Director Louis Morneau discusses Werewolf: The Beast Among Us, debuting on Blu-ray and DVD October 9
Director Louis Morneau is no stranger to the horror genre, after bringing us Bats and Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead. His latest, Werewolf: The Beast Among Us, delves into vampire lore in fantastic ways and features a diverse cast (Steven Bauer, Nia Peeples, Stephen Rea, Ed Quinn). I recently had the chance to speak with the filmmaker over the phone about this period tale centering on a village terrorized by a deadly beast, debuting on Blu-ray and DVD October 9. Here's what he had to say.
I really enjoyed this. After all the vampires and werewolves we're seeing on the big screen now, it's nice to see something that went back to the classic, Universal monsters.
Louis Morneau: Great, thank you.
Just because of how vampires and werewolves are portrayed today, was there any trepidation coming into this?
Louis Morneau: The script was pre-existing, and we didn't change it all that much. We came in to do some rewriting, but it was basically to move it more in the direction that it was already going in, just bringing some of the characters forward, adding some dark humor. Then we had to figure out where we were going to shoot it and how much time we had to shoot it, and those sorts of things. But no, there wasn't any trepidation. You rarely get to make a picture like this, that is a throwback to the classic Universal movies. Over the years, these pictures have become less about these tragic figures who happen to be afflicted with a 'condition.' In recent years, we have creatures that are basically killing machines, so it was cool to go back to that. We have this tragic figure... who also happens to be a killing machine, but there's also a bit more soul. I think that's something that separates the old pictures from the new, and we did it in a contemporary way, even though it's set in 1800s Eastern Europe.
I really enjoyed the setting. I believe you shot this in Romania, correct?
Louis Morneau: Yeah, and that was terrific. It was really a pleasure to shoot there in actual locations where a lot of this mythology came out of. We shot in this town where Vlad the Impaler was born. In fact, we shot at his home, his birth place. All of these locations in this classic medieval city, just being there and being able to shoot in Transylvania, I think added a layer to the film that you might not get elsewhere. Of course, we're here in this location, and there's nothing else to do except to work on the film.
With a town like that stepped in so much history, did you have to do much work to the actual locations, or could you shoot them as is?
Louis Morneau: They're quickly fixing them up. While they look great for film, they're quickly restoring a lot of these places, so we had to find places, portions of these cities and towns that were still disheveled. On the other hand, you would think that when you step off the plane in Romania, you have your pick of great medieval cities to film in. That's not necessarily the case. You have to do a lot of searching. That's probably what we spent the most time doing, finding those locations.
I was really impressed with the look of the beast. Can you talk about your approach to that? I have to imagine you didn't have a huge budget at your disposal. Can you talk about achieving the look of this beast on a manageable budget?
Louis Morneau: Yeah, that was a huge part of it, as you can obviously imagine, both in trying to create a creature that worked and that was also practical, that would work within the timeframe that we had. We had both the practical creature and the CGI creature that we worked with. We went back and forth a lot on this, with Paul Hyett, who designed the creature, and with Universal. We finally came up with a look. Probably our biggest issue was trying to decide how far we wanted the creature to go, to look like a man, and how much would be beast. That was probably our biggest hurdle to get past, but I think we came up with a pretty cool design.
It's great to see a cast like this with veterans like Steven Bauer, Nia Peeples, Stephen Rea and a mix of younger actors. Was it a rigorous process to find the right people for these roles?
Louis Morneau: Yes and no. Given that we were in Romania, we brought a certain amount of actors from America and London, and of course Stephen Rea from Ireland. I was really, really pleased with my cast. Everybody gave so much to the film, every cast member, every crew member, they were really into the picture. It's great to have, and you don't always have that. In terms of finding them, people like Steven Bauer and Stephen Rea read it and were on board immediately. We did find some new people who were fantastic as well, people who hadn't done a lot of work. People like Guy (Wilson) just did a terrific job.
I talked to Steven recently and I was saying how great it was to see Hyde telling these crazy stories in every town. He seemed to be having a lot of fun with that.
Louis Morneau: (Laughs) It just seems to happen, wherever Steven goes. He's really great at improv, and he can come up with really funny and clever lines. We used quite a bit of it, actually, in the film. He was terrific to work with. He really made it a lot of fun.
This is year is the 100th Anniversary of Universal Studios. I was curious if they always wanted this to come out during the 100th Anniversary year, as a tie-in to the classics?
Louis Morneau: You know, I don't know the answer to that. I think the timing certainly worked out perfectly, but that was never mentioned to me. It really did work out nicely. I'm sure there was some sense of that, but I'm not sure. You're right, that it's so in line with the older pictures, that may very well be the case.
Is there anything that you're currently working on right now that you can talk about?
Louis Morneau: I'm working on a few different things, in the genre, that I love. Hopefully I can announce something soon, and let you know.
What would you like to say to any fan of these Universal classics about why they should give this a shot on Blu-ray this week?
Louis Morneau: It's the kind of picture that, I think, people just need to go into it with open eyes and ears, and hopefully they will enjoy it for what it is. It's definitely a throwback, in a big way, but I also think it has some very cool contemporary elements in it as well. Hopefully people won't be disappointed in the combination of the two.
Great. That's about all I have. It was great talking to you.
Louis Morneau: Terrific. Thanks, man.