Sunday, April 11, 2010
Dollar Bin Horror Spotlight - Attack of the Vegan Zombies! (Screener Review and Interview)
Dionne Talbott and her husband, Joe Bryant, own and operate a family vineyard. After yet another failed crop, Joe wants to give up on their dream and sell the vineyard. Dionne solicits the help of her mother Audra, a practicing witch, who casts a spell on the farm. The following year they have such a bountiful harvest that they hire an old friend, Professor Frank, to help them pick the grapes. Professor Frank gets four college students to join him over the weekend. While working, they begin to notice phenomenal growth rates for the vines. Professor Frank ventures into the woods to investigate the water supply after their neighbor disappears. Dionne becomes suspicious and confronts her mother about the exact nature of the spell. Audra finally admits to her and Joe the potential threat it brings: the vegetation may attack people and turn them into zombies! They immediately summon the four students inside the house for their own safety. After Joe finds Professor Frank's bag in the woods, they reach the conclusion that he may be a zombie. Their fears are compounded when their missing neighbor emerges as a zombie and attacks Joe and Dionne. They retreat to the house only to realize that it has become a prison. Unable to flee or call for help, they must stand and fight the vegan zombies the only way they can: by concocting a counter spell and face the zombies in their own fields.
This unique take on the zombie story is a fun and entertaining film. The acting is pretty good for a low budget affair, it is shot beautifully, and the writing is very professional. The film has a slow paced beginning, which usually would annoy me, but I felt that in this film it was necessary for the viewer to get the full story. When the film does begin to pick up the pace, it reminded me a lot of the great late 70' early 80's b-films with the close up shots of the vines moving and the vines overtaking the cars. The acting, especially of the two dorky boys, really sets that b-movie kind of mood through out the film as well. The zombie make up is a bit on the mediocre side, say for the neighbor zombie, he looked pretty cool. The other ones were just painted green, they reminded me more of the wicked witch than zombies. But the acting overcomes that and you truly get the feeling of fear with a touch of hilarity. The other effects weren't too bad at all, the decapitation was well done and I like the green blood effect! My one problem with the film is the title (although it's catchy as hell, ain't it?) because it is a bit misleading. The zombies are made from cursed plants, and have a taste for fine wine, but they're far from vegan. If you have even a hint of wine in your system, they forgo the conventional means of drinking and go for your sweet tasting ass! This film is simply fun to watch and will make for an entertaining movie night, so go check it out!
Jim Townsend, the writer/director/producer/actor/superman took the time to answer a few questions for you all to enjoy!
Q: How did you ever come up with such a unique idea for a film?
A: One day my neighbor, who knew that I had an extensive background in independent movies, told me that he had a friend who owned a winery and they were willing to let me shoot a movie there. About forty five minutes west of Richmond, Grayhaven Winery in Gum Spring, Virginia was ideally located. So I went out there and looked around. I met with Max Peple Abrams and her husband Deon Abrams. I was immediately interested because of the number of locations offered at a single place. There was a barn, a winery tasting room, a bottling room with enormous wine tanks, a house, corral, horses, woods and acres of vineyards. I had several long conversations with them before trusting that they were reliable. Often people commit to working on a film without realizing what they are getting into. Max and Deon were the real deal.
Q: What was it like to shoot the film on such a beautiful location?
A: Zombie fans are so dedicated, that the genre has become very profitable. So I knew I wanted to make a zombie movie. Once I had a location, I literally wrote a script to fit it. That way we could show up, shoot all day and not have to worry about loading up, running all over town and losing precious shooting time going from set to set. So I basically wrote the script to match the location that was available to me. And what a location! Everything there looks so nice. Not only did it give me great locations, but once I showed it to the Director of Photography, Max Fischer and Production Designer Eric Weiss, they immediately took more interest in the project. Max liked it because anywhere he pointed the camera, he had a shot. Eric loved it because the sets were all there and he has tons of props on site to work with. Also, they run a catering business so we ate lunch on the location every day and the food was great. That is often overlooked on low budget films. It's a real problem and it shows up on the screen.
Q: The film was both funny and suspenseful at times without overwhelming the viewer in either genre, how did you manage to balance the two out so well?
A: I wanted the movie to be campy. As I wrote the script the characters started to take on lives of there own. Funny lines just started popping up where I least expected them. The only conscious effort I made was not to go overboard from camp to farce. I'll give you an example. In one scene in the wine tank room, the characters are fighting. We had these small wooden barrels that were in the room and Max Fischer and Eric wanted to roll them at the characters so they could jump over them like in the old Donkey Kong video game. It was one of the few times I was inflexible and put my foot down. I knew that if we went that far overboard, there would be no going back to genuine suspense.
Q: Where can we learn more and what future projects are you working on?
A: As far as future projects go, I have to sell at least ten thousand copies of Attack of the Vegan Zombies! before I consider financing another movie myself. That's my break even point. I have about nine thousand, nine hundred and fifty to go. I am working on a script now, but it's a big budget one so there's no way I can make it myself. I enjoy writing, though.
The film can be purchased directly from the website, www.attackoftheveganzombies.com, and the film has an official Fabebook (Attack of the Vegan Zombies!).
And why not Check out the official trailer!