[The indomitable Patrick Dolan is back again with another Sinister Seven. This time, Patrick homes in on John Lyde, the man who's giving Osama Bin Laden the zombie treatment in Osombie: The Axis of Evil Dead.]
Zombies have been horror’s hot topic for the past few years and they aren’t showing signs of letting up. Just as relentless is the war that has been raging in Afghanistan since the devastating attacks of September 11, 2001. Of course the causation of the former has no relation to the latter – that is, unless you’re talking about the upcoming film Osombie: The Axis of Evil Dead.
Osombie centers on Dusty, a woman determined to rescue her brother after he disappears in Afghanistan while on a hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Joined by a NATO Special Forces team on a secret mission, Dusty runs afoul of an undead Bin Laden and a slew of his reanimated compatriots. The film has wrapped shooting, but director John Lyde and producers Arrowhead Entertainment are looking for funding to finish the visual effects. They have a Kickstarter page and are asking for fans and would-be financers to help them out. With such an outrageous premise and the opportunity for horror fans to get involved in supporting an independent feature, questions came to mind involving morality, controversy, zombies and horror. Here’s what Lyde had to say.
How did you come up with this idea, and what got the ball rolling?
A company I did some video work for, OPSGEAR, created these targets with Osama Bin Laden as a zombie – Osombie targets. They did a YouTube video of them at a shooting range, unloading on the targets and having such a fun time doing it. I thought it would be fun to do a video in which a team of Special Forces were shooting zombie terrorists and thoroughly enjoying it. I wrote a two-page treatment and then contacted a buddy of mine, Kurt Hale, because I knew how much he loved zombies, and he wrote the script. Arrowstorm Entertainment purchased the script and the rest is history.
Obviously this is a sensitive topic for many people. How would you respond to a claim that this film is in bad taste?
It is about zombies, it isn’t supposed to be taken too seriously.
Is there a message you are trying to get across with this film?
No message at all. It is meant to be entertainment.
The script was written before his death. On the night he was killed, I got text messages from several friends who were going to be a part of the project, asking what we were going to do. The original idea, when no one knew where Osama was, was going to be that he couldn’t be found because he was a zombie. We changed the script after the announcement of his death. Not too drastically, just the set-up.
Your past films seem to be heavily rooted in Utah and, to a lesser extent, possess elements related to the Mormon faith. Are you a practicing Mormon, and how does this inform your filmmaking?
I am a practicing Mormon. My religion teaches us to not attend, view or participate in anything that is vulgar, immoral, violent or pornographic in any way. That can be difficult for a fan of horror films. I don’t like torture porn films like Saw or Hostel. But I love a good scare. Not all of my films are going to be religious or have a religious message. Some are just for entertainment purposes, like Osombie. There is a lot of violence in the film, but I tried to keep it a little cartoony and over the top to lessen the gross-out factor. I was teased on set because of the amount of zombie gore in the film and guys with their shirts off, but complete lack of swearing and female nudity.
I grew up loving the genre. The Thing is one of my all-time favorite movies. I think I enjoyed watching the making of those films almost as much as watching [the films themselves]. I loved learning how the special effects makeup was done. I recently really enjoyed the first two-thirds of Insidious. I don’t know what happened with the last act of the film.
There is currently a glut of zombie media that has been flooding popular culture in the past couple of years. What is your opinion of this over-saturation?
I think if there is success in any genre, there is a flood of [it]. Look what Twilight did to vampire and werewolf movies. As long as some well-made films come out if it, we can skip the bad and watch the good. Only a few seem to stand out recently. I thought the first season of The Walking Dead was really well put together and Zombieland was well-written, acted and directed. I think what sets Osombie out from other zombie films is the uniqueness of the zombies. They are not just your normal, everyday Joe being turned into a zombie. These are terrorists that have been turned into zombies, [which makes] for cool costumes and cool makeup.
Kynan Griffin of Arrowhead Entertainment also had this to add: “I think it’s an important catharsis for our society to be able to move beyond our villains, to tear them down as an object of fear and turn them into a joke, an object of ridicule that shatters whatever cause they embodied. That being said, we understand, for some, that they just want to move on and never speak of an evil again – that’s legitimate, and this film is not for them.”
So there you have it, folks: the facts in the case of Osombie: The Axis of Evil Dead. You can get to their Kickstarter page here, where the filmmakers are offering rewards for different donation price points. But don’t hesitate, as the funding period ends on April 1.