Jacob Vaughan's primary career in Hollywood thus far has been that of editor for the Duplass brothers. But a creature from Ken Marino's butt may change all that.
Bad Milo!, which debuted on VOD this past Friday and does theatrical dates starting October 4th, assembles an all-star comedic cast with the likes of Gillian Jacobs, Stephen Root, Patrick Warburton, Mary Kay Place, Toby Huss, Kumail Nanjiani and Peter Stormare, but it's a rectal puppet who steals the show. Toothy, big-eyed Milo might be the most lovable thing to emerge from a shithole since NWA came straight out of Compton.
How did Vaughan and cowriter Benjamin Hayes come up with this unique tale of ass-ault and butchery? I spoke to Vaughan to find out.
Luke Y. Thompson: You couldn't have a movie more perfectly targeted to my readership.
Jacob Vaughan: Perfect, perfect! I love that. So how can I help?
LYT: Is there a deliberate sort of irony in that puppets usually have hands up their asses, but in this case, it's the puppet up the ass of the guy?
JV: Yeah, you know, I thought of that while we were shooting. Yeah, the puppets always have humans up their asses, and now there's a human with a puppet up his ass. And also, I don't know if it came to mind, but when he's doing the sock puppet therapy, I thought this was another way we were bringing puppets into the mix. But that's an interesting point.
LYT: There's the one outhouse scene where he shakes the excess shit off, but in general, was there ever a thought to making Milo "dirtier"?
JV: Yeah, yeah - I mean, certainly. There were things that I - I had made an early decision not to show Milo actually coming out of Duncan's ass - not to show him crowning - just because I felt like this isn't that movie. It's not 100% gross out. There's going to be plenty of gross out as it is, because all I have to do is sort of suggest the idea in people's minds, and they go to the worst possible, they paint a picture of the worst possible thing. So I was trying, I deliberately held back a little bit on certain things. But, you know, there's a side of me that really wants to play with Milo some more, make another movie, push him to the limit.
LYT: I'm torn between asking on the one hand how you got this idea, and on the other wondering why no one ever did before?
JV: I was surprised, too, when we thought of it. I was like, "Surely this has been done before?" And so I did some research, and I was like, "This HASN'T been done before?" I mean, it sort of has - I think there was a movie called Monsturd.
LYT: I was going to say that. Rectuma is about a killer ass.
JV: Yeah, yeah, exactly. I don't know - I think it's sort of been a little bit done, but not necessarily in this way, and it certainly hadn't been done in a film that was out there in the world in a bigger production. This is a unique, niche genre, and there's only a few of us in this corner of the room.
LYT: Was it literally just as spur of the moment as you painted it? Like, "Oh, hey, it should come out of the ass. Boom!"
JV: Yeah, it was like I blurted it out, and not even thinking beforehand - I just sort of blurted it out, and then I had to pause and think. "Wait a second - that actually might be really funny!" And then I thought about it for about 24 hours. I was weighing it in my mind, and thinking of scenes and thinking of ways to do it. It sort of downloaded fully formed into my brain, and it just seemed - it made me laugh, so I should do it. And that's basically it. People say "Where do your ideas come from?" I have no idea. They come from the atmosphere.
LYT: Some of my readers, upon seeing what Milo looked like, made comparisons to Baby Sinclair from Dinosaurs.
JV: [chuckles] I've heard that. I had actually never - I remember the show, but I didn't have him in mind at all. What I had in mind was, I gave Aaron Sims, the creature designer - I gave him reference pictures of intestinal linings, what it looks like inside your intestines, and I said "I want skin like this. I want him to be about this size. I kind of want him to be cute on one hand and fierce on the other hand." He did a sketch - I also specified that one eye should be a little smaller than the other eye.
LYT: I didn't notice that.
JV: Yeah. I said make him a little cute that way, and he did a sketch, and he nailed it, right off the bat. I thought it was great, and then he did a 3D rendering of it, and that was even better, and we used that to sell the movie - to pitch the movie, to sell the movie, and then we used that to build the model.
LYT: Did Drew Struzan do the poster, or was it just someone whose work looks a lot like him?
JV: No, that's actually - Paul Shipper did the second poster, this is the second poster. The very first poster, the festival poster, was done by Mark Landry, and was also sort of inspired by Drew Struzan. They're both sort of influenced by the posters of the '80s, and if you look at the '80s, Drew Struzan had a hand in drawing all of that stuff. So I think Mark and I sort of planted the seed that we wanted the poster to look a little retro in that way, and then when Magnet picked it up and they were designing a poster, they carried the torch further, and they made a poster in that vein.