Steve Niles, Jay Russell and Slash announce WAKE THE DEAD movie at Sundance – exclusive quotes from Niles

Steve Niles, Jay Russell and Slash announce WAKE THE DEAD movie at Sundance – exclusive quotes from Niles



After the success of 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, the movie adaptation of the popular comic books by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, many wondered what would be the next theatrical effort from the extensive Niles horror library.  Now we know.  At the Sundance Film Festival over the weekend, Steve, director Jay Russell, and Slash (of Guns N’ Roses) announced the comic WAKE THE DEAD would finally be coming to the big screen, as one of four films produced by Slash’s new company Slasher Films (I love that name!).  The story is a modern day take on the classic “Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus” book.  Russell (MY DOG SKIP, LADDER 49) is directing, with the movie being produced by Slash and Rob Eric of Scout, makers of SESSION 9.  So the official name of the production company on this one is Slasher/Scout.  Steve actually first announced WAKE THE DEAD would be a movie way back in May of 2008, on the Bigfanboy Livecast to be exact, so this project has been in the works for a while.  I spoke to Niles just after he returned from his Sundance excursion, and got a chance to ask a few questions, which you can read the result of below.  Steve and I have been friends for many years now, and I’m happy to see his hard work paying off.  Many people think he hit the scene with 30 DAYS OF NIGHT and CRIMINAL MACABRE, but in actuality he had been working furiously for many years prior to that, even collaborating with Clive Barker and Richard Matheson.  I can tell you for a fact Steve works his butt off, and deserves these moments like the one at Sundance.  I’m proud of him, and happy to support his success.

Mark: So you’re just back from Sundance, I imagine it was a good time, obviously a exciting time.  Being there, making this sort of announcement, was that whole experience magical?

Steve: Yes.  It was cold, it was really cold.   Sadly I didn’t get to see any movies though, because my schedule was so tight while we were there, and I only had time for this event.

Mark: I know you’ve been working on this getting to theaters for a while.  Safe to say the journey has been a difficult one?

Steve: You know, this is probably the third home for WAKE THE DEAD in terms of production, but I think I can safely say this is the best team we’ve had so far.  That said, we still have a long way to go.   But I’m feeling really, really good about this, and letting myself be happy.  As with most everything I do, you could say I’m cautiously optimistic.

Mark: Looking back on your experiences with 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, how has that shaped your thought process on this new endeavor?  What sort of things did you take away from the previous comic-to-movie events?

Steve: 30 DAYS was my first experience with both movies and Hollywood.  But aisde from writing a script, being occasionally asked for advice from (Sam) Raimi or (David) Slade, that was pretty much the extent of it.   I guess you could say that on that one, I was just sort of along for the ride.  On this one I’m much more hands on.   I can’t tell you how many years I’ve been trying to get this thing made.  But in the end, the biggest difference this time around is I’m a lot more hands on.

Mark: You’ve already made comments about the shared feelings you and director Jay Russell and Slash have when it comes to your love of horror.  Is it a different feeling working with guys like this, and perhaps a situation that gives you more confidence in the project as a creator?

Steve: It makes a huge difference working with these guys.  We literally have a group of people who all agree on what the project should be.  We have a script, everybody agrees they like that script, we agree on the people we want in it, and we agree on where we want to shoot it.  It’s a symbiotic relationship, and so very refreshing.  I just can’t say enough about the positive energy here, if just for the overall enthusiasm behind the work.

Mark: Do you think that enthusiasm and collaborative sensibility can lead to possible future projects with this same group of folks?

Steve: Of course.  Jay and I got to know one another because we met back when Jay wanted to make THE LURKERS, and it somehow morphed into us wanting to do WAKE THE DEAD.  We actually already have another idea in mind that’s a completely original project, though right now it’s just notes.  It’s called SOULLESS… we’ll see what happens.  These guys want to make two films a year.  Everyone involved is being very reasonable and more importantly very smart.

Mark: Okay, aside from all this movie stuff, is there anything you want to push on the comic book side of things, since obviously that’s where you’re working the hardest?

Steve: Well, I’m very curious what people think of EDGE OF DOOM.   I remember telling you about it a while ago, Mark, and it’s 5 issues with each issue being a stand alone story.  In the 5th book all of it will tie together.  But I’m hoping to get more feedback from people on it.

Mark: And of course you’ve got more stuff with Bernie Wrightson on the horizon.

Steve: Definitely more stuff with Bernie, in fact with any luck Bernie and I will be making a big announcement with Dark Horse very soon.  For now he’s working on a story for THE SPIRIT story that I wrote for him.

Mark: I cannot wait to see those pages.  Bernie doing THE SPIRIT, that’s gotta be greatness.

Steve: The art is amazing.  Yep, Bernie doing THE SPIRIT, and it’s in the graveyard where the character lives… it’s really incredible.

Find Steve Niles on Twitter, or at his official site.

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About the Author

Born and raised in Dallas, Mark has been a movie critic since 1994, with reviews featured in print, radio and National TV. In 2001 he started the Entertainment section of the Herorealm website, where he contributed film reviews and celebrity interviews until 2004. After three years of service there, he started, which has become one of the Dallas film community's leading information websites. Bigfanboy hosts several movie screenings in the Texas area, and works closely with film and TV studios and promotional partners to host exciting events and contests. The site also features a variety of rare celebrity and filmmaker interviews, and regularly covers the film festival circuit as well. In addition to Hollywood reporting, Mark has worked for many years as an advertising and sci-fi/comic book artist. Clients have included Lucasfilm Ltd., Topps Trading Cards, The Dallas Mavericks and The Dallas Stars. From 2002 until 2015 he managed the Dallas Comic Con, Sci-Fi Expo and Fan Days events in the DFW area. He currently catalogs rare comic books and movie memorabilia for Heritage Auctions, and runs the Dallas Comic Show conventions, but remains an avid moviegoer and cinema buff.