Putting on the “DYLAN DOG”

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Originally published at Fangoria.com on July 26th, 2011

Based on the best-selling Italian horror comics by Tiziano Sclavi, DYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT (out on DVD and Blu-ray today from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment) follows the adventures of supernatural private investigator Dylan Dog (Brandon Routh), who must find a missing artifact that’s connected to a series of unsolved murders. This mystical object has attracted the unwanted attention of vampires, werewolves and zombies dwelling amongst us in New Orleans, and a monstrous war is about to begin. Fango spoke with director Kevin Munroe about the making of the movie and bringing Dylan Dog to life from the comic-book page.

FANGORIA: What interested you about turning the DYLAN DOG comics into a movie?

KEVIN MUNROE: It was such a fantastic and lively world. I love how you can take something absurd and make it somehow believable, and that’s kind of what we did. That’s what that world is—it was the idea of taking vampires, werewolves, zombies and all these other creatures, and having them show up realistically. When I got the screenplay, it was only called DEAD OF NIGHT. I didn’t even realize it was DYLAN DOG when I was reading it. I fell in love with the script right away, and I just called and said I really wanted to do it.

FANG: In the film, during daytime scenes, there are the stylistic conventions of shadows and low-key lighting, usually seen in traditional noir films. During nighttime, there are blue/green tones on display reminiscent of ’80s horror/comedies. How did you and cinematographer Geoffrey Hall bring about a world of color from a comic that is mostly drawn in black and white?

MUNROE: I’m such a huge fan of horror, and I love to play with light vs. dark. I like to have a theory. The vampire world is very heightened and saturated—a lot of blood-warm reds, with the zombies in florescent greens. If you have to put color on screen, it becomes a character. Geoffrey is a great lighter and shooter, and is really fast. We both frame things the same way. It was a great collaboration.

FANG: Actor Brandon Routh fits the role of Dylan Dog and comfortably wears the iconic wardrobe—the red shirt, the black jacket and blue jeans. How did you and Routh build the character from the comics to the screen?

MUNROE: Brandon really wanted to be faithful to the tone of the comic-book character. He wasn’t someone who was depressed, upset or angry. He was very stoic and direct in a way, that “I don’t need this part of my life anymore” attitude. It would be so easy for someone who doesn’t have anyone to be suicidal. Brandon wanted to stay true to that tone. At the same time, he had to work in that dry sense of humor whenever he’s with his sidekick [Sam Huntington as Marcus]. It was important for him to play to the whole concept that Dylan is comfortable in this world of monsters. He had to deliver lines and speak differently to monsters compared to speaking to human beings. He had to be looser, more fun even. This is where his character comes more to life. It was funny, and a lot of work for him.

FANG: Routh and Huntington play characters who have known each other most of their lives. Was it easier to build the relationship between them because they had worked together previously in SUPERMAN RETURNS?

MUNROE: Yeah, it was one of those things where we were lucky to get something real on screen. We were shooting fast, and they had to seem like they knew each other since forever. We were lucky to have Brandon and Sam together. At first I thought they didn’t want to do it, but they were like, “What, are you crazy? Of course it would be great to work with each other.” Their friendship really comes through.

FANG: For your first live-action film after the CG feature TMNT, DYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT has many digital and makeup FX. Because you have extensive animation credits, especially as a storyboard artist, do those qualities help to better visualize the special FX?

MUNROE: Animation forces you to think three times where to cut something. There’s no such thing as shooting and cutting stuff in animation. So when you show up on [a live-action] set, it’s much easier to visualize the story and set up the storyboards. You have to get things done in 35 days. You have to know what you need, based on what the movie costs.

FANG: You’ve worked on two comics-to-movies adaptations. What interests you about comic books as source material?

MUNROE: Growing up with it, I’m very comfortable with the medium. Thinking back to it, as a kid, I’d enjoy how I was making my own thing; reading a comic book kept me active. When I look at a comic-book project, I can see it totally in my own head. If it’s a good story, it’s a good story! It doesn’t matter if it came from a comic. It’s a kind of thing where you get typecast, but I think they’re a lot of fun.

FANG: Have you heard word of a sequel?

MUNROE: I have not; I would love to do a sequel, though. It would be a lot of fun to take it back to London. I would drop it off in Italy, because that’s the birthplace of the comics. It would be fun to go back, reintroduce all the main characters and build upon that.

FANG: What were your expectations for the box office?

MUNROE: They were realistic, depending on what point of the process it was. When I first started, they were much bigger, because it was a bigger movie. Then the budget shrank, and the expectations became realistic. It was finally released on about 875 screens.

FANG: What are you working on now?

MUNROE: I’m directing a movie for Lucasfilm. I can tell you it’s all CGI and a really great project. It takes me back to making CGI movies, and I wouldn’t be doing it if it wasn’t for George.