People may come for the politics, but they will stay for the gore.
That’s what director and lover of the horror genre Adam Schabow hopes as he makes the low-budget, independent zombie film New World Horror around Wisconsin this summer.
The unique horror movie, complete with Tea Party zombies, is set to begin filming in mid-May. Shooting will take place in Janesville, Milwaukee and Madison, and Schabow hopes to gain access to the capital for filming.
New World Horror has already received pushback from the conservative right.
Schabow said that the “knee-jerk” reaction to the pre-production film fits a theme found in the movie: Don’t judge a book (or in this case, movie) by its cover (or teaser poster). “It’s interesting because that is definitely one of the themes of the movie and we’re seeing it play out,” he said.
The movie is about a Tea Party rally gone awry, with eight varied characters barricading themselves in a church after tea partiers turn into zombies.
The eight protagonists in the film reflect Wisconsin’s diversity, including a teacher, a union man, a Pakistani, an old-school Republican, and even a “lesbian knife throwing priest.”
While Schabow says there are themes of social commentary throughout the movie, it’s not a specific attack on one political party.
“Some of it is about mindless partisan politics and extremism from all angles,” said Schabow. “While I veer to the left, the movie does poke fun at everyone.”
According to Schabow, he and his crew are just trying to make a quality horror movie.
“There are political overtones in background, but that’s something that is secondary to us,” he said. “First and foremost, we want to scare the heck out of everyone.”
Several aspects of the film are designed to do just that. The movie’s makeup head, Fern Loaiza-Renfro has created unique, frightening zombies that Schabow is proud of.
“It’s not just throwing a bunch of ketchup on people,” he said.
According to one of the movie’s producers Sarah Bartash, the set locations for the film are creepy even before any added zombies. The movie is being filmed in black and white, which should add to this effect, while emphasizing the theme of polarization in the political arena.
Despite being a low-budget film, Schabow stressed that the team is focused on quality. With talented filmmaker (and bartender at High Noon Saloon) Steven Renfro on board, pieces started falling in place.
“We bought expensive cameras, expensive equipment, of course [focused on] knowing how to use them,” said Schabow. “We did all that for the audience to have a cinematic experience.”
With all the expenses, the movie’s crew has reached out to the community for help.
Bartash said that while fundraising is never easy, they are finding the right audience and right reasons to raise money. She hopes people will continue to support endeavors like independent films.
“Projects like this add so much richness to society,” she said. “They’re interesting, they’re fun, and they give people a chance to go places they haven’t before.”
New World Horror has raised about $1700 on Indiegogo, a crowd-funding website that helps raise money for a variety of campaigns, reaching 35 percent of its target goal.
The donations for New World Horror come with unique incentives. If you donate $5, your name will be included in the credits as a “blood donor,” $75 will buy a “slogan of your choice” featured on a Tea Party sign in the movie, and for $750 Schabow will write a personal zombie theme song.
Schabow encourages people to donate and get involved with the film’s production. “We’re going to make a really, really good movie and they can be a part of it. We’d love to see their name regardless of their political affiliation,” he added. “We’re just having fun making this movie and we want everyone to be a part of that fun.”
An upcoming New World Horror fundraiser at the Frequency on May 31 at 9 p.m. will include the musical performers the Werewolverine, Sons of Atom, the Blowtorches, and the Gran Fury.
According to Schabow, he chose Madison because it’s at the heart of politics, but also because it made sense for the story and had personal ties for both him and other members of the crew. “My heart’s in Madison no matter what,” he said.
Along with all of the producers, many of the actors are also from the Madison area, and have been both on the stage and on screen.
Schabow has been impressed with the outpour of involvement from the community.
“The thing that surprised me the most is that people just kind of come out of the woodwork when you start putting these creative projects out there,” he said. “This thing has snowballed into having so many talented actors I’ve seen on stage. They’re now in this movie and it’s great and humbling and awesome.”
According to Bartash, New World Horror’s social media involvement and presence at fundraising events have helped create hype about the film. The nature of the film has been helped generate interest, as well.
Schabow said the political nature has created frenzy, but as Bartash said, “horror movies have never shied away from having social commentary.” And as it seems, people have a lasting interest in zombies.
In the end, Schabow underscores the importance of making a good horror movie over worrying about the political overtones. He said that politics “heat people up,” and added “We have a lesbian knife throwing priest, so no one should take it that seriously.”
“We’re just having fun and want to make a movie,” Schabow said. “Really, that’s what it comes down to. Make a good, bloody horror movie.