A new scary movie is coming out called The Curse of Wolf Mountain, directed by David Lipper and starring himself, Keli Price, Danny Trejo, and Tobin Bell. In addition to directing and starring inThe Curse Of Wolf Mountain), David Lipper has played the character of Viper on the sitcom Full House and appeared in Dante’s Peak, Bug Buster, The Pacifier, and Two Jacks. In recent years, David has caught the directing bug, with an apparent emphasis on horror, including Death Link, and the upcoming Murder at Hollow Creek. We wanted to talk with him about this new flick.
Interview with The Curse of Wolf Mountain director/star David Lipper
1428 ELM: What inspired you to pursue a career in acting and filmmaking, and how did you get started in the industry?
DAVID LIPPER: I was one of those kids with a lot of energy. I think my parents just wanted me out of the house and busy and they knew I could sing…so I started in musicals at 8 in the Gondoliers with the St Matthews Church. Here I was, this Jewish kid, in the choir from the church – I was the only outsider. By 9 I was starring in the synagogue’s production across the street of “Sampson the Son” as young Sampson, and they bent the rules of “13 and over” and let me in which caused some controversy.
But by then I already knew I was most comfortable on stage and that was where I was meant to be…and that just never wavered. It evolved into different positions in the film business…but I always knew this is where I was meant to be.
1428 ELM: What led you to direct a horror film, and what was the biggest challenge you faced while making the movie?
DAVID LIPPER: The first movie I wrote was The Unwilling – a horror film. I’ve always loved the genre and grew up on movies like Halloween and Friday the 13th. My last film that I wrote, produced, and acted in that released on April 4th, Hunt Club, was inspired by I Spit On Your Grave, where horror films spun off into more revenge films. So it was a genre I felt I understood and could direct well. And all that experience in front of the camera – I knew how to sell the angles on stunts and hits so I’d be in good shape on The Curse of Wolf Mountain.
I chose Death Link to be the first film I directed because it was a genre I love. The biggest challenge in that film was that a pandemic hit in the middle of our shoot in March of 2020. So I was forced to cut the shoot down to 11 days, with lockdown approaching, and I learned I could be very efficient if I needed to be and use the advantage of rolling 2 cameras at all times and split off units with stunts if I have to.
When we started prepping Curse Of Wolf Mountain in January of 2021, the vaccine still hadn’t arrived and we were still petrified of people getting sick and production stopping, so we decided to shoot this in 8 days with one day off – 2 days at the hero house, a day off, and then 6 consecutive days on the 200-acre ranch in Castaic.
Shooting a full-length film with 9 kills in 8 days was a little insane. Ok…completely insane, but we got it done without anyone getting sick and it made sense at the time. It’s not something I would ever put myself through again and it made for a difficult and long post-production where you have to clean up all the little mistakes you make when rushing…like a coke can in the edge of frame..or worse.
Working with the cast of The Curse of Wolf Mountain
1428 ELM: Can you tell us about your experience working with Keli Price, Danny Trejo, Tobin Bell, and other actors on the set of the film?
DAVID LIPPER: Trejo is one of the nicest guys in the biz and is an amazing example of how someone can turn his life around from looking like all is lost in jail, then being a legendary actor and a brand seen all over the world [Trejo is also increasingly known for his restaurants]. I put him in another film last year that we shot called Candy Flip. I just love this guy. Tobin is just a brilliant actor. His attention to detail is amazing.
He brought me about 20 watches of his to choose from on what I thought his character would wear. And Keli is a bro. We’ve already played brothers in Reboot Camp which won best comedy at so many festivals..it seemed a no-brainer to keep that chemistry going.
1428 ELM: How did you approach translating the plot and characters to the screen?
DAVID LIPPER: I stayed true to the genre as a real throwback to the horror films of the 90s. I’m also a comedy guy by trade so I always find the comedy to play as a nice break from the scares. A lot of that comes in casting funny people, like stand-up comics Matt Rife and Dooley, and actors like Eddie McClintock who’s also quite funny in this.
1428 ELM: What was your vision for the visual style of the movie, and how did you work with your cinematographer to achieve it?
DAVID LIPPER: I went for a strange light over The Curse of Wolf Mountain for an almost supernatural feel in the action, specifically on the mountain at night, and the normal night lighting everywhere else, including the ranger station at the bottom. We achieved this by shooting day for night in the mountain scenes.
Grief, loss, and ill-fated tourism at Wolf Mountain
1428 ELM: The movie features a mysterious creature or entity lurking in the woods. How did you approach creating and executing the design?
DAVID LIPPER: I always like to give my creative staff room to bring their own visions to life. The creature was really brought to life through the Samuels Bros who had double duty as Stunts and Props/Art Dept. They really created this look with the help of our brilliant costume designer, Jenna Lettera.
1428 ELM: The film explores themes of grief, loss, and family. How did you balance these emotional elements with the horror and suspense aspects of the story?
DAVID LIPPER: At the end of the day, I love classic themes – especially ones borrowed from the bible – like Cain and Abel and Job. All these influenced me and where I landed in shooting this.
1428 ELM: What was your favorite scene or moment to film, and why?
DAVID LIPPER: I love the scene where Dooley and Eddie meet on the trail and have a standoff. They’re both such funny actors – putting them together just really made me laugh.
Acting and directing
1428 ELM: How do you think your experiences as an actor informed your approach to directing, and vice versa?
DAVID LIPPER: I’ll always be an actor’s director. Performances are more important to me than visuals. I want to tell the story and create characters that do that in an interesting way. And having taught acting for years…it just gives me an advantage in that area.
1428 ELM: What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers and actors?
DAVID LIPPER: Just go shoot something. Even if it sucks and it’s off your phone, you’ll learn a ton and get better each time. That’s how all the greats got there. I learn a ton with each shoot and can’t wait for my next one.
We’d like to thank David Lipper for answering our questions. The Curse of Wolf Mountain will be available on digital and on-Demand by Uncork’d Entertainment on May 9, 2023.