When I received an invite to attend the premier of House Party of the Dead 6, I wondered what the evening would consist of. A quick clatter of keys into google and the words zombie movie, zombie burlesque, zombie make up and zombie rock bands jumped out at me and it was an easy sell. Armed with my (very wholesome, non gorey) friend Ross we stomped through the frosty streets of Camden to the Purple Turtle not too sure what lay aheady. I did however wear my Braaains! necklace in preperation.
[Poster by Paul McGrath]
Purple Turtle is one of those loveable sticky floored, grungey, dark venues; and probably the only place in London you can buy a round for under a fiver! Upon arrival I couldn’t see many of the undead amongst us. I then turned round from my waiting spot at the bar to come face to face with this…
[Photo c/o Chris Nathans]
The top floor of the venue was dedicated to a very talented make-up team, armed with the skills to give all attendees gaping neck wounds, bleeding eyes and oozing bites. All the best zombie traits! There was some brilliant music, a hot zombified burlesque dancer and then of course, the highlight… the movie.
I thoroughly enjoyed the film from start to finish. It ticked EVERY box of a classic B movie zombie stunner – grizzly gore, guts, frights, hot girls in their underwear and amongst the horror, ALOT of laughs. All jampacked into 15 minutes, which is not easily done. The characters were well scripted and well executed; all the acting was fantastic and the studenty house gave a unique and original base for the reaction to a zombie apocolypse. I was left wanting more, which is always a good thing. The production value looked up there with any famous Zombie flick (if not glossier actually!) and I have to applaud Andy and all the cast/crew involved. What a treat! It got my non-zombie heart a flutter! You can check the Teaser Trailer Here!
To give you some background on the film and how it even came to exist, I interviewed the charming braaaains (geddit!) behind the project, Andy Edwards.
Tell me a bit about you please Andy…
I’m not particularly interesting really. I’m a filmmaker from Birmingham, who’s now living in London and attempting to make it in the world of films. Until recently I was making films as more of a hobby around my day job – but I was made redundant from my day job a year or so ago so now I’m trying to use the fact I have much more free time on my hands to good use and really go for it. Obviously it also means I don’t have any money, but the role of impoverished, struggling filmmaker kind of suits me.
What is the history of the movie?
Houseparty of the Dead started off 3 years ago, with a short film shot in my flat in Kentish Town. It featured a bunch of my mates, was shot in an afternoon, and the zombies were made up with red paint, glue and cornflakes by my mate Rob Leese-Jones, who has since gone on to be co-producer on most of the shorts, and even directed part 4. It was only intended to be a one-off, but everyone enjoyed it so much that a sequel was pretty much demanded, and its grown from there. With each one I’ve tried to up the production values, and with part 6 we had professional actors & make-up, and over 50 zombie extras.
[Photos c/o Adrienne Cooper]
How did you cast HPOTD6?
Glad you appreciated the acting, as that was one of the things I was making a conscious effort to improve for this one. Until part 6, all of the actors had been friends or friends of friends. Some of whom were actors, or had some experience, but the majority weren’t. Everybody who’s been in one of my films has done an amazing job, but for this one I wanted to try and work with all professional actors. A few of the actors I knew, but most were recruited through a casting website, and we borrowed the basement of a pub for 2 days and did auditions. We had such a good response that we even had to do call-back auditions for the lead female roles to decide between some very talented actresses. It’s when you’re asking two attractive actresses to practice a kissing scene in an audition that you know you’ve picked the right career! As the roles were unpaid we had a few last minute changes of actors, but I couldn’t be happier with the cast that we got, and the decision to cast professionals really paid off.
As for extras – we’ve never had a shortage of willing volunteers to be zombified and create a zombie army – helped by the fact that we actively encourage them to get drunk during the shoot. This not only keeps them happy during what could be a long period of waiting around, but also aids their performances as zombies
What’s next for the movie?
There’s a few tweaks that need to be made, and then the movie will be available online, and also sent out to as many film festivals as will show it. We were also filmed during the making of the film, by a TV crew from Sky One for a reality TV show which should be airing some time in the new year. Who knows what they’ll make of us in the edit, but it should get us plenty of publicity at least! As for the Houseparty of the Dead as a “franchise”, the next step is a feature film. I’m currently writing the script, and we’re looking for funding.
What’s your alltime favourite zombie movie, other than HOTD6 ;]?
I’m a big fan of the 2 recent British movies, which of course revived the zombie genre in very different ways, 28 Days Later and Shaun of the Dead. But for all-time favourites, it’s between Romero’s Dawn of the Dead or Zombie Flesh Eaters – mainly because a zombie fights a shark. And its a real shark.
Talk to me about your decision to make your zombies fast moving modern ones, over slow dumb lurchy Romero ones!
I’ve actually got both kinds in Houseparty of the Dead. Up until part 5, they were all the slow kind, but from part 5 onwards I’ve started introducing a few fast ones into the mix. Partly its for dramatic reasons – if you have a large number then its best to have them all slow, but singular zombies are scarier if they’re quicker. Also, to try and introduce some kind of logic to the zombie transformation process. In most zombie films, the time from bite to full infection is entirely arbitrary – it’s whatever has the most dramatic impact, whether that be an instant transformation or a slow 3 day process. In the HPOTD world, slow zombie bites infect you slowly, fast zombie bites can be much quicker.
Also, the two “breeds” hate each other – the final war will not be fought between humans and zombies, but fast zombies and slow zombies….
Thanks Andy for taking the time to answer my questions and all I can say is that I wish I was secretly sitting on wads of cash that I could hand over to help with the feature film, as I fully believe in the premise and production. Britain used to be a key player in the world of zombie movies in the wake of Plague Of The Zombies and we’ve seen a frutratingly slow return to this state in the last decade, but I think HPOTD could be just to ticket for a 2010’s zombie cinema invasion! Good luck guys!