Director Russell Mulcahy has enjoyed a successful career in both films and television alike, and he is now combining his love of the horror genre with his love for working in TV with the upcoming MTV series “Teen Wolf”, which is set to debut on June 5th following the MTV Movie Awards (the show will also slide into its regular time slot on June 6th).
By way of background, Mulcahy was the pioneering director behind some of MTV’s earliest breakthrough videos (including “TV Killed the Radio Star,” “Hungry Like the Wolf” and one of this writer’s personal favorites, the over-the-top “Total Eclipse of the Heart”); has worked on critically-acclaimed television series including “Queer as Folk,” “The Hunger” and “Tales from the Crypt,” and gave us various ass-kicking genre (or genre-esque) flicks including Highlander and its sequel, Resident Evil: Extinction and Give ‘Em Hell, Malone.
Recently Dread Central had the opportunity to chat with Mulcahy during the “Teen Wolf” press day to find out what attracted him to the project and how the new series will have a lot more horror elements in it than the original film. He also gave us a little tease on what to expect from his upcoming feature film Bait, which looks like it’s set to debut in Australia this upcoming September.
Mulcahy, who is no stranger to the horror genre, discussed how he came on board “Teen Wolf” after meeting with writer and executive producer Jeff Davis (read our interview with Jeff here) and hearing how the successful showrunner wanted to switch things up for a new audience.
“I met with Jeff soon after he met with MTV and agreed to come on board this project,” explained Mulcahy. “Jeff told me how he saw this series differently than the original and how he wanted it to be a little darker, edgier and scarier – kind of like the movie The Lost Boys was. I actually hadn’t seen the original Michael J. Fox movie until about halfway through the season when Jeff made me sit down and watch it. and it was definitely very charming. but I don’t think our show is really a remake of that movie. We didn’t set out to do a remake at all so I think the original’s still very much intact.”
“I think the reason Jeff and I hit it off so well was because we both have so much love and respect for the horror genre and the cinema as well. So our plan was to make this series feel as cinematic as possible. And the fact that the series was for MTV was kind of an odd feeling for me at first because I worked on the very first music video that ever played on the network so it definitely felt like my career was coming full-circle by working on ‘Teen Wolf,’” added Mulcahy.
Even though Mulcahy spoke highly of his entire cast and crew being huge factors in the director being able to keep production moving along smoothly, the one factor that became a huge issue for everyone working on “Teen Wolf” was some very nasty weather that hit Atlanta unexpectedly earlier this year. “Weather was a huge challenge for us. We got snowed out in Atlanta of all places, and I would have to say the worst thing other than the snow was the fact that the Starbucks shut down for two days, and when you have an ambitious shooting schedule like we did, I really needed my Starbucks. But we also had a huge flash flood that wiped out a lot of equipment in the woods so that was tough. But our crew and cast were troopers, and we just rolled with the punches.”
Since “Teen Wolf” is just as much a serialized drama as it is a genre show, Mulcahy discussed how he balanced out the darker tone and relied more on suspense than blood while directing the series because he felt that was a better approach to the nature of the storytelling that is at the heart of the brand new show.
“People will die in this series. No character is 100% safe really because we like to keep the audiences guessing,” explained Mulcahy. “We won’t just kill someone for the sake of shock value though- that’s not fair to the story we’re telling. What I can say is that there will be blood and some great shock moments for horror fans, but both Jeff and I are much more interested in scaring people than throwing a ton of gore at them.”
“I want to get under people’s skin and make this a little uneasy at times when they’re watching the show because that’s what I respond to when I sit down to watch horror movies. I mean, I directed ‘Tales from the Crypt’ so I’ve been known as the ‘buckets of blood’ director so don’t get me wrong. I love blood and guts, but I don’t really feel like that approach would serve this story well. Heightened suspense was the bar I set for this show, and I stuck to that approach the entire time we were filming. I think it’s harder to scare audiences without relying on blood and shock, and I like the challenge of doing that,” added Mulcahy.
With “Teen Wolf” set to premiere in just a few days, we asked Mulcahy to discuss his latest feature film, Bait, which is still in post-production. Mulcahy couldn’t divulge too many details but did offer up a few tidbits.
“Just before we shot the pilot for ‘Teen Wolf’, I wrote a screenplay for this upcoming movie called Bait, which is about a tsunami and sharks hitting a supermarket so it’s a lot of fun for horror fans. We shot in 3D and it’s definitely a complete 180 from ‘Teen Wolf’ because we did use a lot of blood. I mean … a lot of blood. I just saw the rough cut a few days ago, and there is a lot of gore so I’m pretty happy.”
“I know we don’t have a US release date yet, but I think it’s coming to theaters in Australia, where we made the movie, sometime later this year. September I think, but I’m not sure. I’ve been focused on just getting the movie finished.”
Our thanks to Russell for taking the time to speak with us.
Still on the fence about watching “Teen Wolf” this Sunday? Check out our review of the first episode here.
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