Friday, February 29, 2008
THE HORROR OF ZOMBIE WIFE
IT CAME FROM LAKE MICHIGAN
by Tea Krulos
The sky is overcast, foreboding, as dark clouds quickly roll in and a thunderclap is heard in the near distance. It is a bleak day for we, the aggrieved. Tragedy has struck. Beth died, too young, in a tragic accident. She was driving and was struck by a car. (Fade to black. CRASH SOUND.) Her husband, Jason, looks guilty and he should. The night before they had a fight in bed before going to sleep. They were arguing about finances when Beth told him “Urgh, you’re such a jerk.” (Rolls over and goes to sleep.) To which Jason thoughtlessly replied “You make me so angry. I wish you were dead.”(Goes to sleep.)
And so here we stand staring at Beth’s grave. The pastor tries to improvise words of comfort.
PASTOR: “She loved you. She was a good wife. Do not look at this as an end, but a new beginning…”(The attendees mourn. Jason is visibly shaken.)
“CUT! Great job, everyone!” Jason Knuth yells out. I’m an extra for the funeral scene in Knuth’s short movie Zombie Wife, which will be one of the first movies screened at this year’s It Came From Lake Michigan (ICFLM) horror movie festival. Knuth has written, directs, and stars in the movie. His wife, Beth, is the title role and assistant director. This scene is shot on a cloudy day in early May in a corner of Knuth’s backyard in Waukesha. The extras really are his mother and co-worker. William P. Zenobia, a director of ICFLM, portrays the pastor.
After a few takes of the scene from different angles, we move into Knuth’s house to watch the raw footage. Knuth operates with a simple set up, a Sony handicam, with editing done in Windows Movie Maker. His living room is covered with Star Wars posters, unopened action figures, and autographed framed photos. Everything checks out and now Knuth has only the climatic appearance of the zombie, the corpus reanimatis, to film.
A couple months later and the Knuths stop by my house to view the final product. He has sent a copy to ICFLM (who accepts it), and also submits it to horror film fests in Chicago and Sacramento. The film runs nine minutes from opening credits to shocking conclusion. Knuth became interested in making his own film after appearing in collaborator Kelly Prescott’s 2006 film Bowlful of Happiness, a film in which Knuth portrays a mentally challenged man obsessed with beans who is tormented by killer sea monkeys.
I ask Beth what it’s like having Jason as a spouse and director.
“He needs to learn to tell me to do more takes.” I tell them I’m surprised, that I might guess the opposite, that he’d overwork her. Knuth shrugs.
“I still have to live with her when the camera shuts off.” And the advantages?
“She’s an actress I can call on anytime.”
“And I’m free.” She adds. The budget for the movie was a hundred and fifty dollars, spent on make up, flowers for the funeral scene, and software. The actors all volunteered and it was shot entirely in and around the Knuth household, causing several strange looks from the neighbors.
When asked why a horror film fest instead of something more artistic, ICFLM founder Wayne “Uthyr” Clingman says,
“I want to watch films I enjoy. I’m tired of hair being glued on film and called art.” You can be sure you won’t find fuzzy artistic statements in this year’s ICFLM films which include Backwoods Blood Bath, After the Blood Rush, and Blood, Boobs, and Beasts.
Clingman started the first ICFLM last year in Racine, but decided to go “bigger and better” this year at the Tommy Thompson Center on the Wisconsin State fair grounds.
Horror heavyweights appearing this year include Lloyd Kaufman, head of Troma Entertainment, which has produced such cult hits as The Toxic Avenger, and Class of Nuke ‘Em High. Troma’s latest release is Poultrygeist.
Also appearing will be Mark Borchardt, the local icon documented in American Movie, and John Dugan, who played “Grandpa” in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
What connection do the Soup Nazi (Larry Thomas) and Niedermeyer (Mark Metcalf) have to the genre? Thomas stars in Postal, which screens here, and Metcalf is beloved by Buffy The Vampire Slayer fans for his role as The Master. More guests include numerous horror film directors, make up artists and a bevy of B Scream Queens.
Industry ghouls will be conducting spine tingling workshops throughout.
“We are the only film fest that is doing a major push on workshops, many taught by the stars.” Claims Clingman. There will be a gala party Friday night with a London 1885 Hellfire club theme, with a performance by the Living Dead Girlz, a horror themed burlesque group.
Clingman hopes the all the sweat pays off after putting in the efforts to insure success.
“I thought, how hard could it be to put on a fest? Much harder than I thought.”
This originally appeared in the Shepherd Express