Io9 caught up with Wake The Dead director Jay Russell who has been elbow deep in human insides (or at least, right next to the insides) researching how modern society would really reanimate corpses. Russell filled us in on a recent trip to an actual operating room with Steve Niles, original creator of the Wake The Dead graphic novel, for research on their new movie. All that bloody research will probably come in handy when those two attempt to create a modern version of Frankenstein. Click through for the full update on his gruesome research, plus a concept video Russell pulled together for fans.
Where is Wake The Dead right now? What are you working on?
Right now we are in the early stages of development/prep, so I can just tell you some very basic facts, and also, I don't want to give too much away at this point in the process.
I read that you and Steve Niles visited a hospital for research, you're really taking a detailed look into this. What did you learn from that? How are you going to apply modern surgery to Wake The Dead?
It was a fascinating day for Steve and me. We visited the Cedars Sinai cardiac ward and got the full, behind the scenes "chef's tour" of the very latest in heart surgery techniques. In fact, they had us decked out in scrubs and were able to witness four "live" heart surgeries in different stages of the procedures. We also were allowed to view, up close and personal, a heart which had just been removed from a patient. Steve got a little wobbly at that point, which amused me to no end.
This was all terrific research for me because I was able to learn about the future of high tech surgery and how that would apply to our characters.
It's my goal with this film to tell an old story in a brand new way, using the latest technology and even giving a glimpse of what's to come in the near future. Dr. Frankenstein is alive and well and he is working in all of the best hospitals around the world.
How has it been working with Steve Niles?
It's been great working with Steve. We met about 5 years ago and at that time he learned I had a long standing interest in sci-fi and horror, all the way back to when I was a kid, having been a big fan of the films and having collected a lot of the books and magazines back then. I think Steve was surprised, given the films I'd made up to that point. But this inspired him to ask if I'd have interest adapting one of his books. I jumped at the chance and landed on "Wake the Dead."
What I've enjoyed about the process with Steve is, he understands the difference between literature and film. Even graphic literature, which is his world. They are apples and oranges and can never be the same. They can simply inspire one another. So, he has been very open and excited about the adaptation process and has been very involved at each step of the way so far.
And for me, it has been great fun and really exciting to jump into a brand new genre as a filmmaker. I think because I have made such different types of films, I'm hoping to bring an alternate view and fresh perspective. (I hope so anyway.) I'm hoping to give this story depth and involve us in the characters in a manner which I haven't really seen much lately in the genre. I'm intending for this to be more The Shining and Alien than the splatter porn which is passing for horror.
How graphic are we getting in Wake The Dead with the monster? What can the audience expect?
I am doing with Weta Workshop down in New Zealand, I have a feeling I am going to get into some trouble with the ratings board. This film will be R rated with a capital R.