By Ray Bennett
British filmmaker Michael J. Bassett likes rain, mud and gore. Making his third feature film, the sword and sorcery epic “Solomon Kane” due for release by Entertainment on Feb. 19, he tested his star James Purefoy to the limits shooting in deep winter in the Czech Republic.
“Mike would throw these rain machines at us. I’d look up and there’d be another rain machine! One day it got so cold there was frozen rain on top of everyone’s umbrellas. And my clothes froze on me – they had to chuck hot water on me constantly so I could keep moving!” Purefoy told Empire Magazine.
Judging from reaction to clips from the film at this year’s Comic Con convention in California, all that punishment paid off. “If James isn’t a superstar after this, I’ll eat my hat,” says Bassett.
The film is based on stories written in the 1920s by Robert E. Howard, who also created “Conan The Barbarian”. The title character is a Puritan warrior who wears sexy 16th-century boots, capes and hats and flourishes twin flintlock pistols and assorted other armoury.
Dispatched to thwart evil spirits, flame-spitting demons and many other terrors, Solomon Kane buckles a mean swash as he dispenses justice to the irredeemable. It is written and directed by Bassett, whose previous films were “Deathwatch” (2002), a horror film set in the trenches of World War One, and “Wilderness” (2006), about a group of juvenile delinquents terrorised on a remote island.
Neither one did well at the box office but they have carved out a useful life on DVD. “Solomon Kane” looks to make a theatrical splash before moving on to home entertainment platforms.
The film’s cast includes heavyweights such as Max Von Sydow, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Mackenzie Crook and Pete Postlewaite. Bassett says he chose Purefoy as his hero because he always seemed like a James Bond contender.
“The role was so physical and he was a great sport, he was in great shape,” Bassett told Fused Film. “During the filming he got hit on the forehead by a sword and had to have five or six stitches in his head. He also tore some ligaments in his knee so after stunts he had to get his knee drained on set. He never complained, never missed a day.”
With two sequels in the works, Bassett says he was determined to make the fantasy as real as possible. “I wanted it to be an adult, more sophisticated fantasy film, something that didn’t seem childish,” he says. “Sure you have demons and creatures, and those cliché fantasy elements, but the wind, the sleet, the rain, the mud … all of those things are real.”
This preview appeared in the December 2009 edition of Cue Entertainment