Something Woolly This Way Comes
'The Wild Man of the Navidad' premieres on DVD
"Something between arthouse and grindhouse" is what Austin filmmakers Duane Graves and Justin Meeks say they were aiming for with their debut film, The Wild Man of the Navidad, which premieres on DVD next week after a successful festival run that included stops at last fall's Tribeca and Fantastic Fest. Graves and Meeks hit the mark, all right, melding elegant atmospherics and the splattered-guts stuff one expects from contemporary horror. The model was Texas Chainsaw Massacre (a shoestring budget, Texas lore teased for maximum terror); the mentor was Kim Henkel, Chainsaw's screenwriter. Henkel first taught Graves and Meeks at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and would go on to produce Wild Man; he also introduces the picture on IFC Films' new DVD release. (Wild Man was previously available via IFC's video-on-demand.) Other extras include an early short from the filmmaking duo called "The Hypostatic Union" (starring Meeks, who also acts, quite affectingly, in Wild Man as the reluctant beast-keeper) and a behind-the-scenes short that drives home what a feat of low tech ingenuity Wild Man really is – how a dolly and crane were cobbled from a bicycle and tractor and a ravening part-man/part-beast was constructed from animal pelts. The man in said suit of pelts, Tony Wolford, is described as looking "like the Elephant Man on acid"; even better are the bearded, bedraggled, but grinning-ear-to-ear faces of the South Texas locals. Whether sipping moonshine or getting torn limb from limb by the boogeyman, they give the film a kicky authenticity.
The Wild Man of the Navidad will be released on DVD Aug. 11. For more about the film, see "Beware: Bigfoot Ahead," Sept. 19, 2008.