What, you may be wondering (and we can’t blame you) is a Trampire when it’s at home - or rather when it’s being meticulous, painstakingly animated (alongside dozens of its ferocious blood-crazed compadres)? Perhaps the answer’s obvious; maverick LA cop Chuck Steel, his long-suffering boss Jack Schitt and dim-witted officer Moloney are fighting to save Los Angeles - and perhaps even the world - from the ravages of a horde of mutant hybrids of street bums and vampires. Trampires…
Last year, STARBURST visited Animortal Studios and took a guided tour around the labyrinthine soundstages where a sometimes ninety-strong crew, many recruited locally, many with years of international feature-film experience and including twenty animators, are working or preparing an astonishing 27 separate filming units to bring Chuck Steel’s latest larger-than-life adventure to the screen. Dozens of incredibly detailed sets have been constructed, from dark city skylines, gloomy alleyways, a massive circus set (split into two halves) where one of the movie’s bloodiest battles takes place and an extensive road tunnel dotted with overturned vehicles and illuminated LAPD-style Police cars in the aftermath of an extended and clearly-eventful car chase sequence.
But who is Chuck Steel? He’s the brainchild of Mike Mort, the driven and determined Maesteg-born animator/writer/director whose love of cheesy action films led to the creation of the ultimate 1980s throwback. “He actually started as a sketch in my English book at school when I was about fifteen,” Mike explained during our visit. “I’ve still got that English book and you can see it gradually changing as I started drawing it and doing different things and different characters. Then I made a Super 8 film and in that, he was a little bit more of a Mad Max type of character, fighting monsters and the one I made in college after that was another fighting-monsters-in-a-warehouse film - there’s a theme there, isn’t there? Chuck originally was an amalgamation of all the things I loved in films. Ash in Evil Dead II had a big effect on me.”
The Chuck Steel of Raging Balls of Steel Justice is a single-minded knuckle-headed maverick cop who doesn’t play by the rules and who constantly frustrates his beleaguered boss Lieutenant Jack Schitt. Trampires will put some flesh on Chuck’s animated bones, mixing moments of drama and pathos in amongst the outrageous gore and violence and broad laugh-out-loud humour.
For fans already won over by Chuck’s in-your-face charms and an audience discovering his strange world for the first time there’s plenty to look forward to in Night of the Trampires with its cast of over 350 puppets including some wild and crazy new characters, eccentric British Trampire hunter Abraham Van Rental striking a particular chord with STARBURST when we viewed an exclusive and action-packed four-minute trailer. A presentation reel shown at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France in June also received a rapturous reception. With work progressing apace on the feature into the New Year for a proposed release in summer 2017, Mike Mort is determined to create something very special and very distinct. “I want the audience to get an hour-and-a-half of enjoyment and enjoy the fact that it’s a violent action movie with puppets,” he says. “The only thing out there that has any real similarity is Team America but we’re different in that we’re not political, we’re just going for the laughs and we hope that the characters are strong enough for people to like and that they’ll have a good time with the story.”
Night of the Trampires is due to be released in the UK later in 2017. Chuck Steel and the Raging Balls of Steel Justice is available on DVD.