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Exclusive Set Coverage and Photos – Dread Central Visits a Zombie Family

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Arriving to a postcard perfect California bungalow in West Hollywood this past Monday, April 16th, I was already privy to the undead horrors I’d find inside, although I doubt the surrounding neighbors were aware that courtesy of filmmaker Joseph Weisman a Zombie Family had moved in.

Shooting day four of six of the intended horror/comedy web series Zombie Family, writer and director Weisman took time between filming a scene (in which a pubescent zombie finds some ‘alone time’ in the home’s bathroom to peruse the ‘Kill of the Month’ centerfold in Homicide Girl Magazine) to chat with us regarding the project, as did associate producer and makeup effects lead Frank Ippolito, actress Cerina Vincent, and more.

“I wrote a feature screenplay called Zombie Family about seven years ago,” filmmaker Weisman stated of the evolution of the project, which would go on to attract the talents of producers Justin Kommann and Brian Rowe and director of photography Brian Mulchy, “and in 2008 it placed in the Horror Screenplay contest and received ‘Honorable Mention.’ I guess it made the judges’ table there, which I thought was funny because it’s a comedy and not a scary movie, although it does have gore and zombies.”

“I kind of saw an opportunity once web entities like FEARnet started producing their own content to take the material that I really loved and wanted to make, and to do it in a format that could really exploit it the most,” he continued. “I want to give an audience the most comedy for the concept.”

Zombie Family features Mike Apple as ‘Bill’ (the zombie patriarch), actress Laura Napoli as ‘Betty’ (the unit’s undead matriarch) and Chuck Lines as ‘Erwin’ and Allison Sharpe as ‘Amanda’ as the pair’s teenage, zombie offspring. Actors Kerry O’Quinn, Doug Jones, Reggie Bannister (Phantasm), Tony Todd (Candyman) and Cerina Vincent (Cabin Fever) round out the cast.

Chatting with Apple, who at the time was in full zombie regalia, the actor stated of the lure of Zombie Family, “Combining the genres of science fiction, horror and comedy appealed to me. So did the concept of having a family of zombies trying to co-exist in the normal world with normal people, people who seemingly don’t notice that they are zombies, which is just a very funny concept, and it’s been fun to play around with.”

“I’ve definitely been a fan of the zombie genre,” Napoli chimed in. “I actually did a zombie video game before, so I have had the opportunity to be zombiefied, but not with full-on makeup, which has been absolutely awesome. To have the fuzzy contacts and the prosthetics, it’s a whole other experience, and that’s been fun to add that dynamic to it. The whole effects team has been awesome.”

Of the effects, we took a moment to speak with Ippolito, whose practical work has been seen in the short films Dracula’s Daughter vs. Space Brains and The Night of the Little Dead (both of which he directed), among others, as they were in season one of the Syfy reality series “Face Off”.

“A friend of mine (Komman) and I worked on The ABC’s of Death, where we did (the segment) ‘T is for Tranny’, and I did his makeup for it,” said Ippolito of how he became involved with Zombie Family. “We ended up getting along really well, and he was like, ‘Hey, I might be working on this web series. Want to come meet the director?’ So I met Joseph at Screamfest and we hit it off, and he asked me to do the makeup effects. Before you knew it, I was also an associate producer because I pulled in most of the rest of the crew: the vanity department, the line producer, etc. So I became a little bit pivotal on this one, and it worked out really nice.”

In creating the character make-ups for the titular family, “I brought in Ian Cromer from the second season of ‘Face Off’ and his girlfriend Alana Schiro to help with the builds,” continued Ippolito, “and they worked with me pretty much for about a month working on all of the sculptures and molds and everything, and here we are.”

Of the look of his zombies, “I don’t view it as redefining anything, just more what the zombie needs to be in this story,” Ippolito offered. “I didn’t want to make them too gory because they are supposed to be a family, and I made the prosthetics really thin so that they can still emote through them, and I gave each of the sculptures a little bit of a character. I made the mom and the son look a little similar, and the same with the dad and the daughter. The daughter’s makeup is the most subtle. We wanted to keep her cute and attractive and her little ‘punk rock’ self. So it was about doing it well because there are a lot of bad zombie make-ups out there, and I wanted to do it competently.”

Exclusive Set Coverage and Photos -  Dread Central Visits a Zombie Family

Art Director Mike Cavanaugh joined the fold at that moment and offered us a look at not only the previously mentioned Homicide Girl Magazine, which he’d created with Nick Bonamy, but also at ‘Scrahhhhble,’ the board game he’d commissioned artist Dave Leamon to create, which the zombie family plays in a scene or two in the series.

“He’s been pulling it off!” gushed Ippolito of Cavanaugh’s art direction. “He came up with the concept of that game, where all of the letters are r’s and a’s, as in, ‘Aaarrr’!’ The zombies also had to fry up some brains in the kitchen so I made a silicone brain, and we covered it with slime and stuff and they put it in the pan, and then Mike got tripe and cut it up, and we were cooking it in soy so they could actually eat it.”

Catching up with actress Sharpe, who had nabbed the role following a traditional audition, she stated of her character in Zombie Family, “Amanda is a little lost. She’s trying to blend in with the rest of the non-zombie world the best she possibly can, which, to be honest, isn’t very good. She’s a punk rock princess just trying to be cute, and she’s dying literally to fit in at school. She’s just kid a kid though, you know? Acting out, making friends, being a little rebel. But she’s also a big family girl.”

“At home they’re just like any ordinary family,” Sharpe stated of the family’s dynamic. “They sit down at the dinner table together, get into little riffs and play board games together. We’re all on the same page and we know that we have to protect our identity as zombies so we support each other on that.”

Does Sharpe find it difficult balancing the comedy and horror of Zombie Family?

“Not at all, actually,” she replied. “I’m a huge fan of dark comedy and of slapstick comedy, and this whole series is basically a chaotic mixture of the two. Comedy and horror are such opposites when it comes to genre, that when one moment of horror is altered with a comedic intention, it can make practically anything transform from scary to silly.”

A zombie needs a foil, however, and in this case they come in the form of actors Todd (who portrays ‘Principal McGuffy), Bannister (the neighborhood cop), Jones (the unlucky salesman) and Vincent, who appears as ‘Cindy Apple,’ the annoying next-door neighbor.

“Think saccharin-sweet Stepford wife meets a nosy neighbor,” said actress Vincent of her character. “It’s a really funny role, and I’m really getting into it.”

Complimenting Vincent on her knack for comedy (her turns in that genre include roles in the series “Mike & Molly” and the feature Not Another Teen Movie, among others), she said humbly, “Thank you! Yes, I do feel like comedy is my strength, and I’m absolutely using that in Zombie Family. I’ve had a blast being over-the-top and annoying. I gave Cindy Apple a really obnoxious voice and mannerisms, and Joey wrote a great role and it’s a joy to play. I’m looking forward to doing more with this crazy character, that is, if Cindy Apple doesn’t end up dinner for the zombie family. She’s so annoying, if I were a zombie, I’d eat me too.”

So when can we expect to see Zombie Family?

“We are looking at probably two to three weeks to edit and to do sound,” concluded director Weisman of post-production, “so we should have everything together by the end of May, hopefully. It’s exciting. And we are in negotiations right now for distribution.”

Stay tuned for more on Zombie Family, and in the interim stay up-to-date by checking them out on Facebook here and Frank Ippolito here.

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Like Me – Will You Like This Dystopian Thriller?

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Starring Addison Timlin, Ian Nelson, Larry Fessenden

Directed by Robert Mockler


While Like Me is not dystopian in the classic science-fiction sense, it does aptly put the downer vibe across. If the present is abysmal, then the future is downright hopeless. We learn this as we follow an unhinged teenage loner called Kiya (Addison Timlin) on a hollow crime spree that she broadcasts on social media. At first the world “likes” her—with the exception of YouTube rival Burt (Ian Nelson), who disdainfully denounces her viral videos—but pride goes before the fall, and Kiya’s descent is spectacular.

If you’ve peeped the trailer for Like Me, then you’re probably expecting a horror movie. I mean, they’ve got the requisite menacing masked baddie and they’ve got genre icon Larry Fessenden in a major role—those are a couple of the key ingredients, right? Yes they are, but this simmering, shimmering stew of Natural Born Killers, Excision and King Kelly, it boils down to a whole lotta nothing. Like Me is sort of a drama, kind of a road trip flick, and almost a thriller. It succeeds at none yet does stand on its own as a compelling collection of cool visuals and pertinent performances. But is that enough?

While Kiya is a compelling character on the surface, there’s barebones beneath. Sure, she’s a Millennial mind-fed on random online clips and snappy soundbites—but what turned her into a psychopath? Was she born that way? Is social media to blame? We’ll never know, because not a hint is given. I don’t mind ambiguity, but even a morsel would have been welcome in this case. As Kiya ramps up her reckless exhibitionistic extremes, the stakes are never raised. In the end, who cares? Maybe that’s the point.

A word of warning: If you plan on watching this movie while chomping snacks…don’t. There is stomach-turning scene after vomit-inducing scene of orgiastic easting, binging, and the inevitable purging. I’m sure it’s all metaphorical mastication, a cutting comment on disposable consumption. I get it. But I don’t wanna look at it, again and again and again. Having said that, Like Me is an experimental film and in its presentation of such grotesquery, it’s quite accomplished. Montages, split-screens and jittered motions are scattered throughout, showing us all sorts of unpleasant things…Kudos to the editor.

I didn’t hate Like Me. But I do think one has to be in the mood for a movie such as this. It’s not an easy or entertaining watch, but it is a peculiar and thought-provoking one. There’s some style and mastery behind the camera, and I am curious to see what first-time writer-director Rob Mockler comes up with next.

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Last Toys on the Left

Funko Giving Jurassic Park the Pop! Treatment as Only They Can

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It is no secret we’re BIG fans of Funko’s Pop! Vinyl line here at DC HQ, and now they’ve announced a new series that has made our hearts just about burst… read on for a look at Pop! Movies: Jurassic Park, heading our way in February. The regular figures are awesome on their own, but wait until you see the exclusives!

From the Funko Blog:
Jurassic Park fans, get excited! To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the iconic film’s appearance on the silver screen, Jurassic Park is coming to Pop!

This series of Pop! features paleontologist Dr. Grant, Jurassic Park CEO John Hammond, mathematician Dr. Malcolm, and embryo-smuggler Dennis Nedry. (Keep an eye out for Dr. Ellie Sattler in Pop! Rides coming soon.)

We couldn’t forget the Jurassic Park dinosaurs! Featured in this line are the great T. rex, Velociraptor, and Dilophsaurus. Look for the Dilophosaurus chase, a rarity of 1-in-6.

Be on the lookout for exclusives. At Target you can find a wounded Dr. Malcolm, and the Dennis Nedry and Dilophosaurus 2-pack is available only at Entertainment Earth.

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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review

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Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

Directed by Colin Bemis


Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

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Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

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