Killer Road Trip
An interview with the husband-and-wife, acting/writing/producing team behind Compound Fracture
Tyler Mane spent much of the ’80s and ’90s on the road as a professional wrestler, traveling the grappling circuit from Mexico to Japan. In 2000, Mane traded in his singlet and made his big-screen acting debut as the savage Sabretooth in the superhero smash X-Men. He played another iconic villain, murderous masked man Michael Myers, in Rob Zombie’s films Halloween and Halloween II. Now Mane finds himself back on the road, engaging in an exhausting 70-city tour to promote his new film Compound Fracture. In addition to starring in the film, Mane co-wrote and co-produced it alongside his wife, Renae Geerlings (who has spent years as an editor for Top Cow comics and Radical Publishing).
In the supernatural action flick, the two play Michael and Juliette, a soon-to-be-married couple who travel into the remote woods to meet Michael’s estranged father, Gary (Muse Watson). There, old Gary has built an impregnable survivalist compound, believing himself to be the target of deadly supernatural forces.
Mane and Geerlings will make a pit stop in Albuquerque on May 17 to introduce Compound Fracture to local audiences at the inaugural Dark Matters Film Festival. Alibi spoke to the couple from their home in Los Angeles.
This is a huge tour. How long have you been at it?
TM: We started back in March in Canada. I don’t know what I was thinking. We started with 20 cities. Then we went to 30. Then 40. And then 50. Then I said, ah, what the hell, let’s do 70 cities. It’s been interesting. The film’s been getting great reception. It’s taking me back to my wrestling days of being on the road. I’m already sick of it and we’re only a few cities in. But the fans keep you going.
RG: What’s that Dan Fogelberg song? “The audience was heavenly, but the traveling was hell.” My dad was a trucker when I was a kid. So I love road trips. That’s the fun part for me. But I swear to god, if we go to one more Waffle House ...
Given that Tyler has been establishing a career as an actor, what made you want to write and produce your own film. Isn’t that kind of risky?
TM: Yeah. I always wanted to produce my own films and be in control. Through the years, I’ve been on a lot of productions where the promoters will take the money out in the middle of the street, pour gasoline on it, light it on fire and see who can grab the most. I knew that there was a better way of getting a good story out and telling it to the people. You can do it for a reasonable amount of money. After all we have an obligation to our investors to help them recoup their money. It is a business. It’s show business. I’ve always wanted to tell my own stories and take on more challenging roles. Because as an actor, you show up on set, you have your lines down, and you try to bring something to the character. Whether or not that gets into the final film is a whole nother story. When you’re a producer and in charge of it all, you can mold it the way you want to.
Where did the story for Compound Fracture come from?
RG: We actually have this script for a film called Penance Lane. But it’s a bit of a higher budget. So for our first film out of the gate, I was encouraging Tyler to keep it a little more contained. Let’s do something with less locations, smaller cast to start with our first one. We heard two [true] stories in close succession. One about a gentleman that had been extremely paranoid and had this compound. He thought somebody was coming to get him, so he spent his whole life amassing this compound. We heard that story and then we heard another separate story about a murder/suicide, and just through a conversation—you know how these things happen, lightning in a bottle—we said wouldn’t that be a cool story to tell? We wrote a script, and then we completely rewrote it. And then, four page-one rewrites later, we ended up with what we have. I think it’s a really tight story.
You wound up casting three actors—Tyler Mane (Halloween), Muse Watson (I Know What You Did Last Summer) and Derek Mears (Friday the 13th)—known for playing cinematic serial killers. Was that something you intended to do from the beginning?
TM: Most definitely. I mean, we wanted something that was a grab to the audience. Derek and I have wanted to work together for years. We live like a block and a half away from each other. And then when we were looking for our Gary character, Muse just fit perfectly. Three iconic serial killers: How much better of a pitch can you make?
RG: It was actually kismet, because when we were going through [casting], we didn’t get that many submissions for the character of Gary. He was very important to the film. We had spoken to a couple of other actors about playing the role. But I saw the picture of Muse Watson and I didn’t even realize who he was. But I saw him and I just stopped on the picture and I was like whoa! I opened it up and then when [I saw] he was Ben Willis from I Know What You Did Last Summer, I just looked at Tyler. I mean, if you’ve seen the poster [for Compound Fracture] and you’ve seen the silhouette of Tyler and Muse, it’s just shocking how much they look alike.
How well did you two work together as a team throughout this process?
RG: Depends on what day you ask.
TM: You know, it was a great time. We woke up every morning and said we’re making a movie. There’s not many husband-and-wife teams that get that chance.
Compound Fracture will be the opening night film of the Dark Matters Film Festival (Friday, May 17, 7 p.m. at Guild Cinema). Tyler Mane and Renae Geerlings will participate in a post-film Q&A. Prior to the screening, there will be a meet-and-greet autograph signing from 3 to 6 p.m. at Astro-Zombies (3100 Central SE). Dark Matters Film Festival runs May 17-19.