Exclusive: Attila Juhasz Talks Zombie Squash, Working With George A. Romero, and Much More
Zombie Squash is now available for free on iOS devices and stars the legendary George A. Romero as Dr. B.E. Vil, an evil scientist with plans to take over the world with some rowdy undead veggies!
We recently chatted with the game’s creator, Attila Juhasz, about bringing this undead project to life. Read on to learn more.
AMANDA DYAR: Tell us a little about yourself and ACW Games/Attila's Creative Works LLC.
ATTILA JUHASZ: I'm creatively obsessed. (chuckles) I love to create and am most happy when I write, design, program, produce or compose. Having a jack-of-all-trades personality lead me to start ACW Games, a division of Attila's Creative Works LLC, which I formed in 2005. All my passions culminate in the creation of a game.
I'm also a big fan of quality, fantastical horror movies. George Romero's Dawn of the Dead is still my favorite genre film of all time. In 1995 I launched what many consider to be the first commercial horror website, horrormovies.com, which I sold in 1998 to a publicly traded entertainment company and took the role of Director of Internet Marketing, where I produced the world's first Internet Séance. I also wrote for a few leading horror magazines.
AMANDA: How did Zombie Squash get started and what were the main inspirations for it?
ATTILA: Two years ago I was obsessed with trying to come up with an idea for a game that could conceptually have tremendous commercial appeal, entertain all ages, and be fun for someone with interests like I do. I also wanted to do something different with zombies. Like a flash, the name hit me out of nowhere, Zombie Squash. But then I needed an angle that would separate me from the thousands of zombie games on the market already, be okay for kids but make a guy like me happy. Minutes later squash went from a verb to a noun. That was my twist, make actual squash and vegetation become the zombies. I was so excited about the idea that I started singing in jingle style "zombie squash" and thus the theme song was instantly born as well. The name, game concept and theme song all happened in a snowball of events afternoon. In six months I created a crude beta PC demo on my own and released it on the web. The feedback was tremendous and it attracted some great talent including music producer Roy Z. and George A. Romero, the godfather of all zombies.
AMANDA: How did George A. Romero get involved on the project, and tell us a little about his character, Dr. Beau E. Vil.
ATTILA: I wanted to bring in a well-known name to the game and to me, no name in the zombie world is more important or iconic than George A. Romero. He read my Zombie Squash game document and character voice-over script, loved it and was on board. George came up with the character's over-the-top accent and had a lot of fun recording it. The entire session was filmed. A few clips are in the Zombie Squash trailer.
In the game he plays Beauregard Edgar Vilamure III, better known as Dr. B.E. Vil, a billionaire, mad scientist and owner of Monsterno Corporation, a controversial bio-chemical genetics company. We all know that George Romero sculpted the modern human zombie when he made Night of the Living Dead. Now he plays a mad scientist that creates a new breed of zombies that grow in gardens so he can take over the world.
AMANDA: Why did you choose undead squash and a rabbit named Jack Stompingtail for the main characters of the game?
ATTILA: It goes back to my day of inspiration. I had come up with the title, Zombie Squash, and while trying to come up with a twist for the game, I simply changed squash from a verb to a noun. When I was a little kid, I got a big thrill out of the film The Day of the Triffids and always loved the concept of living, mobile, killer vegetation, so I guess there's a little indirect homage to that. I wanted a non-human hero, and since the Zombie Squash settings are primarily vegetable gardens, I felt that rabbits would fit the story naturally.
Jack Stompingtail was a character that evolved. I like many hero characters with the name "Jack" from Jack the Giant Killer to Jack Burton from Big Trouble in Little China, plus I originally sketched the character as a jackrabbit. I wanted his last name to be a little assertive that could complement the action of squashing so I came up with stomping. Since he's a rabbit I added the suffix "tail," and we have Jack Stompingtail.
AMANDA: Why do you think horror fans should check out Zombie Squash?
ATTILA: Because George A. Romero is in the game. (chuckles) There are classic horror elements including great music, a mad scientist and monsters. I believe with Zombie Squash we created a game that is intense and fun for young and old. It's a game that horror fans can use to comfortably introduce George A. Romero to a young audience. Most importantly, horror fans should check out Zombie Squash because it is a lighthearted spooky genre game that was produced totally independently like many of our horror film favorites.
AMANDA: What was the creative process like for bringing a game like Zombie Squash to life?
ATTILA: Let's just say, 2,000 plus hours later, I'm doing this interview with you. It's been a thrill and is one of the best projects I was ever involved in. It started out with a pen and paper. I sketched out the basic concepts of the levels, and as the excitement grew from the sketches, I started building a Zombie Squash beta demo on my own. Once that was done, my vision for the game grew and so did the Zombie Squash team with George Romero, music producer Roy Z and artist Marc Sasso, who illustrated the poster and designed the look of Dr. B.E. Vil. The creative process is evolutionary so you must have patience when obstacles spring up because they are inevitable. Setbacks are a starting point for refinement or reinvention. You regroup, get excited and keep moving forward. That's all part of the creative process, and now we have a fun game called Zombie Squash.
AMANDA: What do you hope fans take away from it, and will there be a sequel?
ATTILA: Hopefully fans have a good time playing it and will want more because there will absolutely be a follow-up. We're deep into it and later this year we will release an extended version, probably in September, but the official date hasn't been determined yet. There will be more than double the amount of levels, more mini-games, more music and yes, even more George A. Romero. The origin of the Zombie Squash is only hinted in the current release, but the full story will be in the follow-up. There are a few fun "living dead" references sprinkled in the game that hard-core Romero fans may pick up on, but there will be even more in the extended version.
AMANDA: Do you have any other projects coming up or anything else you would like to mention?
ATTILA: I recently released an app called "Horror Movies & Trivia" for the iPad and Android devices. It's a puzzle trivia game and app that streams free public domain horror movies. It's made for people who love classic horror movies and who may be familiar with names ranging from Roger Corman to Ed Wood. It's free, and links can be found at HorrorEntertainment.com.
I'd like to finish by asking my fellow horror fans to please help out Zombie Squash, which is a truly independent venture, by stopping by ZombieSquash.com and downloading the free game. We'd love to hear from all of you on our Facebook page, too. Thank you very much.
To learn more, visit the official Zombie Squash Facebook page.
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