Kevin Munroe (TMNT), director of the stylized horror/comedy Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, took some time to sit down and answer some questions about the film in anticipation of its DVD/Blu-Ray release on July 26.
Dylan Dog is based on a popular Italian comic book series by Tiziano Sclavi about a detective for the undead. Brandon Routh (Superman) plays the titular detective, who gets drawn into the seedy supernatural underbelly of New Orleans in a puzzling and potentially apocalyptic case.
Sam Huntington plays a fabulously funny zombie sidekick and foil to Routh’s Dylan Dog, and Peter Stormare, Taye Diggs and Kurt Angle co-star. Some great practical effects, and a neo-noir detective vibe, make Dylan Dog: Dead of Night a fun horror/comedy in the same vein as those great campy ‘80s horror pics.
We Got This Covered: Were you a fan of the comic book by Sclavi before you took on this project, and what attracted you to it?
Kevin Munroe: What attracted me to the project? I thought it was sort of filled with all my favorite things I love to see in other movies and combined them all into one. I thought the world was really interesting. I love the idea of a world where we just sort of have vampires and werewolves walking around and living in various sorts of real situations. And Sam does does a great job as Marcus in the movie and that sort of just shows how a zombie would actually live in this world, which is kind of cool. So that interested me.
One top of that, it (Dylan Dog) just felt like a really great movie character. And I think that sort of anti-hero who is more comfortable with monsters than human beings, to me, is really interesting. I think that’s something the movie really took advantage of.
And was I fan of the book? I had known about them from some work I did with Dark Horse, and I sort of read some of them in English translation, I wasn’t a huge fan before that but I really enjoyed the six issues that I read, and then as soon as I got into the universe I loved them.
WTGC: Are you a horror genre film fan? What’s your favorite film genre?
KM: Oh I think it’s definitely genre film in general. It’s kind of hard, if you love movies you love movies, right? And so it’s sort of everything, but as long as it’s a good story it’s interesting to me. I wouldn’t call myself a horror person, per se.
WGTC: Is there going to be a Dylan Dog 2?
KM: Who knows? That’s a decision for the 23 other producers of the movie. I don’t know…there’s talk of it and I would do it in a heartbeat. I mean it’s a fantastic thing to bring Dylan back to Europe, and sort of see his London base and where he started. I think that would be really fun.
WGTC: How did you choose New Orleans as Dylan’s base?
KM: When I first read it…the comics were originally based in London, right? And whatever, it was adapted long before I was on the project and they set in New York. And when I read it, it didn’t really feel sincere to me, it felt very much like an Americanization. And it’s sort of hard because obviously it’s not the sort of movie with a budget that you can just pick it up and shoot it in London at the drop of a hat, so you have to come up with what would be a good adaptation.
And we were looking at everything, and there’s places like… could we make Detroit work, or Toronto and all these other places. And it just didn’t feel right for the character. Then all of a sudden in the middle of the night I just kind of thought about New Orleans and took up the script and went in and changed all the New York based places to what they would be, from what I know of New Orleans, and it just came to life.
I mean it’s the most European city in all the States. And I thought why not, it seems to me like that would be a place where Dylan would be comfortable. It’s the haunted city, and that was sort of its appeal.
WGTC: How did you choose Brandon for the role of Dylan Dog? I mean especially as he’s played an iconic role in Superman Returns, and when you look at him you kind of think Superman.
KM: You still look at him and think Superman…that’s funny…I do to! He was the only one who was attached before I signed on, so I actually didn’t have any…he was already sort of attached to the project. But I knew of him and I really liked his attitude and then meeting him and in context with Sam I just knew right away; it just kind of felt like it became this great buddy comedy that really wasn’t there before.
It’s really cool. Brandon just has this way, he’s sort of, he has that sort of dry Harrison Ford vibe to him. So I thought it worked well for the character.
WGTC: I thought there was great chemistry between Brandon and Sam. Did you encourage them to socialize offset to develop that rapport? Or was that kind of natural?
KM: Yeah, they’re best friends in real life. And so, it was one of those situations that Sam auditioned for Marcus months earlier, and then I was given as stack of DVDs, people who had auditioned and Sam was in there and he just like jumped off the screen. And I was like, this is great.
And then I met Brandon, and then we were hanging out, and you know we were working on the script every week for a couple months, and I was like ’you know it’s just a shame that you…I’m sure you don’t want to be typecast because like Sam would be great as Marcus’ and I just assumed they didn’t like each other or know each other. And then Brandon was like ‘are you kidding me, I think he’d be great’.
Then we just called Sam and when Sam came into the room Brandon’s demeanor just changed, it was so funny, and they just started ripping each other like brothers and stuff like that. On this budget and this schedule it just seemed like the easiest thing to do, rather than get two people and force them ‘here have chemistry!’. It was great, it was one of those things that good casting can do so much work for you when you do it right, you know?
WGTC: I liked how you shot many of the scenes, it reminded me of boxes from a graphic novel. Did you do that on purpose to keep that comic book feel to the film?
KM: Yeah, it’s funny you picked up on that. Yeah…it was in my initial pitch. I just went in and said ‘I want you to be able to go into the movie and take 500 stills and you could make a graphic novel out of those stills’, I just really liked the idea of that. I just like that framing, it’s really fun for me.
And Geoff Hall the DP did a really great job, and he’s really fast. And we had 35 plus cameras set up everyday and we would go in–and having a background in animation and comics like I do–I just communicate through drawings. So it was just one of those things that would show up on set. I would sit there and sketch all the thumbnails for all the coverage that we needed for the day, and we would just ‘x’ off each box as we went down. It was just so much easier than trying to describe the scenes or articulate…one thing that animation does for you is sort of forces you to plan all these things before you actually shoot them. So it helps out a lot.
WGTC: Tell me about the color scheme. I noticed a lot of blues and blue lighting in the backgrounds.
KM: A lot of the blue…I think Geoff and I were just really big fans of the whole blue thing, but what we were trying to do is come up with a color palate. I wanted the vampire world to be much more club-y and have a very artificial feel and vibe to it. And anytime we were with the werewolves it was always very warm, and sort of had like buckets of blood and shadows and shapes creeping in the background. And then with the zombies I wanted there to be sort of that florescent green, that really sickly green. So you go to the grocery store and you go to Big Al’s and they all have that sodium florescent, sort of blown out, sickening green.
And then what I wanted as well is to have a sort of ramping up into that world, so Dylan’s world at the beginning of the movie doesn’t involve that world any more, so the colors were a little more muted. Then as the action progresses they get more vibrant. It’s fun thinking about that stuff, I mean you have to do it anyway so you may as well have a theory to it.
WGTC: How did you approach the monster effects? I was glad to see some practical effects as well as CGI, was that only due to budget limitations?
KM: You know it’s funny, at the beginning it did come out of the budget because you realize at some point you just can’t afford it; it’s just going to look like a really bad direct-to-video CG project if you try to replicate, like, The Mummy. And The Mummy had a ton of money and still looks fake. So if I had more money I would have put more time into the actual..I would have had more make-up I think. I’m such a huge fan of….anything from like Monster Squad to Fright Night, just stuff like that is really fun to me. And the idea of working with that studio, you know the guys who did The Lost Boys, all of that was just a dream come true. So it was really cool.
And it just feels more real. When Brian Steele walks out and he’s dressed like that creature at the end, and to the top of his horns he’s nine and a half feet, and he just towers over you and you can’t help…every time we had someone on set in make-up I was just giddy. They were probably the most fun days whenever he had that stuff. I mean guys in suits fighting each other, that’s like the greatest.
WGTC: I thought the practical effects were done really well.
KM: Yeah it’s really cool. It’s funny because, like the tattooed zombie was custom designed and so was the Belial creature at the end. And the only things that sort of came from the re-used bin was the werewolf mask, and you can tell a little bit but it’s like, whatever, it’s campy fun. It’s really fun, I really dug it.
WGTC: What was your favorite scene to shoot and whats your favorite scene to watch?
KM: I think my favorite scene to shoot was probably the tattooed zombie fight in that really disgusting power plant. I think everyone walked away with some sort of disease from that. That was really fun because you had a guy in a suit beating everyone up.
And my favorite to watch is probably the zombies anonymous group. I just enjoy watching Sam, he just pops off the screen. He does humor really well.
WGTC: What are you working on next?
KM: I’m actually up here at Lucas Film right now, directing a project. It’s a super top secret thing, that’s pretty much all I can say…It’s crazy, I like have lawyers standing behind me.
That concludes are interview with Kevin Munroe. We’d like the thank him for his time, check out Dylan Dog: Dead of Night on Blu-Ray, in stores July 26th.