Kevin Smith could be back on form. For the benefit of younger readers, Smith was the toast of indie cinema for most of the 90s thanks to Clerks, his micro-budget, black-and-white debut set in a shop. Fans turned a blind eye to the fact that almost all the follow-ups were stodgy and middling: indulgent Clerks prequel Mallrats, confused religious satire Dogma and gigantic in-joke Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back all disappointed, with only the quirky rom-com Chasing Amy breaking through.
Recently Smith has become better known for his podcasting, his personal appearances and his tilting at Hollywood. Zack and Miri Make a Porno broke new ground in 2008 by not being a hit despite having Seth Rogen in it and “Porno” in the title, while disastrous buddy comedy Cop Out (2010) is remembered for making lifelong enemies of the writer/director and his star, Bruce Willis. “I don’t wish him poorly or anything like that but I just don’t want to be near him ever again,” Smith told Comic-Con at the weekend. Most recently, 2011’s Red State was self-distributed and saw limited success.
Bottoming out in the mainstream might, however, have reinvigorated Smith. Last year on his popular SModcast podcast, he was discussing an advert placed on Gumtree in the UK, offering free lodging to whoever agreed to live with the homeowner while dressed up at all times as a walrus. The ad proved to be a prank by Brighton performance poet Chris Parkinson, but Smith ran with the idea and was shooting six months later.
Tusk is the result and it looks… fresh. You’ve heard of The Human Centipede. Now get ready for, well, The Human Walrus. Michael Parks, star of Red State, Kill Bill and The Colbys, plays a mad old sea dog who drugs and abducts a cocksure podcaster (Justin Long). Can he graft a tusk onto the guy’s face and make him enjoy swimming to catch raw fish? Or will the podcaster’s friend and girlfriend (grown-up Sixth Sense child Haley Joel Osment and telenovela star Genesis Rodriguez) get there in time?
Terrifying, hilarious, both or neither? However Tusk turns out, Smith – who is still threatening to release Clerks III next year – already has plans for his trademark sequels, which he insists will be called Yoga-Hosers and Moose Jaws. The mind boggles. Tusk is in cinemas in the US in September.