Modern movie zombies are, essentially, products of the American imagination; for proof, one needs to look no further than Pittsburgh, Pa.-based filmmaker George A. Romero's seminal 1968 film, "Night of the Living Dead."
However, over the past several years American filmmakers have been beaten at their own game, as it were, by artists from across the pond willing to push the zombie genre into unchartered waters. In 2002, Scottish director Danny Boyle scared the world with the diseased, sprinting hordes of "28 Days Later," and in 2004 the powerhouse English comedy team of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright lovingly poked fun at the undead masses with "Shaun of the Dead."
Now it's time for "Colin" to lurch across the Atlantic and show audiences that there's still a spark of life left in the tales of the undead.
The debut feature from writer-director Marc Price, "Colin" stands out from the pack of other zombie films of recent years by telling the focused, chilling and moving story of a single zombie (the title character, played by Alastair Kirton) as he shambles his way through a post-zombie apocalypse landscape. Most zombie films end with the lead human's demise; for "Colin," it's only the beginning.
The film, which had its U.S. debut earlier this month at the ShowRoom on Cookman Avenue in Asbury Park, will be returning to the theater for a screening at 10 p.m. on Friday (Sept. 25). Metromix Jersey Shore recently chatted with Price, who said that he knew finding a new approach to the traditional zombie story would be the key to his film.
"I kind of loved the idea of a zombie siege sort of movie, but ... the formula seems to be in most cases, ‘What exciting new location can we find for humans to get picked off one by one until the last person survives or dies?' And there are still plenty of amazing locations and there's also really incredible writing that's going on," Price explained, citing the 2008 British TV "Dead Set," which focuses on a group of "Big Brother" contestants unaware of the zombie apocalypse happening outside, as an example of the strong work currently being done in the genre.
"Finding a new angle on the zombie genre was definitely most important and the idea of doing one from a zombie's point of view, I mean, I thought it would've been done before," Price said. "And when I looked into it I had actually missed Andrew Parkinson's ‘I, Zombie' (1998) when I was doing what I thought was like diligent research. But I ended up not finding anything aside from a few comics and a couple of computer games and I thought, ‘All right, this hasn't been done in movies so let's give it a go, let's see what we can do with it.'"
However, during its 18-month production "Colin" came to redefine the term "low-budget": when all was said and done, the film's price rang in at about £45, or $70, an achievement Price still seems modest about.
"Well, the plan was not to really spend any money at all," he explained. "I was in an overdraft when we started making the movie and I'm still in overdraft now. I think the idea was that we didn't have any money to spend."
What did the $70 go towards? According to Price, it paid for the tea, biscuits and coffee of folks who came down on Sundays to work on the film, a pack of mini-DV tapes he thought he would need on a certain day but ended up not using and a crowbar, which he described as the film's "most extravagant expense."
"I think one day I kind of thought, ‘Look, we need a crowbar to bust a zombie's head open,' and I don't own one, I don't know anyone who owns one, why would we ever need to own a crowbar? I don't break into many doors, that seems to be its primary function," he said, explaining that he sent a friend to pick up the crowbar for him. The friend later told him the prop set him back £20, only to reveal at the Cannes Film Festival (more on that later), that it had only really cost £7.99.
"I think we're as guilty as every other movie of wasting money and sending ourselves phenomenally over-budget, except we planned to make it without spending any money," Price said. "By spending a penny we're over-budget, so that makes it what, 150,000 or 45 million per cent over budget? I don't know, something like that."
However, during the epic penny-pinching production, Price and his crew still found time to pay tribute to one of the artistic ancestors of "Colin": Bub, the lovable and (relatively) high-minded zombie that plays a pivotal role in Romero's 1985 film "Day of the Dead."
"There's a little coffee shop that (Colin) stands outside of (in the film) called Sherman's Coffee and we replaced the name of the existing coffee shop with that as a sort of reference to Howard Sherman, who played Bub in ‘Day of the Dead,'" Price revealed. "And yeah, ‘Day of the Dead' was definitely something, I think, that really struck a chord with me."
Earlier this year Price brought "Colin" to France's illustrious Cannes Film Festival. According to the director, it was at the festival where buzz starting building around the film -- thanks in part to its low budget -- and it's something he still feels anxious about.
"It's just circumstance, I guess," Price said. "It was a relatively quiet Cannes because of the global economic crisis (and) I think our story just had something that applied and so it took off; it's very strange, it's just a bit odd for me. I'm kind of terrified because I made this movie with a camcorder with my friends; I kind of feel like I'm on the verge of being exposed for being this fraud when people see the movie and go, ‘Wait a minute, this was shot on a camcorder, what the hell?' and I get lynched."
For more information on "Colin," and to check out the film's trailer, visit the film's official Web site.