Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Old and New Faces in the World of Zombie Films

This summer’s Land of the Dead was one of the best zombie films to be released. Whereas almost all zombie films deal with the day everyone becomes a zombie, Land of the Dead looks further into the future, at how humans have learned to adapt. Like always, George Romero throws in some social commentary, but his end result is a beautiful gore fest that isn’t too preachy.

While the good news is that Land of the Dead comes out on DVD in an unrated director’s cut on October 18, there is a bit of cooler news in the world of zombie film. Keep an eye out for Pathogen, and for Emily Hagins.

Emily Hagins is not yet a household name in cinema, but very soon she will be a solid presence in cult cinema for sure, at the ripe old age of 12! Emily was awarded a $1,000 grant from the Austin Film Society to produce her film Pathogen, a feature-length zombie film.

I first heard about Emily through Ain’t It Cool News, when the award was announced. I thought it was an amazingly cool thing. There is now a Pathogen Web site, with news and a trailer. I have to say, having only seen the trailer, it looks low budget but good. In fact, it looks a lot better than a lot of the “cult classic” horror films I’ve rented. (Jugular wine, anyone? That film had Frank Miller, Henry Rollins AND Stan Lee in it, and it was still unbearable.) The rough cut of the film has been completed, and it’s awaiting a final edit and score.

I realize the talent was probably supplied by a lot of her friends, but the use of kids in horror is always a nice touch. I’m reminded of a particular Halloween when we drove out to Detroit to visit some haunted houses. They were fun, slick, expensive productions that cost us $10-$12 a pop. They were nice, and cool, just not that scary. After we drove back to Kalamazoo, we went to a $2 Jaycees haunted house held at a local school. One particular room featured a guy in a butcher’s outfit chopping up real meat, surrounded by a stack of cages and crates with real children screaming in them. It was unnerving; although you knew it was just a haunted house, there is something about children in danger, even in mock danger, that hits us on a subconscious level. That’s true horror.

I don’t know what sort of distribution Pathogen will receive but I will try to post any new information here. You do owe it to yourself, as well as the support of independent horror, to check this movie out, should it come to a local art house or cult video store.

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