I’m always in the mood for a good zombie movie. I’m not sure that “L.A. Zombie,” hitting DVD Sept. 20, counts. My reasons:
1. It’s 62 minutes long and contains the warning “explicit sexual content.” You know what that means. (Cue the waka-waka music.) 2. Its tagline is “First he eats your brains... then your a**!” 3. Fangoria raves, “thoughtful.” <em>—Rod Lott</em>
Not as great as Walken flying through a hotel, but still ...
Were you one of the 7.3 million viewers who broke a basic-cable record by tuning in to the sophomore-season premiere of “The Walking Dead”?
Yeah? How about that first half-hour, huh? Whoa! A series best, amiright? And zombies in church? Whaddup wit’ dat, huh? And that final shot, too! Wow! Hey, is it weird that even a dirt-streaked and sweat-stained Laurie Holden still sets my heart a-flutter? Agree — didn’t think so. Oh, and that stomach scene! Eewww! I know, right? Ha!
Regardless of whether or not that made any sense, feast your eyes on the trailer for “The Walken Dead,” brought to our attention by the good people of the Nerdist podcast. No, it’s not real. Yes, it’s funny. Yes, it could use more cowbell. —Rod Lott
If you thought TV's 'The Walking Dead' was slow ...
Horror Rod Lott
Recently, I bought an issue of a UK film magazine whose cover story counted down the 66 best zombie movies ever
made. Perched at No. 31 was Howard and Jonathan Ford's "The Dead" — a
damned strong showing for two Brit brothers whose previous pair of
pictures didn’t even make a blip.
Making the zombie film ‘The Dead’ almost turned the two men into zombies themselves.
For their latest project, UK filmmaking brothers Howard J. and Jonathan Ford shared scripting and directorial duties, which is a good thing, considering the experience nearly killed them (and others). The end result is not-so-ironically titled “The Dead,” a zombie epic set in South Africa that’s been called one of the genre’s best in recent years. It hits home video on Valentine’s Day, so share it with the one you love. Until then, here’s our interview with both sibs about making the horror film.
R&R: With so many zombie projects these days, why another one?
Howard Ford: For us, it's our first. We felt it would be different. We hadn't seen a living dead movie in Africa before, and in a way, we were slightly taking the living dead legend back to its roots in Haiti, French-speaking West Africa as well, where we shot the movie. That was very, very difficult to do, but we wanted a journey movie, and it felt different for that reason. It was a film that could hopefully work for people who just wanted to be entertained by the zombie situations and also to find deeper meaning as well.
Jonathan Ford: I felt like this genre of movie had passed without this particular type of movie having being made. An era had passed without all the boxes checked.
Howard Ford: And going back to the classics, as well. We first saw [George A.] Romero's “Dawn of the Dead” when I was 11 and that blew us away. It took horror into the light. And we've seen a few films since then that have been a little more disappointing. There's a formula now: People end up cooped up in a building and zombies try to get in. We said, “No, let's just take people on a journey so they're never in the same location for a few minutes.” That was something we personally wanted to see.
R&R: Shooting in regions that have been described as "life-threatening," what were you thinking?
Howard Ford: Funny, "What were we thinking?" is the opening line of my book I just finished this morning, I kid you not. It comes out in March, but that’s another story. What the hell were we thinking? A movie by British filmmakers in French-speaking West Africa ...
Jonathan Ford: ... with a Canadian vegan lead!
Howard Ford: The whole thing is crazy on paper and it was crazy. I was mugged by knife point on day one in the city and they took everything: my cards, my cash, my driver's license. The police tried to put me in jail for driving without the license taken from me in the mugging. The lead actor, Rob Freeman, nearly died of malaria.
Jonathan Ford: I got malaria, too. Horrific food poisoning. Every meal was like Russian roulette, and that's when you could find a meal. What the hell were we thinking?
Howard Ford: We were often digging for a toilet. There's no facilities there. You dig a whole in the ground and good luck to you. We kind of wanted to have this organic feeling and it became a life-threatening journey.
R&R:How long of a shoot was it?
Howard Ford: Well, it was supposed to be six weeks, but it took us five weeks to get our equipment out of the port.
Jonathan Ford: We were out there for about three months.
Howard Ford: When we did get going after five weeks of waiting on our equipment and paying God knows what every day at the ports, then Rob collapsed with cerebral malaria, convulsing, spent the night on a table covered in his own shit because there was no hospital bed.
Jonathan Ford: Then the doctor said, "He may not pull through. He's going to die in the next two or three days." And then he was on a trip for two weeks, so that's seven weeks down, and we haven't even done anything yet!
Howard Ford: And there's police pointing guns us for money all the time. It was just a living hell.
R&R: The film has been pretty well-received, yet it hasn't been given a large theatrical release in North America? I imagine that has to be frustrating after all that you went through --
Jonathan Ford: Yes!
Howard Ford: We're proud of what we've done, given the circumstances under which we did it, but it got a theatrical release, which is what we wanted, in 20 cities across the U.S.
Jonathan Ford: Unless you've got a big name in your movie, you ain't gonna get a large theatrical release. We accept that's the way the business works. It's not about how good or bad your movie is. It's down to the name thing, and we didn't have a name.
Howard Ford: We didn't have Paris Hilton in it, which is probably a shame …
Jonathan Ford: Steven Seagal.
Howard Ford: We'd love to see it more on the big screen. Audience reactions are really, really good.
Jonathan Ford: Certainly after the heart and soul and pain, and blood and sweat and tears — a lot of blood, sweat and tears — yeah, obviously, you want it to get the biggest exposure you can.
Howard Ford: We didn't shoot digital, so after lugging a 35mm camera across the Sahara Desert under such difficult circumstances — yes, it would've been nice to get it out there more. But hey, if people support the film on DVD and Blu-ray, and we're thoroughly appreciative of everyone who supports the movie by buying it …
Jonathan Ford: Hopefully it finds its audience there.
Howard Ford: ... we'll come back and do it all again.
R&R: You really would do a sequel? Do you have one in mind?
Howard Ford: We talked about the sequel even before the first one. But we had such a horrific experience making the film, which has made us very concerned about it, but yes. What it comes down to is, is there a demand for it? Do enough people buy the DVD and Blu-ray?
Jonathan Ford: It broke my heart, [but] some of my favorite sequences never made it into the film. We could easily pack another movie and hopefully make an ever better one next time.
Howard Ford: The U.S. release [of the Blu-ray and DVD] really has a bearing on all that.
Jonathan Ford: It's kind of hinging on that. It's all or nothing now! —Rod Lott
Horror Rod Lott
Not like TV's The Walking Dead
is perfect, but its mainstream success on a weekly in-season basis has
spoiled viewers, thus ruining many zombie movies. It has raised a bar
that most only could hope to come close to clearing. But even without
the show, efforts like The Terror Experiment likely would find no love.
Need a dozen ways to kill a weekend? Just add cheese!
Horror Rod Lott
I don't know that Mill Creek Entertainment's three-disc set of 12 Creature Features
is quite the "dream come true" for "B-movie lovers" as the box
proclaims, but that's only because so much of the contents likely
already exist in their collections of public-domain DVDs.
Horror Rod Lott
While I'm glad to see that the horror cable channel Chiller is now
making original movies, its first offering, the sci-fi "comedy" Alien Opponent, was nearly unwatchable. That film's director and writer, Colin Theys and John Doolan, return to helm the outlet's second, Steve Niles' Remains.
Springing from rosier pastures — Niles' original comics — it's
automatically better, rising to the level of mediocre. Perhaps their
third time at bat, October's Dead Souls, will prove the proverbial