Canadian independent filmmaker Rob Stefaniuk likes to joke that he made a deal with the devil. Suck, his vampire rock n’ roll movie about an unsuccessful band who find fame on the dark side, stars the likes of legends Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, Moby, Malcolm McDowell and Henry Rollins.
“I went down to the crossroads and made a deal,” Stefaniuk laughs. “It was kind of a domino effect. Iggy Pop was the first start to sign on and we got him by sending him an email. I went and saw him at Massey Hall with The Stooges reunion show and I thought, ‘what do we have to lose?’
“Henry Rollins said he’d be in it because Iggy was in it, and one of my producers had worked with Moby before…then the other producer had worked with Malcolm McDowell. So once we had those people Alice Cooper happened to know all of [them] - Alice plays golf with Malcolm and has known Iggy for 40 years - so he was like, ‘I know your whole cast, I’ll do it, sure!’ It was fantastic.”
The cast sure look like they’re having a fun hamming it up for Stefaniuk’s vamped up, deadpan comedy. Indeed Suck is a film that has its fangs very firmly in its cheek, with the writer-director clearly happy to play to the cult audience and mine the rock star/vampire parallels for all their gory, comedic worth.
“The metaphors just don’t end! Dead people sell more records; the look of them, [they’re] up all night and sleeping during the day – even 'bloodsucking managers' – the whole aspect of it just kept working.”
In developing the script, Stefaniuk was also able to draw on personal experience. “There is a French-Canadian guitar tech named Hugo, who makes me laugh in real life, so I know it’ll be funny if you put Hugo in a room with a vampire. Then you get notes that say, ‘This movie has no tension.’ [But] I’m writing for stoners; tension’s not really important!”
As a musician (who penned the film’s original songs), Stefaniuk found further reflexivity. “I’d played in bands that weren’t successful, [so] there’s the parallel of always being in these types of bands and being an indie filmmaker. It’s always good to take things that make you cry in real life, that make you laugh on the page.”
It shouldn’t come as such a surprise, then, to hear Stefaniuk stress, “this isn’t my vampire movie, this is my rock n roll movie; it just happened to have vampires in it.”
“I wanted [Suck] to be an irreverent rock 'n' roll world, not cinéma vérité. This is what a rock band’s life feels like, but not what it actually is.”
This blood soaked, super-stylised romp leaves quite the impression. In fact, Stefaniuk has just returned from Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival where it seems his devilish luck continued; Suck played to a packed house (“750 people going crazy and screaming at the screen”)…at two o’clock in the afternoon!
But with the tricky task of distributing of his small budget Canadian flick, Stefaniuk is looking back to the underworld.
“I should have asked for an American movie. I made a big mistake,” he ruefully concludes. “The devil always kicks you somehow.”
Published by Street Press Australia (p.51)
Suck will be screening at Possible Worlds TOMORROW night