Is Tusk Based on a True Story?

‘Tusk’: Is It Based on a True Story?


The 2014 horror comedy film, ‘Tusk’, directed by Kevin Smith, tells the story of Wallace, an arrogant podcaster who travels to Canada for an interview. However, his encounter with a strange man named Howe takes a horrifying turn. The film explores themes of obsession, identity, and the boundaries of humanity. While ‘Tusk’ is not based on a true story, it draws inspiration from real-life events and combines them with fictional elements to create a unique and disturbing narrative.

The Inspiration Behind ‘Tusk’

The idea for ‘Tusk’ originated from a conversation between Kevin Smith and his co-host Scott Mosier on their podcast, ‘SModcast’. In episode 259, titled ‘The Walrus and The Carpenter’, Scott narrated a story about a man who offered free rent to anyone willing to dress up as a walrus. Although the advertisement turned out to be false and non-existent, it provided Kevin with a bizarre concept that he could develop into a horror story.

Chris Parkinson, a writer from Brighton, England, created the hoax ad that received responses from over 400 people interested in the peculiar ordeal. This real-life event served as a starting point for Kevin Smith’s imaginative and terrifying plot.

Ed Gein and Howard Howe

In ‘Tusk’, the character Howard Howe, portrayed by Michael Parks, bears resemblance to Ed Gein, a notorious serial killer. Ed Gein had a macabre hobby of creating human skin suits and disfiguring his victims. The filmmakers incorporated this aspect of Gein’s life into the character of Howe, adding to the horror and unsettling nature of the film.

Canada as the Backdrop

The film utilizes Canada as its backdrop, taking advantage of the country’s reputation for politeness and friendliness. Wallace, as a foreigner, shares the same perspective about the place, which adds to the sense of isolation and vulnerability. This common horror trope of a foreigner being trapped and tortured in an unknown land heightens the tension and fear experienced by the characters and the audience.

Justin Long’s Role in ‘Tusk’

Justin Long, who plays Wallace in the film, initially had reservations about taking on the role. His agent advised against it, fearing that it would typecast him as the “walrus guy” on top of his existing image as the “Apple guy”. Justin Long was apprehensive about the script and the audience’s reception to the film, as it technically falls into the category of “horrifying” rather than a traditional horror film. However, after discussing the script with Kevin Smith and understanding the unique vision behind ‘Tusk’, Long decided to take the risk and accepted the role.

A Possibility of a Sequel

The filmmakers intentionally left the ending of ‘Tusk’ open-ended, creating the possibility of a sequel. Kevin Smith confirmed that he is actively working towards a potential continuation of the story, keeping fans intrigued and eager to see what lies ahead for the characters.

Pop Culture References and Easter Eggs

‘Tusk’ incorporates a variety of pop culture references and Easter eggs throughout the film. The budget was notably allocated to securing the rights to the eponymous song “Tusk” by Fleetwood Mac. Additionally, the Gumtree website, where Kevin first encountered the hoax advertisement, is referenced in the film through the character Gregory Gumtree.

Kevin Smith also drew inspiration from his own childhood habits to add authenticity to the film. For example, the scene where Justin Long turns away the face of a doll while peeing reflects a behavior that Kevin himself was accustomed to as a child.

The film includes several other references, such as a line about a great white shark that is taken directly from the original ‘Jaws’ movie. The name of the Gimli Slider restaurant is inspired by the Gimli Glider incident, where an Air Canada plane made an emergency landing without power at the Gimli Industrial Park Airport.

A Unique Addition to the Horror Genre

Although ‘Tusk’ is not based on a true story, it combines elements of reality and fiction to create a chilling and memorable horror experience. The film explores themes of obsession, identity, and the boundaries of humanity, providing a fresh perspective within the horror comedy genre. With its disturbing plot and imaginative storytelling, ‘Tusk’ stands as a great addition to the world of horror cinema.


‘Tusk’ may not be grounded in reality, but it draws inspiration from real-life events and incorporates them into a fictional narrative. Kevin Smith’s unique vision and the talented cast bring the story to life, creating a horror comedy that leaves a lasting impression on audiences. Whether you’re a fan of true stories or enjoy exploring the boundaries of imagination, ‘Tusk’ offers a thrilling and unsettling experience that is sure to leave you questioning the limits of humanity.