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Like Moles, Like Rats: Interview with Director Jim Torres
© Joe Crowe
March 06, 2008

Like Moles, Like Rats is a movie about a woman pregnant with the first baby since a nuclear apocalypse. In this "post-apocalyptic fairy tale," she joins fellow survivors two decades after the bombs dropped.

Describe the genesis of the idea for the movie story.

Like Moles, Like Rats was first conceived as a play by Huntsville native, Ron Harris in 1987. It was his ode to strong southern women, his mother in particular.

It was also inspired by Thornton Wilder's "The Skin of Our Teeth," which is where the movie gets its name.

There's a line in Wilder's play about the mother and daughter characters living in their basement "like moles, like rats" during a catastrophic war.

How long was it between your first sparking of an idea for Like Moles, Like Rats and when you started filming?

My friend Bill Schweikert introduced me to Ron Harris in the fall of 2002. I had recently completed a short film homage to the horror classics called SadoMannequin and was looking for something post-apocalyptic.

I had done a short film in 1999 called The Last Day On Earth, that was a kind of a metaphysical cross between The Quiet Earth, I Am Legend with a little Rene Descartes thrown in for shits.

I love the PA genre because the possibilities are limitless. I'd had so much fun doing The Last Day on Earth that I wanted to do another PA themed film. That's when Bill introduced me to Ron and I read the play. Ron asked me if I would direct, and I said yes on the spot.

So, for me, the journey has been almost six years. However, because Ron wrote the play back in '87, it's probably fair to say it's taken twenty years for some of the characters to come to life in the film.

What were some challenges of filming outdoors?

Rain. Hot Alabama Summers. Short summer nights. Chiggers. Poison ivy. That pretty much sums it up!

The benefits of shooting on location are that you're really "there."

The actors are really in the caves. It's a constant 55 degrees and humid. You feel it. Everyone gets into the groove a lot easier.

Sure, it was a pain shooting in the caves, but we had an incredible crew that literally moved mountains to get incredible shots for the movie!

What, in your opinion, was the easiest part of the production?

None of it was easy, but all of it was enjoyable. I could lie to you and say that falling asleep every night or morning after each day's shoot was easy, but for me it wasn't.

I was always paranoid that I would sleep through my alarm and miss call because I was so tired.

What are your favorite apocalypses?

The fictional ones! Actually, I'm a HUGE fan of the genre.

I look at the post-apocalyptic genre as being its own thing, and not a subgroup of some other genre. It's kind of like the Western genre, in that you can do anything in it: comedy, horror, action, drama, fantasy.

And if you're crazy enough, all of the above in one movie!

I grew up watching tons of PA films in the 80s and loved every one of them! Some were good, most were pretty lame. The USA network would run movies like End Game, Damnation Alley and Night of the Comet after their Saturday morning cartoon series. The Cartoon Express!

So, I would stick around and watch whatever they had on. Some of my favorite cinematic apocalypses are The Quiet Earth, Mad Max (of course!), bits and pieces of the Postman and Hardware.

Also, if you're a gamer, the Fallout series is the best! I can't frakking wait for Fallout 3 to come out!

Oh, and read The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It is by far the most agonizing yet beautiful apocalyptic story out there.

Here's the RevolutionSF review of the movie under its final title 20 Years After.

RevolutionSF editor Joe Crowe fears and respects the talking apes.

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