Cinema has spent much time exploring ways in which to protect the ol’ noggin from unwanted noshing by the undead, but what of the more vertically challenged zombie? Dare we ask what body parts they may prefer? Co-directed by Frank Ippolito and Ezekiel Zabrowski, the currently in post-production ‘short’ film (pun intended) Night of the Little Dead intends to answer that question, and Dread hit the Sun Valley, CA set this past January 18th to find out.
“A couple of years ago, Charlie Chiodo and I were talking about ridiculous concepts for things, like Snakes On A Plane, and we started talking about midget zombies, and I said, ‘Night of the Little Dead!’” Ippolito told us from the makeup trailer of the film’s inception. “Charlie thought it was an awesome idea, so we started coming up with rough story ideas.”
Co-written by Chiodo and Zabrowski, Ippolito (who helmed with the latter last year’s Neil Patrick Harris-starring horror/comedy short Dracula’s Daughter vs. Space Brains) continued of the flick, “Ever since Zeke and I started to collaborate together making films, we’ve always wanted to do this one. We did write a feature version of the Night of the Little Dead script, though every time we write a feature length script, we also make a short one. That’s how we decide if we are going to be able to convey these crazy ideas to people because when you read the script, it sounds like nonsense. So we figured we’d make a short, and that way people can see what it is and know the tone of it, and to know what the monsters look like. So it was just a natural progression to shoot this. We’d like to make the feature version. This is our fifth short, and we don’t want to do shorts forever.”
The result is a film which stars Bill Moseley (The Devil’s Rejects), Adam Savage (of the series “Mythbusters”), comedian Penn Jillette, James Hurley, Erica Taylor, Gary Morgan, Aye Jaye and diminutive actor Martin Klebba (Feast II and III and “The Cape”) in the titular role, who we witnessed being outfitted by Chiodo in a rather ghastly ‘Little Dead’ suit, replete with an entirely impressive animatronic head (unfortunately photos of the creature are embargoed at present, although rest assured, we’ll soon deliver the ocular goods). Peter Podgursky produces along with Ippolito.
Venturing forth from the trailer to set (the latter of which had been dressed to resemble a rustic, rural bar) for a scheduled day of monster mayhem, Ippolito, himself a makeup artist, stated of the creature design, “Charlie (Chiodo) did about ninety-five percent of it, although it was collaborative. We both did some doodles, and then he took it and created a ‘Chiodo’ monster. The things that Charlie draws are very distinctively ‘Charlie.’”
In narrative, “It takes place in a little bar/diner/bait shop kind of thing in a small Wisconsin fishing town,” revealed Ippolito of the plot of Night of the Little Dead, who’s shooting the flick on the Red camera. “People from Chicago come up from the city and are running their mouths. Those two characters are played by Adam Savage and Penn Jillette. The back-story is that there is a train car filled with these little midget monsters which the town had gotten rid of a long time ago, but then Savage and Jillette go dynamite fishing and one of the monsters bobs to the surface and bites Penn’s arm, so they run back into the bait shop to get away but the monsters go after them.”
As for how actor Moseley, who’s generally known for his portrayal of myriad cinematic villains, factors into the flick, the faux-mustached actor told us of his character of ‘Kick-Stand’, “I guess I am the hero! We’re here at Sadie’s Grub & Grub just minding our own business, drinking Line and Coogle and eating peanuts, and all of a sudden a couple of guys burst in, and they are bleeding and frightened and they tell us that something terrible is outside. We are thinking that maybe it’s one of the pumas that have escaped from the exotic farm over in Woolworth’s, but in fact it turns out to be little, angry, meat-eating, fast-moving fucking zombies. So we have to rise above our own limitations to stay alive and to kill those suckers.” (See more of our conversation with Moseley here.)
Given the practical realization of the short’s creatures, and the three months of painstaking pre-production the project underwent, Ippolito predicted a short post time, which will work out well, given his distribution plans for Night of the Little Dead.
“We’d like to premiere it at (this year’s) Comic-Con, so we are going to try to meet that submission deadline,” he told us. “Also, we have a pretty good relationship with National Lampoon, so they may distribute it on iTunes like they did with Dracula’s Daughters vs. Space Brains.”
Ippolito, who will soon appear as a contestant on the reality show “Face Off”, an elimination style reality show which revolves around the work of special makeup (which premieres January 26th on SyFy), self-deprecatingly told us of shooting that show, “I had a blast on “Face Off” and I can’t wait for that to air. I can’t wait for everyone to see it and to officially think that I am an asshole!” (This being a ‘reality’ series however, Ippolito is under a non-disclosure agreement until the series’ run is complete and was unable to provide us with any more detail).
For more visit the Night of the Little Dead Facebook page, and stay tuned for exclusive stills from the production coming soon to Dread Central.
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