Earlier this week I had the opportunity to speak over this crazy thing called the internet with Reese Eveneshen, the director/writer of the Canadian NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD remake (Which we reported here), not to be confused with the other upcoming NOTLD remake, NOTLD 3D. The young director is no slouch to the movie game, with several other independent flicks already under his belt. Here's what we talked about!
So how did you get involved in this game in the first place? Is this your first feature film?
No actually this is my sixth feature film. I've always loved making movies, been doing it since I was knee high with the grasshoppers.
What made you think of redoing THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD?
THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD remake seed was planted in my head by my own mother funny enough. I told her the movie was in the public domain, and she asked me over the phone why I hadn't done my own version, (I'm a die hard zombie movie fan). That’s pretty much how it came about. I said to myself "Yeah, why haven't I?"
Die hard zombie fan eh? That’s what I like to hear from the director of a NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD remake!. How does it feel to remake a movie that casts such a big shadow? This is a film that started a genre.
I think it’s pretty damn cool actually. It was the movie that got me into liking this whole genre in the first place. I kind of feel that by making this movie I am sort of saying, "Thanks" in some weird way. I haven't fully felt the pressure; the fans are being very supportive.
That's good to hear. I believe that the saying goes imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. What do you think about the other NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD remakes, and further about zombie movie remakes in general. (Example: DAWN OF THE DEAD, soon to be DAY OF THE DEAD) Do you prefer Romero's '68 NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD or Savini's '90 version, or both for that matter?
I've never really had any problems with remakes. I've always been a big fan of the Savini remake, and yes I very much enjoyed the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake. Anything new is always fine with me, because in the end, it’s just another zombie movie, and I love zombie movies. I will probably be in line to see this new 3D remake.
So you’ve seen the teaser trailer for the Day of the Dead remake?
Yeah I did, it was interesting I'll give it that. I was a little ticked with it at first, because DAY OF THE DEAD has always been a personal favorite to me. But as I mentioned before, I love zombie flicks, so I'll give it a chance. The only thing that really bugged me was the zombies leaping through windows out onto the streets below...looked goofy.
And the Nick Cannon one liner at the end will hopefully end up on the cutting room floor!
[Laughs] Yeah, that was really something. I can't really get over Ving Rhames being in this movie, because he was in Dawn and now he's in Day as a totally different character. Two Dead remakes that he's in, in a span of about three years...odd.
He really seems to be a glutton for the undead. So what are some things we can expect from your version of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD?
A totally different version of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD for one! You can expect to see a little social commentary strewn about in there, and of course the usual stuff...plenty of zombies, some nice moments of gruesome special effects. And at the same time there are some great character moments that capture normal people in a really shitty situation. Oh and no running zombies that sound like Godzilla!
[Laugh] It’s funny that you mention that because my next question was going to be what kind of zombies are you going with? The old school, slow, lumbering zombies or these new, crazy, fast zombies?
No, the classic old school, lumbering zombies that you could probably run past. But as we all know, nobody ever really tries to.
True dat! Now this may seem like a strange question but do any of the characters in your film actually use the term ‘zombie’? I mean it’s a term actually used very little in this genre, and even the British ‘Shaun of the Dead’ made a little joke about using the actual word.
Actually yeah, they do say the Zed word a few times. However we still have the traditional moments where they are referred to as "them” or “they". That always makes me laugh, like how the hell do you not know what they are?
Now did you take any inspiration for this movie from other zombie mediums, like video games (Resident Evil), comics (The Walking Dead), or even books? (Max Brooks "The Complete Zombie Survival Guide")
Funny enough there is a little inspiration from the Max Brooks books, especially “World War Z.”
Did you read the books? What do you think of them?
The zombie survival guide was awesome! I kept reading it in high school and laughing myself silly when I should have been doing work. World War Z was a nice change of pace from the regular zombie fiction, it was dark and serious. And it gave an interesting perspective on the zombie apocalypse.
I love the survival guide too. It’s the reason I keep my hair cut short! Romero once said that he felt that zombies were "the working class monster". What do you think about that statement?
I agree with him, they are the kind of monster that is sort of below the radar so to speak. Not until recently have they really started to be in the lime light. To me a zombie is such a poor depressing monster. They wander around in groups, moan and groan, raise their arms, eat people...not much of a life. It's almost like a silly routine to them, much like the routine working class people have to suffer. They are ignored most of the time, when you have the high profile monsters like Wolf man and Frankenstein, and god knows what else that comes in and steals the thunder from the poor blue collar zombie. What an odd observation. Frankly, I never really stopped to think about it until now.
You seem to have a pretty firm grip on the zombie psyche! So what kind of production can we expect from this movie? When do you think it will be released?
Well the movie will be done by Christmas of this year. As for an official release, who knows what the future holds in store for this movie. It might be a self distributed DVD, and it might have the small run in some little art theatres around the area.
Very cool. Will there be more horror movies in your future after this one, or would you prefer to play with another genre?
Well I kind of like to play in a whole pool of different genres. This summer I did a little horror feature called Escalation, and then followed it up with this. I'm not sure what will come next...maybe a nice family romantic comedy about good morals. HA!
Well Reese I would just like to say thanks for the time and I can’t wait to see your take on NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD!
Hey, it was a pleasure!
I would like to thank Reese for taking time out of his jam-packed shooting schedule and for getting up early on Halloween to talk to me. It was my pleasure to talk to someone so filled with admiration for rotting-maggot infested corpses!