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The living dead are here to stay, and British filmmakers Kevin
Gates and Michael Bartlett, directors of 2006’s THE ZOMBIE DIARIES, are back in
the arena and fighting fit with the sequel THE ZOMBIE DIARIES 2: WORLD OF THE
DEAD. The original was a huge success in America, which led Gates and Bartlett
to receive the backing to create the ambitious and—and it must be
said—excellent hardcore splatter sequel (out today on DVD and Blu-ray from
Dimension Extreme) that will satisfy the most demanding gorehound. The best
just got better, and we’ve got some exclusive pics and comments from Gates.
Following up on the first movie, ZOMBIE DIARIES 2 opens in a
UK gripped by a zombie epidemic. Society, law and order have broken down. There
is panic. The army has ceased to exist, while pockets of armed resistance do
their best to reach the coast and escape the doomed country. The government’s
final gesture against the walking dead is a nuclear apocalypse that will ravage
the land. Like its shuffling inhabitants in search of human flesh, the UK is
dead, and the rest of the world may follow.
“At the time, we were quite stunned by it all,” Gates tells
Fango in a Hertfordshire pub, reflecting on the first DIARIES’ success. “I
remember in 2006, just as we had finished editing, news broke that George A.
Romero was going into production with DIARY OF THE DEAD, a film identical in concept.”
Needless to say, the timing was perfect. Imagination Worldwide sold Gates and
Bartlett’s movie across the globe; The Weinstein Company had purchased the U.S.
rights to Romero’s DIARY, and subsequently put in an offer for ZOMBIE DIARIES
that was too good to refuse. When a sequel beckoned, Metrodome and the
Weinsteins co-financed it. “As filmmakers,” Gates recalls, “we had grandiose ideas
to really build upon the success of the first film, and go back to the world of
THE ZOMBIE DIARIES on a bigger scale to see where we could take it.”
Though still a low-budget production, THE ZOMBIE DIARIES 2
has an epic approach in terms of production, weaponry, crew and splatter. On
the military side, the filmmakers strove for authenticity, and wanted real
British army guns and uniforms and for the actors needed to move and act like
real soldiers. “Andy Biddle came on board as military advisor,” Gates says. “He
served in Iraq and Kosovo and has worked on films and television productions
for a number of years, including BAND OF BROTHERS, so he had the experience of
working with military-advisor heavyweights like [PLATOON’s] Dale Dye. “Andy’s
company, M.A.C.S. Entertainment, also supplied all the weaponry,” he continues.
“Although we were realistic with the SA80s, I wanted a little creativity on the
armament side, so I selected two of my favorite guns and worked them into the
script: the Remington pump-action shotgun that Leeann [Alix Wilton Regan]
carries, and Private Kayne’s [Vicky Araico] C96 Mauser Broomhandle. The influence
for those two weapons came from John Carpenter’s ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, one of
my all-time favorite movies.”
Being a fan of Italian genre cinema, Gates was inspired
visually by some of its more obscure examples; the costume design of the
soldiers’ hazmat suits, for example, was influenced by the likes of
ZOMBI 3. There’s also a homage to Bruno Mattei’s RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR near the
end of the film, albeit an unintentional one, as Gates explains: “The final
shot of the hazmat soldiers is very similar to one in RATS, but purely by
accident. I love playing these little jokes on people, as I think this shot is
awesome, and none of the cast have a clue what I’m talking about when I say it
was inspired by RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR. Bruno would have been proud!”
Indeed, THE ZOMBIE DIARIES 2 is a horror film made by horror
fans; its apocalyptic stance is chillingly realistic, and it pulls no punches
when it comes to delivering the sangue. The movie has been successful in its
theatrical and DVD release in the UK, and the Hertfordshire lads are off and
running for the final film in the trilogy. But for now, revel in a slaughterhouse
of horror with THE ZOMBIE DIARIES 2.
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