By MICHAEL GINGOLD
The undead are persecuted in violent ways in LAST RITES OF THE DEAD, a grisly shocker that sees its Blu-ray debut this summer. We’ve got exclusive words from the writer/director, plus the info, cover art and trailer.
LAST RITES OF THE DEAD, written and directed by Marc Fratto and produced by Fratto, Frank Garfi, Andrew Dantonio and Brandi Metaxas of Insane-O-Rama Productions, will hit Blu-ray as well as DVD and VOD July 16 from SGL Entertainment. Gina Ramsden, Joshua Nelson, Christa McNamee, Kevin T. Collins, Gaetano Iacono, Constantine Josiah Taylor, Mary Jo Verruto, J. Scott Green, Kelly Ray, Amy Margaret, James E. Smith, Shannon Moore and Jocasta Bryan star, along with special guests Suzi Lorraine and Sally Pressman. The synopsis: “Angela [Ramsden] has been shot point blank by her boyfriend [Nelson] and lives in a world where the living and dead co-exist. Zombie Anonymous meetings, Look Alive face creams and all-meat diners help them cope in this bizarre society. LAST RITES OF THE DEAD takes you on a weird ride where life meets death—or does it?”
As Fratto tells RUE MORGUE, the movie takes a different tack from the usual depiction of zombies as mindless killers. “LAST RITES OF THE DEAD tells the story of what would happen if the dead came back to life, but had the ability to think and speak while still craving human flesh. A war starts to brew between the living and the dead, and at the center of it is a pair of estranged lovers whose relationship ended in violence and murder, turning her into a zombie. She gets pulled towards a group of zombie terrorists, while he is seduced into a group of zombie-killing vigilantes. Eventually the two sides collide, and plenty of gore and horror ensues.
“There’s a lot of comedy and satire in LAST RITES,” he continues. My favorite involves an infomercial for a cover-up cream for zombies. The film also has really great performances, led by Gina Ramsden as the undead heroine and Joshua Nelson as the living villain. I liked the idea of making a zombie the hero of the story.”
This edition of LAST RITES OF THE DEAD, which first premiered in 2006, is a director’s cut that’s different from the version released on DVD two years later under the title of ZA—ZOMBIES ANONYMOUS. “ZA was re-edited by its distributor and a lot of the gore was cut, as well as a good deal of plot in the second half,” Fratto explains. “When our contract with that distributor was up, we originally decided to rerelease the original 108-minute version. But after watching the film, I thought it would be more interesting to recut it: Trim the stuff that needed trimming, and put back in a lot of material that originally got deleted. As a result, it’s a tighter, better film, and also gorier and grittier.”
The disc editions will also include Insane-O-Rama’s short film DON’T FEED THE TROLL. “It’s about an Internet troll who gets stalked by a real troll,” Fratto says. “It’s got amazing creature makeup by Melissa Roth and a great performance by Gaetano Iacono, who also appears in LAST RITES. This one was inspired a little bit by CREEPSHOW and TALES FROM THE CRYPT, in the sense that it’s about a nasty person who gets his comeuppance at the hands of the supernatural.”