We’ve been following the progress of Mark Young’s Tooth & Nail since the moment we heard it A) was about cannibals and B) starred Vinnie Jones. Put those two together and you’ve sold me right out of the gate.
It was a very cool surprise to hear that we’d be seeing Tooth & Nail as part of this year’s After Dark Horrorfest, which was announced a few weeks back, so I took the opportunity to interview director Mark Young to find out more about what makes Tooth & Nail so damn special.
The results follow, hope you enjoy!
Johnny Butane: Let’s start simple; tell me about he origins of Tooth and Nail…
Mark Young: My producers had a project drop out at the last minute, and I was given an opportunity to present a concept to replace that film. There were only two criteria: it had to take place in the empty hospital where the last film was shooting, and it had to fall squarely in the horror genre. This was perfect for me, since I loved the aesthetics of the hospital and am also a big horror fan.
The run-down state of the hospital suggested the post-apocalyptic storyline, which coincides with my personal interest in the current state of world affairs. The rest of the story came from an article I’d read about the fine line between civilization and savagery. I became rather keen on telling a “Forbidden Planet” meets “Lord of the Flies”. I had roughly two weeks to write the first draft of the script before we began shooting.
JB: Now, to me it’s obvious but I have to ask; why Vinnie Jones?
MY: I think if you look up the definitions for “scary” and “badass”, his name appears under both.
JB: What did you do to make Philadelphia resemble a post-apocalypse?
MY: The Philadelphia film office helped us shoot in all the iconic Philadelphia locales: The “Rocky” steps, city hall, the Swann fountain, which was conveniently empty, and the coup de grace, the Ben Franklin bridge, which we shut down and littered with cars and trash.
JB: There’s some question as to just what group at the film’s center is on the run from; are there monsters, zombies, cannibals? Or, hopefully, all three?
MY: Sorry to disappoint, but the antagonists are merely cannibals. However, they are pretty damn scary cannibals. Did I mention bloodthirsty, too?
JB: Give us a crazy story from the making of Tooth and Nail…
MY: One day we were shooting on the third floor of the hospital, when we were informed that the entire hospital sewer system had backed up and was overflowing on the sixth floor, where food was served. I ran out to the lobby to see a torrent of sewage spilling down all the stairwells and elevator shafts. It looked like our shoot was finished, but fortunately it never touched us. The ironic part was that the next day, after the mess was cleaned up, they still served lunch in the same room that had three inches of sewage on the floor! Lovely.
JB: So, how did After Dark first come across it?
MY: After Dark saw the film premiere of Tooth at Screamfest 2007 in Los Angeles. I believe a deal was struck the next day.
JB: Was being part of Horrorfest something you even considered when making Tooth and Nail?
MY: We only had two weeks to prep and 20 days to shoot a rather ambitious film. I think, although we all felt we were onto something very cool, but with the intense shooting schedule, we were just glad to get through production in one piece. I certainly wasn’t thinking that far ahead.
JB: Do you find it odd that this will be the second time Rachel Miner will be featured in a Film to Die For (she was the lead in last year’s Penny Dreadful)?
MY: I suppose it is odd, but Rachel is a great actress. I’m just glad she agreed to play with us. Her performance is spot on.
JB: Moving to one of your other projects, what’s the status on Southern Gothic?
MY: Southern Gothic has just been picked up for domestic theatrical representation, so I hope it will be in theaters next year.
JB: Anything else you’re working on that you can talk about yet?
MY: I am, but I really can’t talk about it yet.
JB: If you could direct any film at any time, what would it be?
MY: I’m usually only interested in directing what I write myself, but I have to say, if I ever had the opportunity to remake Night of the Hunter, I’d do that in a heartbeat. I also have a script for an insanely expensive horror film that will probably never get made, but it is fun to think about. Any studios out there want to take a shot?
Thanks to After Dark for setting up the interview and of course for Mark Young for getting back to me with his answers to my questions. Check out the After Dark Horrofest in theaters this November 9th-18th!