Local ‘Night of the Living Dead’ remake set for Maumee screeningWritten by Brian Bohnert | | email@example.com
“They’re coming to get you, Barbara!”
On Oct. 1, 1968, director George A. Romero released one of the most influential horror films of all time on an unsuspecting American public.
From one coast to the other, drive-ins filled with young men and women who clutched one another in terror as the world ended before their very eyes.
Seven people, from all walks of life, trapped inside an old farmhouse as hordes of the dead rise from their graves and descend upon the once-peaceful property.
With an estimated budget of $114,000, “Night of the Living Dead” would go on to gross $30 million worldwide and usher in a new brand of the horror genre continuing to this day on both big and small screens.
Now, more than four decades later, local filmmaker Chad Zuver is poised and ready to unleash his own take on the black-and-white horror classic with Shattered Images Films’ “Night of the Living Dead.”
Written by Zuver and Sean Gallagher, and shot throughout Northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan, this latest incarnation of “Night of the Living Dead” is a reimagining of the original story starring a multitude of young, budding talent from in and around the Toledo area.
The film, the first produced collectively by Shattered Images Films and Cullen Park Productions, follows a widowed father, Jerry (Lee Godwin), as he takes his daughters Melanie (Rebekka Daniel) and Barbra (Melissa Zahs), and Barbra’s boyfriend Johnny (JJ Lahey) to see his late-wife’s grave.
After a terrifying encounter with a few cannibalistic, reanimated corpses, the group takes refuge in a small, nearby farmhouse with five strangers all fighting for survival.
“This is a different take,” Zuver said, adding his version of the legendary movie will follow a different formula than its predecessors. “The ’68 version is classic, but there’s something missing in it. The fright was there. It was scary; and, in ’68, true fright was all the rage. In the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and now, it’s all about gore and shock value.”
With “Night of the Living Dead” serving as the first feature film under the Shattered Images Films banner, Zuver enlisted fellow filmmaker Michael E. Cullen II as cinematographer, whom he had worked with before on smaller projects.
“Chad’s story is so much different, and that’s the reason I decided to help out,” Cullen said. “If I would’ve read the screenplay and it would have been a verbatim, shot-for-shot (remake), I wouldn’t have wanted to help.”
Zuver did not have a casting call for the film. In fact, two of the franchise’s most iconic roles, Johnny and Barbra, were cast just hours before principal photography began in early April.
“Melissa (Zahs) got the role of Barbra two hours before she was to start filming her scenes, and JJ (Lahey) got his role two days before,” Zuver said, adding both were the third person cast to play their respective characters. “He was already previously a zombie in the movie.”
Not only were the two cast last minute, but neither Zahs nor Lahey had seen the original “Night of the Living Dead” prior to filming.
“I didn’t know any more than his character did, what was going on,” Lahey said. “I think it felt more real to me than it would have otherwise … If nothing else, I think I had a lot of freedom to create an interesting character. I might have felt a little more constricted otherwise.”
A Swanton native, Zuver is hot off the heels of “New Blood Rising,” an early-2014 vampire flick produced by Eye Open Pictures. The low-budget project garnered positive reviews and a somewhat large following locally after premiering at the Maumee Indoor Theatre in February.
To celebrate the release of this latest take on the definitive zombie movie, Shattered Images Films will host a Hollywood-style premiere of “Night of the Living Dead” Oct. 24 at Maumee Indoor Theater. For one night only, horror fans are invited to attend the first-ever screenings of the new film at either 7 p.m. or 9:30 p.m.
“This one stands out the most,” Zuver said of Romero’s original, which was co-written by John Russo. “This is the first production for Shattered Images Films and I wanted to come out doing something huge. I wanted to do something big, and nothing is bigger than ‘Night of the Living Dead.’”
Tickets for each showing are $7.50 per person, and Shattered Images Films will be on hand to sell DVDs, posters, and to participate in a live Q&A session moderated by Cleveland horror show host, Janet Decay.
The premiere is sponsored by: Trapped Toledo, Tom+Chee, Sidelines Sports Eatery and Pub, Thriller Ink, iLink Real Estate Company and JC Comics N More.
For more information on “Night of the Living Dead,” or the film’s premiere, contact Zuver at (419) 270-8435 or by email at ShatteredImagesFilms2013@gmail.com.
For information on future projects from Shattered Images Films, visit www.shatteredimagesfilms.com.
Tags: Chad Zuver, Cullen Park Productions, Janet Decay, JJ Lahey, John Russo, Lee Godwin, Melissa Zahs, Michael E. Cullen II, New Blood Rising, Night of the Living Dead, Rebekka Daniel, Sean Gallagher, Shattered Images Films, Swanton