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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Zombie Update: ZMD Q&A with Doug Fahl

Posted By on October 27, 2009, 5:33 PM

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With all this crazy zombiness going on, Brandon's Big Gay Blog wanted to get to the bottom of it!

ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction is currently making the festival rounds. It has yet to be screened in Salt Lake City, but from what I gather, it's a sociopolitical parody dealing with modern America's universal paranoia. Plus, it looks really freakin' funny.

Doug Fahl, who plays Tom Hunt in the movie, shares some of his thoughts.

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Brandon's Big Gay Blog: Why are zombie movies so popular these days? Is there something about the zombie lifestyle that today's audiences can relate to?

Doug Fahl: I think zombie movies are popular because zombies can represent lots of different things. They are dead and brainless usually. So they can represent consumers (Dawn of the Dead) or obstacles to overcome or sheepish follower types.

In ZMD, zombies are just used as a catalyst to get our main characters trapped into small spaces with others so they can deal with their need to find someone to blame. The social issues (racism and homophobia) come out when the characters are forced to cohabitate with each other. This is very much in the tradition of Romero's Night of the Living Dead.

But zombies can be used as a tool to illustrate any statements the directors are trying to make. They don't have personalities like vampires and werewolves. They don't struggle with conflict. They merely wander about and allow the director and writer to shape them into either scares or statements.

BBGB: Is ZMD a "gay zombie" flick, or is it something else? What makes ZMD different from other movies in the genre?

DF: ZMD is not a "gay zombie" flick. I mean, it isn't like tranny zombies running around or campy gay characters at a bar screaming as they run from zombies.

The film does have two gay characters (played by myself and Cooper Hopkins). The film deals with the difficulties that gay people have coming out to their family and dealing with the societal and religious mores surrounding the gay culture.

This is only half the plot of the movie. The other half covers Frida, (Janette Armand), who struggles against the town's bigotry and racism. She is an American of Iranian decent who appears to get blamed for the zombie epidemic by some small-minded individuals.

What makes ZMD stand out from other zombie movies are the political points it examines. The treatment of the gay and minority characters is different from almost any horror movie out there. It has something to say about post 9/11 culture and the hysteria of people when a crisis of that magnitude hits their hometown. Additionally, the movie is very funny and has some of the most inventive gore sequences of any zombie movie to date.

Oh, that, and the fact that I'm not in any of those other zombie movies. If you want to see me, this is the one you have to watch.

BBGB: What about sex appeal? Do audiences get to see Tom Hunt (Doug Fahl) in a torn shirt?

DF: Unfortunately for the world at large, audiences won't get to see my manly physique. Not because it isn't a site to behold, but the storyline just didn't ever put Tom Hunt in a situation where he needed to be shirtless.

In fact, it was so cold shooting in October/November that I may have objected to any sort of loss of clothing. An early draft of the script had me tear my shirt off to make bandages for a dying person, but that got cut.

However, I do reek of sex appeal throughout the movie. I do have a man-on-man kiss, which may pique some audience members' arousal. There is a little male erotica in the film. And many audience members also find Frida very hot.

BBGB: Has this movie been rated by the MPAA? What effect will all this sex and violence have on America's youth? What about the children?

DF: The movie has received an R rating by the MPAA for gore, suggested drug use, language and some other such things. I don't know; it doesn't really matter -- do you want your zombie movie to be rated PG? I don't think so. They are so much more fun when the censors don't run wild.

As for the youth of America? I say, watch less news and entertainment shows, and you will dramatically reduce the amount of sex and violence you are exposed to. If you come see ZMD, you will get a lot of gore, not much sex, and I don't think anyone will leave any more violent than when they came in.

BBGB: Any news on the Sundance front? When can Salt Lake City audiences expect an opportunity to see it?

DF: Sundance was one of the first festivals we applied to when the film was still in its post-production phase. They passed on the film, and I don't believe it is eligible to be considered again.

The film has gotten rave reviews all over the country and in Canada, Finland and Germany. I don't know what Lionsgate/After Dark pictures has planned for ZMD. I do know that they will release it for limited showings in 30 major markets. I would imagine Salt Lake is on the map there somewhere. But if it doesn't play in theaters, it will definitely be available on DVD in the spring and it will also play on IFC and SyFy networks later in the year.

Viewers who would like the latest information can find it on the ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction Facebook or Myspace pages, or they can check the website. Additionally, people can join my fan page on Facebook or check out my site.

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