It never fails. Anytime I watch a movie and talk a lot of shit about it, and give it the worst rating I could give it, somebody involved with said movie will contact me...and completely agree with me. It's kinda weird. Also what makes it weird is both times this has happened, it happened with dudes named Kevin.
To refresh your memory, here's my "award" winning interview with director of "Fear of Clowns" Kevin Kangas.
Moving onto now, this dude named Kevin Woods contacted me first as a comment on The Blog, then later on the FaceBook page, saying he was not only IN this movie, but he helped produced and do other things for "Wiseguys vs Zombies". I was stunned that this guy didn't have me killed after everything I had to say about the movie. So an interview was needed, to get to the bottom of the mess that became "Wiseguys vs Zombies".
In "Wiseguys vs Zombies" I see you were not only the producer, but the First Assistant Director, AND played Paulie. Should I blame you for the 20 minute "interrogation scene" that nearly killed my brain?
I guess you could place the blame equally between myself and Adam Minarovich. "WvZ" was for the most part a two-person shoot, crew wise. It was myself, in the role of producer, assistant director, cameraman, and occasional actor, and Adam, who directed and acted in the lead role. I can't say for sure that Adam 'wrote' the flick, though. There really wasn't a script to go by. Adam had a notebook filled with ideas for scenes and that's basically what we went by. Everything was completely improvised (as if the viewer couldn't tell). So when it came time to shoot the interrogation scene we weren't really sure of what we were doing. There were just the three of us there for the shoot (Adam, myself, and William "Freddie Six-Times" Palko) so we took turns running the camera when it wasn't set up on a tripod. We shot a lot of stuff for that scene - different takes and angles. I guess we just decided to use all of the footage for that part instead of editing it down. Yeah, it was too much, no doubt. Maybe we were worried about the movies run time or something. Of course, with it running damn near 2 hours I suppose run time should've been the least of our concerns. Top priority should've went to actually making it a decent movie.
Were you around for the filming of the entire movie? If so, where did you film it? Did it really start in New York and you went on a real road trip?
I had met Adam only a couple of weeks before we started shooting the movie. The movie was shot on a whim, basically. Adam had a camera and an idea. We had no money, but I was adamant that we should shoot it anyway. So yeah, I was around from the very beginning. And as for where it was shot...well, the entire movie was shot in South Carolina. Everything. The farthest we traveled for any shot was to the SC/GA border to get a shot of the hitmen's Jaguar crossing the SC state line.
Did you guys know you were making this movie for Troma or did you make it on your own and just sold it to Troma?
We knew from the jump off we were going to shoot it for Troma. I was (and am) a Troma junkie so in the short time leading up to shooting "Wiseguys" I was showing Adam a lot of flicks from my Troma collection. During the actual shoot we would have the actors and extras sitting around for make-up with "Citizen Toxie" or "Terror Firmer" playing on the TV to give them a sense of what we were going for. I had printed off the Dogpile 95 Doctrine of Digital Filmmaking (also known as the Bow-Wow Vow of Fast and Shitty) and had it taped to the walls and doors at our locations. We wanted to make a Troma movie, but we left out one of the most important parts of a Troma flick: the boobs. We should've thrown some titties in there.
We weren't sure that Troma would pick it up for distribution, though. We knew it was a turd, but it was OUR turd and we wanted to find it an audience. I have to credit Troma alum Trent Haaga for helping us get the folks at Troma to take a look at it. We had been emailing Trent back and forth for a while and he was a really supportive, really cool dude who dug our 'go out and do it' attitude, so he might've pulled a few strings for us. So, in all honesty, maybe Trent should share some of the blame! haha
Am I right that the kids at the end of the movie was one of you guys' kids and you said "hey kid wanna be in a movie?" Or are they actual kid actors?
No, they weren't actors. Two of the little zombies were my kids. They wanted to be in the movie so I let 'em. The other kid zombies were some of the other actors children. Oh, and I use the term 'actor' lightly here. Most of these folks were friends or college students that we recruited for cheap labor. Cheap meaning free. Hell, our entire budget consisted of two dollars and a bag of Doritos for craft services.
About the middle of the movie, you show up as a zombie. Was it cool playing a zombie? I know it's almost everybody's fantasy to play a zombie.
Hell no it wasn't fun! It was done out of necessity. We didn't have anyone else to come out and play a zombie that day so Adam made me do it. He laid a guilt trip on me. See, the movie was shot over a period of about a month and a half, shooting only on weekends and the occasional day we could round up some actors. Most people avoided our phone calls after spending a day with us. So I had to jump in there and play a zombie. The make-up sucked because the guy who was doing the make-up and effects had no fucking clue what he was doing. He was an artist, a painter, and he incorrectly thought he could figure out a way to do make-up and effects for us. We would've probably been better off figuring out a way to do it ourselves. The so-called 'zombie make-up' was just a concoction of flour, food coloring, some kind of paste, and other household crap that we could buy on the cheap. To the effects guy credit, though, he did show up every day we needed him and endured the shoot with us. He was just excited to be working on a movie. He would be off doing make-up on the actors while we were out in the woods shooting. Then we threw him a bone and let him be in the movie too (as 'Thug Zombie'). I still say that this was the highlight of his life. He seems to be the only person from the cast or crew to be proud of this flick. So some good did come out of this production.
Considering nobody in the movie knew to aim for the head to kill the zombies, I have to ask, you guys have seen other zombie movies before, right? If so, which ones do you like?
Haha, yeah...we've all seen zombie flicks before. It came down to budget. We couldn't do the headshots because we didn't know how to do them effectively and because our effects guy had no clue how to do it, either. Hell, our gunfire effects were just firecrackers stuck in the barrel of the gun. Roll camera, light firework, get out of frame, and BAM! Instant gunshot effect.
My favorite zombie flicks are any of the Romero movies. Yes, "Survival of the Dead" included. Fulci's "Zombi" is a personal favorite of mine. Basically any of the classics of the genre I've seen and loved. Who doesn't love a good zombie flick. Hell, I even dig some of the bad ones ("Wiseguys" not included).
You have two minutes to give us a valid reason for including The Goat Fucker (Later Zombie Fucker) Scene. Go.
The Goat Fucker was not our idea. Not Adam's. Not mine. Nope, it was the actor who played the Goat Fucker. He was a guy I worked with who told me he'd come out and be in the movie if he could fuck a goat. I happened to live near a goat farm so I called Adam and ran it by him. He loved the idea. We were making a movie about redneck zombies, after all, and what's more redneck than fucking a goat? So the idea for the Goat Fucker was completely the actors. He showed up, drank a couple of beers to get into character, got into make-up, and then went out and killed it. All of his lines were his own improv. I thought that he would really try to finger that goat!
Two funny things regarding the Goat Fucker: the woman who played the Goat Fucker's wife was really his wife. When she hit him, that shit was real! She was awesome and funny to watch. The other thing I wanted to mention is that the Goat Fucker scenes are one of the reasons the movie got us in trouble when it screened publicly at a nearby university. They were not happy with anything to do with the Goat Fucker or with the overuse of the word "Fuck".
(Jason: Overuse of the word "fuck"? Good thing I'm not guilty of that!)
Did the guy at the pawn shop know you were filming the movie? He's a real pawn shop owner/worker, right?
Yeah, he was the owner of the pawn shop. We needed a scene at a pawn shop or hardware store so we went in and asked if we could shoot there and he said "Sure, no problem". Then Adam asked him if he'd say a few lines and he obliged. We were in and out of there in 10 minutes.
Unrelated to Wiseguys vs Zombies, what else are you working on? Plan on doing any more Troma films?
Our latest flick, "Exhibit A-7" is making the festival rounds. It recently premiered at the Action on Film International Film Festival where it won the Xristos Award for Best Guerrilla Film, so we're getting better at filmmaking. Adam was just cast on Frank Darabont's "The Walking Dead" for AMC, so he's busy finding work as an actor as well as a writer. A flick he wrote called "Chop" (directed by the aforementioned Trent Haaga) just wrapped post-production and will be making the rounds soon. So we're still on the grind, trying to get things out there.
As for a future Troma film...who knows? I love Troma and what that they do. I love what they stand for, so maybe one day.
Jason: At this point, I'll turn to my friend and podcasting partner Nolahn of the Bargin Bin Review, who introduced this movie to me to begin with a few questions he has.
Nolahn: Wiseguys vs. Zombies clocks in at nearly two hours, quite long for a zombie movie. Any gems left on the cutting room floor?
Uh, no...nope, I think everything we shot ended up in the movie. No, wait...there was one extended scene where three zombies go on a friendly walk through the woods together and one of them lights up a cigarette, much to the chagrin of his fellow zombie who quickly grabs the cigarette out of his mouth, gives a disapproving moan, and throws the cigarette on the ground. Not sure why we even shot that sequence, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Nolahn: The film's depiction of "wiseguys" seemed to split the difference between "classic" Godfather-style mafia soldiers and "modern-day" "Sopranos"-style tuffs. Any reason why you didn't just go with one or the other?
We were just copying what we saw on TV and in movies. That's how mafiosos act, right? At least that's what we were led to believe. And we wanted the movie to be realistic! No, I'm just bullshitting. Our depiction of the mafia type was really about the age of the performers...the older mafia types (the boss, Freddie Six-Times) were the more traditional, classic interpretations. Adam, playing the (ahem) 'new generation mafioso', was loud, arrogant, quick-tempered. We weren't breaking any new ground here so we figured we'd do the stereotypical characters that everyone was already familiar with and throw them into a crazy situation.
Nolahn: You have two minutes to explain the "zombies forgo biting for backyard wresting" climax. Go.
We had a car and we wanted to blow it up. But first we wanted to fuck it all up. Adam figured that he had abused the 'actors' in this film enough, so he created this scene where the tables would turn and he would get his ass beat for a while before the car was destroyed. We're all a bunch of rednecks anyway, and as rednecks we love our wrasslin', so we decided to have the climax be a free-for-all fight with some amateurish wrestling moves ending with the car going BOOOM!
Nolahn: Anything you've taken away from making Wiseguys vs. Zombies for future projects?
"Wiseguys" was 7 years and 5 projects ago for us. If there was anything we learned from it, and learned well, it was how NOT to make a movie. We learned NOT to use your own money on making a flick, we learned NOT to ask friends to act, we learned NOT to hire guys with no clue how to do special effects to handle the effects, we learned to NOT shoot without a script...geez, man, on retrospect we had learned so much from that experience that listing them all could take all day. But each thing we have tackled since then has been better than the one before. It's a process, ya know? Trial and error and all that shit. So "Wiseguys" served a purpose for us, in the long run. We're not proud of it, of course, but we're kinda glad we did it. I'm especially happy that, seven years after it was released, it still pisses people off. At least it gets a reaction and isn't instantly forgettable. I mean, it's no "Troll 2" or anything in all of its badness, but go ahead and try to forget about the Goat Fucker...you can't! As horrid as it is, it is embedded in your brain. And that makes the experience of making the movie all worth it.
And that's it. Super special thanks to Kevin Woods for being a sport. A shout-out goes to Adam Minarovich for also being a sport (or at least I'm assuming since he hasn't tried to kill me yet). When I write these reviews, I don't ever really think that the people involved will stumble across my small corner of the Internet, so I just say whatever I'm feeling. Half the time I'm joking and I really don't mean any harm. So when the filmmakers or stars do contact me and they have a great sense of humor about what I've written, it makes me feel better.
Unlike SOMEONE else.