When I started putting together my Toronto Midnight Madness wish list, the Korean monster mash known as The Host (aka Gwoemul) was at the very top of my list -- partially because I'd been hearing some really good buzz from other blogs and my Cinematical colleagues, but mainly because it's a flick about a genetically mutated fish-like mega-beast who invades the Korean streets and chomps down on civilians left and right. So after sitting down and enjoying the heck out of The Host, I was thrilled to jump across the street and shoot the breeze with director Bong Joon-ho, and here's how that conversation went down:

Scott: How hard is it to juggle multiple genres and have them gel into a cohesive whole?

Bong Joon-ho: To mix all those elements is not exactly like a bartender making cocktails. I don't say "I need 20% of this, 30% of that," but I try to stay faithful to the story, and hopefully the elements come out naturally. Just like my previous film, Memories of Murder, is a story about a serial killer investigation, the humor or the satire just comes out naturally.

As I was working on the screenplay and shooting The Host, I never thought I was "mixing up" those elements, but after the movie came out, people came to me and said "Oh, you mixed together all these different genres." I think the secret regarding this film lies with our actors. Whether they're doing the comedy, the tragedy, or the suspense, they do their best within the reality of the movie. They never overdo it.

That's definitely a testament to your actors. It's certainly not easy to balance broad comedy followed by horror scenes and heroic stuff and moments of sadness. So what monster movies did you love growing up, and which ones inspired you on The Host?

It wasn't a specific inspiration, but M. Night Shyamalan'sSigns focuses on the family as opposed to the aliens. So the core narrative of the film is focused on Mel Gibson's family, and that gave me some inspiration there. John Carpenter'sThe Thing, while not a specific influence on The Host, is a classic monster movie. Also Ridley Scott'sAlien.