LA Horror Presents: “Rigamortis: A Zombie Love Story”

Ted Campbell, co-director of “Rigamortis: A Zombie Love Story”

LAHorror.com had the pleasure of reviewing “Rigamortis: A Zombie Love Story” and was able to catch up with one of the film’s directors, Ted Campbell, and one of the film’s producers, Matt Olson.  They explained to us the challenges behind the production, which was shot in a mere seven days on a grassroots budget with filmmakers from both the West Coast (Campbell) and the Midwest (Collateral Damage Productions) who largely communicated from their respective locations to create the piece.

“I think that’s one of the amazing things about this film that I hadn’t done before.  Ted was working with us from LA; he was not at the auditions,” Olson told LAHorror.com.  “We cast Max [Glick] without ever meeting him through an online audition test.  We were able to send back and forth versions of the script.  The project was conceived on the Internet and designed for the Internet.  There were points where Jenny [Stolte, producer] and Dave [Dewes, co-director/producer] were in Michigan, I was in Chicago and Ted was in LA.”

And it certainly came out well—let this kind of collaborative effort be an inspiration to young filmmakers.  With some excellent talent behind the script and lyrics as well as amazing music and singing, “Rigamortis” easily has all of the pieces to become a popular musical.

“I would say the glue to the whole entire piece is [composer] Greg [Szydlowski],” Campbell said.  “And then discovering Lisa was like ‘holy shit’…And Max was someone I knew as an actor [and] I had worked with before.  And when we were talking about it I was like, ‘Well, I know the perfect Parker but I don’t know if he can sing’…but he did a quick little camcorder or iPhone video of him singing, like some Britney Spears song or something,” Campbell recalled laughing.

It’s not good to be a zombie in “Rigamortis”

“Rigamortis” certainly holds its own in terms of talent on both sides of the camera—it’s full of it.  And while “Rigamortis” is obviously a zombie movie, it doesn’t exploit the gore factor that is so easy to do.  Part of the reason for that can be behind some of the inspirations for the film itself.

“I think one of the main motivations for the lack of gore is because a big inspiration for this movie is Joss Whedon, and ‘Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog’ specifically,” Olson explained. “The TV shows that really kind of inspired this kind of thing—‘Buffy,’ ‘Angel,’aren’t gory.  They can get the same effect without the gore.  We wanted to make something that everyone can kind of watch and enjoy.”

But that doesn’t mean that true zombie fans won’t appreciate it.  In fact, while it may be a love story first, the idea of the zombie was hardly lost by the filmmakers.

“It’s one of the few movies where you root for the zombies,” Olson said.  “If you’re actually a zombie fan, you’re kind of hard-pressed to find movies where you root for zombies.”

“It’s a hell of a lot of fun…I think there’s definitely a heart at the center of it.  It’s not a parody of zombie movies.  It’s not a farce…there’s a level of appreciation for the genre in it,” Campbell added.

“Rigamortis:  A Zombie Love Story” will be playing at the San Diego Comic-Con this weekend and that’s only the beginning.  “I want to make it a feature,” Campbell said.  Let’s hope so – we’d be dying to see it…

For more behind the scenes videos, please visit this films official website.  “Rigamortis:  A Zombie Love Story” is available for rent and purchase on iTunes.  Also be sure to follow @RigamortisMovie.

LA Horror Review: “Rigamortis: A Zombie Love Story”

The opening frame of “Rigamortis:  A Zombie Love Story” sets a dark and disturbing tone.  An organ blasts an off-key note as you hear a woman scream.  Suddenly, far in the distance, you see her running for her dear life.  And creeping ever so slowly behind her?  A brain eating zombie.  Then a pop.  The zombie’s head explodes from a shotgun blast.  And that’s when everyone starts singing.

Though the first 45 seconds of “Rigamortis:  A Zombie Love Story” feels like a wickedly nasty zombie flick, it is anything but.  It’s a musical that’s charming, funny and full of some seriously witty songs.  It is essentially exactly what the title promises:  a zombie love story.

Our love story begins in a not so distant world where the zombie apocalypse is nearing its end, thanks to the shotgun toting Brock (Boston Stergis).  He has killed all but two of the flesh-eaters and is the hero of his town.  The ladies swoon at his chiseled good looks, the men want to be him and he’s a role model for all of the children.  He single handedly saved everyone – and he’s the villain of this film.  I say villain in the loosest of terms, because our heroes are the last two flesh eaters left: Brock’s recently deceased love Zoey (Lisa Musser) and the cute store clerk Parker (Maxwell Glick), two misunderstood zombies who find each other in the chaos and fall madly in love.  Yes, it’s a zombie-human-zombie love triangle that can only end one of two ways:  the zombies living happily ever after in peace and harmony or with more carnage and death.

Because nearly the entire film is sung, it’s appropriate to begin this review with the music.  It’s excellent to say the least, composed of a blend of hard rock mixed with the classic zombie sounding organs and, naturally, several love ballads, including a beautiful duet between our undead lovers.  It’s fast, fun and always has that horror vibe to it that reminds you that you’re still watching a zombie movie.  The lyrics are operatic in the sense that they are essentially telling the entire story.  They are dense and it probably would take a couple of viewings to pick up on all of the clever puns.  Composer Greg Szydlowski has certainly beefed up his resume with this massive undertaking.

But music can only be as good as the people who are singing it, and luckily for “Rigamortis” they cast actors who could not only give solid performances, but also hold a solid pitch just as well.  The trio of leads are dynamic, and as their story intertwines, the performances grow.  There is a certain amount of comedic and dramatic weight that each brings to the table – the overly confident and cocky Brock, the beautiful and moral Zoey and the cute, but sometimes blood thirsty Parker all play off of each other wonderfully and have no problem keeping things entertaining for the 35-minute duration of the film.  And with a terrific singing and dancing chorus behind them, the film feels much larger than it probably was.

Our anti-hero Brock in the once zombie infested streets…

Directors Ted Campbell and Dave Dewes and the team at Collateral Damage Productions were brave to take on such a large project, given the low budget they had to work with.  Credit goes to the details of this movie, the little things that really make this film memorable.  The little boy that laughs as his face is splattered with his zombie mother’s blood, the zombie kill count hanging in the bar, the hairy chest baby picture of Brock and about 150 other moments that you can continually spot on repeat viewings.

But make no mistake, though this movie is very silly at times, it ultimately takes itself very seriously – and rightfully so.  It’s a complete and thorough piece that has something for everyone to enjoy.  What it lacks in violence and gore, it makes up for in music and song.  What it lacks in genuine scares, it makes up in genuine laughs.  It’s probably the most family friendly zombie movie that I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching, and it feels like at any moment this movie could really blow up.  We don’t endorse romance, comedies or musicals often on LAHorror.com, but “Rigamortis:  A Zombie Love Story” is absolutely worth a view.  So join the zombie parade and get on board with this flick so you can say you saw it first.

“Rigamortis:  A Zombie Love Story” is available for rent and purchase on itunes.  Also be sure to follow @RigamortisMovie.  Review by Hunter Johnson.

LA Horror Review: “Broken Bones”

A couple of months ago, LA Horror sat down with writer Paul Hart-Wilden and talked horror.  Hart-Wilden has written multiple horror films (most recently “Wolf Town”) as well as a collection of short stories that he has assembled in his self-published horror anthology, “Broken Bones.”  Hart-Wilden was kind enough to give me a copy of his “Broken Bones,” which I had the pleasure of reading last week.  Just do yourself a favor and pick up your copy right now because this book is legit.

Horror anthologies are tricky, and while I have read several, there are usually only one or two stories that really stand out and are memorable.  That’s not the case with “Broken Bones,” not by a long shot.  In fact, this past week I honestly haven’t been able to get some of these out of my head, not only because they were well written and interesting, but because they were disgusting and gory in the best ways imaginable.  Necrophilia, rape, brutal murder, hatred, demons, child murder, disease, self mutilation, love lost and even a couple of vampires—this book has just enough of everything to satisfy the sickest of horror fans.

The first story of the book, “The Way of All Flesh,” has some of the most graphic descriptions of human decomposition that I’ve ever had the joy of reading.  You can almost smell the rotting corpse through the pages, and hear the eerie sound of a thousand tiny insects devouring a human body.  Not only that, the story has one of the creepiest and most haunting endings that really opens up the floodgate for the rest of the book.  It is the perfect hook for “Broken Bones” and instantly grabbed my attention, smashed me in the face and gave me a nervous anticipation for the other stories.

“Dark Heart” was another one that really stuck with me.  It is a tale about two morticians who have an unspoken understanding about sexual desires, and how to use their surroundings to satisfy them.  However, things get hairy when one of their relatives, a beautiful young girl, ends up in a coffin.  It is incredibly creepy, has two very developed and interesting characters and a disgustingly ironic ending that really made me shake my head laughing.  Paul Hart-Wilden…you bastard…

“Black and White” was probably my personal favorite for a couple of reasons.  The story follows a young white supremacist named Jimmy and his gang of hooligans as they terrorize and ultimately murder a young black man on a night out.  After committing this crime however, Jimmy starts to notice something changing about him that he can’t control – his skin slowly starts to darken – and now the tables have turned and his gang is after him.  It is an excellent blend of social commentary, horror and heart that has a certain weight as you read it.  Not only that, the ending left a giant boulder in my guts that I can still feel now as I type.

I could go on and on about each story. There really wasn’t a bad one in the bunch.  The thing that made this book as a whole so enjoyable was that each story was horrific in completely different ways and often put my imagination in some very dark places.  Hart-Wilden has no problems creating interesting and developed characters in the span of just a couple short pages, only to thrust them into the worst and most gruesome situations imaginable – spoiler alert – a lot of people die in this book!  And not only was this a horrifying read, it was also interesting.  Many of the stories pointed out the true horrors in our own society in an intelligent way.

And lastly (and most importantly), I just need to emphasize once again, this book is sick.  Seriously sick in all the best ways.  And if you’re sick like me, then I highly recommend getting some “Broken Bones.”