September 10, 2014 - 4:47 AM
TORONTO - Before a sold-out public screening of his new horror-comedy "Tusk," director Kevin Smith told the crowd, "This movie was made for you."
Smith made a surprise appearance at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema on the weekend. "Tusk" is set in Manitoba and stars Justin Long as a podcaster who is turned into a walrus by a serial killer played by Michael Parks.
The "Clerks" director said he first visited Canada at age five, when his parents took him to Niagara Falls. He recalled seeing "old-timey" photos of people doing stunts, "smiling before gruesome death."
"That really did it for me. I was like, 'This is a nation of daredevils. Everyone up here is Evel Kneivel,'" he said. "I remember I still have this little crayon kit my parents bought me that says 'Canada' and has the maple leaf on it. And that was magical to me.
"My love affair began when I was five years old with this country."
His Canuck fever grew as a young "Degrassi" fan and later as a film student in Vancouver, which he praised for its "West Coast vibe."
"Tusk" is packed with Canadian humour — "aboots," "sorrys" and hockey jokes abound — and even features Johnny Depp as a heavily accented Quebecois detective.
Smith stuck around to watch the film with the eager crowd. He told them that he set the movie in Canada in part to exploit his "useless knowledge" about the nation.
"I've long been in love with this (damn) country," he said. "And you're going to see it writ large all over the screen."
News from © The Canadian Press, 2014