A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (Manhattan Beach totally counts as another galaxy) I was invited to visit the set, along with a few other outlets, of an upcoming horror comedy film and I of course jumped at the opportunity to see what a horror set looked like, hoping it would make me a little less scared of the genre. It is now officially opening weekend so I wanted to let you in on everything I learned about the film!
- FREAKS OF NATURE was originally titled KITCHEN SINK which I actually loved. The film was a genre mash-up and had pretty much ever type of scary character you can think of and is much like that old saying “everything but the kitchen sink” which makes for a pretty funny movie title, but also an understandably confusing one.
- It was also at one point a Black List project by screenwriter Oren Uziel (22 JUMP ST.) The Black List is a list compiled each year of Hollywood’s favorite unproduced screenplays voted on by over 500 film executives and has included films like ARGO, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE & THE KING’S SPEECH. Being on the Black List is how it was found by producer Matt Tolmach who told us.
“I called an executive and said I wanted to read something great, what have you read? it was on the black list, and she said I think it’s brilliant, nobody bought it. To me, this was such a brilliant
combination of two things: it was a genre movie and it’s a bad ass movie about vampires and zombies and other things coming together.”
- The tone of the film is described, by almost everyone we spoke to on set, to that of THE BREAKFAST CLUB if John Hughes had made the students monsters rather just the jock, the nerd and the princess.
- The film takes place in Dillford, Ohio a normal suburban town that happens to have Zombies and Vampires living in it among humans and there is nothing abnormal about it. As a matter of fact it is so normal that the government provides brains to the Zombies and the Vampires can go to their local convenient store to get protection to go out into the sun. Like I said your typical suburban neighborhood.
- The three main characters are teenagers. There is Petra Lane, played by Mackenzie Davis, who is a vampire. Ned Mosely, played by Josh Fadem, who is a Zombie and of course the token human Dag, played by Nicholas Braun.
- The three have a pretty terrible history and at one point Petra and Ned actually tried to kill Dag, but now they will all need to try and put all that behind them and work together to save Dillford.
- Ned didn’t start off as a zombie. He was the smartest kid at school but a bit of an outsider and we all know how rough high-school can be when you don’t have any friends. He takes matters into his own hands and talks a Zombie into biting him so he can become one. Why you ask, well most Zombies really enjoy brains and the Zombies in FREAKS OF NATURE are no different except when these zombies eat brains well they get high so most are addicted. Sometimes this was the most challenging part of becoming Ned, Fadem told us:
“The challenge was keeping track of how rubbery am I in which scene? It’s more of the “oh I got to act? I have to pay attention?’ That’s the hard part. Whenever he eats brains, he gets more Zombied out. At certain parts of the script, I’ll have lines like ‘brain,’ or ‘urg’.”
- Petra once was in with the goth crowd but wanted to raise her high school social standing so she decided to go after the head Vampire (at school. Hanging out with Vampires has the upside of being in the cool crowd but downside of possibly getting bitten and when Petra does, her stock plummets and she is quickly cast aside.
- Dag is your typical human high school boy who is part of the “cool kids” crowd who plays baseball and is dead set on getting ‘the girl.’
- The normal teenage problems are magnified by their transformations. Turning into a brain addicted Zombie is like a kid turning to drugs to deal and Petra being cast aside after getting bitten is much like the girl who looses her virginity and then the whole school is calling her a slut the next day. It is a pretty interesting way to look at the perils of being a high-school student.
- The film has an impressive and hilarious supporting cast which includes Vanessa Hudgens (Lorelai, Dag’s love interest), Bob Odenkirk and Joan Cusack (as Dag’s parents), Denis Leary, Ed Westwick (the head Vampire), Keegan-Michael Key (a teacher), and Patton Oswalt.
- The one thing the film has a ton of is blood and gore. Director Robbie Pickering told us:
“A lot of the gore and kind of comedy is hard R comedy. We’re not going for the middle of the road type shit that you seen a lot of lately. When this comes out, whatever people say about it – one thing they won’t say is that we didn’t go for it. It’s weird, gory and raunchy and really funny. We didn’t want to be pussys about it.
- The whole film was shot in only 36 days!
- Vanessa Hudgens has some serious pipes and not just for singing. On the day we visited the set they were shooting a scene outside of a house where Lorelai (Hudgens) and Dag (Braun) are running into a house, away from something that must be terrifying and we sat and watched as they shot the scene several different times and each time Hudgens screams where pretty amazing. It sounds funny to say but you try it, screaming once or twice is one thing, but doing it over and over again is not always so easy. When she was asked what about the project she liked she told us:
“I read the script and I just loved it. I thought it was a breath of fresh air and it was so fun. I’m a big zombie fan myself so reading the scene when Lorelia comes into a room for zombies, that would be my heaven! The script was what really drew me in.”
- The other awesome thing about being on set was the fact that their were Zombies EVERYWHERE and the make-up team on set took no short cuts. Each and every Zombie was terrifying to just walk by.
- The special effects where also out of this world and really amazing to see. With any Zombie, Vampire, horror movie there is bound to be some body parts and possible decapitation and we got to take an up close and personal look at one of the props they used in the film and you tell me if you think it looks real or not!
To check out all these Zombies and Vampires in real life head to theatres this weekend to check out FREAKS OF NATURE.