Your movie Zombie Isle
- in a few words, what is it about?
the late 70’s, a group of college students and their professor set off
to explore a supposed uninhabited island. They discover the
“uninhabited” island is crawling with flesh eating zombies and an
insane Nazi doctor who tries to control and experiment on the creatures
while working to save his near dead wife.
What were your
inspirations when writing Zombie
Wells The Island of Dr. Moreau,
Zombie, Dawn of the Dead (1978),
Day of the
Dead and even The Walking Dead. I recently saw a trailer for
Shock Waves and saw a lot of
similarities, but haven’t watched
Isle being an old-school zombie movie, is that a genre at all dear
to you, and some of your genre favourites?
loved the 70’s and 80’s Italian zombie films - even the bad ones are
good - and Romero’s zombies. I watched most those as a teenager on
VHS, we copied as many of the FX that we could in our own Super 8
has a very distinct 1970s grindhouse vibe and look to it, down to the
edit, actually - to put it bluntly, why, and how hard was that to achieve?
the “look” was not as hard with the available software these days,
but deciding when to add certain effects was harder. Going back and
watching the old films on YouTube and on DVD helped. I tried to make it
look and sound authentic without being distracting. There is a sound that
I remember from watching movies in the theater as a kid that seems to be
gone now, that scratchy grainy audio between reels and before the movie
started was important for me to hear, I wanted it in there on Zombie Isle. It takes me back in time almost.
Isle does get pretty gruesome quite a few times - so what can you
tell us about the gore scenes and also the zombie designs in your movie,
and how was everything achieved?
can never have enough blood and guts in a zombie movie, haha. I wanted
to recreate the carnage of zombies eating victim's intestines and such. It's funny the things you can get motivated zombie actors to munch
on at the right moment, really though. I tried to make things that
tasted good at least, a lot of sugary stuff. I like the look of the
zombies in The Walking Dead,
I tried to go for a similar look. Most were
latex and cotton and paper towel build ups. I think they looked good for
the most part.
Do talk about Zombie
Isle's brand of comedy for a bit, and to what extent does it
comply with your own sense of humour?
had a line that we really never crossed I think, the zombie scenes were
never funny, they were always threatening or gruesome, and I tried to
allow the humor to come from the action and interaction of the characters.
I love horror and really don't find to many comedies very funny... BUT I am always trying to find the humor in everything, almost
constantly. My friends at work and I are always competing for “Joke of
What can you tell
us about your key cast, and why exactly these people?
Kyle Billiter, Tony Jones
Apryl Crowell, Crystal Howell
Billiter (Amie) - wonderful, talented, beautiful. I am lucky to have
her in a few of my movies. Tony Jones (Professor Grant Foster) - funny,
talented and down to earth, always there when you need him. Crystal Howell
(Heather) and Apryl Crowell (Laurie) [Apryl
Crowell interview - click here] - both talented and gorgeous,
will jump in with both feet and give great performances - I can't say
enough nice things. And David Witt (Dr. Claude Von Wolff) - a great and
talented character actor, he made a really creepy villain... and is such a
I'd worked with Kyle and Tony and David on previous
movies - always great -, but this was my first movie with Crystal and
and they too were fun and amazing.
of course also have to talk about your location for a bit, and what were
the advantages and challenges filming there?
the big secret is that we were never on an Island. We shot the boat
scenes on a lake and all of the land scenes in a local park. The worst
part was dealing with the TICKS. Ask everyone in the cast... TICKS!!!
you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
think it was pretty relaxed and fun. A lot of work, but that’s what it's about. I would meet up with zombies at about 9am and start makeup,
then the rest of the cast would show up about noon-1pm, and we’d start
shooting till the light gave out. This went on Saturday after Saturday
for the most part for a few months. Most of the time we were working
from a rough outline and at rare times some pre-written dialogue. It's just
the way I operate on a movie like this, I like to give the actors an
opportunity to improvise if thats what the scene needs. I try to keep things
fun but want everyone to leave feeling like they were part of something
few words about critical and audience reception of your movie so far?
seen three positive reviews to include yours, like 4 days out from the
official DVD release, so I'm really excited. No audience reactions yet, nobody has seen the finished movie
yet. I'm screening it in front
of an audience for the first time ever on October 12th at Hell-O-Ween
Fest 2014 in Fredricksburg, VA!
future projects you'd like to share?
got a new project in preproduction again in association with the Zombie Isle
Wide Multi Media, it’s a voodoo inspired
monster movie, Zombie Croc.
What got you into
filmmaking to begin with, and did you receive any formal training on the
always wanted to be an effects artist as a kid and we started making Super
8 films. Then video came along, and now anyone who ever wanted to make
movies has no excuse not to, especially with the quality of modern DSLR
cameras and such. I tell anyone who wants to make a film, just do it. Get a
camera, ANY camera, and make a movie, a short or whatever...
What can you tell us about your filmwork prior
to Zombie Isle?
have made 5 features since 2006 (Backwoods, Backwoods 2: The
Revenge of Caleb, Psychopath, Flesh of the Living, Vengeance
is a .44 Magnum,
plus a few shorts, Chick'n-Head and Nightmare at Bunnyman Bridge).
can't help but notice your work never strays too far away from the horror
genre - coincidence, or is horror a genre especially dear to you, and why
a horror fan, at least a fan of the older stuff. The modern world of
horror leaves a lot to be desired.
would you describe yourself as a director?
A control freak striving to get better. I tend to try to do EVERYTHING
on set, but I think I am good a scrabbling and putting together an
entertaining movie out of little to nothing.
who inspire you?
Carpenter, Robert Rodriguez, James Cameron, George Romero, Terry Gilliam,
Your favourite movies?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Big Trouble in Little China, Escape from New York, Terminator and
Terminator 2, Evil
Dead, Zombie, Aliens,The
Empire Strikes Back.
and of course, films you really deplore?
movies, I hated Wolf Creek, the Paranormal Activity films are
pretty lame to me at least...
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
Eyesore Films on Facebook, Zombie Isle
is on there, or look me up under "Robert Elkins".
you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
YOU for the review, thank you for supporting independent movies and horror
- and everyone should go buy a copy of Zombie Isle.
for the interview!