clip from All Cheerleaders Die and the film’s trailer below.

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