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Fantastic Fest: 'Zombie Roadkill'

Fearnet web series whacks some undead vermin

By Richard Whittaker, 10:10AM, Tue. Oct. 5, 2010

There are many reasons why new web series Zombie Roadkill was a hit at Fantastic Fest. Sure, there's the deranged pleasure of watching undead puppets maim and mangle innocent drivers. But, seriously, what other production came with its own Whack-A-Mole arcade machine?

The first episode of the blood-drenched comedy debuts on FEARnet yesterday, Oct. 4, and there'll be a new episode every day this week. However, the Fantastic Fest audience got to see the whole series strung together as a 30-minute short.

Shot in five days, it's the oddball tale of five vacationing friends. Attacked by heavily mutilated and very squished critters on a country road and facing death in a cloud of demon skunk gas, they are rescued by Ranger Chet Masterson (Thomas Haden Church.) During the post-Fantastic Fest screening Q&A, FEARnet host Spider delicately asked director David Green, "What the fuck were you thinking?"

Turns out it's all Spiderman 3's fault. After two and a half years as a producer's assistant on that project, Green turned to his own directing. He said, "I made this test clip of a squirrel attacking a guy in a parking lot, to see if we could make it work."

Spidey director Sam Raimi liked what he saw, and so he, Green and fellow Spiderman 3 production assistant Aaron Lam were on board. The final piece of the puzzle was another alumnus of Webhead U, Oscar-nominated star Church. The Sideways star got to know Green when he was assigned to ferry him around the lot while shooting. When Green approached him about being in his new project, Church said, "I know he knows how to drive a golf cart. That's pretty much all you need to know about directing movies."

What really sold him, Church said, was the script, which he called "vividly hilarious. The campy shock value of it, I just thought it was such an original take and I really had to be involved with it."

Plus, y'know, the zombies. A CGI-free bloodbath, the roadkill puppets were mostly constructed using, well, roadkill. Actually, spare fur and discarded pieces obtained from taxidermists selling off parts on eBay. However, the mad killer deer came from writer Henry Gayden from one of his very few hunting trips. "My dad stuffed the head for me and gave it to me for Christmas. I was fifteen, and I hung it over my bed on Christmas Eve, and put it in the attic two hour later." When the production called for a deer head, Gayden knew exactly where to go, and down from the loft the beast came. However, he said, "It haunted me to go in the creature shop and see what they did to it and know that I'd brought it here."

New episodes of Zombie Roadkill premiere all this week on Fearnet.com.

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