“Nothing Kills A Buzz Like A Zombie Attack!” This is the catchy tagline for the movie Zombie Drugs, a film where comedy intersects with the horror of zombies created by recreational drugs. Vinny and Sebastian decide to set up shop in the only industry they know — the drug business. With the help of Sebastian’s jealous ex-girlfriend and her rich best friend, they set out to produce and sell a drug that gives a perfect high. The four of them take on the drug world, fighting mobsters, frat boys, and yes, even the occasional zombie.
Just when we thought we knew everything about hanging out with the undead, Zombie Drugs gives us a bit of a new spin on zombiedom. Creator Alex Ballar and producer Beau Nelson of Manginity Films sat down with TMP to discuss their film Zombie Drugs and tell us a little bit about their thoughts on the undead.
Zombie Drugs (2011) - Max, a nerd turned zombie after overdosing on the Zombie Drugs.
TMP: The idea that a recreational drug could turn you into a zombie is a pretty unique concept. How did you come up with the idea for Zombie Drugs?
Alex: The idea came from my childhood. I grew up around recreational drug users and some who went too far at times. I noticed how they were transformed; for some to the point of no return; others loosened up and became more of themselves, which is where the humor comes from in the movie. Years back I was at a friend’s house who was a filmmaker and he exposed me to the world of zombies. He was an avid fan — he had comic books, movies, t-shirts; you name it. I was immediately drawn in. I knew then I wanted to make a zombie movie, but I also didn't want to regurgitate what was already
done so well.
TMP: What motivated you to make this particular movie?
Alex: I believe Zombie Drugs will have find an audience and strike a chord with fans of many genres. Plus it was a lot of fun to get the opportunity to have actors to pull off some of the wacky stuff this script required.
TMP: Zombies seem to be a hot topic right now. What is it about zombies that we as a culture find so fascinating? Is that what fascinates you about zombies?
Beau: I think, in general, society wants to use their imagination; whether it’s E.T., vampires, werewolves or zombies. As kids we were fed fictional stories all the time. Think, Little Red Riding Hood, The 3 Little Pigs, Mother Goose, etc. Of course those are all tall tales, yet I can recall how fun (or scary) it was to imagine it being true. What makes zombies fascinating? Could it be that they’re contagious? One bite and you’re part of the gang? Maybe we’re fascinated with the fact they look like sick people? Or possibly there’s something satisfying about the simplicity of the zombies’ cravings and impulses. While these slow moving creatures should never be able to catch us, they still find a way to slowly force us into a claustrophobic sensation, don’t they? I’d say a combination of all those things makes a zombie the continued go-to creature in our society and are exactly the things that I’m fascinated about. What should be interesting to see is if the zombies continue to stay around the big and small screen, and how will our new generation of zombies take shape. Will they fall in love, go to school, or maybe become super heroes?
Zombie Drugs (2011) - Kara endures the zombie state of too much Zombie Drugs.
TMP: There’s no question that zombies are frightening, but what gave you the idea to give Zombie Drugs a comedic turn?
Alex: I think it was purely my sensibility. I tend to be drawn to dark comedy and find humor in the darkest of scenarios.
TMP: Is Zombie Drugs a parable that warns against the dangers of drug use?
Beau: As a matter of fact, Zombie Drugs does make some sort of attempt to warn against the dangers of drug use. However, the film doesn’t so much throw it in your face or preach to anyone that drugs are going to ruin your life. At the same time, we’re not making any attempts to encourage the use of drugs either. Zombie Drugs shows drug use in more of a comedic way that I like to call very relatable. Much of our target audience has experienced or knows of someone who has experienced drugs. The character Sebastian has one intention in life; start a drug business to have a limitless supply at his disposal. Vinny on the other hand, is coming to terms that drug use has no positive effects. I think this gives a great deal for the audience to relate to. And yes, of course, throughout the film the characters take on more of a zombie-like form which should heed some sort of warning of drug use.
Zombie Drugs (2011) - This is what happens when you take too much Zombie Drugs.
TMP: It can be said that zombie movies are representative of man’s freedom to choose vs. man’s loss of will, and that loss of will is the epitome of the fall of mankind. How do you feel about this perspective?
Beau: That’s an interesting question. Prior to working on the film Zombie Drugs, I had never actually researched the term “Zombie”. I thought by the years and years of seeing zombie movies, I knew exactly what a zombie was. The majority of the audience would likely define a zombie as “a dumb monster who likes to eat flesh.” While mostly true, there’s actually a lot of scientific evidence that supports the idea that a zombie is really a man’s loss of will to control their own thoughts, beliefs and behaviors; usually through the use of mind altering drugs. Whether or not that would be the epitome of the fall of mankind can be argued in so many political ways, I’d rather not start any arguments today. But depending on your perspective and who’s in charge of controlling the zombie-like behavior, couldn’t one also argue that it may be the fall of mankind as we know it, but also the uprising of a new form of mankind? Could it be possible, given the scientific definition, that we actually have zombies among us? Maybe not the “dumb monster who likes to eat flesh”, but consider those on heavy psychotic drugs (who may very well need them) in some mental health facilities. Have we made zombies?
TMP: Do you think zombie movies are really just social commentaries disguised as horror movies?
Beau: It’s really tough to say what the motivation is for most of the stories. I most certainly wouldn’t be surprised if there was an underlying message trying to be sent. One could argue that the origination of zombies came from a source suggesting not to be subject to conformity and following the masses. It could make sense since we consistently see a small group of individuals trying to escape the mass group. Maybe it’s symbolic for choosing your own path, rebelling against the government, choosing your own religion, beliefs, etc. If that were to be true, then I could agree that disguising it as a horror movie or something to fear would make sense.
Zombie Drugs (2011) - The infamous burial of a loved one who has overdosed on Zombie Drugs.
TMP: Other than zombies being created by a recreational drug, does Zombie Drugs pretty much adhere to the zombie mythos?
Alex: I’d say so. In regards to the zombie genre in general serving as a reflection of mankind, Zombie Drugs is right there and the drug aspect is just topical for the times we live in.
TMP: What scares you the most about zombies? Is this fear reflected by your film?
Alex: What scares me the most is the idea of being consumed; losing myself and being taken over. Yes, this can happen with drugs, but it can also happen with normal things, like work, relationships, etc. I think it's safe to say those themes are present in the film.
TMP: Other than Zombie Drugs, what is your favorite zombie movie? Did it influence you in any way in the making of this film?
Beau: I tend to really enjoy a lot of zombie movies from the classics to the new stuff. Night of the Living Dead has always been a favorite. Zombieland, Day of the Dead, 28 Days Later, Cemetery Man, Dawn of the Dead, etc., etc. are all great flicks. And, of course, I’ve become quite the fan on The Walking Dead on AMC.
TMP: Can we look forward to more from the Zombie Drugs universe? A sequel perhaps? What projects do you have lined up in the future?
Alex: Possibly. We have brainstormed some possibilities where the characters could go and/or a new breed of zombies. Currently, pitching Redress (www.redressmovie.com) to some investors; hope to have that funded and in production by years end. It's a psychological thriller between a cop and a serial killer in the vein of Seven meets Frailty. Also, producing and acting in a hysterical mockumentary: Bring Me the Head of Lance Henriksen that deals with ageism in the B-movie star world. It is being directed by award winning director, Michael Worth and stars legendary actors: Tim Thomerson, Adrienne Barbeau, and Lance, of course.
Starring Beau Nelson, Wolfgang Weber, Susan Graham, Natalie Irby, and Alex Ballar, Zombie Drugs wrapped up production March 15, 2011 and will have limited theatrical viewings in major cities.
Zombie Drugs (2011) - Nothing kills a buzz like a zombie attack!