Scott Spiegel, co-writer of EVIL DEAD II and writer/director of the cult slasher flick INTRUDER, has written and will direct ZOMBIE WEDDING, a ghoulish genre movie that’s equal parts romantic, comedic and horrific. Spiegel’s new high-concept project is based on Midwest filmmaker Marc Selz’s screenplay of the same title, which Spiegel rewrote with Selz’s collaboration. Fango’s editor emeritus Tony Timpone will produce ZOMBIE WEDDING, which follows a couple of young horror lovers who decide to hold a zombie-themed wedding on Halloween night only to have “real” flesh-eating ghouls crash their celebration! Some 30 production companies are currently bidding on ZOMBIE WEDDING, with shooting slated to begin in early 2013.
“The idea for ZOMBIE WEDDING came up in early 2010,” recalls Selz, the co-writer/director of the independent fright films SATANIC PANIC, THE ROCKVILLE SLAYER and SHORT CUT ROAD. “I loved the title, but really didn’t know where I was going to go with it. I had never done a zombie film and, truthfully, I wasn’t the biggest zombie fan. But the zombie craze was in full effect, and if I was going to make a zombie film, it had to be something fresh and fun and would stand out on its own.”
Selz scoured the Internet to see if anyone had already come up with the title ZOMBIE WEDDING as a movie, and lo and behold, nobody had ever used it before. “I was really shocked,” he says, “and so I realized that this movie had to be done now while zombies are ruling the TV airwaves, running rampant through best-selling books and filling seats at movie theaters in huge numbers. As a name, ZOMBIE WEDDING sounded both campy and catchy, and I wanted to spin it to make it scary and gory, too.”
Selz was equally surprised to find an assortment of true-life living-dead nuptials on YouTube and in Las Vegas, which inspired him further. “Some of those fan videos were really amazing and elaborate,” he says. “This concept is really nuts; people actually have zombie-themed weddings! That’s when it all clicked! I came up with the idea of having a couple who are die-hard horror movie buffs throw a zombie wedding. But what if real zombies came in and crashed it? How could the wedding guests dressed like zombies tell who the real zombies are in all the chaos, and how would the real zombies tell the fake zombies apart?”
The filmmaker worked with the concept for months and turned it into a three-page treatment. He then sent it over to FANGORIA’s Timpone, who he had met at one of the magazine’s Chicago conventions two decades ago. “Tony got back to me pretty quickly and said he loved the treatment and thought it was really a unique concept and it stood out from all the other zombie stuff he had read in the past. Less than three months later, I had a first-draft screenplay completed and Tony attached as a producer! Tony suggested that we should talk to some writer/directors in Hollywood to see if they want to get on board, and we both agreed that Scott Spiegel would be our first and best choice. I loved the humor he brought to EVIL DEAD II, my favorite of the series, and if anyone would get ZOMBIE WEDDING, it would be Scott.”
Spiegel, who directed HOSTEL: PART III and FROM DUSK TILL DAWN 2: TEXAS BLOOD MONEY, admits to immediately being attracted to the uniqueness of Selz’s initial screenplay. “The title ZOMBIE WEDDING—I wondered why somebody didn’t think of it sooner,” says Spiegel, who also co-wrote Clint Eastwood’s THE ROOKIE and counts Quentin Tarantino, Sam Raimi and Eli Roth as three of his closest friends. “ZOMBIELAND meets BRIDESMAIDS—great mash up when everyone in the wedding is dressed up like zombies and then ‘real’ zombies burst in and no one can tell the ‘real’ zombies from the ‘fake’ zombies.
“Better wed than dead,” Spiegel laughs impishly.
Spiegel took Selz’s 91-page screenplay and revised it to his own 101-page script, which his agent began submitting to film companies this fall. “All of the characters are the same, and the storyline with the twist is the same,” Selz says. “However, Scott took it up a notch so that it would work better in today’s market. Once he was done with his draft, we both worked together on all of the finishing touches and ended up with one kick-ass script. I knew we would have to come up with a better concept than just having zombies attack a wedding. Scott ingeniously took the idea to a much bigger place.”
One of Spiegel’s changes allowed the screenwriter to skewer a current TV fad. “I wanted the characters in ZOMBIE WEDDING to also be taking part in a reality show,” Spiegel says. “When the real zombies attack the fake zombies at the wedding, the people watching the show on TV thinks it’s all part of the show and they are loving it even though the real zombies kill and devour the wedding guests!”
Besides a nonstop assault of terror, expect the decaying monsters in ZOMBIE WEDDING to boast some distinct inspiration. “When the dead arise from their graves, they keep on coming and coming, creating untold horrors for the bride and groom,” Spiegel says. “The clashing of glitzy fake reality show wedding zombies and newly undead zombies is great. There are lots of twists and turns. The real zombies move according to the freshness of the corpse—the fresher the faster—older the slower. Nice to mix up the speed of the zombies—you can have scenes of suspense when an older slower or injured zombie attacks someone who is trapped and then you can have the super-fast zombie appear suddenly, so you never know who will jump out or turn on you.”
In addition, Spiegel notes, “The real zombies use knives and forks and all types of cutlery to slice, dice and gut the wedding guests and eat them.”
ZOMBIE WEDDING’s creators promise that their film will feature horror, humor and satire. But what’s first on the menu? “To make a scary, gory, suspenseful and unrelenting zombie film with some heart,” says Spiegel. “Having characters you care about makes the horror more horrifying.”
“Humorous situations will be happening with the human characters having fun with the whole zombie thing, but when those real zombies come in, it will be terrifying and gory,” adds Selz. “Also, our zombies will have a unique thing going on that will separate them from other past zombie films.”
Summing up ZOMBIE WEDDING, Selz is thrilled to see his undead fearfest blossom into a much larger production than anticipated, and he likes what his partners have brought to the bloody table. “I chose both Scott and Tony because these guys are veterans who really understand the genre and these types of films, as well as the film business,” says Selz, who counts SHAUN OF THE DEAD, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, ZOMBIELAND and the original DAWN OF THE DEAD as his favorite zombie pictures. “Scott has done this many times before and has a proven track record behind him. His knowledge of horror goes so far back that he has me watching films that I never knew existed. Tony’s experience in the industry as well as his knowledge in the genre speaks for itself. I am just really honored that they both wanted to work with me. ZOMBIE WEDDING will ultimately be a film put together by people who love the genre. The end product will show it.”