RELEASING A “ROGUE”: INTERVIEW WITH GREG MCCLEAN

Greg McClean, director of “Wolf Creek,” is a very angry man. Rumour has it, spread by the Fangoria website, that his latest horror opus, “Rogue,” is to be dumped onto the shiny disc. Without warning, distributors The Weinstein Company and Dimension pushed back the release date of the gory killer crocodile flick and a theatrical release would appear to have been shelved. “Yeah, we and the studio were surprised to read this bullshit,” says McClean to Total Film. “So they’re putting something out this week assuring folks it’s crap. Some nob at a website decided that because the date’s been moved, it’s going straight to DVD! It will however be out in Australia in August and the rest of the world shortly after, which is cool as we have time to develop our campaign,” McClean confirms.

An avid fan of horror movies, McClean believes that “Rogue,” a monster romp where an American journalist in the Australian outback encounters a man-eating croc, is very Australian in terms of tone. “It’s quite epic in scale, very tense and unrelenting in terms of atmosphere, some mind-blowing shocks and gore that I have a running bet with my co-producer will cause most of the audience to walk out. I’m looking forwards to seeing who wins the bet,” McClean laughs. “It’s pretty disgusting at the moment! I couldn’t watch it the first few times so we’ll see.” Unlike most monster movies such as Alligator, Rogue is played straight and the production put a lot of emphasis on the creature which consists of mechanical effects and CGI which so far is jaw-dropping and very, very realistic: “Razorback” this is not. On its first test screenings in New York, members of the audience asked McClean on how a real crocodile was trained to do what it does in the movie which says kudos to the special effects team. “The realism is intense and the animation the effects company have pulled off is amazing,” the Aussie director is proud to add.

Starring Michael Vartan, Radha Mitchell and Sam Worthington, fans of “Wolf Creek” should be pleased to see another menacing performance from John Jarratt who was the serial killer Mick Taylor in McClean’s video nasty and had previously battled another Australian man-eating croc in Dark Age in 1987. Presently McClean and editing team are making trailers and “some crazy bits and pieces” for the DVD, including a mini-documentary of McClean and gang attempting to find a real rogue: a 7.5 metre man-eating crocodile in the Northern Territory of Australia. “It lives in an incredibly remote area and we have to take boats, four-wheel drives and hike to find the fucker. Should be fun. If we survive the trip, we will be talking more to Total Film closer to our release date.” McClean smiles with a hint of malice. No doubt he’ll be taking the Fangoria editor with him as bait.

What was your inspiration for “Rogue”? Had it anything to do with Isabel von Jordan, the German backpacker who survived the Bali terrorist blast only to be eaten alive by a four-metre saltwater crocodile in Australia?
I had not heard this story! Sounds like major bad luck. The screenplay was written about ten years ago when I was basically living on friends’ couches and trying to get started in the film industry. It was the first screenplay I ever wrote and came about through three different things: my interest in Joseph Campbell and hero stories in general, an old movie called “Northern Safari” and my love of old fashioned horror/thrillers such as “Jaws” and “Alien.” I really wanted to make a horror film that told a kind of hero story set in Outback Australia that dealt with a rogue crocodile that had the feel of a classic piece of cinematic storytelling. I tried to wind these elements together into a story and it took many drafts to get it into a shape I felt happy with. The screenplay has been around for a long time – with many blind alleys and dead ends along the way in terms of trying to get it made – but “Wolf Creek” gave me the opportunity to make the movie that I “really” wanted to make. This is my dream project in many ways, and five weeks from finishing, I am pretty happy with how it is looking. However, it’ll be up to the audience to see whether it does what I want it to do which is scare the living shit out them while giving them a great night at the cinema!

Were you not tempted to do “Wolf Creek 2″ due to its fantastic success at the box office?
No. Cashing in its success would only lessen the integrity of the picture in my view. I got offered a blank cheque to do it but said no. The timing just was not right also. As a filmmaker I want to keep doing things that challenge and develop me as a filmmaker, so I think it’s important to choose things that allow you to go where you want to go, and not just retread things for the sake of a few bucks. However, there are things I was not able to get done in the first picture, content and style that I am burning to do. And Mick Taylor is too bloody terrifying a character to not cause more carnage onscreen! So it’s all about timing on that one.

Please tell me more about the monster effects: are you going for CGI trickery or old-fashioned materials? Or both, perhaps?
We are going for total realism. We did, however, have a mix of mechanical effects and CGI to get the crocodile effects. However, it is looking (we delivered the effects yesterday) really amazing and very, very realistic.

Will the movie be a homage to the old monster movies such as “Alligator”?
Not really. It’s played very straight, and while paying heed to some thriller and horror conventions, it certainly has it’s own flavour in terms of a film. Having said that, “Alligator” is a great movie and still plays pretty well.

What are you going for in terms of horror: shocks, atmosphere, comedy or splatter?
It’s very Australian in terms of tone, quite epic in scale, very tense and unrelenting in terms of atmosphere, some mind-blowing shocks and some gore that I have a running bet with my co-producer will cause most of the audience to walk out. I’m looking forward to seeing who wins the bet! It’s pretty disgusting at the moment! I couldn’t watch it the first few times so we’ll see. Incidentally, there are some funny scenes with Stephen Curry who is such a hilarious actor. And if you’ve never seen the landscape of The Northern Territory in Australia, I am sure that it will blow your mind. The setting is absolutely amazing!

What are your favourite monster movies? “Big Alligator River,” “Razorback,” “Killer Crocodile” perhaps?
“Jaws” is the best monster movie ever, I think: just an incredible piece of storytelling. “Alien” is a close second – probably my favourite movie of all time and a work of pure directorial genius. I do like some really shitty ones like “Blood Surf.” That movie is the biggest piece shit ever made but is also one of the unintentionally funniest movies of all time. The croc looks so hilarious! So I kind of like the really “good” stuff or the really “crap” stuff such as “Robot vs the Aztec Monster,” “Night of the Lepus,” “Grizzly.” I know you like “Razorback” and it’s pretty fun and I reckon there should be a remake! I saw a picture the other day of a real razorback killed on a farm in the Outback. OH MY GOD! It was terrifying! About three times as big as the fake one in the movie “Razorback.” So I guess Australia is a great place for big things. Big sharks, big crocs, big pigs, big snakes, big spiders: it’s all here, dude. It’s all here. Australia is a monster movie makers’ haven!

Do you have anything to say to the readers of Film Threat who can’t wait to see “Rogue”?
This summer, if you only see one film, one man, one woman, one goat… No, I mean one crocodile! A man-eating beast! Look, honestly I think your audience is pretty savvy so they’ll be smart enough to seek out quality movies. I mean, Michael Vartan, Rahda Mitchell, Sam Worthington, a killer crocodile on the rampage in Outback Australia done as realistically as “Wolf Creek”! Hopefully we’ll see them in the cinema.




Posted on May 3, 2007 in Interviews by
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