They say there's no such thing as bad publicity, which is probably a good thing for Fred Andrews' debut film, Creature, which has the dubious distinction of having the lowest grossing first weekend in history for any movie in wide release. Don't blame the film for that though, as this tale of incestuous yokels and their half-man/half-alligator god is a kooky treat, especially in the more forgiving atmosphere of your living room. Creature is out on DVD today, and Fred Andrews was kind enough to take some time to discuss the film's evolution, his gorier director's cut, his sequel plans and future genre projects.
Crave Online: There’s an elephant in the room I’d like to get out of the way right now… this movie has a lot of incest. Like a ton. Is incest making a comeback in stories? Game of Thrones certainly seems to be bringing it back to the forefront.
I’m sorry, I didn’t quite hear the exact question. Is there a reason for the amount of incest?
Well, I’ve just noticed in a lot of films and TV lately, like Game of Thrones is really throwing it out there in a big way. In the ‘80s that was really more of a popular horror convention that just sort of showed up more, something that made audiences uncomfortable. So yeah, I was just wondering what made you want to throw so much of that in there? It’s interesting, actually.
Well, you know, I’ll tell you, with Creature, when it started… number one, it’s just kind of an ookie thing. It’s definitely something that makes people very, very uncomfortable. But for this film, my reasoning was that it was an uncomfortable thing, and also there’s a much larger backstory in the original version of the film’s script as well, that was kind of a little bit of an H.P. Lovecraft thing in my head. Kind of a “Shadow Over Innsmouth” or something, where you have this, you know… not just a cult, but a town that had kind of become inbred, and become monsters themselves. So that’s really where it cam from, because that story has always been one of my favorites, and certainly I think resonates with a lot of people, just because that theme is so uncomfortable.
Yeah, that actually answers another one of my questions, which was that, as we get into the film, and we sort of realize that there is sort of a cult around this monster, I was a little hazy on, you know… “Oh, the town is in trouble, and what will the monster give them?” and I guess, “More monster babies!” was sort of the answer.
Yeah, the whole thing was – and again, I’m going to go back to my original script, which obviously, every film ends up in a different final form, I think, from where you start with – but you know, a lot of that stuff had come with the possibility that there was more than one monster, which in my mind there always was. And then it was an evolution of the townsfolk, and coming up, replacing. So it wasn’t so much just the, “Oh look, it’s a half-man, half-alligator,” it was actually through generations of inbreeding and just kind of, you know, coming out with mutations. You know what I mean?
Yeah, absolutely. Was it just budgetary concerns that caused you to strike that out?
You know, I think we tried to hang onto… yes and no. I think as the script was going through certain revisions, there was just quite a lot that my producers wanted to try to boil down. Obviously, a first-time filmmaker, so you have to pick your battles, so to say. So they thought there was enough material there to make two or three, so the second film, which has been the intention, is to come back, and be more of a prequel to this film. So there was a lot of thinking, and a lot of scripting that went on to kind of take out some of that stuff, and in the future, we would have put it in a sequel.
Is there going to be a sequel? Have there been talks?
You know, I would love to have one! [Laughs] I have not heard from the producers whether they’re interested in the sequel at this point or not, but I certainly have one written, if they’d like to do it.
Well actually, one of the questions I wanted to ask was how Creature ended up at the Bubble Factory, because they’re more known for stuff like McHale’s Navy and Slappy and the Stinkers.
Yeah, yeah. That’s actually a really good story. My executive producer is a man named Paul Mason, who was in charge of Universal Television forever, and Paul has done just countless… too much stuff to really name, feature and television work. And Paul and I got together when we were talking about Creature as a graphic novel. The original title was Lockjaw.
That’s a good title.
Yeah, it’s a great title! Not sure why it got changed, but it got changed like three times. But yeah, my original title was Lockjaw. And these guys had been working on a graphic novel version of the film, and some of my artwork had gotten to Mr. Mason, and he got in contact with me and said, “Hey, look, I think it would be a great graphic novel, but I think it would be a great little film as well.” And he took me over to Sid Sheinberg, who was an old friend of his, and we started meeting. So that’s actually how it ended up at Bubble Factory. He took a personal interest in it, and we went from there. It was a pretty quick development process there too, I mean, I think from my first meeting with Sid and Paul, I think we were shooting within six months.
It was Sid Sheinberg’s idea to self-distribute this, yes?
Yes, it was Sid’s choice to do that.
Now unfortunately this film had a bit of a… It didn’t do that great.
No, it did not do well at all. [Laughs] Not at the box office, no. And that’s something that, I gotta tell you, I really… obviously, too, as the director of the film and one of the writers of the film, you only have so much ability to tell what they’re going to do with the finished product, or so much with the actual finished product itself. Like with the final cut, I did not have final cut on that film.
Is there a totally boss director’s cut of this film?
There is a low-res director’s cut, yes. There is not a master director’s cut.
That’s too bad.
Hopefully someday they might – certainly if the DVD sales do well enough – they have talked about that, in the future. But again, at this point in time, I don’t think there’s been any plan to release that.
Well, for people who did like the final product – and I actually liked it – what kind of things would we expect from a director’s cut? What would play differently?
Well, a lot more gore, that’s for sure. Because we shot a lot of it, but I think because we have things like so much incest, and we started the film with full-frontal nudity, and…
Thank you for that, by the way.
Yeah, well, you’re welcome. Jennifer Lynn Warren is just beautiful… fantastic actress, beautiful girl. She’s out here in L.A. now too, working both as an actress, and also as a stunt girl. So yeah, just a fantastic woman all the way around. But talking back and forth with the MPAA, it was really those exchanges of what they wanted to cut out to be able to keep certain things in, and that was a long process with them. And certainly, unfortunately, quite a lot of graphic violence got taken out. So, you know, it’s understandable. It was a little disappointing that we lost so much of it, but at the same time I could sort of understand, so we could keep some other stuff in there.
I was curious about the creature design. There was an old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles character named Leatherhead, who was another alligator guy, and he had the big snout. And I was wondering how many creature designs you went through before you decided on the more human version that you have now, or if that was always the plan.
The design was always very human. Very, very human. And again, that was part of that development process with Sid and Bubble Factory, of kind of going… you know, starting with a very human creature, and then the producers thought, “Well, let’s have a four-legged creature, let’s have a giant alligator kind of thing,” and that – obviously I didn’t want to go there with that. So we went through quite an extensive process of trying to get back to that whole, more of a mutated man, you know? More of a birth defect kind of situation, like in Freaks, where you have a person with sort of this birth defect that then would become, you know… So it was sort of a series of concessions, I think, going all the way. But I do have to say, too, that what Jerry Constantine did with the final design, and certainly with the money that he had and everything – which was not a lot, it was like, two bucks and some bubblegum – I think he did a pretty fantastic job with it. It has a good profile, and certainly it has a lot of potential as a monster in the future.
Do you have another directorial project in the works right now?
I do. Currently I have two. I have one that will start shooting in the fall, it’s called Blast […] with James Westbrook as my producer on that film. And I’m also doing, currently, an animation project, a half-hour animation project for television that is in the pilot phase right now.
Too early to talk about that?
I cannot talk to you about that, but it’s a dark comedy called “Awkwardly Social.” But yeah, I will obviously, hopefully in the very near future, be talking about that quite a lot more. We start, Blast, we’re looking at starting casting around August, September, and they’re still trying to decide whether we’re going to keep that shooting here in the United States, or there’s been a lot of talk about shooting it in Bavaria. And that one’s kind of a popcorn. Super-soldiers, it’s a lot of fun. It’s a great script, written by Sam Lerner, and a lot of really attractive people, and a whole lot of violence. So I’m pretty excited about that one.
That sounds fun! So I think my time is about up, but I wanted to thank you.
Oh, no worries! Thank you!
Good luck with the DVD release, and if you could give Jennifer Schneider my phone number, I’d really appreciate it.
Oh yeah, for sure. [Laughs]