Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse
Director Christopher Landon
Hitting Blu Ray on January 5th, Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is probably one of the most entertaining horror comedies of last year. Playing as if The Goonies, The Hangover, and Shaun of the Dead had had a baby after a night of hard partying, SGZA is fun, gross, and doesn’t give a damn about couth. All the while it still has a nicely sweet story about friendship and first love at its heart.
The movie follows three friends, Ben, Carter, and Augie who are also scouts and who are growing up and growing apart. Augie is a die-hard scout while his two friends want to be “cool” kids. They plan to make this their last camping trip as scouts and will break the news to Augie that night. What they don’t plan on is a massive zombie outbreak happening throughout their town which infects not only humans but animals as well. All their merit badges will be needed to get them out of this apocalypse alive.
Director and co-writer Christopher Landon has made something outrageous with SGZA and has done so with a great cast and a concept that reminds me of 80’s slapstick and horror films but somehow manages to retain that coming of age tale too. It’s in your face with the gross and overt scenes but at the same time…it’s just so much fun.
And that’s exactly what Landon wanted to do with the film which, kudos to a major studio like Paramount for supporting a film like this. It gave me flashbacks to Re-Animator in some scenes (one you’ll surely notice…which they may have topped Re-Animator with.)
SGZA director Chris Landon chatted with me about the film and some of the insanity within it.
JD: There were things that I was not expecting in this movie.
CL: I know, apart from the opening sequence…you kind of ease into this skewed tone. But I think we maintain it throughout. But we yield to some pretty outlandish stuff. But I think that’s part of the charm. The fun of this movie was to kind of ride that line between the sweet coming of age story and full out raunchy gross comedy.
JD: It held a balance with it though. There’s a sweet innocence to movies like Gremlins and Goonies…but it’s really hard in this day and age to make a movie about teenagers because 15 is the new 25.
CL: Yeah it’s true.
JD: And you kind of have to have that more adult humor in these kind of movies. And you really did a great job keeping that balance. But I haven’t done that in a while where I just was at a movie and said “Holy $@@%” and started cackling like a lunatic.
CL: It’s so much fun seeing this movie with a crowd. I remember at one test screening…we record the audience reactions. And there were these guys in the front row literally jumping out of their chairs screaming and laughing. And I thought “Okay this works, this is fun.”
JD: The first one that made me die was the broken bottle to the head. That was brilliant. Did you make a list of ways to off zombies that you wanted to do?
CL: So I have a little rolodex that are sick ideas that are in my head. And the bottle thing had been around for a while in my head. The same goes for the window decapitation. Those are two kills that I always wanted. And it was one of those things that they fit organically in the story.
So I knew when we were going to be in the strip club I was like “Okay there’s a bar I can do this now!” It comes from building it out. If you are remodeling your kitchen and you know your centerpiece is going to be this beautiful stove…you sort of build everything around it. And that’s the way it works for me when I’m writing stuff.
That was the golden opportunity I was waiting for.
JD: Well we had talked previously about how awesome it was to have Cloris Leachman in this movie…while she wasn’t in it a lot…Oh my god…the ass gumming. I just was laughing and yelling “Oh No…she’s not…” Did she really?
JD: She really did that?
CL: She really did it. Not only did she really do it…she was so excited to do it the first day she met Logan Miller the first words out of her mouth were “I’m going to eat your ass.” And he burst out laughing. Like, this woman is legit and she’s coming for me.
When we shot the scene she would be down there gumming on his ass cheek and we would yell “Cut!” and she’d still be doing it. And we were like “Cloris stop! We’re not rolling anymore!” She was so fearless and so funny. I mean…I already think she’s that person that doesn’t care, but I also think that it’s that combination that she’s now in her 80’s and she has, pardon my French, no F$@!S to give. So she’ll do anything. She’s utterly fearless and I hope I can be like her one day; she’s one of my idols.
JD: So two references I noticed. You had a sign for Haddonfield.
JD: But that had to be Doctor Tongue from Day of the Dead as well.
CL: Yes! You got my references! I have little nods obviously. I’m a pretty rabid Carpenter fan and Halloween was one of those seminal movies of my childhood. And I mean childhood…I was probably seven when I saw it the first time. I kind of had to slip it in there.
The zombie thing, the tongue thing was obviously that. And there was of course and unbelievably inappropriate joke I was going for there. It was a joke that was a tough one because it offends people. But I was an equal opportunity offender with this movie. I thought if I could get away with THAT scene I can get away with a guy getting his dick ripped off. I’m after everyone in this movie.
JD: Was there any other things I might have missed you referenced?
CL: There are small nods to random things. But there’s one I did for a friend of mine. One of my best friends and I love the movie Showgirls. It is in my opinion one of the best comedies of all time…even if it wasn’t intended to be a comedy. I know now Verhoeven says it was. But there’s this one scene where she licks the pole when she’s doing this dance at the strip club. Our zombie stripper does the same exact move…so that was my nod to Showgirls. I know there’s more I’m such a movie nut…
Oh Die Hard obviously…the fall. That was straight out of Die Hard. That was part of the joke. So there’s some random movie nods.
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