Short and Sweet: "We Forgot About the Zombies"

Austin filmmaker Chris McInroy on brevity and nasty stains

We Forgot About the Zombies

Welcome to Short and Sweet, our look at some of the short films and projects at South by Southwest 2023. Today we talk with Chris McInroy, writer/director of horror-comedy short "We Forgot About the Zombies."

Austin Chronicle: So, explain Garth Manor.

Chris McInroy: Garth Manor is a genre label specializing in horror content. It was started by Kris Phipps, an Austin local, in 2011. They produce movies, write articles, do video podcasts, interviews and special events. I met him in 2015 when they played my short "Bad Guy #2" before a screening of Night of the Demons. We became great friends after that and he's been producing my short films since then. Kris and the Garth Manor crew are amazing people. I believe the name comes from the movie Hell Night, so you know they are cool.

AC: As it's sort of pivotal to the short, what's your favorite word game?

CMcI: I never played Wordle and I get bored of Scrabble after like five minutes but when I take my daughter to Dave & Busters we play the crap out of some Wheel of Fortune. It's not a word game but I play Framed everyday. It's an online game of trying to guess the movie by screengrabs. I'm pretty proud of my max streak of getting it right at 41 days.

“We dumped a five gallon bucket of blood on Kirk (Johnson’s) face. ... You can still see the big red stain on the floor.”
AC: This is your shortest short yet, at only three minutes, and arguably the leanest, letting the joke breathe. Has your approach to telling these funny-gross stories changed over time?

CMcI: I think I've learned how to be more efficient with the screen time. I try to get as much information and jokes in the short runtime as I can. I'm not precious about anything I shoot anymore, I'll cut out anything that doesn't work for the movie. Although that maybe is a virtue I've always had since I cut a full half day of shooting out of "Bad Guy #2."

My approach for "We Forgot About The Zombies" was budget related. I put constraints on myself to come up with something that could be done in one day and try for only 2 actors and one location.

AC: This is the fifth time you've worked with Carlos Larotta: How has he become your go-to player?

CMcI: I love Carlos. He's insanely good at his craft. He's a genius improv'er. I write roles with him in mind cuz I know he has great range. And besides all that he's just a genuine guy who's fun to be around. And maybe most importantly he's always down to get killed in the movies. He's been in everything I've done since "Bad Guy #2" (2014) and he dies in all of them. He says his mom hates me for always killing her baby. Will the kill streak continue in "We Forgot About The Zombies"? You'll have to watch and see.

AC: So, as someone who has worked with A LOT of bodily fluids, goo, gore, ichor, ick, and now mysterious serums in your films, what's the worst stain you've ever had to try to get out after a shoot?

CMcI: Oh man, there's been so many blood baths in these short films it's hard to pick just one. I'd say the chainsaw scene in "Bad Guy #2" was pretty bad, there were 4 different blood spray things under the chainsaw for different types of streams and mist and that blood went all over the ceiling and walls and floor. I rolled until the tanks ran out so it was a lot.

Also when we dumped a five gallon bucket of blood on Kirk (Johnson's) face in "We Summoned A Demon" that made a huge puddle in that warehouse that never fully cleaned up. You can still see the big red stain on the floor. I try to write things that take place outside so we don't have to worry as much about cleanup.

"GUTS" was super gooey and we shot in a place that said the carpet squares were discontinued so if we got one bloody they'd charge us to replace the whole floor. We tarped the heck out of that place and Kirk carried a piece of cardboard under his guts between takes to catch any goo drips. It worked out.

We Forgot About The Zombies

Midnight Shorts, Texas Premiere

Mon 13, 9:45pm, Alamo South Lamar
Thu 16, 9pm, Alamo South Lamar

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