Superhero Shorts: Marvel Zombies: The Movie
Welcome back to another edition of Superhero Shorts, where each time I showcase a superhero themed short film and have a brief talk with the creator. This week I’m talking with Jim Ojala and his teaser trailer based on the popular run of the Marvel Zombies storyline where most of the Marvel superheroes had been turned into zombies and ended up attacking and killing those who they were trying to protect. I’ve kind of been wanting to do something horror themed, and as there isn’t always a lot of horror/superhero crossover, I thought this was a great choice. As usual, you can watch it below, or you can view it on Jim Ojala’s YouTube channel, and you can also visit his official website to see some of his other work and what he is currently working on.
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but even though I’m not a big comic book reader, I was familiar with the Marvel Zombies craze that happened a few years ago. I thought it was an interesting way to go combining the Marvel superheroes with more horror focused storylines involving zombies and crazy looking zombified designs. This short is really just a showcase for bringing three of those designs to life, for Spiderman, the Hulk, and Captain America. But on top of that, it also picked a few great moments to really sell the concept and shot it in such a way to ramp up the horror aspect. Of the three designs, the Spiderman zombie looked the best by far. Hulk and Captain America both also looked great visually, but there were obviously limitations as far as how well the makeup moved. Though you should of course take this criticism with a grain of salt because it’s coming from someone whose expertise wholly consists of watching five seasons of Face Off. But enough from me, let’s hear from Jim Ojala himself.
Bubbawheat: What was the original inspiration for you to create a short based on the Marvel Zombies series?
Jim Ojala: My co-director and fellow FX artist, Scott Fields, and I were already creating the costumes for Halloween. We were fans of the comic series so we figured why not shoot a short film of how a teaser trailer might look for a full length movie of Marvel Zombies and make use of these cool costumes?
BW: Were there any other Marvel Zombie characters that you would have loved to do if you had the extra time & budget?
JO: Honestly if there was more time/budget we would have first bought or created a higher end Spiderman costume. Aside from that Wolverine of course would have been cool. Also, doing something with Black Panther being the last surviving non-zombie superhero like in the comic would have been interesting.
BW: Honestly, one of my favorite things about this short isn’t actually in the short, but the retrospective that you did that shows a lot of behind the scenes footage and approaches the whole thing in a very funny way. What inspired the idea to create a retrospective of this fan film, and how did that sarcastically funny tone come about?
JO: A lot of the fans of our short were dying to see more. After creating the short we had so much extra footage of outtakes and behind the scenes. I thought it would be entertaining and humorous to make a faux 10 minute documentary about a 2 minute movie. I absolutely hate those self-congratulatory “making of’s” that appear on DVD extras so I thought this would be a great opportunity to goof on those.
BW: And I think you succeeded very much so. You’ve worked on a lot of horror films, and also several superhero projects in the makeup department, do you enjoy doing the effects makeup more for horror or superheroes?
JO: I enjoy doing makeup effects in horror films more. In most superhero films it ends up with making costumes which isn’t quite as interesting for me as making a creature or an exploding head. However, I worked on the Ice Giants for Thor at Legacy FX which was pretty cool.
BW: Can you tell me a little bit about your current project: Strange Nature? From the brief synopses I read, it sounds kind of like a cross between National Geographic and Rosemary’s Baby, am I anywhere close?
JO: Actually that’s not a bad comparison. Strange Nature is a Eco Horror feature film revolving around the real life unsolved deformed frog outbreaks in the U.S. and the dangerous places they might lead. Basically it’s asking the question; At what point do you care about what’s going on in the world? When it affects your family pets? More dangerous animals in your local wilderness or maybe even your baby? We show where this real life phenomenon could go. We see this all through the eyes of a single mother and her young son as the mutation outbreaks grip a small town in Minnesota. We’ll be shooting the film in Minnesota next fall…and will feature all practical makeup/creature FX. More info at the official site.
BW: As I ask everyone, I have to ask what is your favorite superhero movie?
JO: Maybe it’s nostalgia but I’m still a die hard for Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman. When that came out it was my whole world as a kid. Some of the harshly dated material (Joker dancing to Prince songs) aside I still really love it and I feel it captures the quintessential comic book feel. If you want to open up the definition of superhero beyond comics, Robocop and The Toxic Avenger would be other major influential favorites.
Those are great choices too, I really enjoyed both Robocop and the Toxic Avenger, even though I wasn’t as fond of the later Toxie movies. Thanks again for taking the time to talk to me and good luck on your next project, Strange Nature. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.