Interview By Scott Weinberg
It's a horror flick, a farce, a satire and a coming-of-age story all at the same time. It's funny, it's strange, and it's got a dog's name: It's "Fido," a tasty genre cocktail that's been widely admired at some of the world's finest film festivals. As writer/director Andrew Currie prepares for Lionsgate's June 15 release date, he takes a few minutes to sit down with Fearnet and introduce us to Fido.
Why not start off by telling our readers what Fido is all about and why they will enjoy it? It's obviously got strong elements of both genres, but if you were stocking Fido in the video store, would it go under "comedy" or "horror"?
Fido is a cross-genre film that blends dark comedy, horror, melodrama, zombie and ?boy and his dog? films (like Lassie.) I made Fido for film lovers, geeks like me who love going to movies, who look for and enjoy references to other films, who appreciate something that?s different. If I was stocking the video shelf I would put it in the comedy section. I love horror and played with the genre in Fido, but the horror in Fido is more playful then horrifying. It?s not a movie that?s going to scare you, but if you like horror films and enjoy someone twisting the genre a bit, then you?ll probably like Fido.
My colleague James Rocchi leaned over to me after a press screening of Fido at last year's Toronto Film Festival, and his comment was "It's like Douglas Sirk meets George Romero!" Do you think this is a fair assessment of the film?
Sure. It?s a wicked comment, love it! Douglas Sirk was a big influence for me, so I think it?s really appropriate.
How have the festival reactions and the early reviews been?
The festival reactions for Fido have been great. Toronto was our world premiere and it was amazing! We were the Opening film for the section so they gave us a red carpet reception. It was a lot of fun, and nearly all the actors were there. We had a blast. I think the highlight was doing the Q&A afterwards. Billy Connolly spent five minutes doing nothing but talking about his pants and it was hilarious! All the festivals have been great, I loved Sundance, SXSW and AFI Dallas as well. Reviews have been nearly all been great so far, knock on wood.
What's been your favorite response so far?
I obviously like the really good reviews, especially the reviewers who get the depth. Truthfully one of my favorite reviews was negative, it seemed so off-base that it made me laugh out loud. It was from a reviewer/blogger that saw it at the Toronto film festival. Here?s a great excerpt: "My first experience at this year?s film festival was the screening of a zombie flick called Fido. For the first time in my life, I witnessed senior citizens and young children being eaten alive on celluloid. I remember thinking: so this is the Film Fest? This is the annual event that draws thousands of expectant people from around the world? It just seemed so excessive. Did this bizarre indulgence really service some kind of fundamental human need?" I laughed so hard because it?s so not Fido. He obviously didn?t get the movie at all, not to mention the fact that he clearly has issues with violence. So what the fuck is he doing at a zombie movie in the first place?!
Your movie takes a decidedly off-kilter poke at consumerism, conformity, and the ever-present urge to "keep up with the Joneses." How important is it that viewers get and/or appreciate the subtext of the piece?
We layered Fido so that on the surface it was a really stylized comedy, that was also a satire about conformity, keeping up with the Joneses and a fun poke at Homeland Security ?- the idea of spreading fear in the masses as a way of controlling them. In Fido there?s this fence where the collared zombies are on the inside and the wild zombies are on the outside. It?s a world where there are no prisons. They don?t need them anymore because if there?s a criminal they just get tossed into the wild zone, then once they?re zombies, you slap a collar on them, bring them back into society and put them to work! They use the old prisons as homes for the elderly... It?s that kind of satire.
Fido might be seen as a "tough sell" for some distributors. How important was it for you to hook up with an outlet like Lionsgate?
Fido is the kind of movie that?s hard to describe in a sentence, therefore harder to sell to your average moviegoer. That?s what?s great about a lot of horror fans they?re always looking for something new and different. I think being with Lionsgate has been great because they know how to market. I really love the new trailer that?s playing (www.apple.com, etc). I think it captures the humor of the film well.
Any idea on how many theaters will be carrying the movie?
Fido has always been planned as a platform release film which means starting in L.A. and New York, then expanding to Seattle, San Diego, San Francisco, Dallas, Austin and Chicago on June 29th, then other cities as word of mouth (hopefully) builds. I like this strategy, and hope the word builds quickly enough.
Any tidbits you can promise for the DVD?
We just met with Lionsgate about the DVD and I think it?s going to be wicked. We were talking about an interactive section where you?ll be able to turn yourself or your girlfriend or whatever into a zombie. And definitely a few deleted scenes - there?s more Lassie parody stuff that I cut from the movie. And I think we?re going to add a short a film I made when I was at the Canadian Film Centre (Norman Jewison?s film school in Toronto) it?s called Night of the Living. It?s a short film about a kid who?s a huge horror fan, and whose alcoholic father falls off the wagon. The kid thinks his dad is turning into a zombie. It?s more drama then comedy, although it?s sort of funny when the kid tries to ?bond? with his dad by feeding him raw steak.
Do you consider yourself a big horror fan? Do you like the old-school creepy stuff, the nastier modern flicks, or a little from both columns?
I?m definitely a horror fan. I love that there?s so much variety in the genre. I like a lot of the horror films from the 30?s like Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein (which is even better than Frankenstein), and especially Todd Browning?s Freaks, and then the psychological ones like Rosemary?s Baby, The Tenant, and Hitchcock?s The Birds, and of course Romero?s Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. And the stylized ones like George Franju?s Eyes without a Face, which is great, and Dario Argento?s Suspiria and Kubrick?s The Shining.
Then there?s the ones that really scared the shit out of me like The Exorcist, The Thing (Carpenter?s version), Jaws, Halloween, and Psycho. And the comedy-horror films especially Evil Dead II and Brain Dead which are hilarious. And of course, being a big David Lynch fan I have to mention Eraserhead (which I?ve seen over 20 times and becomes a dark comedy after about the 5th viewing, try it you?ll see what I mean) and of course Blue Velvet which is an amazing cross-genre film.
Of the more recent horror films, I liked The Descent and The Ring (Japanese and U.S. versions.) There?s a ton of other great horror films, but those are the ones that come to mind.
Fido boasts a pretty impressive cast. How do you manage to "sell" such a unique concept to folks like Dylan Baker, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Tim Blake Nelson?
We really did have an amazing cast and they were also really incredible people. I wrote Mr. Theopolis specifically with Tim Blake Nelson in mind; so for him to come on board was really exciting for me ? especially as he was also a writer/director which added a nice level of intimidation for me, but he was amazing and the most supportive guy you?ll ever meet. I know that he really liked the fact that Fido wasn?t a straight genre film. He liked the "cross-genre" and the fact that there was this deeper satirical level as well. In fact all the main actors really responded to those elements in the script. It sure as hell wasn?t my personality that got them in!
Talk a little about the nearly unrecognizable Billy Connolly and what he brought to the project.
Billy Connolly was brilliant to work with! He brought such an amazing warmth to the character, conveyed so much through his eyes. And he was hilarious on set, he?s got such a great twisted view of the world that you?re always laughing with him.
Where'd you find K'Sun Ray, who capably carries the movie and never becomes one of those "obnoxious movie kids."
We picked K?Sun Ray after we looked at nearly 600 kids for the part. K?Sun is such a great kid, with a wicked sense of humor and really really smart. You can see in his eyes he?s not one of those kids that seem like they?re medicated all the time, who seem to be in a lot of movies these days.
Anything new on the horizon for you? I see you're writing a comedy called "Sperm." Dare to tell us what that one's about?
Sperm is now called 'The Truth about Lying'. Here's a piece of the synopsis from our company?s website (yeah I?m lazy): "Gregor is a compulsive liar and hypochondriac, prone to spontaneous daydreams. He blames his condition on his brilliant, over-achieving father, who died when he was a baby. Now, Gregor is paralyzed by overwhelming expectations from a mother who wants him to live up to the great man. In a Mother/Son battle of epic proportions, Gregor discovers that she might just be a bigger liar than he is, and maybe Dad wasn?t quite the man everyone thought."
I'm in the middle of writers block which is always fun. I think it?s also because the main character is a bit like me, daydreaming instead of working.
Any chance of a Fido 2?
I don?t think there?ll be a Fido 2, I?m hoping to do a vampire project which I?m really excited about. The nice thing about vampires is they can talk and they?re cool (and have a much greater chance of getting laid ? unless of course they?re like Fido who has it all going.)