by Staci Layne Wilson
The Jersey Devil is not Snooki's baby. Nope, it's a creepy creature kind of like Mexico's mythical El Chupacabra or The Big Foot… only much, much meaner.
It's said to be a fanged and winged biped that slashes its victims and screams like a banshee. Sightings of the demon-spawn of the Pine Barrens of Southern New Jersey surfaced ages ago, dating back to Native American folklore. The Lenni Lenape tribes called the area "Popuessing", meaning: place of the dragon.
There have been a few books and movies based on the legend, but it's a lesser-known monster to the world at large. That should change on Tuesday, when the DVD is released — it's directed by Darren Bousman (of the Saw franchise, and the new Devil's Carnival rock 'n roll horror fable) and stars Stephen Moyer (famous as Vampire Bill on HBO's hit series True Blood).
Our review is coming soon, but the basic set up is Moyer, a family man, takes his wife and two children out camping only to find they are the possible prey of The Jersey Devil… or are they? Maybe it's all just one sick man's fevered, psychotic hallucinations. Either way, a very real danger lies ahead for the family.
Staci Layne Wilson: Why the Jersey Devil?
DARREN LYNN BOUSMAN: It was a legend and lore that I was always fascinated with. We have all heard the stories of BIG FOOT and THE LOCH NESS, but the Jersey Devil felt new - but still based in history hundreds of years old. I read a ton of books on The Jersey Devil, what I found so fascinating was the amount of EYE WITNESSES, eye witnesses that went as far back as the 1700's, and continue even today. Cryptozoology is an amazing addiction of mine. Every year new species are discovered, new plants, new fish, new animals... I love the "what if". "what if" this really existed... And who are we to say it doesn't. I remember when doing research for this, I stumbled across a horrible picture of a deformed animal. It was horrid. A mangled animal, deformed, rabid... Researchers determined it was a BUFFALO that had a skin disease, the skin disease caused it to get boils, the boils became sun burned, and popped... They became infected and scarred... The animal went crazy... Looking at it, it looked like a monster, if someone stumbled across it, it would appear to be a monster... But in reality it was a sad case of disease... Maybe that is what the Jersey Devil is... Maybe that is what Loch Ness is...
Q: How much agonizing was there when it came to deciding how much to show of the monster, and cgi vs practical? So many of the Jersey Devil's scenes are in the daylight... Was that at all a tough decision?
DLB: I wanted to make a monster movie where the monster was the B story, and a decent into madness was the A story. As such, I never really wanted to see the DEVIL. But obviously when you are making a move about the Jersey Devil you can't NOT show it. So it was a fine balancing act. That being said, we went practical, and opted not to do a CGI monster.
Q: What is it about legends and mythology that endures, even in today's age of information?
DLB: People want to believe in the unbelievable... It's fun to think that things exist that we can't comprehend, or understand. I think the world is more fun when there is that off chance that there MAY be Aliens, or Monsters, lurking in the dark.
Q: As you've said in interviews, this really is a meaty role for Stephen Moyer -- how was he cast, and what surprised you most about working with him?
DLB: The entire cast is great, but Moyer really knocked this out of the park. So much of the movie relied on believing Moyer, and his breakdown. I was a fan of TRUE BLOOD, but in my opinion he takes this character to a whole other level. I remember sitting on set at video village, and getting chills as I watched him work. It was truly heartbreaking.
Q: You seem to be making conscious decisions to make a different kind of horror movie every time. I think it's safe to say, you're no longer "the Saw sequels guy" ... Is there a time in the near future you might change it up that much further and try something outside the horror genre?
DLB: I love dark, and I love the macabre. I think I will always do things a little off center. That being said, my next movie is a paranoid thriller, not horror. But yes, I like not doing the same thing... I like taking risks. Sometimes I will succeed, other times, I will fail... But I want to keep experimenting.
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