The writer/director of Doomsday reveals the inspiration behind his "daft vision of the future."
With his 2005 flick The Descent, UK-based writer/director Neil Marshall accomplished an increasingly rare feat, winning raves from both critics and genre fans. Not bad for a low-budget film conceived simply as "a deliberate attempt to scare the (stuff) out of people," as he puts it.
This week Marshall is hoping for similar results with Doomsday, his first release as a studio director under Universal's Rogue Pictures banner. Marshall describes the flick as "an homage to the post-apocalyptic movies of the early '80s: the Mad Maxes, the Escape from New Yorks, even things like The Warriors or the 'Wild Boys' video by Duran Duran," brutal, violent visions of urban dystopia built around an ethos, he says, of "grungy, leather-clad warriors of the wasteland."
And much like those films, Doomsday was made largely without the benefit of CGI. "I wanted to shoot the majority of the film in-camera: no wires, no green screen, do it for real," Marshall says of his determinedly old-school approach, one that places him in sharp contrast with tech-loving modern directors like the Wachowski Brothers or 300's Zack Snyder. "We did half a day's worth of green screen shooting on Descent and I hated it," he grumbles. "It was so boring. I thought: why would anybody want to shoot an entire film like this?"
Marshall is by no means a Luddite, however. "CG is a great tool when used wisely and sparingly," he concedes. "It's used best to enhance reality rather than replace it. And yeah, I have used more CGI shots on this than my previous films, but then again the world is 10 times bigger and I needed to expand upon it."
Just about everything was bigger on Doomsday, from the budget to the cast. But just because he's become a "studio" filmmaker, don't think for a second that Marshall has forsaken his humble origins as a charter member of the so-called "splat pack" of genre directors. "It was about halfway through filming this that Paul Hyett, my makeup effects supervisor, pointed out that there was more blood and guts in this movie than there is in Descent," he boasts. "I may have moved on from my horror roots, but I certainly haven't moved on from my splatter roots. Cause there's lots of splat in this film."
Whereas other directors might cringe at the thought of being labeled a "splatter" director, Marshall embraces the title. "Maybe I'm just a sick bastard," he says, "but if I'm gonna see somebody get hit in the face with a baseball bat, let's show 'em what happens when you get hit in the face with a baseball bat."
"I don't set out to make anything that's offensively nasty," Marshall adds. "I think it's done with a degree of humor about it. Somebody gets run over by a tank in this movie and it's pretty grim, but it's so over-the-top it kinda becomes funny as well."
Marshall took care to sprinkle bits of comedy throughout Doomsday. "The tone of the film is more akin to Dog Soldiers than Descent, in terms of that black humor," he explains.
"It's just kind of daft version of the future, really."
Doomsday opens nationwide on Friday, March 14th.