FILMMAKERS TALK LAST RITES ZOMBIES
PHANTASM star Reggie Bannister will make an appearance in LAST RITES, a new urban horror film from Outside Productions that pits rival street gangs against a zombie plague in downtown Los Angeles. Production on the independent feature starts this week under first-time director Duane Stinnett. A former visual FX wiz from the video-game industry (DIABLO, WARCRAFT), Stinnett says of his debut effort, 'With LAST RITES we?re trying to merge two film genres that excite us: old-school zombie horror and gangster films. Think NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD in the inner city, with a TRAINING DAY urban vibe.'
LAST RITES literally opens with a bang when a meteor slams into LA and unleashes a virus that turns people into flesheating ghouls. Caught up in the carnage are two warring gangs: one Hispanic, the other African-American. The rival factions square off in an abandoned warehouse (with the LAPD watching their every move), and then the zombies show up. As in ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, the good guys and bad guys must team up to defeat a common enemy.
Stinnett co-wrote LAST RITES with producer Krisann Shipley; the film?s co-producer, Todd Ocvirk, co-directed the gory 1999 shocker KOLOBOS. Almost Human FX chief Robert Hall (BUFFY, ANGEL) is tackling the ghoulish makeups, coming off the just-wrapped ALL SOUL?S DAY (and also in line to perform similar duties on HOUSE OF THE DEAD 2). As in the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake, CGI will be utilized in LAST RITES to make the zombie hordes bigger, though the production will mostly rely on practical FX. Stinnett describes the style of the film as 'between the over-the-top tone of RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, EVIL DEAD and DEAD ALIVE and the more somber apocalyptic style of the Romero movies.'
Instead of pursuing his own directing projects, Ocvirk decided to produce LAST RITES instead. 'I like to align myself with people who are passionate about what they?re doing, and that?s the main reason I was attracted to LAST RITES,' the producer tells Fango. 'Duane and Krisann are friends of mine, and they asked for my help early on, but only in a small capacity and whenever I had free time. Eventually they needed another producer, and I thought it would be a great opportunity for me. I was more than happy to jump aboard what could be a kick-ass horror flick. Plus, I love zombie films! The script they wrote is action-packed and funny, and I saw a lot of potential in that. We?ve assembled an awesome team of talent in front of and behind the camera, and I have a lot of confidence that LAST RITES will succeed despite the low budget. Even though it?s his first feature film, I trust Duane?s instincts as director. He has a very clear vision of what he wants, and I?m more than willing to support his vision and add to it as much as I can. Horror fans will have a lot to look forward to with LAST RITES.'
Besides Bannister, the LAST RITES cast features Noel (TRAINING DAY) Guglielmi, Enrique Almeida, Danny Martinez, Ethan Ednee, Ryan King, James C. Burns, Steve Basilone, Cazimir Milostan, Janine Foster and Michelle Perdue. Yasu Tanida serves as director of photography, shooting the movie in 24p hi-def video. 'Aside from being a cost consideration, the 24p format lends itself to the story,' Ocvirk says. 'It will be a beautiful, stylized-looking film, albeit dirty, gritty and grimy at the same time. We?re using industry-standard 24p HD cameras, so it won?t have that cheapo DV look.'
So can the marketplace sustain one more direct-to-video zombie flick? 'There are a lot of things that set LAST RITES apart from other DV projects, namely the solid script, well-defined characters, good production value and cool special effects,' says Ocvirk. 'We also put a lot of emphasis on acting, having spent months looking for just the right people to bring these colorful characters to life. The addition of Reggie Bannister in a cameo is also a huge plus. I?ve been a big fan of Reggie?s since I was a kid, so it?s especially gratifying to have him involved. He really sparked to the script and his character. He?s portrayed as this ultimate badass and then?well, I don't want to give it away, but horror fans will enjoy his scenes. The whole idea was to make this film look like 20 times the amount it actually cost. Our art director, Brian Ollman, is a genius, and he?s really brought our main location to life, transforming it into a character all its own. LAST RITES is a very ambitious project to say the least, and I?m proud to be a part of it.' You can find out more at the movie?s official website.
Courtesy of Fangoria