Exclusive: Filmmaker Douglas Schulze on Mimesis: Night of the Living Dead
Today Douglas Schulze's latest genre effort, Mimesis (review here), arrives on DVD and Blu-ray courtesy of Anchor Bay. Inspired by George A. Romero's classic Night of the Living Dead, it follows a group of horror fans stuck reliving the terrifying events of the 1968 film... but for real.
In anticipation of the flick's release, Dread Central recently chatted with Schulze about how a real-life incident inspired his unique twist on Romero's original story, his thoughts on walking the fine line of homage and remakes, sequel plans for Mimesis and much more.
Dread Central: Congrats on pulling off a successful homage to one of the greatest movies of all time; I'd say it's pretty evident after watching Mimesis that you're a horror fan, correct?
Douglas Schulze: Absolutely; I came at this story first and foremost as a horror fan. It's a culture I've been a part of for a long time; a lot of my friends are horror fans that kind of exist in the horror convention circuit, and so I've been observing that culture for some time now.
Dread Central: Being someone who has been to quite a few now myself, I find it's a really fascinating culture. I love people watching at cons- especially the fans who dress up.
Douglas Schulze: Me, too; that's sort of where this idea came from - the horror fandom - after I saw a group of fans who really took it too far at one con and were harassing other people while they were 'in character.' What would happen if there were a group of horror fans who took their fandom too far? How far would they go to recreate their favorite movie? And so the idea kind of just evolved from there.
When you look around today at the things that are happening around us and to our society, the idea really isn't all that 'out there' so instead of running away from subject matter that talks about people who try to emulate their favorite rock songs or horror movies, I chose to create a film that addressed the concept straight on. I never wanted to remake Night of the Living Dead or update it in any way; Mimesis was more about the concept of horror fans taking their love of horror to the next level, and it just so happens they want to make their own Romero movie.
Dread Central: When you're working within the world of something as revered as Night of the Living Dead, how tricky was it to walk that line of homage versus remake then? Or did the rules of your story pretty much keep you on track?
Douglas Schulze: You know, it's never an easy task unless you're straight up pulling a Gus Van Sant (laughs). But that was something I was conscientious of the entire time because there are parts of Mimesis that should feel like Night of the Living Dead, but if I went just a little 'too far' with it, it felt like I was ripping off George so I was deliberate with everything in this movie- from the way we shot it to the dialogue to the characters. We knew we were stepping into some big shoes when we decided to go with this property, and we were always conscious that we didn't want this to become a mirror image of Living Dead either- our movie still needed to be able to stand on its own two feet, and I think we succeeded at that.
What's interesting, though, is that our approach to Mimesis was modeled after how Romero approached his original film all those years ago now; we made this independently and without the use of outside funding, too, and so when it came time to make Mimesis, I really utilized his methodology in his approach to filmmaking for this as it seemed really appropriate to make this movie just like he did, independently, over 40 years ago.
Dread Central: I saw on the IMDb that you're already working on Mimesis 2; is there anything you can tell us about that?
Douglas Schulze: Well, we are hoping to make a sequel- absolutely. We already shot something, kind of like a teaser, with Kristy Swanson (the original Buffy) as we're developing a Nosferatu story around her. It's such a classic story, and I know she'd be fantastic, too, so we'll see how it all shapes up. We could be shooting in two months, in four months or in a year- who knows? But I do know we'll be shooting some of it around LA hopefully, too.
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