On March 1, 2012, I attended the premiere of Abed, a film directed by Ryan Lieske based on the short story by Elizabeth Massie. It rocked. Lieske only left one thing out from the story: purple zombie cum…and, honestly, I think I would have thrown up on my shoes if he did include that detail. I barely held it together as Daniel Falicki portrayed the sickest zombie I’ve ever seen on screen, and Rachel Finan took “zombiephile” to new levels. Elizabeth Massie herself said, “…to see [her story] in the flesh…oh, my God!” <–Followed by a look of horror and delight. (Abed was originally written for the anthology, Still Dead.)
Philip Nutman, one of the producers, took to the microphone & informed the audience that there are several large companies fighting over the distribution rights to the film. If you don’t know who Philip Nutman is, you must be living under a rock; he wrote over 120 articles/stories for Fangoria, and some of his bragging rights include: getting drenched in fake blood during the filming of H. P. Lovecraft’s From Beyond, and seeing the Cenobites’ first appearance during the shooting of the original Hellraiser. Most zombiephiles might remember Nutman best for his ground-breaking anthology, Book of the Dead. Ryan Lieske, Jenny Lasko and Elizabeth Massie also talked about their parts in the making of the movie, but Nutman definitely stole the stage, and made everyone else look like “wankas.”
First, we were shown several trailers for independent films made in Michigan, particularly from Collective Studios. (They weren’t zombie flicks, but you should still make a note to look up the studio, after you finish reading this…especially The Dwarfhammer.) Then we were treated to the main event: Abed. Despite the scene additions from Lieske that give us some background on the outbreak & spread of infection in the rural area of Abed, it was still similar in length to a vignette, especially since the original story is so short. But, there was never a dull moment.
Abed opens with a single female zombie closing in on the house where Meggie is held prisoner by her mother-in-law. Marci Stembol did an excellent job playing the featured zombie. If you look at her undead picture in the interview with Lieske, and you see what she normally looks like, you can see the talent of the peeps in the make-up and special FX departments. After Marci receives a wicked headshot, the rest of the movie follows the original story very closely, with cut-aways to the past, both before the outbreak & just after the infection starts to spread through town. (Lots of cameos by actors from other zombie flicks in the funeral scene – might have to pause the movie to name them all.) The best line in the movie came from one of the redneck extras who made a reference to shooting a load into an underage zombie.
I talked briefly with Daniel Falicki to ask him if he sustained any throat injuries during the making of the film. Many of the viewers at the premiere were aghast at the sounds and sights coming out of Quint’s mouth, and I was grateful that I hadn’t eaten recently. Daniel shared his secret: denture cream. He needed to use the cream for his zombie teeth, but he over did it even though there was warning on the label that excessive use would lead to uncontrollable drooling. Since Falicki was literally drooling and foaming at the mouth from the denture cream, he added blue and green food dye to the mix…thus giving viewers the revolting mess oozing out of his mouth. The accompanying hacking and gurgling sounds were just a natural side effect of the denture cream effect, apparently. Much easier than smoking and drinking until your vocal cords are a mess.
While Rachel Finan is best known for Super Happy Funtime Burlesque, her role in Abed demands that she be taken seriously as an actress. Finan gave a dynamic performance as Meggie, in a physically and mentally abusive situation as a captive by her mother-in-law (Vicki Deshaw-Fairman) during an ongoing zombie apocalypse. Meggie is forced into the most gruesome situation that I’ve ever seen in any zombie movie. Finan’s strength as an actress is her facial expressions that show a wide range of emotions in mere moments.
“It’s amazing how this whole project has fallen into place….after reading the script and the short story itself I started scoring music before we had seen a single shot…the process evolved into a circular sharing of visual and audio chemistry, we all seemed to understand what the other was looking for…a very good thing! The brief was to provide a very understated and lyrical score…which obviously would have some moments of terror too….I’m hoping that I’m getting close on those factors now. I’m currently looking at the rough cut and all the temp music tracks with a view to final musical arrangement and composition…the job isn’t quite over yet!!”
So, keep a space in your zombie collection for Abed when it becomes available on DVD. In the meantime, you can watch the official trailer.