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SUCK may be one of a number of independent vampire comedies to make the scene lately, but the Canadian production has a difference—it’s actually funny, as well as occasionally bloody enough to sate fans displeased with the anemic likes of the TWILIGHT movies. The movie recently played the Museum of Modern Art as part of its Canadian Front series, where Fango got a chance to chat with its writer/director/star Rob Stefaniuk (pictured).
The filmmaker, who previously directed and starred in PHIL THE ALIEN, toplines SUCK as Joey, part of an up-and-coming rock group called The Winners that’s about to embark on a Canada/northeast U.S. tour. On the eve of their departure, sole female bandmate Jennifer (Jessica Paré) is bitten by a seductive bloodsucker—and while her new hunger for blood causes problems for the other Winners, she also develops a fresh allure that makes them a hit with audiences. The movie has been attracting a lot of positive attention too, Stefaniuk says. “We won the People’s Choice Award up at the Whistler Film Festival and got a lot of press at the Toronto Film Festival, and we did a lot of deals there as well. And we premiered at South by Southwest recently; I wasn’t there, but apparently it was sold out, they turned away 100 people and it went over really big. And to be at the Museum of Modern Art is totally cool, and the crowds have been great and very responsive. I’ve just really been enjoying it. So far, so good!”
For Stefaniuk, who has also previously acted in a number of features and TV episodes, SUCK’s positive reception is the gratifying result of five years of work getting the movie off the ground. He admits that the newfound popularity of creatures of the night helped him secure the backing for the film. “People said no, but then vampires started doing well and it happened,” he says, adding that the lengthy development period may have been to the movie’s advantage. “It’s a little movie, but I got to work with some of my all-time heroes, and I believe everything happens for a reason. I could’ve made this movie five years ago, but it would’ve starred me and David Hasselhoff, and now it stars me and Iggy Pop! So I feel pretty good about the way things turned out.”
Indeed, SUCK features a great cast of popular musicians, most in meatier roles than mere cameos. In addition to Pop, the lineup includes Alice Cooper (plus his daughter Calico), Henry Rollins and Moby, as well as Malcolm McDowell (pictured above) and comedian Dave Foley. According to Stefaniuk, landing all these big names was the result of a kind of domino effect. “Once we got Iggy on board, which was just from an e-mail, that helped us get Henry, and my producer knew Moby, and so on,” he says. “With a small movie, as soon as you get one name involved, it becomes a real project. And to have someone with so much integrity in the rock world really goes a long way with those guys.” When it came to McDowell, he adds, “We were sitting around talking about who we knew, and my executive producer, Gabriella Martinelli, said, ‘I know Malcolm McDowell.’ I was like, ‘Are you out of your f**king mind? We’re trying to make a cool movie, and you know Malcolm McDowell and you haven’t brought that up before?’ We sent him the script and he read it, laughed and said yes.”
With SUCK having secured Canadian distribution through Alliance (for release this fall) and fielding U.S. offers, Stefaniuk is already looking forward to his next film. “It’s called PIXIE, and it’s a comedy about a bunch of killer fairies that run a disco that eats time,” he reveals. “I guess I’d call it a fantasy/comedy. It sort of stays true to the old myths that if people get lured away to the fairy gatherings, they end up losing time, and I just sort of did a modern take on that and mixed it with rave culture. It’s still at the script stage, but hopefully we’ll go into production soon.” This movie will be in the same spirit as SUCK, though he notes, “I’d like to think that I’d undergo an evolution and change things up a bit. Every filmmaker will tell you that as soon as they watch their latest movie, it’s, ‘Ahh, I can do better.’ So hopefully there will be a progression, but certainly it’s still part of my whole cross-genre, out-there, if-you-smoke-weed-you’ll-probably-like-it approach.” You can see SUCK’s trailer below and its official website here, and look for on-set coverage in FANGORIA magazine in the near future.
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