When the news hit that veteran horror filmmaker Joe Dante was preparing a new feature called Monster Love, comic book readers immediately took note of the screenwriter: Greg Pak.
An independent filmmaker himself (most recently of the sci-fi short film Mister Green), Pak has gained the widest attention writing comics for Marvel, including runs on War Machine, Silver Surfer and, biggest of all, The Incredible Hulk, where he masterminded the back-to-back "Planet Hulk" and "World War Hulk" events and subsequent stories. Spinoff reached out to Pak to learn more about his background in film and his plans for working with Dante.
"I first started writing feature screenplays a couple of decades ago, a few years before I entered NYU Grad Film," Pak explained. "Of course, I thought I was a genius when I first started. All that beautiful dialogue, just streaming down the page! But I had an enormous amount to learn, and the rigorous environment at NYU was very, very good for me."
That learning experience led to this latest project, which had apparently been waiting for the experience Dante held to come to life. "I wrote the first draft of Monster Love over a decade ago," said Pak, who shared an exclusive first look at the film's concept art by artist Atilio Martin with coloring by Dan Kanemoto. "This was a time when two of the big models for genuinely independent filmmakers were romantic comedies like Brothers McMullen or gritty action pictures like Laws of Gravity, El Mariachi and Reservoir Dogs. I loved all those movies. But they say write what you know, and in a ridiculous way, one of the things I really knew was monster movies. Those were some of the stories that got under my skin as a kid and thrilled me in all kinds of crazy ways. It's no coincidence I've had so much fun writing the Hulk over the years.
"So I ended up writing an insane vampire-werewolf horror romance called Monster Love, which I loved but which was far too ambitious for me to shoot as my first feature. I ended up writing and making Robot Stories instead, which delved into another of my beloved childhood genres. And that was the best thing that could have happened, because now Monster Love is in the hands of the perfect director."
And ultimately, Monster Love will be completely in Dante's hands, which Pak couldn't be happier about. "Joe's amazing. He's a living legend, right? But he's just as wry and funny and sharp and brilliant as you'd expect from the director of Gremlins and The Howling. He's also absolutely in love with genre pictures of all kinds. We've never actually discussed this, but I think we may have hit it off because of a shared appreciation of the sheer visceral thrills as well as the genuine emotional release that great genre films provide. That actually might encapsulate that hugely powerful and entertaining mix of horror and humor that Joe pioneered. I certainly can't imagine a better match for Monster Love."
"Greg is way too kind with this living legend stuff," Dante added. "The fact is, it's a good script in a pop culture genre I love and it looked like it would be fun to make!"