Tusk: The True History of Walrus Man Explained

The walrus man in Defense, Kevin Smith’s horror-comedy about a man surgically transformed into a walrus, was not based on a true story, as the film humorously claims. He was, however, inspired by a fake online ad in which an old man offers a room in his house rent-free, but with one catch: the lucky tenant must be willing and able to occasionally dress up in a walrus costume and behave like a walrus. The man who created the false advertisement is writer Chris Parkinson from Brighton, England. He posted it as a joke, but according to reports from VarietyParkinson received over 400 responses to the ad.


The transformation from human to walrus is the main similarity between the film and the fake commercial. In the film, Los Angeles podcaster Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) and his co-host, Teddy (Haley Joel Osment), ridicule the unfortunate in viral videos, and Wallace interviews them. For an interview with a teenager who cut his leg by mistake, Wallace must travel to suburban Manitoba, Canada. After discovering that the man killed himself, presumably because of ridicule, he finds a flyer posted by an old man that seems perfect for the podcast.

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Unlike Parkinson’s ad, however, the flyer doesn’t mention walrus, and that’s no joke. Instead, it’s a lure posted by serial killer Howard Howe (Michael Parks, Kill Bill), a retired sailor obsessed with seeking redemption for killing and eating a walrus that he believes saved his life. He disfigures his victims and surgically transforms them into a walrus, which he named Mr. Tusk so he could piece together their time together and give his savior a chance to live.

How did fake advertising become Kevin Smith’s Tusk?

Justin Long in Tusk

Given the major differences between the fake Parkinson’s ad and the movie, it can be hard to imagine how the former inspired the latter. It’s obvious that Defense replaces the old man with a serial killer and the walrus costume with a grotesque surgical transformation into a walrus. But where do the protagonists of the film come from? The answer to this question is surprisingly simple: they are based on the film’s director, Kevin Smith, and his friend Scott Mosier (Clerks).

In an episode of by Kevin Smith SModcast podcast, they read the fake ad out loud and laugh about it, thinking it’s real. In the film, the podcasters are considerably more cruel than Smith and Mosier, and Wallace’s transformation into a Morse code can be interpreted as a karmic consequence of this cruelty. His transformation is also the result of the serial killer’s special relationship with the walrus, similar to the special relationship featured in the fake Parkinson’s commercial.

Whereas Defense can only ridiculously be considered based on real events, Smith’s film was undeniably inspired by publicity. The film embellishes the story, combines it with elements of the writer’s own life and applies a classic horror premise: an ungainly man looking for something does not find what he is looking for but gets exactly what he deserves. Defense unfolds a commentary on voyeurism, a culture of schadenfreude, and the perils of both. Wallace ridiculed the unfortunate for a living and exposed them. The price he paid for this cruelty was to become one of them at the end of the film.

Related: Kevin Smith’s Tusk 2: Why the director’s idea is the sequel we need

Fake Tusk Ad Writer Explains Adaptation to Screen Rant

The captive walrus at the end of Tusk.

Screen Rant caught up with British poet Chris Parkinson, the author of “Landlord Seeks Lodger For Walrus Cosplay” – the online hosting listing credited with Defensehis whole existence. According to Parkinson, escalating the bizarre but unassuming post led to “the weirdest year and a half of his life” (and one of the weirdest movies to start). The project escalated very quickly, and Parkinson was present on set during the production of Smith’s Horror Curiosity.“I was whisked away to North Carolina for filming. I spent a week wandering around a deserted country club, watching Michael Parks mumble lines of my commercial in a gloriously sinister way, and coming face to face with face with very alarming life-size walrus costumes.”, Parkinson remembers. “A year later, I was in Los Angeles to watch the premiere, although I don’t think anyone knew who I was when I walked the red carpet.”

Many authors, including Stephen King, hated some film adaptations of their work. But Parkinson shines Defense like a movie. “I loved it. I think it’s absolutely hilarious. But it horrified others,” he enthuses. “It’s definitely a little more sinister than my original ad, but I think that works in its favor. It takes the premise established in the post and evolves it to its logical and terrible conclusion. And the ending is probably the most heartbreaking moment in all of movie history. Maybe the man really is a walrus at heart.” Parkinson has met Smith a handful of times and maintains that the legendary director was “kind, welcoming and absolutely hilarious.” However, Kevin Smith first thought this ad was real when researching the movie. “Kevin didn’t know he was a guy writing a ridiculous ad on Gumtree (a Craigslist equivalent in the UK) – he thought people were trying to introduce him to a real guy with a spare bedroom and a homemade walrus suit. Which, given the way things are going in the movie, might not be the kind of person you’d want to meet in real life.”

As for the original post, over 400 people responded, which Parkinson says “says a lot about the housing situation in most major cities.” But would he have responded by having himself come across the ad? “I would love to say no, but I’m always up for a challenge.” Defense is the only Parkinson’s disease online post that became a moviealthough a previous article created a brouhaha on a much smaller level. “A few months before the walrus commercial, I reported a vortex in another dimension on a community road maintenance website. There were snakes coming out of the vortex, and my little dog was nearly sucked into it. “, he explains, “It never turned into a horror movie, but I found a video on YouTube a few years ago of two ‘paranormal investigators’ walking down my street looking for the vortex. The internet was a place different in 2013/4, and there was more space to squeeze in these weird little stories and make the world a weirder, more interesting place, even if it was just a glimpse in passing.”Defense received a disappointing theatrical release in the UK, but Chris Parkinson and Kevin Smith brought something unique to the horror genre. Here’s hoping the snake vortex movie picks up steam soon. In hindsight, Defense was a rarity worth revisiting.

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