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Kevin Smith, that old lug. In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, he struck gold in the self-realization department by saying that when it comes to comedy, it makes more sense to pour as much funny stuff out as possible on a podcast rather than lose a huge chunk out of life trying to get a movie made. Comedy is a genre of the moment, while scary movies tend to stick in the craw a little longer, as fears are more mentally debilitating than senses of humor. And so it is with full verve that Smith is diving into his next thriller, the surreal walrus horror Tusk, and has confirmed that Justin Long and Red State star Michael Parks are on board to star. Also, this will serve as a palate cleanser before he kicks Clerks III into high gear.
A little backstory: Smith based his screenplay on a newspaper ad from a man who had a pretty strange request involving a roommate. The man claimed to have been lost at sea for six months with only a walrus as his company. In the ad, he says he’s never had “such a fulfilling relationship with anyone, human or otherwise,” and says that he had spent months “constructing a realistic walrus costume, which should fit most people of average proportions, and allow for full and easy movement in character.” Of course, he wanted his roommate to spend a couple of hours a day wearing the suit and be his walrus-sound-making friend. But hey, no rent!
So with Parks in mind, Smith “wrote the script around him, so it’s nothing but Michael Parks dialogue porn. Justin Long is the guy in the walrus suit. I needed a guy who has expressive eyes because once you’re in that suit, you’re covered.” While he had originally envisioned Quentin Tarantino in the role, he asked Long if he’d take the part and Long responded, “This is awfully scary but how can we not? Let’s fall down this hole.” Can’t call it a rabbit hole or the walrus will get jealous.
And while Smith had previously called the film something like a “cuddly Human Centipede,” he said when he got the costume designs back from the masterful designer Robert Kurtzman, he thought, “’Holy shit, it’s a monster movie. I had no idea.’ I thought I was making a kind of sister thriller to Red State. As soon as I saw the designs, I go, “Of course this is a monster movie and he’s Dr. Frankenstein.”
All in all, this is pretty exciting news, for Smith fans and beyond. Long is mostly known for comedic and romantic roles – his romantic comedy A Case of You will probably come out before year’s end – he got his big break in the cult (for some reason) horror Jeepers Creepers and transitioned nicely into Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell. Parks, meanwhile, is a veteran in almost every genre imaginable, and will soon be seen in Jim Mickle’s We Are What We Are.
With a modest budget of around $2 million, Tusk is set to go into production on October 21, and if Smith has his way, “you’ll see Tusk up in Sundance in January.” I’m probably looking forward to this flick more than I am Clerks III at this point. How about you guys?