Peripheral City

Peripheral City
Peri, played by Josh Elrod

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Zombie Journals: The Making of a Horror Film Part I

In 2007, I was the lead actress, co-script writer, and Cannibal costume maker for an hommage to exploitation zombie movies called, "Holocaust, Holocaust," based on the "Zombie Holocaust," "Cannibal Holocaust" type of movies. These are excerpts from a diary that I occasionally jotted down notes in, deeply embellished with faulty memory. Some parts may even be fiction.

June 15, 2007 We held castings at my performance space today in the basement. Donnie came in with a folding table and we set up chairs and waited. People had been milling about outside, a young Dominican girl who said she was 16, but looked more like a solid 25 in body at least, came with her father and sat underneath a tree around the corner. It was early on a Saturday and no one else was around this usually late-night haunt area, so I knew they must be there for us. We were casting cannibals for Vermont and the turn out was pretty paltry. I told the Dominican girl her father should try out too, then noted to Donnie that all our zombies were under 25. "Do our cannibals eat all their old people? This won't look very real." He said not to worry about it opened his lap top to take shots of the kids on his Photo Booth. He had them scowl, one at a time for the laptop's camera, mostly young Latino and black kids. I was worried about it because I'd been up all night slaving over a fake cannibal language, and for several days before that, making up words with a similar pentameter to true cannibal languages from an article found by our production designer, Nick Locke, based on several languages from Amazonian cannibal tribes. I felt like it wasn't too important to have a few old cannibals, elders, you know?

A man in his 60's, Bill Wheelock came in, long white hair, white as white can be and the guys were really excited. "He's the chief," said James. They knew before he sat down because he'd already been in a few cheesy B movies and so they thought he may provide a buzz, much like our scream queen, Suzi Lorraine would. Someone, maybe Donnie, closed his laptop while the imovie was still recording an audition and the feedback somehow caused it to break itself. We did the Bill Wheelock audition on my computer. He was good, I'll give you that, I could see him in a little makeup and a loin cloth, passing for an cannibal chief. That cheered my up a little. I kept thinking, this is going to fall apart.

Last week, Sof, Nick, and I scouted cave locations in Vermont. We crashed on the floor of camera assistant, Joe's shack. It was cold as hell and Nick gave me his sleeping bag. In the morning we found coffee and caves. It was beautiful at the cliffs and we scouted two caves that were runners up, one closer to the highway parking lot, with a few ledges inside on which the action could take place, so we chose that one. We were so far north I never thought we'd stop driving. I was sick as a dog from my detox still, so the fresh mountain air and sun was doing me a lot of good. Plus Nick was super sweet. I spoke in a fake British accent with him the whole time and it felt good not to be me. I guess Sof's mom was a Brit too, and at lunch he joined in and the three of us babbled like a bunch of parrots. Sof renamed me Kitty Cole for the film, which suited me just fine, one more level of not me-ness was okay by me. Plus I liked the guys' idea of us shooting a mock behind the scenes documentary where we were all other people anyhow, it would be twice removed from reality. Great stuff. No one else got a new name.

note: I met Donnie, Sof and Mikey when I auditioned for a zombie music video a few years before. They were all about 21 and I was high on Vicodin and determined to have some fun, because I was hiding from a lot. Blood, guts and gore was right where I was at. Sof was the camera man, a tall, silent, elegant young Pakistani kid, painfully skinny. Donnie and Mikey were two slightly soft around the edges dark, hairy kids who never stopped joking around. I didn't care what I did with these guys, they were so weird I would have followed them anywhere, New Jersey, Atlantic City, Los Angeles. I wanted them to adopt me and take me home. I felt so safe inside their little unit. I didn't get the part because it called for a zombie mom and I was too young. I was really disappointed, having nailed the Zombie walk and groan in the audition. They cracked up as I spazzed out. They remembered me and liked me and wrote me in as their sister in a B-movie a year later for a short called "Barnacle," which was super fun and never got finished. I got to go out with a parapelegic with an Afro, shoot terrified looks around a laundry room to cues of screaming, get my leg hacked off in a bath of fake blood, hang out with their moms and families in comfortably awkward family homes in Long Island. It was alright by me. I kept trying to invite myself over after that.

June 23rd, 2007 We held a casting call for my film husband, "Tom," today. We held it in Sof's dad's office on Lexington Ave in midtown in the same place I'd auditioned for the Zombie Music video years before. They had a for real conference room, which gave the guys an air of professionalism that I still, to this day, can't believe they pulled off. A bunch of dudes came in to read with me who now, when I try to recall them, I instantly draw a blank on, which says everything. One guy came in and grilled us about the production as if we were the ones who were on the line, and my head was about to pop off. Afterward, Sof said he was interesting and I said, No, Sof, please, not him! He considered my distaste and I got up to go to the bathroom. I saw Kris reading his sides out in the waiting room and wondered why his jaw hung to the ground. He was kind of cute I noted as I ran to the restroom. When I came back in, Kris was sitting at the table and I knew he was the one. He had a sleazy look that could pull off that Don Johnson kind of 80's thing, yet still kind of handsome. But definitely a bit smarmy. In the audition he pulled my chair close and shocked the hell out of me with his instant intimate physicality and my body responded. It wasn't acting. He recognized me from highschool too, which is why his jaw had dropped. I thought, He's the one.

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