After four seasons and the tease of a feature film version looming for the last few years, the cult zombie comedy web series Zomblogalypse celebrates its ninth anniversary with a new episode this Halloween that also serves as a teaser trailer for a movie version.
Creators Miles Watts, Hannah Bungard and Tony Hipwell – who also write and star – have been developing a film version of ‘Zomblog’ for several years. Depicting the hapless survivors of a zombie apocalypse in the British city of York, the show has now amassed nearly a million online views. It has been studied at American Universities, featured in horror textbooks (see Vincent Terrace’s Internet Horror, Science-Fiction and Fantasy Television Series, 1998 - 2013) and enjoyed by such luminaries as Charlie Adlard, Tom Savini and The Guild’s Sandeep Parikh.
“We were adamant that the film be done right,” says Watts, who plays Miles as a rather cynical survivor of the apocalypse. “It has a certain irreverent vibe that if it was even slightly off it just wouldn’t be as funny, so it has been a major passion project to find the right way to make it. We’ve had the script on the desks of some major film and TV companies so far: the development process has been long and fascinating.”
Hipwell, who plays the human wrecking ball Tony in the series, explains, “We ended up writing about eighteen script drafts while we were in development with a Hollywood studio, then went back to the first two series and asked ourselves what worked best. The story we eventually hit on is very much in the style of the original show. It'd be great if we'd come up with the idea earlier but sometimes you have to take the long way round."
This technique, which not only served the crew on the Zomblog series but also for their second feature film Amber, is, according to Watts, “part Spinal Tap and part ‘we can’t act, so let’s be ourselves.’ We also love Curb Your Enthusiasm: the ad-libbing can yield funnier lines than if you sat down and wrote a script.”
Bungard, who plays the fearful Hannah and spends most of the series hiding in a bath to avoid the gory zombie attacks – says that the improv aspect is what works best for Zomblog: “We play versions of ourselves, so I’m phobic and jumpy, which I am in real life when it comes to horror; Miles’ character tends to be stand-offish and dismissive which ends up being very funny; Tony’s just this weapons-mad wild card who’s kind of relishing the apocalypse.”
The film, which will boast ‘gallons of gore and lots of unhealthy laughs’ will be shot in early 2018 before hitting the festival circuit. “Letting go of the notion of a big budget Zomblog Movie really freed us to make a film that wasn't a pale imitation" says Hipwell. "We've got a lot more experience and a lot more tools now to make something that will hopefully be just as outrageous, ridiculous, hilarious and unique as the series was.”
This DIY shoot-and-release technique served the team well when releasing their last feature Whoops!, which won laurels and awards at the Raindance Film Festival and went on to be the sole British film on the festival’s inaugural cinema tour in 2014.
Keep up with the adventures of Zomblogalypse – including the first four seasons and all upcoming movie news – at ZOMBLOGALYPSE.COM.