Interview : Neil Marshall


Writer/Director Neil Marshall talks to CLINT MORRIS about his globally acclaimed horror hit "Dog Soldiers", the story of a group of British soldiers who find themselves the prey of a pack of werewolves in the Scottish wilderness. In this interview we learn new uses for sausages, the truth behind those trilogy rumours and how Excalibur is about to be dusted off again.

“I thought the werewolf was a creature heavily underused in movies. I mean you see Vampires done all the time, but not the Wolf”, says Neil Marshall, writer/director of “Dog Soldiers”, a new horror movie about a squad of British soldiers going head to head with a hungry wolf pack in the Scottish wilderness. “Not since the early 80’s anyway. But I also wanted for the audience to see the film through the eyes of the victims for a change, because usually in “Werewolf” movies you’re seeing it from the perspective of the Wolf. I also thought combining a siege aspect to the movie sounded fun to do, and this strong concept led to the movie”.

Since it’s release, “Dog Soldiers” has been herald as one of the best horror movies in over twenty years; Marshall gladly accepts the pat on the back but says his many film influences deserve some of the praise. “There were loads. Surprisingly Westerns for the most part – films by Howard Hawkes, and flicks like Rio Brava, where you’ve got a tight group of people banding together in the bunkers. I also looked at “Stalag 17” and one of the best war films ever, “Zulu”. People say I was obviously influenced by “Night of the Living Dead”, but the truth is, I’ve never seen that movie. I’ve seen the sequels, but never the first one – so I can’t take credit for that one”.

So where did some of those cheapish but very effective effects come from? “For intestines, for one, I believe they were sausages. The effects boys fixed that one up. I think they worked rather well for intestines too.”

Marshall says staging physical effects – rather than using computer effects– was mandatory for this film to work. “It was a deliberate choice. Some of the scenes just wouldn’t have worked well enough had I done it with computers, for instance, that fight scene between man and werewolf in the kitchen. Most people commend me on that aspect of that film”.

Since it’s release the rumour mill went into overdrive with buzz about a possible sequel and ultimate “Dog Soldiers” trilogy. “That was the idea at the beginning. But in order to get “Dog Soldiers” made I had to sell all my rights (remake, sequel etc) to the U.S, so now I’ve got no control over anything like that. There was talk of a sequel with the producers, but not now”.

Marshall says he’s still going to firmly concentrate on horror for his next project. “It’s called “The Dark” and is very much in the style of “The Thing” or “Aliens”. It’s about 5 women cavests who head down the darker steps of a cave and encounter something pretty disturbing below.”, says Marshall.

“I’m also doing a Medieval Heist movie – I’m just waiting on the money for that one. It’s a spin on the “King Arthur” tale but set 30 years after King Arthur’s death. Excalibur falls into the wrong hands and it’s up to Guinevere to get it back”.

Not surprisingly – considering how closely “Dog Soldiers” resembles it – Marshall would like to have a go at writing or directing one of the “Aliens” sequels. He actually wrote a treatment for “Alien 3”, but it went unused. He says he thinks the story could easily pass off for the next movie. “They go back to the original planet from the first film where they discover more eggs on the spacecraft and so have to rescue the people back there”, he says. “You never know, it might be used for a future one”.

But Marshall says the last “Alien” movie deterred his interest in the series temporarily. “They just lost the plot with Alien Resurrection”, he says. “But I’m fascinated with the mythology and character of the Alien and part of me would love to do an Alien film one day. Not an “Aliens vs Predator” – that’ll just be a smash-em up movie that’ll get the kids in. It’ll have no great story – but a return to the original”.

DOG SOLDIERS commences in Cinemas March 20 around Australia

Click here for the review