Late Phases premiered to two completely sold out houses a couple days back here at SXSW. The movie is an effective throwback to 80’s monster films that possesses a strong sense of fun along with a surprising amount of pathos. It’s actually pretty ballsy in a few ways – the werewolves are all practical creatures with real actors in those suits (the complete opposite of the CGI Twilight wolves people are used to). It’s also unusual to see a modern horror film address the topic of aging like this one does. In addition to those killer practical werewolf effects and effective themes, the film (penned by Eric Stolze) from director Here Comes the Devil director Adrian Garcia Bogliano features a great performance from Nick Damici (Stake Land).
In the film, “Crescent Bay is not the ideal place to spend one’s golden years, especially since the once-idyllic retirement community has been beset by a series of deadly animal attacks from the ominous forest surrounding it. When grizzled war veteran Ambrose McKinley (Nick Damici) is forced into moving there by his yuppie son Will (Ethan Embry), the residents immediately take offense to Ambrose’s abrasive personality. But that take-no-prisoners attitude may be just what Ambrose needs to survive as it becomes clear that the attacks are being caused by creatures that are neither animal nor man, and that the tight-knit community of Crescent Bay is hiding something truly sinister in its midst…”
Bogliano: Nick was already onboard when they gave me the script and I wasn’t expecting much. Usually the scripts I get are pretty bad. A lot of them suck. But I loved this one. And I loved that [producer] Zak Zeman wanted it to be done with practical effects. There are also a lot of elements of the film that are close to me. I felt like it was interesting to approach the father and son relationship from the point of view of a son watching his father grow older.
Nick, how was it aging up and playing blind?
Damici: It’s hard to develop a technique where you don’t look at anything. You can’t just blindfold yourself to learn because it doesn’t work that way. Even when you’re blindfold you’re seeing more than a blind person sees. I just had to do it looking peripherally and trusting Adrian that it came off okay.
And how was it fighting the practical creatures?
Damici: Man I love that stuff! I’m still a rough and tumble guy. I had a great time doing it. I’m not a fan of clean cut action, I’ve never seen a clean fight in my life. Except in movies. I like that kind of work, so it wasn’t a problem for me at all.
What was the biggest challenge of this whole thing?
Bogliano: Definitely the werewolf transformation sequence. That was very difficult. We did it with motion control and I realized in the middle of the shot that nobody understood what I was looking for. The motion control they had done for “Boardwalk Empire” and Spider-Man and it took them seven hours to set the shot. And when we were finished with the shot they told me it was the most complicated thing they had ever made. We only finished the movie last week and I don’t even think the producers knew if it was going to work until we finally finished.