Bizarre Gumtree walrus lodger advert inspires Kevin Smith to make $3m Hammer Horror film

Filming of Tusk is intended to start in Los Angeles in September

A highly unusual request for a lodger in Brighton has taken on a life of its own, going viral and is now set to be made into a film by cult director Kevin Smith.

A homeowner last month posted an advert on Gumtree seeking a lodger who would not have to pay any rent. There was one condition: the successful applicant would have to dress as a walrus.

The extraordinary advert found its way to Smith, director of Clerks, Mallrats and Chasing Amy, who talks about amusing articles on his weekly podcast with producer Scott Mosier.

The director called the story “one of the most peculiar we would ever tackle on the show”. While he was confident it would fill an hour of his June 25 SModcast “little did I know it’d fill much more’n that,” he said on his blog.

He now plans to shoot the movie Tusk after putting together a script in the style of a 1970s Hammer Horror movie, “in which a mad scientist intends to sew some hapless lodger into counterfeit blubber”.

Production in Los Angeles will start in September and Smith said the aim was for it to be programmed at the Sundance festival next year. “That would mean, six months after the first conversation about a walrus flick, Tusk would exist as a movie.”

It all stemmed from the anonymous Brighton poster who said on Gumtree he or she had lived a “long and interesting life” and had chosen Brighton for their retirement.

The most “intense and fascinating years of my life,” the advertiser said, were the three years spent alone on St Lawrence Island, off the west coast of Alaska, with just a walrus for companionship.

“Never have I had such a fulfilling friendship with anyone, human or otherwise, and upon leaving the island I was heartbroken for months,” the post said, adding they had named the walrus Gregory.

The advertiser said they had been building a “realistic” walrus costume that would fit a person, and the successful applicant would have to wear it for “approximately two hours a day”.

While wearing the costume “there must be no speaking in a human voice, and any communication must entail making utterances in the voice of a walrus”.

Other duties included eating the fish and crabs that the homeowner throws to them. In return, the lodger will have a spacious double room and “run of the house”.

Shortly after the advertiser revealed a lodger had been found, adding “I was not expecting such an overwhelming response”.

Smith finished the first draft of the script for Tusk in 20 days, moving the setting from the UK to Canada, with actor Michael Parks in mind, the star of Smith’s Red State. The budget will be about $3 million.

Smith said the moral of the story was: “Chase every dopey dream you ever have, so long as it doesn’t involve hurting or killing anybody”.

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