First Pics, EXCL Comments: Dave Sheridan on Zombie Spoof “WALKING WITH THE DEAD”
With THE WALKING DEAD still knocking out major ratings well into its fourth season, it’s assured that zombie culture will continue to drag itself around the genre landscape for a while. For those tiring of the undead craze however, there’s still one film that you might even be able to appreciate with the most die-hard zombie fan: WALKING WITH THE DEAD, the zombie media spoof from director Scott Dow and star/writer Tim Ogletree.
WALKING WITH THE DEAD promises to break the mold of the schlocky spoofs that reside on DVD shelves everywhere. Luckily, FANGORIA has scored the first official stills from the film, as well as some exclusive comments from the film’s lead, Dave Sheridan, who fans may recognize from SCARY MOVIE and THE DEVIL’S REJECTS.
FANGORIA: For those unfamiliar with the project, what exactly is WALKING WITH THE DEAD?
DAVE SHERIDAN: I just got done shooting the film, and it’s an ultra-low-budget film we shot down in San Antonio. Basically, it’s a spoof mash-up of all of the archetypes you’ve seen lately on zombie films and TV shows, like THE WALKING DEAD. So it’s like what you’d get if the characters from THE WALKING DEAD walked into the characters from ZOMBIELAND, WORLD WAR Z and WARM BODIES. What would happen if they all converged on an abandoned mall, held up there and all had to fend off zombies? It’s as if they all crossed paths in a perpendicular way, in the trajectory of their own storylines.
You’ve got the Brad Pitt character from WORLD WAR Z, I’m playing the Sheriff Grimes character from THE WALKING DEAD and we’ve got another actor playing the Woody Harrelson character from ZOMBIELAND, so it’s like what if these three alpha males, who all think they should be leading the pack, all ended up at this mall together. So they’re going to fight and bicker about who’s the leader, so a lot of pissing in the dirt plays to the comedy there. But because the film is still a zombie movie, and is shot with the cinematography of a zombie movie like 28 DAYS LATER, we played it very dark and edgy.
We still kill a lot of zombies and we’re blowing their brains out while members of our own pack are getting bit and turned into zombies, so it’s not quite as gag-ridden as other spoofs, like the NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE’s of the world. It’s more of a character driven-parody, closer to the original AIRPLANE!, where everyone played their characters close to the chest and had character arcs. As actors, we all played our roles very seriously, as if we were in a zombie apocalypse, but these characters are not meant to meet each other and there’s something perversely comedic about that.
FANG: Does the film directly parody any major moments from those films or does the content exist separately?
SHERIDAN: Yes! In fact, when my character comes out of his coma, I walk out of the hospital and I’m like, “What the fuck? Is this a zombie world?,” but I stumble upon a girl in the parking lot, like that iconic opening from the first episode of THE WALKING DEAD. There’s areas where the humor gets dark, but the film has to be marketable. Anyways, I’m tracking her feet, and I’m like, “Little girl, are you lost? Do you need help?” She turns around, and she’s not a zombie, and because Andrew Lincoln plays Rick Grimes so emotionally on the show, I’m like, “Oh… God. The first zombie I have to kill is a toddler!” And she’s like, “I’m not a zombie, I’m just looking for my parents.” And that’s when I say, “That’s exactly what a zombie would say!” and then I shoot her right in the head.
So that’s when you get the first taste of “What the fuck am I watching? This guy is a moron but he played it so straight.” I then turn around and there’s a guy sleeping in a car, but I think he’s dead, so when he wakes up, he’s like, “Hey, have you seen my daughter?” and I say, “Yes I have,” and shoot him in the head, and I’m like, “Man, these zombies are tricky.” There’s dark humor, but there’s also a lot of fun humor, like the Lori character is a stripper, and we make fun of ZOMBIE STRIPPERS, and Carl’s bartending at the strip club, and I’m like, “You’re a man now,” even though he’s like a 12-year-old kid. It’s gonna be funny, man.
FANG: How was it working with the cast on WALKING WITH THE DEAD as opposed to the cast of SCARY MOVIE or A HAUNTED HOUSE?
SHERIDAN: On WALKING WITH THE DEAD, I worked with a lot of young actors. I was playing the sheriff, so I’m a little older, but most of everyone else was in their 20’s. It was refreshing to work with young actors on something that’s independent where everyone is giving it their all, and there’s a lot of fresh talent coming out of the film that’s going to add value to it in retrospect.
FANG: Considering what the film itself is spoofing, will WALKING WITH THE DEAD be more violent than your regular horror movie spoof?
SHERIDAN: Yes, absolutely. That’s what separates it from other spoof films, besides the fact that it’s shot pretty gritty. The way you kill a zombie is by blowing their head off, so there’s lots of zombies having their heads blown off, but in the spoof part of everything, we realize that zombie’s heads are really soft, so we can crush their heads with pillows. So there’s a big pillow fighting scene where zombie heads are being smashed into pieces and there’s guts everywhere. It’s pretty funny, but it’s still as graphic and violent, except now there are feathers raining down on everything.
You can see Dave Sheridan at the HorrorHound Convention in Cincinatti on March 21st – 23rd, and you can also hear more from Sheridan on Adam Green and Joe Lynch’s podcast, THE MOVIE CRYPT. FANGORIA will also have more exclusive comments from Dave Sheridan on A HAUNTED HOUSE 2, which releases April 18th from Open Road, early next month.