In the fanboy sphere of existence, there exists a whole slew of wildly divisive creative figures and subject matter - yet few are quite as bizarre as Clerks filmmaker Kevin Smith - who's been threatening to retire ever since the DIY, one-theater-at-a-time release of 2010's horror film (and anti-Westboro Church diatribe) Red State.
Smith keeps changing the story on what exactly his final project is going to be. His long-planned hockey movie Hit Somebody was to be his final cinematic bow - but then it was to become a mini-series. After that, he announced that Clerks 3 - a third entry in the franchise that started his career and influenced a generation of slackers - would be his final film, a fitting end to an uneven career. But at the 2013 New York Comic-Con we learned that Clerks 3 won't be Smith's last movie - or even his next movie. Instead, his next project will be something even weirder.
Smith announced during NYCC that the script for Clerks 3 is actually finished, and it will be massive, with "a cast of thousands." Not only that, but all the guys featured in Smith's AMC reality series Comic Book Men will appear somehow, for some reason. You can watch Smith talking quite passionately about Clerks 3 in the video below, which is from this past summer's San Diego Comic-Con. He also provides the details on what is apparently going to be his next film, "based" on a true story about a man looking for odd companionship, to be called Tusk.
Tusk began life as a story Smith recalls stumbling upon out of the blue. After a man is shipwrecked with only a walrus for a companion, he tries to hire someone to dress up in a walrus suit for two hours a day to recapture that friendship. Smith describes it as "a cuddly version of The Human Centipede," which may or may not excite fans - Smith's own, or any others.
Smith is into it, though, and says on his blog:
“The listing got my creative juices flowing, and I began reconstructing the whole thing as an old British Hammer horror film, in which a mad scientist intends to sew some hapless lodger into counterfeit blubber, creating a chimera in an effort to answer the ultimate riddle, “Is man, indeed, a walrus at heart?!”
Smith's podcast followers answered his call on Twitter: should he make it or not? The #WalrusYes responses vastly outnumbered #WalrusNo, which was probably to be expected. It appears that filming will begin in November in North Carolina, and Smith hopes to have the film ready for the Sundance Film Festival in January 2014.
According to a recent THR column by Smith, he found financing for the film via a financial banner called Demarest, and it looks like this thing is happening, with Smith's Red State star Michael Parks as the man who made a life-like walrus costume because he's super-lonely, with Justin Long - who appeared in Smith's Seth Rogen vehicle Zack and Miri Make a Porno co-starring as the poor soul who acts like a walrus in exchange for free room and board. The role was originally offered to Quentin Tarantino, who turned it down.
But what about that original walrus ad? It was actually a hoax, perpetrated by a British man named Chris Parkinson, who (naturally) is now aboard Tusk as an associate producer. According to an interview with The Brighton Source some months ago, Parkinson never meant to mislead anyone, but as for his intention:
"...it’s just making the world a bit more of an interesting and beautiful place. Thanks to the internet it’s quite easy – before you know it you have a new character on your hands."
So what does all this say about Kevin Smith? He has admitted, several times and without shame, to being "a media whore," and considers all publicity to be good publicity. And if he's not really doing anything worth publicity? He'll generate some, out of thin air if he has to. Smith has alienated most of his early backers in Hollywood, and while he still counts people like Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as his friends (and gave them key early roles in their careers), the days of the moviegoing public eagerly awaiting his next film are long past.
So Tusk may be really good in his eyes, but we'll see. It's likely to be so bizarre that even if it approaches the interesting realm of Red State (which was not a hit by any measure, but still better than Clerks 2), it'll be written off as a stunt and an oddity, squelching whatever excitement his casual fans might have had for Clerks 3.
Tusk is set to begin filming in November, 2013. Clerks 3 remains in development.