By: Thomas Pitts
Bigfoot is reborn in Primal Rage, a practical effects-driven old school creature feature available now on all major VOD streaming services and coming soon to DVD and Blue Ray.
Primal Rage centres on a young couple’s drive through the Pacific Northwest that evolves into a nightmare as they struggle to survive in the wilderness against a monstrous creature known as “Oh-Mah.” Rue Morgue got the chance to talk with Primal Rage director and co-writer, Patrick Magee, to discuss his promising directorial debut and the magic of practical effects.
Please in your own words give readers an introduction to Primal Rage.
Primal Rage is a story about a newly reunited young couple’s drive through the Pacific Northwest that turns into a nightmare as they are forced to face nature, unsavoury locals, and a monstrous creature, known to the Native Americans as “Oh-Mah.” Primal Rage is a character-based thriller thrown into the claws of Bigfoot, as Bigfoot has never been seen before. It is Predator meets First Blood with this re-envisioning of the Bigfoot legend. It is a love story, a survival story, a horrific thriller, and a monster movie.
Have you always been fascinated with the legendary Sasquatch or the Oh-Mah?
Not necessarily the legend of Sasquatch or Bigfoot, but since seeing Harry and the Hendersons, I became fascinated with the character of Bigfoot. Creating my own version of a Bigfoot, an evil Bigfoot, along the lines of the Predator, became my focus.
Is this the first horror script that you have written or co-written with Jay Lee?
Yes, this was the first script that we have written together, although we have creatively collaborated in the past. I basically gave Jay a stack of notes and story ideas that I have written, and Jay turned them into a script. Jay added a lot of additional depth to the characters. Jay also had the idea of Oh-Mah having a type of camouflage.
This is your directorial debut if I’m not mistaken, how did you find the change from just being a part of the special effects team to getting behind the camera as well?
The change was drastic. The main reason in creating this film was to allow myself and my crew the proper TIME to build everything we needed to create all the special effects in the film. Another one of the main reasons to move into directing was to have total control of the story, casting, locations, blocking out scenes, lighting choices, overall aesthetic and tone of the film. It was a huge change from handling just one aspect of a film. I wanted to ensure to have total control over the special effects and the creature when filming. Being the director, as well as creating all of the special effects, I was able to deliver the creature and gags in the optimal setting.
With your background in practical effects it appears as though your film is a throwback to when horror films were disgusting, grim and visceral, and heavy on the practical effects, was this your intention?
Absolutely! That was my intention. I wanted to create and approach a film the same way the films in the 80’s were. I grew up with films that were dark, grim, real, and show the monster, but not too much. I also capitalized on my limitations, much like films of the 80’s, as well as other low-budget films of today. It’s equally important to not show too much and leave a little to the imagination.
What originally got you into creating special effects?
When I was 7 years old I saw An American Werewolf in London on HBO, and was obsessed. Shortly after seeing that film, I stumbled across The Making of Thriller, and that was it for me. I knew what I was going to do with my life. Rick Baker’s werewolf and werecat, along with the Alien and the Predator were huge inspirations for me getting into special effects, and wanting to create monsters for movies.
Do you think your background in practical effects made a huge influence on how you decided to direct your film?
Somewhat. A combination of working on films and watching other directors, and more importantly meticulously studying films that I love influences how and what I wanted to direct.
What inspired you to write and direct your own horror film?
First, to make the ultimate Bigfoot. Second, to have total control of the process of creating, shooting and finishing a film. Third, to fill a void. I wanted to make a movie that I don’t feel has been made, on this subject matter. And, I really wanted to make a movie that I wanted to see.
What makes a good horror film?
That is a personal question, and could very on different types of horror. To me, a simple story, that is well executed, and has people in primal situations. Of course, atmosphere, tone, and music are huge factors. Establishing a good set of rules, and not breaking them are important to me as well.
Some of the action sequences look rather intense and epic how difficult was it capturing these moments?
Very difficult. Shooting in the brutal elements of the Red Wood Forrest with limited budget, crew and equipment made it incredibly taxing on the actors and the crew. A huge factor in casting this film was how physical the actors were. Each actor performed all of their own stunts, and did them repeatedly.
What does your film offer horror fans?
Primal Rage offers horror fans an atmospheric, moody film on an iconic subject matter, interesting story, and TONS of special effects filled with gore, blood and guts. The film is full of fun characters and a memorable monster. It is shot in a breathtaking location, with a beautifully dark score as well.
If you could adapt another classic horror legend what would you want to do and how would you do it?
I would love to tackle the legend of the Werewolf, more on that later…
What was the process behind making the incredible Oh-Mah bodysuit?
The process behind making the Oh-Mah suit was very traditional. There was no new technological advances involved. More effort was put into the design and making multiples to withstand the difficulty of filming in the treacherous elements. Making furry creatures is a lot of work! It takes a lot of time to punch individual hairs into multiple heads, hands, feet, and chest skins. It starts the traditional way, sculpting the muscles on a full body life-cast. The feet, hands and chest was sculpted separately, as well as the head. The head is the most elaborate piece of work, considering it is mechanical, with 12 servo motors moving the face skin, multiple bladders, tubes for drool and breathing.
The setting of the film seems like an amazing location for a nice hike in the wilderness or better yet a horror film, did you run into any difficulties while filming on location?
We shot in February, planning for overcast and gloomy days, with that came rain and mud, making getting equipment and vehicles around very difficult, let alone just walking. That being said, we were also there during a winter heat wave, causing times of too much sun and too much light to break through. This effected our continuity, causing us to limit filming to early morning as the sun was just coming up, and late in the day, just before the sun set.
Please tell readers a little bit about the other horror projects you have created gnarly practical effects for.
I’ve been fortunate to work on very large budget films, from working on dinosaurs at Stan Winston’s Studio for Jurassic Park 3, aliens in Men in Black 3 for Rick Baker, and A.I. and Spiderman for Studio ADI. I’ve also been able to work on a lot of low budget horror films like Shallow Ground, Dark Ride, Zombie Strippers and even Beyond Re-Animator.
What do you think of the current horror movie scene, what’s bad and what’s good?
Without sounding too negative, it has gotten very gimmicky. A lot of re-makes and sequels. Not very much new and original especially in the monster department.
Have you seen any great horror films lately?
I’m a really big fan of the classics. Great new films are few and far between, call me old fashioned. I guess that is why I made the type of film the way I made it. Unfortunately, I feel like new films are so formulaic, developed and produced, so quickly with a fast turn-around, yielding minimal content.
Can readers expect a Primal Rage 2?
Too early to say, if this one is well received, without a doubt. I have several ideas to further this legend.
Do you have other nasty ideas for new horror films in the future?
Of course, I have many ideas.
I’ll leave the finally lines open to you Patrick, now’s the chance to say whatever you like to readers! Thanks Patrick and I look forward to seeing Primal Rage: The Legend of the Oh-Mah!
I am really grateful and thankful to my cast and crew. This film took many, many years to complete, and I am excited to share it with the world of horror fans.