He is the man behind King’s short story Chattery Teeth.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Mick Garris: I am a Los Angeles native who writes, produces and directs films and television. I have been writing since I was twelve years old, which is also when I started making little 8mm movies. I have been making films professionally for almost 20 years.
SKSM: When did you make Chattery Teeth? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Mick Garris: “Chattery Teeth” was originally going to be a pilot for a television series, a sort of horror anthology. It was originally commissioned by the ABC television network. John McTiernan was going to produce and direct it, and I was just writing and creating the series. The network decided not to make the pilot (at that time, they never would have made a horror series).
Later, the Fox television network wanted to make it as a two-hour movie, and I went to Clive Barker and got his short story, “The Body Politic”, and added it to “Chattery Teeth”, so that now the movie consisted of two stories, as well as a bridging device of the Christopher Lloyd character, a mysterious fellow who travelled the country telling cautionary tales to his “victims”.
My original title for the show was ROUTE 666, but we ended up calling it QUICKSILVER HIGHWAY. It was released in some territories as EVIL HIGHWAY.
We shot and released it in 1997.
SKSM: How come you picked Chattery Teeth to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Mick Garris: I really enjoyed the audaciousness of the story, the unbelievable made believable that is King’s expertise. It was just a really fun little horror story. And I wanted to make something with the crew that had just done THE SHINING with me. King was kind enough to sell us the story, and that was the beginning. It’s the kind of story you tell around the campfire, sort of an urban legend, and I loved the fact that it was set in the desert. I love what I call “desert noir”.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Mick Garris: I hate to disappoint you, but I can’t remember anything particularly hilarious or fascinating that happened, as it’s been while now, and it’s so much work to make a film on a television schedule that there’s no time.
SKSM: Are there things cut out of the movie that you miss now?
Mick Garris: Actually, I believe that everything that we shot is in the movie. There were a couple of smaller details that were cut from the television broadcast, but it’s all there on the video.
SKSM: Did you have any personal contact with King during the making of the movie? Has he seen it (and if so, what did he think about it)?
Mick Garris: Although King was around during most of the production of THE SHINING right before we made QUICKSILVER, he was not present on the set of QUICKSILVER HIGHWAY. Since he had not written the screenplay, and was not really involved in the production, he doesn’t really like to travel and be away from home for any length of time. However, he did tell me at the time that he really enjoyed it.
SKSM: Do you have any plans for making more movies based on Stephen King’s stories after Desperation? If you could pick – at least – one story to shoot, which one would it be and why?
Mick Garris: I have made my two favorite King books: THE STAND and THE SHINING miniseries. And it’s at the point that I’ve made more King movies than any other kind. I would love the chance to make BAG OF BONES, but I think that’s being made by others.
SKSM: Did you have any experiance making that kind of movies at the time?
Mick Garris: A lot. Most of the movies that I’ve made since I started directing in 1986 have been in the horror genre. And several of them had been King projects.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything else you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Mick Garris: Just that I am one of you. I’m a King fan who is lucky enough to have directed more films based on his work than anyone.