The tale of man versus the wolf goes back thousands of years. It is a reminder of our primitive struggle for survival and is a myth that crosses several cultures. The myth is just as powerful today as its ever been. Whether it is a primal story such as The Grey, or a modern werewolf saga like Twilight or Underworld, the mythology continues to find its way into the world of film.
The latest movie to add a wrinkle to the myth of the werewolf is Late Phases. The new horror film written by Eric Stolze and directed by Adrián García Bogliano. Late Phases is about a blind, yet able Vietnam veteran, who has moved into a new retirement community. On his first night in his new home, he is viciously attacked by an unseen monster resulting in the death of his guide dog. Relying on his remaining senses and a steely determination, he prepares for the next full moon and a battle to the death with the werewolf that has been terrorizing the neighborhood.
Actor and screenwriter Nick Damici plays the film's lead, Ambrose Mckinley. The film centers on the charismatic lead who is a throwback to a hero of an earlier era, with the quiet old-school charm of a Charles Bronson. Although he is disabled, he is not handicapped and Damici manages to layer Ambrose with an intricate performance, that is by far the highlight of the movie. We got a chance to sit down with Damici and ask him a few questions about his involvement in Late Phases.
How did you get involved in 'Late Phases?'
We had done Stakeland, Jim Mickle and I with Greg Newman. Who produced it for MPI. He had contacted me a long time ago and asked me if I would be interested in the script. He sent it to me and I loved it. I said, "Sure." Two years went by and I didn't hear anything, so I thought it was dead in the water. Which happens all the time. And then he called me back up...From there it was just working out the details.
Your characterization of Ambrose is extremely precise. He was a war veteran and has trust issues. Did you base your performance on anything in particular?
A lot of it was the script. He was a guy of that generation. Even though he was Vietnam era. He was really based on the "Greatest Generation." World War II. It was more based on the writer's grandfather than his father, from what I understood talking to the writer. So I realized I was playing that John Wayne type, that almost doesn't exist anymore. Man's man kind of thing. So I thought that was kind of interesting to embrace that. That's the kind of guy he is. He never shows his feelings. But when the shit hits the fan, he's the guy you want around. That was my take on him and I just went with it.
You were amazingly convincing in portraying Ambrose's disability. Charlie Cox has mentioned how difficult it can be playing someone who is blind, while shooting 'Daredevil.' How was it acting as a blind man?
It was acting. Making believe I was blind. I wasn't blind. There's a technique basically. It's a matter of learning to focus your eyes. Or unfocus your eyes. So you really aren't looking at anything. It's almost like if you put your hand in front of your face really close to you eyes and where you can't focus on your hand. If you do that your eyes will appear blind. So it was like putting that wall up in front of my face, so that my center of vision is not focused. We look dead center. So you are really focusing on the peripheral...Then it was trusting the director, camera guys, and everybody else to let me know when it didn't work.
There seems to be a strong subtext in the movie of the elderly being preyed on and being helpless in retirement communities. What can you share on that aspect of the film?
I think that's a good point. I mean who does movies about old people anymore, that aren't saccharine...pieces of crap? This has an interesting take on aging people and they are kind of forgotten. You ever been in one of those retirement homes? Or assisted living communities? Everyone is sitting around waiting to die. It's a depressing place, ya know? ...you feel bad. I thought it was kinda nice that the young writer, especially, was interested enough in that plight to actually take it on and approach it in a strange way with werewolves. I think that social commentary in a horror film is about the best thing you can hope for.
Are you into horror yourself?
I love horror. I've been a horror geek since I was kid. I don't like a lot of the modern stuff. I don't like the torture porn and all that stuff. I love the classics, Night of the Living Dead, that kind of stuff I think is really interesting.
You are a screenwriter as well. What kind of stuff do you like to write about?
I've written a lot of horror and suspense. The last couple of years I have gotten into a lot of adapting. I prefer to write original stuff but when a good story comes along...either a good story or good book It's a challenge to take something like that and make it into a movie and still treat it with the integrity that it deserves. So that has been the last couple years basically adapting the Mexican film into We Are What We Are and then adapted Cold in July, kind of a 70's, 80's crime-drama into a screenplay from the book. Right now I'm working for the Sundance Channel adapting another Robert Lansdale series, so that is kind of interesting as well.
Thank you for joining us! Congratulations on 'Late Phases' and your performance in it!
Hey thank you. I hope people embrace Late Phases and enjoy it!
"Late Phases" tells the story of Ambrose McKinley, who moves into a community where the residents have been dying in increasing numbers - oddly, all have supposedly been the victims of dog attacks. But after barely surviving his own attack on his first night there, Ambrose discovers that the assailants are much more than canines.
Late Phases is available on Blu-Ray, DVD, and VOD right now!