People always point to violent video games and violent movies as a reason to why someone might commit a horrible crime in real life, but Mimesis plays on that claim and brings it to a scary new level of fandom. What if horror fans actually re-enacted their favorite horror movies, joining some cult-like club in which victims are unknowingly lured into a real-life role-playing event of deadly proportions? What if you woke up in a random location with zombies actually chasing you and eating the people around you just as in George A. Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead? Well if you believe violent films are corrupting the most impressionable of minds, Mimesis is likely to become your worst nightmare.
I was able to catch Mimesis at the New York Horror Film Festival last year (check out my review!) where I thought it to be a highlight of the festival, but even more recently I was given the chance to chat with writer/director Douglas Schulze about his unique take on horror obsessed fans and the scary reality of life imitating art. Join me as I talk to Douglas about where the concept for Mimesis came from, his thoughts on society’s finger-wagging, and the future of his Mimesis franchise!
Check it out below.
We Got This Covered: Starting off with the concept of Mimesis, was there a lot of fandom on your part that came into play when selecting which horror movie you wanted to create your “game” out of?
Douglas Schulze: Oh yeah, fandom had everything to do with this. I’m a horror fan first and foremost and many of my friends are part of the horror convention circuit. The genesis for the idea came from going to conventions, one in particular where we saw some extreme horror fans not only costumed as their favorite horror characters, but they were literally terrorizing other convention goers – which to us was humorous but not so much to the victims. I got inspired at that point to say “wow, how far can a horror fan go, and what’s the next level?” Hollywood is doing remake after remake, but where do you go after you keep remaking a movie? So I thought about the horror fan, and maybe his passion to live horror, so the concept was born. It’s really about horror fans who get tired of just watching their favorite horror classics, so they set up to live one.
We Got This Covered: Mentioning remakes, it is clever how you essentially remade Night Of The Living Dead but made it completely your story. Just out of curiosity, did George A. Romero have any idea about this production or were there any talks about using his film for Mimesis?
Douglas Schulze: We were autonomous with the idea because it was really about the core genesis of the horror fan wanting to live out their twisted fantasies, so we really had the idea before we knew what we were going to “mimesize.”
It didn’t take too long for me to choose a film though because in the pantheon of horror I think the most frightening thing for me would be to encounter people who want to act out being flesh-eating zombies, so I turned to Night Of The Living Dead because I thought it would be the most terrifying. I actually did run the idea by Bill Hinzman, who unfortunately is no longer with us, but he has a cameo in the film and he was the original graveyard zombie in the original Romero film and he was sort of shepherding the cultism for Night Of The Living Dead on the convention circuit for years, so I considered him an authority if you will. Once I got his blessing I felt I was good to go. I don’t think George has seen the film yet, but I’d love for him to watch it at some point as I consider it an homage.
We Got This Covered: Let’s focus on your villains now, because you keep mentioning these horror extremists. I can only imagine how hard it is in Hollywood to turn people into zombies, but what you do is the opposite. How hard was it to turn zombies into people?
Douglas Schulze: (Laughs) Very cool. That was the thing – how far do you go with makeup effects? These are extreme role-players, do they spend hours in front of the mirror doing the full prosthetics? We thought not, we felt they’d probably do some facial makeup and put some cool attire on, but if I was into the fandom of it, I would take it 80% of the way but put it all into character, all into the terrorizing, which is what we tend to focus on in the movie. I think some people are going to just put the movie on and they’re not going to know what they’re watching. They’re going to be expecting just a zombie movie, and they may be a little disappointed at first because they’re going to compare the makeup to The Walking Dead and know that something is amiss. It’s amiss for a very good reason though, so it all makes sense at the end, but you need to be a patient horror movie goer to settle into it and let it do its thing and you’ll really enjoy it better that way.
We Got This Covered: Which I completely agree with and it’s what I did. I took the entire crazy package in as a whole, and a big part of that is the metal teeth your “zombies” use to keep a hint of realism in the film. Was there ever any debate on how to make your “zombies” alright with biting into human flesh and were there other ideas that popped up that could have been in place of the metal teeth?
Douglas Schulze: In doing research we found that it’s very difficult to tear flesh. You can bite someone, but when you see a lot of that flesh biting going on in a lot of those movies, it’s really not that realistic because boy oh boy does it take some work. Not to say we were going out there trying it for research, but it led us to conclude you would probably need assistance of a very sharp denture-type apparatus to make it happen. There’s some deleted scenes and extras that do explain this a bit more but we felt the lack of explanation would make the film a bit more terrifying so we didn’t want to go overboard explaining what these guys did. If anything it sets us up for more exploration in the sequel.
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