The power trio behind Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer sat down recently to talk with FSR about the film, the future, and Freddy Krueger’s tool. You just can’t plan ahead for some answers…
Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer is an unapologetic throwback to the horror comedies of the 1980′s. Think films like Night of the Creeps, The Evil Dead, or even another recent homage, Slither, and you’ll have a good idea of what to expect. FSR’s own Robert Fure rates the film highly and he’s not alone. The movie has toured festivals from Philadelphia to Haapsalu winning over audiences with its laughs and thrills, and picking up a few awards along the way. I spoke with director/co-writer Jon Knautz, star/co-writer Trevor Matthews, and star/horror icon Robert Englund, the film and what comes next.
Surprisingly, Knautz and Matthews hadn’t given any thought to a sequel initially. “We had no plans for a follow-up,” Matthews said, “but lately we’ve been very excited by the idea.” The reaction from audiences was the catalyst, so now they’re in the early stages of development on Jack Brooks next adventure. The duo has a four page treatment that they say is fantastic and plan to make it their next project after promotion for the current film ends. Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer is the first feature film from their production company, Brookstreet Pictures, and the genre was chosen partly as fans themselves and partly as businessmen. Horror films can be made on a budget and the large installed genre fan base can guarantee a profit. Their Canadian fiscal sense played a small role in regards to the film’s special effects as well, but it was less important than the team’s awareness of the movie they wanted to make. “The movie wouldn’t have worked at all with CGI,” said Knautz, adding that the look and feel they were after demanded more practical and physical makeup effects.
Matthews plays the title character, a plumber whose family was savaged by a Forest Troll monster when he was a boy. The troll’s attack is swift and vicious, and is easily the scariest scene in the movie. Matthews also plays the troll, and I asked if that was by choice or simply another cost-cutting measure… “I’m a physical guy,” he said, “I have a good center of gravity, and besides that it was fun.” He added that he’s “uniquely talented in acting like a primate.” Speaking for the audience, I thanked the team for not including a shot of the plumber’s ass crack in the movie, but was told one of the first drafts of the film actually opened on Matthews’ butt crack before they thought better of it. They chose to have Jack be a plumber because “it was funny, this generic and average guy… in a thankless job” who becomes the hero.
Englund’s role as Professor Crowley is definitely one of the more humorous he’s played in many years. Most of the character’s comedy wasn’t explored on the script page, but he saw the potential and asked Knautz if he could give it a try. “I brought in a lot of the physical comedy and gags, and I asked to go for the gross-outs too,” he said gleefully. I noted that this was probably one of his most disgusting roles in regard to the effects he had to wear, eat, and vomit during and before his big transformation scene, and asked how actor-friendly the makeup was. “It’s gotten a lot better,” Englund said, and referenced back to past films where he found himself with with “hydraulic air hoses snaked up my pants leg and wrapped around my tool… the effects are much more comfortable these days, although that didn’t stop me from pretending to be the martyr while the makeup was applied.”
I told Englund I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask him about his possible role in the upcoming reboot to one of his genre classics. Of course he knew I was referring to V: The Second Generation. “I haven’t heard anything new,” he said, “Kenneth [Johnson, creator of V] sent me the book, but I don’t know what form it’ll take.” He added that NBC may be doing a new, revamped telling of the original miniseries with a younger cast, and then maybe bring the older, original characters, and stars into it afterwards. So tentatively, there’s a chance we may see Englund’s Willie on screen again.
His recent comment on Loveline came up as well, and he repeated what he had heard about Billy Bob Thornton as a possibility for the role of Freddy Krueger in the new Nightmare on Elm Street remake. “He’s [Thornton] one of my favorite actors,” he said, “and for someone of his caliber to be interested in the role, I have to believe they’ve done something wonderful to reinterpret Krueger.” He added that it may be a prequel or an origin story.
If you’re a fan of wet and squishy horror that comes with a healthy dose of laughs, you’ll definitely want to check out Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer. It’s a fun romp, an unexpected success for the film makers, and the beginning of a what hopes to be a long running franchise. Plus, you’ll be supporting Canadian cinema and doing your part for NAFTA.