Fantasia ’13 exclusive: Zombies and beer in Buddy Giovinazzo’s “OKTOBERFLESH”
“People always ask, ‘Do we need another zombie film?’ And I just respond, ‘Why drink another beer?’ ” So says COMBAT SHOCK and THE THEATRE BIZARRE director Buddy Giovinazzo when discussing his upcoming movie OKTOBERFLESH with Fango at Montreal’s Fantasia, where he and his partners were seeking financing for it in the Frontières International Co-Production Market.
OKTOBERFLESH is set, of course, during Oktoberfest, the annual German beer festival attended by six million people. One of them is American tourist Tim Drake, who falls for beautiful local barmaid Rasi just before an undead outbreak hits the event. Tim manages to escape and finds his way to a castle inhabited by a trio who have set up a paradise within its walls, which becomes corrupt as the ghouls mass outside. “It’s about the breakdown of society,” Giovinazzo tells us. “It’s set in a violent world where things get really graphic and shocking; I don’t go in for the entertaining violence too much. And as in all my films, I’m trying to create very realistic characters whom you understand and have some type of sympathetic element, and we’re looking to get the best actors we can for them.”
The project was brought to Giovinazzo, who currently resides in Germany, last summer by producers Christoph Ito Herrmann and Matthias G. Nerlich, who oversaw postproduction on the director’s THEATRE BIZARRE segment I LOVE YOU. “They pitched me the idea, and it took me about four seconds to say yes,” Giovinazzo recalls. “I love zombies and was looking for a hard genre film to do, and it was a perfect fit, because I knew I could bring in a culture that was strange to me and yet was my home, while making a big zombie movie. Matthias and Ito and I had a working relationship we really enjoyed; we work very well together. They had a treatment and initial artwork, and then I brought my own ideas; I said, ‘Let’s make [the hero] an American backpacker, open it up and do it as an international film in English.’ We’ve been working on the script for a little less than a year now, and we feel really good about it.”
While the undead have overrun the media in recent years, Giovinazzo believes, as stated above, that there’s always room for another good vehicle. “That subgenre has been done so many times,” he acknowledges, “but it’s something people love, and the thing is, it’s not that zombie films are bad; it’s just that there are bad zombie films. But every time you think you’ve seen so many lousy ones, a great one comes out of nowhere that makes you think, ‘My God, I love the genre.’ The zombie film is almost like heavy metal: You have speed metal, you have progressive metal, you have death metal, you have black metal. They’re always going to be around, and I’m just happy to be part of that right now.”
With the production team in place, Giovinazzo and co. are seeking additional funding for OKTOBERFLESH. “We can’t finance completely out of Germany, because it’s an international film; it’s bigger than just the German market at this point,” he says. “Horror isn’t a big genre in Germany, so we’re looking for international partners.” For more info, see the movie’s official website.