04 October 2015

Zombie Boy

People often ask me, "What do you do to pass the time up there in New Hampshire?"

Well, when we're not cavorting with moose, celebrating the glories of our granite, and generally living free before we die, some of us make silly movies.

One that I was involved with is called Zombie Boy, which was written and directed by my friend Jamie Sharps. Against all odds, it now has distribution via MVD Media. It should be coming to various streaming platforms soon, and you can order the DVD from most of the places online where you'd order DVDs. (Here's the Amazon link, for instance.) There are even rumors of it showing up in some brick-and-mortar stores.

It's a spaghetti-western-style comic adventure involving people who've been zombified by a green serum. It's not a B movie, it's (intentionally) a Z movie. ("Z for zombie, yeah!" I hear somebody say...) We didn't have much money, and it took a couple years to get it all filmed and then another year to do post-production.

And yes, I am Zombie Boy. 

I've done lots of theatre acting (not so much in the last decade, for various reasons), but had mostly avoided film acting until Jamie called me up and asked me to play the role. I don't like watching myself, don't even like pictures of myself, so I never ached to be a movie actor. One of the prime attractions of theatre for me is that I don't have to see my performance. I said yes to Jamie because it sounded like fun, and he promised it would only be a few weeks of work. It was often fun (and sometimes not; those contact lenses are awful), but it definitely took longer than a few weeks. We spent most of one summer working on it, had a few days of filming that fall, then filmed for a few more days the next summer.

Despite my dislike of looking at myself, I don't mind watching this performance. Partly, that's because it's so over the top. I shamble, mug, and grunt for an hour and fifteen minutes. I watch the movie and I don't see me, so it's not discomforting. It's just some weird guy.

But also, for what it is, I think Zombie Boy is a pretty good movie. The genius of it is that it embodies its concept completely — from start to finish, it's a super-low-budget romp made by people who wanted to do nothing more than make a super-low-budget romp. There's a guy wearing a tattered bear-skin coat and not much else. There are incompetent ninjas. There's a doctor who speaks like a Werner Herzog version of the Swedish Chef. Why? Why not?

I can't tell you how many times I've watched the movie, from looking through the footage when we shot it to helping Jamie with a little bit of the editing to watching it at the local premiere (in the theatre where as a kid I first saw Raiders of the Lost Ark and the first three Star Wars movies, among others, so it was quite a thrill) to showing it to various friends and family members. When I got the finished official DVD the other night, I sat down and watched it again from start to finish, for the first time just on my own. I had intended to watch only five or ten minutes to see how it looked in the MVD version. But I watched the whole thing. Partly because it was fun to see everybody again, fun to remember some of the amusing and/or arduous moments on set, but mostly just because it's great, stupid fun. Sure, there are awkward moments and clumsy moments, but that's part of what this movie is, part of the joy of it. There are also moments that are just ridiculously funny, and there's an energy to the whole that is infectious.

Well, I'm not going to review a movie I starred in (much as I'd like to, because after all, the political ontology the film limns is— okay, I'll stop). There's plenty that could be said about Zombie Boy. But perhaps nothing needs to be said. It is what it is, and, for me, what it is is something I'm thrilled and proud to have been part of.

After the premiere, a friend of mine slapped me on the back and said, "No matter what else you do, they're going to put Zombie Boy on your gravestone." I'm okay with that.