Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Exclusive Interview: Patrick Devaney


Last March I attended Monster Mania Con in Cherry Hill, NJ. Monster Mania is a horror weekend horror movie convention that I've been going to for about five years. While browsing through the various tables filled with all types of horror merch, I heard a voice say "Hey you, do you like zombies?" Anyone who knows me is aware that I am obsessed with zombies, so I hurried over. That was the voice of Patrick Devaney, creator, director, writer, and star of the only zombie show currently on television, Zombie Hunters: City of the Dead. After learning about the show, I purchased the first 4 half hour episodes of the first season. That afternoon while eating lunch, I watched the first episode and a half. I was so impressed, that I went back and purchased episodes 5 and 6. After keeping up with the show and numerous meetings at various other horror cons, I decided it would be an awesome thing to interview Pat for the blog. Due to being a poor college student in PA with no vehicle, the interview must have been done by print. Here ya go.

BotD: For those who don't know, what is Zombie Hunters: City of the Dead?

PD: "Zombie Hunters: City of the Dead" is a TV series based on a simple premise: if Romero's 'Night of the Living Dead' happened for real, in the heart of NYC, what would it be like? What would really happen? How would people really act like?

The main story follows the lives of Billy Cassidy and his friends (Paul Bates, John Salazar, Rebecca Kaufman, Carrie Walker, and a gun dealer named "Smoothie") as they try to deal with the situation. Their solution: get guns, and go out killing these things before they have a chance to take over.

The subplots include a militia group that is capitalizing on the crisis, the city and state officials who are trying to cover the entire thing up, and the disappearence of Billy's girlfriend, Judy.

The show also holds the distinction of being the first (and until recently ONLY) continuously-broadcast Zombie-based series in the world.

BotD: How did the show come into existence?

PD: Many of us on the show are life-long friends, and have always been interested in horror films. As a child, I couldn't get into the theater to see Dawn of the Dead in 1978 due to it's X-rating. I had to wait until the re-release in 1982 to see it (and even then I had to sneak in!). That beautiful, technicolor nightmare changed everything for me.

I have been interested in making films for a very long time. We regularly went to horror conventions as a group of Vampire Hunters, and I started writing some short story ideas, but it always went back to Romero's work. I finally decided one day to give it a shot, sent out a group eMail to everyone I thought would be interested, and got a huge response. We started filming 6 months later and have never looked back.

BotD: What is your favorite aspect of making the show? (editing, writing, acting, etc)

PD: Years ago, I'd have answered Editing. I believe everything in a film boils down to the editor. And while it is still one of my favorite parts, many other things are special to me.

I love when we wrap for a day's shooting, and everyone is exhausted, but they're happy, and laughing. I love when someone who doesn't think they can act does a scene that brings applause the moment I call 'cut'. And I love that moment when I realize an episode is done, that it exists on it's own, and doesn't need me anymore.

BotD: Do you have any specific training or education when it comes to film making? If so, explain.

PD: None whatsoever, in the traditional sense. Unless is you count almost 42 years of watching horror, drama, and sci-fi films. As an infant, my mother sat me in front of the TV and explained who everyone was on Dark Shadows during it's original run. I still blame her for this! :)

But nothing can really get done properly without trained people. I had worked as a commercial editor before computers were used for cutting, and I have studio experience in assembling media from when I was a musician. But I mainly rely on those in my crew who have gone to film school, who've worked in media and on film sets, for their technical guidance. I also rely on those outside of the film industry to advise me on police procedure, medical terms, and computer programming. When you get everyone together, if it's right, you work as one large, well-trained animal. I can't think of a better way to describe it!

BotD: What would be your favorite weapon to use during a zombie apocalypse? why?

PD: A 9mm Uzi. I used a real one when we were training for the show, and in many scenes that is the real thing I'm carrying. I was instantly impressed by the feel of the weapon, and how (with next to no training) I scored 8 out of 10 hits with it against the farthest targets on the range. With a clip of 30 commonly found rounds, a selective rate of fire, and a track record of reliability, I'd opt for that every time.

BotD: How do you feel about track star zombies?

PD: I get asked this a lot, and for us, it's a hybrid situation. I personally dislike 'fast' zombies, as that tells me they're rabid, not dead. Rabid people are scary, but the Living Dead SCARE me. I think that's an important difference.

On ZH, we have a hybrid, like I mentioned. Linnet Brooks (who plays 'Rebecca') has her Ph.D., and agreed to do the show ONLY if it was 'medically accurate'. And for her, fast zombies would be perfectly normal UNTIL rigor mortis set in. So, we took her advice: our Zombies are as fast and as strong (albeit dead and confused) as they ever were in real life for a good 2-3 hours. Plus, our Zombies re-animate instantly. Which gives you no time to prepare. They're bleeding out one second, and on you the next. Not good.

But for MY personal vote? Let's keep the Zombies true to form, nice and slow and unrelenting.

BotD: What is your favorite piece of zombie cinema?

PD: Romero's "Dawn of the Dead". It's never been topped in over three decades. Zombie perfection. I'm not sure why any of us even try.

BotD: What is your favorite non-zombie horror flick?

PD: This is a tough one, but I have to go with "The Shining". To this day, if that's on, I'll stop what I'm doing to watch it..... and be freaked out almost instantly. King + Nicholson + Kubrick = Brilliance.

BotD: What would be your favorite zombie kill?

PD: In Episode 1, Teri Gudorp ("Teri") grabs actress Monica Beck by the face and snaps her neck. People still yelp when they see (and hear!) that. In Episode 6, Chris Murphy ("Bates") kills actress/model Kim Santiago with a functioning power drill. I'd say those two!

BotD: When you are not working on ZH, what do you with your time?

PD: I try to spend time with my beautiful (and VERY understanding) wife Jeanna. I also do carpentry (I built much of our furniture), write stories, and do accounting for any number of companies. In years past, I've built homes for Habitat For Humanity. I also manage my own production company and plan all our future projects (some zombie-related, some not!)

BotD: What is the future of ZH?

PD: We just finished filming our first season on the evening of 9/11. Production of the second season picks up in mid-2011. A third season has already been written, but elements of it might be incorporated into the second, depending on how the overall storyline evolves.

But so far, everyone who's worked on the first is interested in staying on for the second (to be filmed between 2011 and 2014). So right now, I'm talking a bit of a vacation from the Zombie world, my first in 5 years, to re-charge and figure out where all these characters are going to go next!

Special thanks to Patrick for giving up his time to do this. The guys from ZH are a great bunch, and I always look forward to seeing them at various horror conventions. Check out this little teaser trailer for the show, then Billy Cassidy's (played by Patrick) opening scene below.

Zombie Hunters: City of the Dead Official Website

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Bit About Machete...

     So today, a couple friends (Nate and Alex) and I (Chuck) went on an impromptu trip to the movie theater to see Robert Rodriguez' newest flick, Machete. What an excellent decision it was. I had heard a whole bunch about this movie due to its insane coverage on Bloody-Disgusting. Although its not really a horror movie, I enjoyed it tremendously. The movie had a who's who of actors, including Danny Trejo, Steven Segal, Robert De Niro, Michelle Rodriguez and Jessica Alba. Cheech Marin and Lindsay Lohan also had very funny cameos in the film.
     The film started out as a faux trailer for the famous 2007 dual release, Grindhouse.  Enough people showed interest in the trailer, that a decision was made to turn Machete into a full length feature film. The story is easily followed, and fun to get in to. There was an intense mixture of humor and brutality, which made it all the better. The action is pretty much nonstop, with some pretty barbaric killings. The only thing I wasn't insane about is the use of CGI effects. Although CGI was used, it wasn't overused to look ridiculous.
     Overall, this has to be one of the best movies I've seen in theaters in a good while. The guys and I had an awesome time laughing at the jokes while cringing at the deaths. If you're looking for a bloody good action flick, Machete is for you.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, September 2, 2010

the Re-Animator Series

Stuart Gordon's adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's Herbert West: Re-Animator puts a Night of the Living Dead spin on the classic Frankenstein story. Jeffrey Combs furrows his brow and bugs his eyes as the preternaturally intense Herbert West, a maverick medical student whose gory, gooey experiments cause bloody corpses and body parts to jerk to life. Bruce Abbot is the studious roommate drawn into his extracurricular experiments, which soon involve the dean's daughter (the frequently naked Barbara Crampton) and the college's cadaverous, calculating star professor (David Gale), who literally loses his head over a battle for West's discovery. In this world, that's only a minor setback. Charged with sick gallows humor and a ghoulish gallery of undead beasties, Re-Animator, like Evil Dead II, is one of the most inspired and inventive--and funniest--horror films of the 1980s. Combs, Abbot, and Gale reunite for the almost-as-entertaining sequel Bride of Re-Animator. --Sean Axmaker

The mad Dr. Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs), the tormented Dr. Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott), and the beheaded Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale) return in this terrifying sequel to Re-Animator, the most deliriously outrageous horror movie of the decade. It's been eight months since the Miskatonic Massacre stained the halls with blood - and Dr. West and Dr. Cain's experiments have taken a bizarre turn. Now they have gone beyond re-animating the dead...into the realm of creating new life. The legs of a hooker and the womb of a virgin are joined to the heart of Dr. Cain's dead girlfriend - and the bride is unleashed upon her mate in a climax of sensual horror.

After thirteen years in a prison ruled by a very mean director, Dr. Herbert West is invited to be the assistant of the new-comer Dr. Howard Phillips, a brilliant resident, in the penitentiary infirmary. After being introduced to each other, Dr. Phillips discloses that the last experiment of Dr. West killed his sister thirteen years ago, when he was a boy, and he became fascinated with the possibility of bringing dead people back to life. The journalist Laura Olney, who is covering a matter for her newspaper in the prison, has an affair with Dr. Phillips, and they fall in love for each other. However, the experience of Dr. West looses control and the place becomes a branch of hell.