Director Talks Mimesis: Night of the Living Dead

This week saw the DVD/Blu-ray release of Mimesis: Night of the Living Dead from director Doug Schulze.

In the film, a group of horror fans find themselves unwilling participants in a living nightmare that pays homage to a classic horror film. Seven complete strangers whose only common link is a love for classic era horror films are invited to attend an exclusive “horror fan” party at a remote farm.

Shock spoke to Schulze about the film and the future of his proposed “Mimesis” trilogy.  Talk about the genesis of this project…

Doug Schulze:  I love horror films and have grown disillusioned with Hollywood’s preoccupation with remakes. I think that there are plenty of fresh filmmakers out there with a unique vision, but the budgets constantly go to funding the reboot. So, the idea started there as I asked myself, where do you go after the remake? I mean you remake a great film like Hellraiser and sure you can bring it to a new audience but where do we go? Where do the fans of the original go? The one’s that don’t want another remake? Maybe we start to live our favorite horror movies. That’s how it all started. What if a group of horror movie fans wanted to take it to the next level.  Extreme role playing for the movies.

Shock:  Was Night of the Living Dead the go-to title for the plot or did you consider any other title that was under public domain?  If so, what were they?

Schulze:  Once we had the basic concept in place it was time to select a film to mimesis. There’s something abstract about non-human monsters and ghosts. And knife wielding psycho’s have their limits. But the flesh eating zombie, I couldn’t think of a more horrifying type of monster to role play for victim and for those playing the zombies. Night of the Living Dead is the mother of all zombie films so it was a natural choice.

Shock:  What was the most fun about the process or the project?  The most challenging?

Schulze:  Well, the most enjoyable part, for me, was the writing process. Coming up with the story and more or less fantasizing about what I’d do if I woke up to find myself in my favorite horror movie. The most challenging aspect was trying to respect the source material. We wanted an homage but we weren’t setting out to remake a movie. If anything we’re inspired by Night of the Living Dead to create our own film. Much like how Romero was inspired by Last Man on Earth to create Night of the Living Dead. The comparisons are obvious but both are their own movies. So, I had long talks with my cinematographer about how we would tackle Mimesis from a visual perspective. We shot in 2:35 anamorphic since we were trapped, mostly, inside a small farm house. We let characters fall into harsh shadow to emulate that gorgeous black and white feel NOTLD had. But it was a challenge we enjoyed.

Shock:  Talk about the look of the zombies/what you were going for…

Schulze:  Well, zombies have come along way since the original Night of the Living Dead. You won’t find Walking Dead zombies in Mimesis that’s for sure. We felt that the role players would look to the original source material for inspiration. I put myself in the mindset of the role players and, if it was me, I’d go for that Bill Hinzman graveyard zombie look. When I cast the film I let each of the role player zombies develop their own look. My only criteria was that it had to be grounded in the look of the classic Romero film. In the end our makeup fx artist, Cat Brenier ,came up with a look that would be realistic and easy for non-makeup artists to apply.

Shock:  Is another Mimesis on the way?  Something Nosferatu related as the IMDb suggests?

Schulze:  We have two sequels in the works as part of a Mimesis trilogy.   We’re keeping the specifics under wraps right now because we aren’t sure which of the two tales will come next. There was talk of a prequel too as the two primary role players ran a haunted attraction as part of their day gig. We shall see.

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