Interview with ‘Swamp Shark’ Star, Richard Tanne


Tomorrow night, SyFy Channel will be unveiling its latest creature feature – Swamp Shark. In preparation for the film’s release tomorrow, I was lucky enough to get ahold of one of the stars of the film – Richard Tanne. Richard is a fellow Jersey boy, who moved out west to pursue his passion for acting. And he’s doing quite well for himself! He has several projects in waiting, currently filming a spot for a popular television show, his own webseries and Swamp Shark is his first lead role in a feature film. So, find out more about Richard Tanne and Swamp Shark by reading the interview transcript below or listening to an MP3 of our chat [here].

MGD: Hey, everybody. This is MGD for HorrorSociety and today I have Richard Tanne on the line. He is one of the lead roles in the SyFy movie Swamp Shark, which comes out tomorrow night on SyFy. So, how are you doing today Richard?

Richard: Doing great. I’m doing great now that I’m talking to you. Thanks for having me.

MGD: I know, I heard you’re busy today. I know you booked a role on [The] Nine Lives of Chloe King. Are you doing that?

Richard: Yeah. Yeah, I’ll be heading out soon. We are shooting a fight sequence on a cargo ship today. So that should be a lot of fun.

MGD: A fight scene on a cargo ship… Well, yeah, she is kind of like a superhero in a weird way with that whole cat thing going on. I haven’t seen too much of the show yet.
Richard: Actually, I don’t play a superhero. I play one of the bad guys in the episode that’s coming up.

MGD: Well, she’s one of the superheros kind of, in a weird way.

Richard: Yeah, she’s got cat, feline powers. And it’s cool. It’s a little like Cat People, a little bit of a throw back to those female empowerment shows like Wonder Woman and Charlies Angels. It’s a fun show.

MGD: I’ll have to tune in when I know your episode is going to be on. We’re talking today, mostly, because you have the movie coming out on SyFy – Swamp Shark. What do you want to tell us about that?

Richard: Swamp Shark is a good ol’ time at the movies, but it’s on television. It obviously has roots in Jaws, and a lot of the creature features of the 50s. It’s a fun matinée, through-back movie. You can’t beat a cast like Kristy Swanson, D.B. Sweeney, and Robert Davi on a SyFy Channel movie.

MGD: Yeah, I know. Kristy Swanson, she kind of peaked my whole fanboy interest because Buffy [the Vampire Slayer] is my all time favorite show. So it’s going to be cool to watch her in a different kind of role.

Richard: I’m sure, like most guys in their 20s now, Kristy [Swanson] was just a huge celebrity crush for me growing up. Between the original Buffy and The Chase, which I think is are really fun, underrated movies…I was completely in love with her. So imagine, it was pretty surreal playing her boyfriend in a film.

MGD: Oh, so you play her boyfriend.

Richard: I do, I play her boyfriend. There is definitely some tension between us throughout the movie. It’s kind of cool, but it was great being able to work with someone…she was a huge movie star. I followed her career. And I also had an opportunity to work with her, and D.B. Sweeny and Robert Davi, I followed their careers too. So, my first lead role in a movie, I couldn’t have been more fortunate to work with vets like that.

MGD: Yeah, that’s awesome. I’m pretty jealous. The plot of Swamp Shark – it’s kind of a misunderstanding. They think someone got eaten because of alligators, but then it turns out the shark got released because of some sort of accident?

Richard: Without spoiling too much, there is a case of mistaken identity as far as what the threat is. Robert Davi plays the corrupt town sheriff and the prehistoric, mutant shark which is swamp shark, is accidently unleashed into the bayou because there is an exotic animal smuggling ring headed up by Davi’s character. And it all kind of goes from there.

MGD: I can’t wait to see it. I work nights, so I’m probably going to have to catch the 1:00Am repeat. I know they air it right after the first airing on tv.

Richard: Yeah, it’s going to be this Saturday, 9/8 central.

MGD: Yeah, I can’t wait. I’m going to have to set my…I still do old school, I still got my VCR. But, speaking of kind of old school stuff…I was looking at your website and some of your material. You have your own webseries called Cinema Cool and a lot of the stuff you have on there is old school horror stuff. I know you have some John Carpenter stuff, a tribute to werewolves, I just watched your interview with George A. Romero.

Richard: That was just an unbelievable experience getting to sit down and interview him. Cinema Cool was sort of born out of the desire for me and my buddies to get together and do something fun, pay tribute to all the films and filmmakers that we love. We all bring something different to the table. The best part is we see instant results. We write an episode, we shoot it, we cut it, and we post it on youtube that night. We’ve built up a pretty strong fan base. It’s been a [stockpile], but they’re pretty strong in their support.

We’ve been asked to do midnight screenings at the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles. We show things like the John Carpenter tribute and the werewolves tribute that you saw. I love horror movies, in particular I love John Carpenter. I think The Thing is probably one of, if not the best, horror film ever made. As far as The Thing goes, it’s like The God Father – perfect movie, perfect example of a genre. I love all of Carpenter’s movies from that period – The Fog, Christine, they keep getting better and better each time I watch them.

** You can watch all the episodes of Cinema Cool [here].

MGD: Halloween and The Fog are definitely my two horror films.

Richard: Oh yeah, Halloween is fantastic.

MGD: You actually have two smaller credits with horror films in Hostel and 2001 Maniacs, right?

Richard: Right, right. My first job in Hollywood was a summer internship at Eli Roth’s production company. I had the chance to get to know Eli and he asked me to help him research some of the factual material for Hostel before the script had been written. That was my position in that movie. I also assisted him and the other producers on 2001 Maniacs, which is the first film that production company, Raw Nerve, had made. Because I was the assistant, I was thrown in the background in a couple of scenes. I didn’t have roles in them, but I was working behind the scenes on those two films.

MGD: Yeah, and speaking of behind the scenes stuff, you’re producing an upcoming film called Mischief Night?

Richard: Yes. The film has wrapped. It wrapped in November. We’ve been in post production. It’s coming along great. It’s actually very much inspired by the original Halloween.

MGD: Oh, yeah. There’s a little plot summary on IMDB and I was reading it. It sounds interesting. I mean, I know you probably don’t want to give away a lot about the plot, but from the two sentences I read, it’s definitely a new spin, I think.

Richard: Travis Baker is my frequent writing and producing partner. He wrote the script. He had some lofty ambitions to kind of pay loving homage to the original Halloween and to completely convert it. Surprise audiences with twists that they’ve never seen in a slasher movie. It was very important for me to help him to achieve that balance to be scary in the great, all American horror movie tradition, but also experimenting in terms of tone and story structure. Based on the reactions that we’ve been getting as we move through post production, I think we succeeded. It’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Malcolm McDowell has a nice supporting role in it, so it was a lot of fun.

MGD:  I’m going to keep my eye on it and as more stuff comes out about it, I’ll post up articles about it on HorrorSociety so we can keep track of that and all of your other projects. Just to drag it back to Swamp Shark, before I let you go. Is there one single experience or some sort of story or something that pops out in your head when you think back on your time of filming Swamp Shark?

Richard: Well, there were a lot of memorable experiences. Discovering Louisiana was so much fun. The people in Lafayette were some of the most generous and inclusive people I’ve ever come across. They cooked for us, they entertained us, they helped with the locations. It sounds crazy, but the one thing I think back to and want to get back to Louisiana is eating Cajun food every day. Craw fish…gator…It was all fried. It was all spicy. It was all delicious. I’d go back for the food alone.

But as far as a funny story… At certain points we did have Jaws-like challenges with the shark. I remember that they needed a close up with me wrestling swamp shark so I hopped back into the swamp, which I had done several times before. I did all my own stunts on Swamp Shark. I was sort of treading water in this murky, slimy section of the swamp for over an hour while the practical FX guys attempted to balance swamp shark’s giant mechanical head which did not want to stay floating on the water. One take after the next, these guys are trying their damnedest to thrust the giant jaw over my head and get the shot and the giant head keeps doubling back onto them and swallowing them whole. So, yeah, there were little challenges like that. It was a lot of fun, though. I haven’t seen the finished film yet so I don’t know if those bits even made it into the movie, but regardless it was still worth the effort.

MGD: It should be interesting to see. I know funny stuff like that happens. I went to school for film in New Jersey and even when I was doing my own little horror films, things went wrong. All right. I will let you go. I know you have stuff to do. Thank you for taking some time out to talk to me.

Richard: My pleasure. Thank you.

MGD: And anybody reading or listening to this… Make sure to tune in tomorrow night at 9:00PM to SyFy to see Richard Tanne star in Swamp Shark. All right. Thank you for your time, Richard.

Richard: Thanks, Michael. Talk to you soon.

MGD: Good luck with everything.

I think what I liked the most about this interview is that Richard seems to appreciate the horror genre as a medium, instead of just appearing in it for some money. So, I wish him all the best of luck in his future endeavours, no matter what genre of film they are in. Richard is a very busy man lately, but there are several ways to see what he is up to as time goes on. Firstly, you can check out his official website [here] and secondly, make sure to follow him on twitter [here] Also, “like” his IMDB page [here] to give his star-meter a much deserved boost!

And, make sure to watch Richard Tanne tomorrow night (June 25th) at 9:00Pm/8’central on the SyFy Channel original movie, Swamp Shark!

Thank you for your time, Richard.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)