Director: David J. Francis, Mike Masters
Screenplay: Mike Masters
Cast: David J. Francis, Mike Masters, Stephen Papadimitriou, Stephannie Hawkins, Lloyd Kaufman
Producers: David J. Francis, Mike Masters, Stephen Papadimitriou
Distributor: Primal Films
If something’s going to prevent underground filmmaker David J. Francis from making his latest opus, it certainly won’t be a worldwide attack by the flesh-eating living dead. Eager to conclude his Zombie Night trilogy, a series initiated well before corpses began crawling out of their coffins, he teams up with his faithful producer Mike Masters to pursue the ingenious idea of capitalizing on the cannibalistic catastrophe. Rather than cake a bunch of extras in latex and fake blood, the two pals figure they’ll make use of the real thing, upping the realism of their efforts and at the same time saving them a bundle in makeup costs. Seeing what a brilliant epic they have on their hands, Mike asks another friend to shoot a making-of documentary, following their small team through their cinematic adventure. Judging by the footage he captures, it’s clear that things haven’t quite worked out as expected. On top of tackling the bloated egos of his technicians and maintaining a degree of harmony among his actors, David displays exceptional resourcefulness when team members ditch him and side with the living dead. Whatever, man—a few changes to the script, a careful avoidance of inconvenient zombie bites and hey, everything else can be fixed in the editing room.
Last summer, Fantasia offered a spotlight called Playback in Black, dedicated to the reality-horror genre. Recognizing a sudden surge in gory genre films disguised as documentaries, we elected to highlight it with a trio of exemplary works. The inclusion of REEL ZOMBIES this year proves that wave hasn’t lost its bite and that the filmmakers haven’t hit a wall as far as paths to explore go. For all its cannibal carnage, this mockumentary leans towards the satirical side, offering a wry assessment of the headaches and horrors of low-budget filmmaking. Like the 2007 Fantasia offering ASSMONSTER by Bill Zebub, REEL ZOMBIES dives headfirst into self-parody, touching on every problem an indie director might encounter in his or her work, the undead excluded. With a very likeable cast, derisive laughs and numerous winks at classics of the zombie genre, REEL ZOMBIES is an improbable but inspiring lesson in filmcraft proving that passion and dedication can overcome all obstacles—even the ones that want to chomp your brain out!