INT: James Dudelson & Ana Clavell

The Arrow interviews
James Dudelson and Ana Clavell

Not so long ago, word on a sequel to Romero's Zombie classic "Day of the Dead" sprang up out of nowhere to bite us fans on the ass. The film is titled "Day of the Dead: Contagium" (see synopsis at the end of this interview) and no word on this sequel had hit the waves until recently. A teaser trailer was also put out and to me, it sported shades of "Children of the Living Dead". Luckily, it was only a teaser shot for the AFM (American Film Market) and not footage from the actual film. Arrow recently hit up the directors of said sequel, James Dudelson and Ana Clavell (thanks to Dayofthedeadmovie.net for the hook up!) , in order to get some info. This is what I got!

ARROW: What’s your favorite horror movie?

Jim Dudelson: Day of the Dead, Dead of Night.

Ana Clavell:  Too many to mention...definitely all of the Dead movies.

ARROW: Who wrote the screenplay for Day of the Dead Contagium and when was it written? 

Jim Dudelson: Ana Clavell (co-director), December 2003.

ARROW: Was George Romero ever approached to be part of the project in some capacity? If not, why not?

Jim Dudelson: I cannot answer the question at this time.

ARROW: Okay...so when and where was the film shot?

Jim Dudelson: April 2004 Norwalk, CA (where parts of the movie “The Ring” was shot” and a location in LA (where parts of “Silence of the Lambs” was shot)

ARROW: Where is it now in terms of production (Post?)

Jim Dudelson: Four months. We hope to have our first screening in November.

ARROW: What was the movie shot on?

Jim Dudelson: 35MM.

ARROW: Can you give us an idea as to how much the budget was?

Jim Dudelson: Not for publication at this time.

ARROW: So who was responsible for the special effects in the picture?

Jim Dudelson: Wells/Marks Media.

ARROW: What’s the ratio in terms of CGI and practical effects in the flick?

Jim Dudelson: About 15-20%; some of them are pretty unobtrusive.

ARROW: Would you say your prequel is “Day of the Dead (original)” gory?

Jim Dudelson: Yes.

ARROW: In your opinion what is the best gore set piece within the film? The one that will blow our fanboy sox off!

Jim Dudelson: Too many to choose from.

ARROW: ...so are there any “name stars” starring in the movie?

Jim Dudelson: No, just good talented actors.

ARROW: Why was the film kept under wraps for so long in terms of the press? I mean, we all just heard about it!

Jim Dudelson: Because I didn’t want the press bothering us while we were shooting.

ARROW: As a director, what were you aiming for on a visual standpoint? Flashy? Gloomy? What not…

Jim Dudelson: Naturalistic; progressively becomes darker and bleaker. The style is fluid with multiple cameras hand-held.

ARROW: Where is the film now in terms of distribution?

Jim Dudelson: We have three offers as of today.

ARROW: When will we be able to see a real trailer (not the AFM teaser)?

Jim Dudelson: In about three weeks.

ARROW: What’s next on your plate as a director?

Jim Dudelson: Creepshow.

Ana: Untitled Horror project and Creepshow.

And that's that on that! I never got a chance to ask if the "Creepshow" project they were going to be working on is a remake of Romero's anthology or not. I pray to Buddha that it isn't.  As for Day of the Dead Contagium...time will tell if it's a steamy pile of shit or a film that could stand tall next to its forefather.


Sometime in 1968 a strange viral outbreak is contained within the walls of a military hospital in Pennsylvania: all those exposed are destroyed and burned to the ground. A wall of silence befalls the incidence, and soon enough only a vague myth remains. The hospital becomes a civilian mental treatment center.

Set in a mental hospital in Pennsylvania, five patients about to be released uncover a secret buried within the compound and unleash a virus (contagium) designed to force Humanity to evolve into powerful creatures capable of astounding feats…and incredible cruelty. In order for this new Human to survive it needs to feed on human flesh: but a bite from these creatures creates a new state of existence, the Creature’s subordinate, the Living Dead. It’s up to our terrified heroes to choose to accept this fate or to fight it, even if it means their own destruction.

Although special effect heavy, the core of the story is both compelling and tragic. It’s the age-old dilemma of transcending our shortcomings and overcoming our fears in spite of what the sacrifice may entail. Day of the Dead: Contagium is homage to the Dead trilogy, it hints at a possible origin to the Zombie phenomena in a manner that incorporates all known lore. It also covers some of the lesser known aspects of the original transformation and it imagines the last moments before the End of Humanity.

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