Thursday, September 11, 2008 the Road to Hell: Interview with Cynthia Curnan

A couple of days ago, I blogged about my affection for the 1984 film Streets of Fire, and my excitement at learning a follow-up, Road to Hell, was in the works. While Road isn’t an official sequel (the makers term it a “dark tribute”), it does have Michael Pare' back in that duster, and promises a unique riff on the original.

Screenwriter Cynthia Curnan was kind enough to speak to me about the project, and patiently endured my endless fanboy speculation.

Alex: The film Streets of Fire took its title from a Bruce Springsteen song. Does Road to Hell reference the Chris Rea tune?

Cynthia: I had not heard Chris Rea's song until reading your question. I told Albert [Pyun, director]; he knew of the song but hadn't heard it either. We just looked it up on YouTube and we both love it.

You brought back the characters of McCoy, Tom's sister and Ellen. Why not Raven as well?

The Road to Hell characters are their own people; they are not resurrected from Streets of Fire. Viewers expecting this will be disappointed. That said, when you see the movie you might notice a small indication of a family tie.

You mention on the official website that "Albert thinks it (Streets of Fire) is the most romantic film ending ever. I thought the ending was tragic and wanted them to get together." I confess I share Albert's view, especially in context: to me the climactic song, "Tonight is What It Means to be Young," comments ironically on Cody, who seems doomed to be stuck in perpetual adolescence. After all, Ellen was willing to give up her career and run off with him, but he "ain't the kind of guy to be carrying your guitars around." How do you read the original film's climax, and how did that give you a jumping-off point for Road to Hell?

This difference of opinion about the ending to Streets of Fire might just be a guy/girl thing. It was a tragedy for me because star-crossed love causes me pain. But I did understand why they could never get together. That said, I saw both of their futures, without each other, as ultimately tragic.

In the song "Tonight is What it Means to be Young," Ellen heads straight for the next best thing. If she can't get an angel she can still get a boy and a boy is the next best thing. I see Cody as an angel, not from Ellen's world. My Cody is not a 'Peter Pan' boy; he's larger than life. Cody came arrived on an empty subway because he came from another dimension to which he must return.

As much as he might want to stay with her he knows he can't. She was willing to give up her career because she didn't yet know what that would mean to her or to them. He knows Ellen's situation better than she does. She has stardom in her future and if he tried to fit in, carrying her guitars is all he'd be doing. He knows it's too soon for her to know what she wants; he can't let her make a deal neither of them could live with. But if she ever needs him, he'll be there.

I think you underestimate Tom Cody; at least my Cody. Back to the guy/girl thing: Maybe I fell in love with Cody and you fell in love with Ellen?

You've got two new characters described as "spree killers." Can you describe them and how they fit into this world?

Road to Hell takes place in its own world. The spree killers fit in that world.

Finally, I'm a huge fan of Michael Pare', and according to the website this film sprang from a conversation you and Albert had with him. Was he involved in the writing process at all? How did he feel about the way you saw the character a quarter-century on?

Michael Pare' was not involved in the writing process but he was involved in the character development. He understood that Albert wanted to see him return to his iconic roots with characters like Eddie [from Eddie and The Cruisers] and Tom Cody in a story reminiscent of early noir thrillers.

Michael Pare's performance is astonishing - much darker, more nuanced and mature than Tom Cody's character from Streets of Fire. He's less pretty, more handsome and sexier because he's more dangerous.


Thanks to Cynthia Curnan for taking the time to talk to me. Road to Hell is currently in post-production with the release date to be determined.

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