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Zombie-A-GoGo Interviews


Monday, December 19, 2005

6:17 PM - Scott Goldberg-They Day They Came Back

Scott Goldberg is the director of the upcoming The Day They Come Back, a zombie film that revolves around a group of survivors of a recent undead rising. Not only do they have to fight off these gory ghouls, they must also defend themselves from two ex-military officers who feel it is their duty to lock up them up. Here, Scott shares with us the details of the most important ingredient of a zombie film...the zombies.

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What made you decide to delve into the zombie subgenre?

I've always been a fan of horror and unfortunately, not until early 2003 did I first see Day of the Dead. I honestly didn't have a clue who had directed the film, but it was a guilty pleasure of mine. Then in early 2004 I saw Dawn of the Dead and loved it. In my last semester of college for my thesis I decided to write and direct a short film entitled The Night They Came Back, which basically kick started The Day They Came Back. I also find the historical aspect of the walking dead quite fascinating. I think that what takes away from a zombie film being believable is running zombies, such as the zombies in theDawn of the Dead 2004. Even Romero said that zombies need to be slow, mindless, and filled with sorrow.

George Romero is a major influence for you. Which of the dead films influenced you most, and which of his non-dead films were influential?

I love all of George's Dead Films. They are all great. Land of the Dead was sub-par, but I think within time it will become a classic to the fans. Day of the Dead is great because of Tom Savini's special FX make-up. And I'll be honest with you, if they used those effects from 1985 in Land of the Dead instead of CGI, then the first would have been much better. As for non-Dead Films, I really enjoyed Creepshow.

Who’s your favorite zombie in a film and why?

I'd have to go with picking Bub from Day of the Dead. George revolutionized those scenes and set it up for a possible sequel down the road in where zombies could actually start picking up and remembering human activities, and to me it makes sense. I do think that Tarman is another great character zombie from the 80's as well.

How do you generally feel about the zombie subgenre as it is now, and where do you think it’s going?

Independent filmmakers are trying to bring it back. As of right now, going into 2006 we have all of these "zombie" films such as 28 Days Later (which is more of a virus film), Dawn of the Dead, and they go against what zombies really need to be. The walking dead need to be slow, and not angry. For The Day They Came Back, they had to be slow. I am a fan of George and his slow zombies and believe that the walking deadwalk that way.

What very recent zombie films have you found pleasing?

Within the past 15 years, I'd say it's a very minimal number of films that I found pleasing. One of the recent zombie films I have enjoyed that comes to my mind is Tom Savini's remake of Night of the Living Dead. Tom knew what George wanted and made it into his own version and style. Patricia Tallman was great as Barbara, and you even have a cameo from Bill Moseley as Johnnie.

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In The Day They Came Back, what sort of zombies should we be expecting?

Slow zombies. I do not believe in the running zombies and it defeats the whole purpose of them being zombies. The walking dead are supposed to be filled with sorrow, pain, and agony. Even though they cannot feel those feelings, they still possess those memories of what they used to do.

There’s always a lot of focus on directing the main actors and such, but what about the zombies? What sort of direction did they get? How simple or difficult was it to get a group of people all to portray what you wanted to see?

I had to tell all of the featured zombie extra's for The Day They Came Back to walk slow, and as if they were mindless and filled with sorrow and agony. I told them no screaming and to not yell the word "Brains!". Certain days on location, I was very busy with the main actors, and 1st AD Eric Ramos was filling in the featured zombie extras with that information. Ultimately, for the sound of the zombies, Marinho Nobre created the zombie groans and grunts in studio.

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I understand that there was a kind of zombie make-up transition from the early shoots to the later shoots. Given what you learned in that experience, what sort of make-up/effects advice do you have for those aspiring zombie film makers?

On the first day, we quite honestly didn't know what we were doing. Chiko Mendez, who played the lead of Enrique Hernandez in The Day They Came Back came down on the first day--since we were shooting the zombie scenes in the neighborhood that day--to help with the makeup. We had a great turnout on the first day. It was the first weekend of April 2005 and the weather was nice out, and everyone was in high spirits. Three weeks later, we found two special FX make-up artists: John T. Farley and Sacred. This was John's first time doing zombie makeup and he basically turned the whole project around. He wasn't afraid to try new things for the zombies. My advice for aspiring zombie filmmakers would be to hire someone who has experience in the special FX make-up area and learn from them, because if it wasn't for John and Sacred, I would not have been able to learn what I did during this project.

In your own words, please describe the appearance of the zombies we can expect to see for The Day They Came Back.

The zombies in The Day They Came Back are the type that have just come out of the grave due to a toxic experiment by the government. Think of the zombies from Return of the Living DeadDay of the Dead, but on a much lower budget. The film was shot on $3,000 and we had maybe $1,000 for the special FX make-up supplies the whole shoot, so we had to be careful and not go over budget with the money we had.

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What are some other favorite horror/creepy films?

I like all types of horror films. I am very much into 80's slasher films. If you asked me my two favorite horror films of all time, I'd have to say Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween. Both are classics and had revolutionized horror. Being turned onto Halloween, I am also a fan of The Fog and They Live.


I've been so busy with my independent filmmaking career that I've been unable to read the number of books I'd like to. I do however read horror stories online and write in my spare time.

Any other influences that you don’t often get asked about that you’d like to share here?

I'd say that life influences me. If I have an idea or situation in my life that I want to touch base on through filmmaking, I'll do it. Other filmmakers and artists can only influence you to a certain point, but you have to have your own style as well.

If filmmaking was just not an option, what would you see yourself doing?

I don't see myself doing anything other than filmmaking. Nothing else would be an option. If I wasn't making films or being creative, that what otheroption is there? For me, it would have to be something to do with film since I love it so much. It's like love for me.

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What are some upcoming projects?

I have some self-produced, short horror films in pre-production right now which we will be shooting throughout 2006. All I Want For Christmas is one of those films, as is another film that is currently untitled--both starring veteran actor Chiko Mendez. In Spring 2006, I will be working with Paul Kratka (Friday the 13th Part 3) again on a film entitled Breakthrough.

Beyond upcoming projects, where would you realistically like to see yourself in the near future?

I think any filmmaker wants to see their film get out to the masses and do well. I want people to enjoy the films that I will continue to make and my goal is for them to enjoy themselves. I see myself making films for a long time.

What are the chances that we’ll be seeing more zombies form you at some point?

As of right now, I am working on a couple of potential projects, which are in different category types of the horror genre. It wouldn't be a bad idea to do another zombie film. The only problem is the budget. For the type of scenes and zombie make-up I'd love to do, you need to have more than $3,000. Otherwise, I'd be happy to make another zombie film.

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The Day They Came Back will be premiering on Scott's website in December 24th, 2005. Be sure not to miss it! You can check out the teaser trailer here. Click here for more interviews with Scott Goldberg.

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