Director/makeup artist talks “THE NEIGHBOR ZOMBIE,” screening in NYC
Made in 2009, THE NEIGHBOR ZOMBIE—Korea’s first excursion into undead cinema—finally sees its U.S. premiere tomorrow night in New York City—and it’s free. Read on for details and words with one of its creators.
THE NEIGHBOR ZOMBIE is an anthology feature, with six segments created by four directors, that plays Tuesday, April 30 at Tribeca Cinemas (54 Varick Street at Canal Street) courtesy of the Korean Cultural Service. Admission is free with seating on a first-come, first-served basis; doors open at 6:30, and the movie begins at 7. The filmmaking friends who put together the project are Hong Young-geun, Ryoo Hoon, INVASION OF ALIEN BIKINI’s Oh Young-doo and his wife Jang Youn-jung, who also handled the makeup and FX. Fango got a chance to speak with Jang when she accompanied THE NEIGHBOR ZOMBIE to Montreal’s Fantasia festival in 2010, where she demonstrated her ghoul-making techniques (pictured below).
Shot on hi-def video for just $18,000, THE NEIGHBOR ZOMBIE is a series of vignettes focusing on individuals affected in various ways by a ghoul-making virus in Seoul—and then goes beyond most films of its type to explore what happens after a cure is found. It’s during this time that Jang’s segment “After That, I’m Sorry” takes place, as the doctor responsible for both the plague and the vaccine deals with both his culpability in the terrible events and a young woman who keeps coming to his apartment to violently attack him. It marks Jang’s directorial debut after a long career on the makeup side, and NEIGHBOR ZOMBIE was Oh’s first time at the helm as well.
“He was assistant director on HWANG JIN YI, a film about a very famous Korean geisha,” Jang recalls. “Then he wanted to direct himself, so he and I went to Thailand so he could work on his own script, but it was not easy for him to finish. So we decided to do NEIGHBOR ZOMBIE instead; I had no work at the time, so we had the opportunity to make a movie. At the start, I was just going to produce and do the makeup, and my husband and his two friends were going to write and direct. But after they made their parts, they were all exhausted, so I wrote and directed the last one.”
The transition from makeup chair to director’s chair was an easy one, she recalls, thanks to the camaraderie among the small filmmaking team. “Since we were all friends, it was like a family, so we were very comfortable. Also, the shooting location was my house. So I wasn’t nervous; it felt natural, because I’d been working in movies almost 17 years, and I felt like a veteran. It wasn’t difficult, since we were all staying at the house, so we would wake up, eat together, the actors came by, they went into makeup and then we’d shoot.” Because of the bloodshed they were capturing, she adds, “Every day was shooting and then cleaning, shooting and then cleaning. The scenes of the characters together took two days, and then the effects shots of the stabbing were one day, and then we did two more days with the main actor. The other segments were also filmed like this, so in all it was 20 days of production.”
Korea has been rife with horror-film production for over a decade now, typically with a supernatural bent but avoiding the living dead. Jang explains why: “People think of zombie films as B-movies, and that they won’t make money. So many people have wanted to make zombie movies, but couldn’t get the financing.” So Jang and co. did it themselves—and New York-area zombie fans should head down to the Tribeca Cinemas tomorrow night to check out the result!