Interview: Lowell Dean

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As a writer and reviewer, I am given many opportunities to review films and, sometimes, to talk with people involved with those films. I try to always find something good to say about the film, no matter how bad it may be, because I know someone worked really hard on it and truly believed in their work. When the film is bad, it can be difficult to find something positive and when I have to talk with someone in or involved with that film, it is even more difficult to talk about it with them.

Lowell Dean, director of horror comedy WolfCop, was in town this past weekend for Wizard World Raleigh where he was a guest. I was given the opportunity to sit down with him and talk about his film, which I had watched just a few nights previous. As I said before, when a film is bad, it is tough to find anything to talk about. In the case of WolfCop, I had no problems at all. In fact, WolfCop is the breath of fresh air I have needed for quite some time. It is a witty, original and all around enjoyable bloody laughfest that is guaranteed to entertain.

We met in a noisy hotel bar near the convention center, where the convention was taking place. Lowell’s plane had just landed a couple of hours previously, coming from Saskatchewan where it was 7 degrees, the warmest day they had had in weeks. Here he was in 53 degree, rainy weather and was disappointed to be missing the warm day in Canada. I liked him immediately.

Knowing that he was probably exhausted from the flight and ready to relax, I hit record and jumped right into it.

Lowell showing off WolfCop's hands at Wizard World Raleigh
Lowell showing off WolfCop’s hands at Wizard World Raleigh

I recently watched WolfCop and I didn’t really know what to expect going into it but the cover of the Blu-ray just sucks you in. The art is amazing.

The artist, Tom Hodge from the UK, has done a lot of recognizable art, actually. He did the poster for Hobo with a Shotgun.

That explains a lot actually! I thought the art seemed oddly familiar. Upon first glance, the art really helps to sell the film.

Yeah, he does great work!

The name, WolfCop, draws you in as well. It obviously makes you think of Robocop. What influenced you to write this film?

Obviously Robocop was a big influence but it was a lot of things really. Robocop I watched every day when I was twelve after school so obviously that did it. The way we pitched it to CineCoup, which is the production company, was as Teen Wolf meets Bad Lieutenant. It’s kind of a weird mash-up, I know but we wanted that sort of strange mix of innocent sweetness with something really graphic.

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Speaking of graphic, the scene in the meth lab where that guy’s face gets ripped off…

That’s my favorite scene!

Mine too! I laughed hysterically, especially when he comes back and his face, itself, is just a skull. I was crying. It was just my absolute favorite scene in the entire film.

I’m glad! It was so fun to film. It was like, I mean, with an independent film, it is obviously pretty tight with a budget but that was the one scene I refused to compromise on. It took us something like three days to shoot that scene or something crazy but it was fun and worth it. I mean, every day, stuff like buckets of blood and weird body parts that we would just dunk in blood and throw across the room. That was a fun time.

I’m really glad you didn’t compromise. I think that, if you had changed that scene, it would have changed the entire film.

Oh yeah. I mean, before we shot, I would say like two or three weeks before we shot, there were three major fight scenes: the meth lab one, the one at the end in the forest and the bathroom. His first transformation was actually going to be a full-fledged fight where a bunch of gang members come in and we were actually going to build a whole bathroom set and demolish it. We were going to dunk people’s heads in toilets and smash mirrors but you know it’s a big independent film and about two weeks before we went to camera, the producers had a sort of intervention with me. They were like “Ok, don’t feel sad but one of three fights has to go.” Obviously that was the one that had to go.

But you made up for it with the aftermath of the transformation scene. There was blood everywhere. And the face skin that the cop made talk, it made me think of The Devils Rejects a lot.

Yeah. We had so many buckets of blood that day. The art department just doused every wall. It was fake wood paneling, just shitty wall paneling and they did it and were like “This is good right?” and I was like “Double!” They were pretty mad at me that day, I think but they went and created all that blood and we were literally just throwing buckets of blood against the wall. It was kind of fun.

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The transformation was pretty incredible. You show something no one has ever shown before.

The wolf dick. *laughs* Well, again, born out of budget, right? My favorite werewolf movie is American Werewolf in London and the effects artist and I, we really studied that scene and we knew realistically that we wouldn’t get that, you know because we wouldn’t have a week to shoot that scene so we just made a bucket list of shots and I just thought, I’ve never seen a werewolf dick so I had to do it.

When I first saw it, I will admit that I was shocked but after thinking about it for a minute, I realized that it was absolutely brilliant because I have also kind of wondered if that was something that changed in a werewolf transformation.

I know and I think, in a way, its juvenile of me but at least it is memorable. I thought, if we can only get one shot, I would rather put all of my eggs in that basket and do that shot really well because, in a way, if it works, it will have the impact of five other shots.

I was talking to my friend when I was watching the movie and I told him about the “wolf dick,” as you put it and he was like “Oh my god…is there a sex scene?” When I told him there was, he went right out to buy it.

Yeah, that was really fun too. I was very adamant about it not being two werewolves. I have never seen a werewolf and a woman and I know it’s kind of taboo but I thought it would be fun to see.

It reminded me of those old 80’s “Skinemax” movies that you weren’t supposed to watch as a kid but did anyway, behind your parents backs.

Bring out the candles and slow motion! It was oddly romantic, which I am really happy we did. When we got the Gowan song it just took it up like five notches because it just became this weird ballad. And what is funny about that scene is that it is our assembly cut and it is so long, like overly long. We didn’t touch that scene because when we went to do the better cut, we cut it down and cut out half the shots and it just wasn’t as weird. I just love how long it is. I have seen it in the theater with lots of people and they get so quiet and oddly uncomfortable and no one wants to have a reaction, I don’t know why.

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Well, another cool thing is that you get to see the wolf have sex with Little Red Riding Hood.

It’s been long overdue, I think. When you’re doing an independent film, you have to do something new, right? Like I said, we didn’t have a lot of time or money so we tried to do a lot of weird shit.

How much time did they give you?

We had seventeen days to shoot it. Yeah, very fast and we were shooting like six pages a day. I mean, I can’t complain because we had like an ok budget for an independent film. A million dollars is nothing to sneeze at but it was still very fast. It was like…I’ve done short films and we were going faster than we do in short films. We were doing whole dialogue shots in two hours, which is fast.

How long did it take to do the WolfCop makeup?

When we started the movie, I think the first time we did it, it took about four and a half hours. By the end, we had it down to two hours.

How many days did you film in makeup?

Probably eleven or twelve. I mean, it doesn’t seem like it because when you see the film, he’s not WolfCop for about half the movie but yeah, when he was WolfCop, it took a lot longer to shoot because of all of the gags and stuff. But the regular talking days went by really quick.

I’m doing the math in my head and I realize that is a lot of time in makeup taking up your seventeen days to shoot.

Yeah and it was even harder because the same person, Leo Fafard, was both Lou and WolfCop. We had talked early on about having a different person be the werewolf just for time and efficiency because then we could get the werewolf ready and waiting so when we finished a scene, he could do it but obviously the challenge is that, if he is the same guy and you want to do human and then a werewolf scene, you have four hours of filming time and you have to fill it with something, right? So we would have to film exteriors or cars driving until he was ready so it was a little bit of a hindrance but I think it’s better and that you feel the same guy being under that costume, in a weird way.

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How do you feel about the film’s success? I mean, the day it came out, I watched Facebook, Twitter and Instagram blow up with posts and pictures of the film. Everyone seemed to be buying it.

I am still weirded out by it. I mean, it sounds funny to say but I am almost embarrassed because it’s just a little movie, this little Saskatchewan movie, so, to have people all over the world kind of embracing it is amazing, obviously but it feels weird and it’s kind of exciting. I mean, your dream is that people will see your movie, period and with my short films, I would have to kind of beg people to come and you’re lucky if you pack a theater for one screening, but it is a dream knowing that it’s playing in places all over the world. I can go on Twitter and respond and people are tweeting at me that they are watching it or I’m getting funny tweets like people saying “I’m sick but instead of buying medicine, I bought WolfCop.” It’s like, awesome, you know? It’s cool; it’s like this big virtual community where it really reinforces why you want to make a movie in the first place. I mean, you don’t make a movie like WolfCop for high art or to win an Oscar. You want to have people, a certain fan base to get into it.

Well, the horror community is massive.

And they are the best. They really are the best. I am so excited to be part of the horror community because, I mean, when you’re making your first few films, it is really hard to break in and no one is more embracing than the horror community, I find.  I mean, I can come to a comic convention and there will be people who have heard of it and want to talk about it. If I made a million dollar comedy, a romantic comedy, I don’t think people would be wanting DVDs with special features. I mean, I’m sure some people would but really horror fans are the best.

The soundtrack sold out! Someone posted a picture and I went to go grab one but they were already gone.

(laughs) Yeah, they sold out. The soundtrack is so good. I mean, it’s on iTunes but the vinyl, if you are a collector, is so great.

I think next people are going to bug you about action figures.

Uh, we have actually made action figures! We did an indiegogo campaign. We did a very limited run and they will be out in about a month or so and they are already sold out. I hope we will do more. I want to show you a picture because Emerson Ziffle, who did the special effects, actually made the prototype with his bare hands. He comes with a liquor bottle and a gun.

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You will have to make the car.

I would love to make the car. That’s the weakness and strength of an independent film: you have to do it one step at a time. I am very impatient. I want to have it all now. I want to have a Willy and Tina and stuff but luckily, I think once people start seeing the other ones and it turns out awesome, maybe we will get to make the car or whatever is next. The car is a piece of shit but it looks cool. It was hard to work with because it was breaking down and leaking fluids and obviously not the most road safe in the winter when you have no doors but pretty fun. And Leo, who plays WolfCop, is a crazy driver so I guess the joke in our film was “If you want to get somewhere fast, drive it like Leo.” Because he drives like crazy so it was funny having him as a werewolf behind the wheel of that car. I was afraid to be in the car with him sometimes.

So, you have witchcraft, shape-shifters, and werewolves…did you have to do special research about it all?

A little bit. I mean, I did the basic Wikipedia research and I went online and bought a little “History of Werewolves” book, which I still have and love but just enough to find cool threats because, when I started writing, the first draft of the film we had, Lou goes into the forest and he’s looking around and he is bitten by a werewolf and it just felt like, in a weird way, like I had seen it already. So, I wanted to do more and then I kind of got into researching werewolves and what was cool about them and then I kind of stumbled upon the curse and the gypsies and how they would do things and I just found that way more romantic. You know, the idea of destiny and a character being created for a higher purpose with some kind of voodoo and black magic and I just felt that was a more fun, almost rock n roll way to go about this than just an animal bite. I just felt like it would add more mythology, which is what I really wanted. I mean, I’m a bit of a comic geek and obviously Marvel knows what they are doing but  I mean, it’s great that we have Wolverine in the movie but he is totally different from Wolverine in the comics and I wanted to make a movie that was a little more dark. I mean, if you saw a character that was like WolfCop, who would actually have sex or rip people in two where, with a big blockbuster, you wouldn’t get to see that.

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There are a million werewolf movies and they really tend to be more serious. They really focus on the transformation and the inner struggle where WolfCop doesn’t really do any of those things. In fact, his weakness, alcohol, really turns out to be his strength.

Yeah, you’re right. We kind of went out of the way to not have a message, which is maybe bad, but characters do evolve and hopefully grow but we didn’t want it to be such a morality tale that was heavy handed. We wanted it to be a late night movie where you watch with some friends. We even have a WolfCop drinking game where every time he drinks, you drink. By the end, you would be wasted. You really would be. Traditionally, alcohol would be his kryptonite but it’s like the one thing that keeps him going. The alcohol keeps him on an even keel.

I know you have done a zombie movie, 13 Eerie with Katherine Isabelle, and now you have done a werewolf film. Any plans to tackle another part of the monster movie genre?

I am. I can’t say the title of what I want to do next because it is as obvious as WolfCop and if I told you the title, you would know the whole plot to the movie but I am going to do WolfCop 2 next and a couple of other horror movies if all goes well.

With the way this film is blowing up, I don’t have any doubts things will go well.

I hope so. I really hope so because this is fun, you know, and it is almost validation to have this many people behind us because, like I said, this is just a little Saskatchewan movie and it is cool to see how people react. It almost gives you a certain confidence that maybe people want to see the next thing. I think we are going to get a bigger budget and hopefully shoot this summer. It will be really messed up, far more messed up than the first one.

Do you think they will let you use more blood this time?

I hope so. More blood, more sex, more everything. It will be good. I hope.

WolfCop is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.


========================================================================================================Ann Hale is the horror editor for Pop-Break.com and a senior contributing writer, reviewing horror movies and television shows. She is also the American Correspondent for Lovehorror.co.uk and writer for Geekandstuff.com. Ann attended East Carolina University, majoring in English Literature. She is a collector of Halloween (the film) memorabilia and is a self-admitted opinionated horror nerd. You can follow her, her collection and her cat, Edward Kittyhands on Twitter and Instagram @Scarletjupiter
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Just a giant nerd in love with horror, 80's action flicks, Star Wars and Harry Potter. Hit me up on Twitter or Instagram @scarletjupiter to talk horror or just to browse the horror collection.