Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.
With a title like ZOMBEAVERS, you know what you’re in for– some good ol’ fashion ridiculous fun. And just because it’s ridiculous doesn’t mean it lacks merit. ZOMBEAVERS puts a big-fat-goofy smile on your face when you watch it.
The film follows a group of 20-somethings who venture into the woods for a weekend of sex and debauchery. After a toxic waste spills alongside a road, their fun quickly becomes a nightmare, as beavers turn into zombeavers. Thus, the group must attempt to fend off the zombeavers, or else… they’re damned!
Fresh Fiction caught up with one the cast members, Jake Weary (IT FOLLOWS), who plays Tommy in ZOMBEAVERS. We talked about B-movies, favorite movie death scenes, and the hard work that went into making ZOMBEAVERS the laugh riot it is.
Jake Weary: “So how did you like ZOMBEAVERS after watching IT FOLLOWS?”
I really enjoyed it, man. I laughed my ass off the entire time I was watching it.
J. Weary: “Really?!”
I really did! I don’t know. I grew up watching B-movies. My mom worked right next door to a Blockbuster, so I would grab a few of them.
J. Weary: “Ah, Blockbuster! Yeah, man. Jordan Rubin, our director, is a really cool guy. When I first read the script I was like, ‘What is this?’ [Laughs] But then I met with Jordan and totally got it. After I talked with him and he told me his vision for the film and how he wanted it to be more practical, I was on board. I’m not a big fan of computer-generated crap. So I’m glad Jordan decided to go the route he did because I don’t know if the jokes and gags would have come across as strong if he hadn’t used puppets and practical effects.
You gamble with material like this, but after meeting everyone (the cast and filmmakers), I knew this was going to be fun, and it was.”
I hear ya. I remember when I was a kid, renting this B-movie movie called PROPHECY. It came out in the late ’70s. Have you ever heard of it?
J. Weary: “[Laughs] No, I haven’t heard of it.”
It’s pretty similar to ZOMBEAVERS, where this industrial strength waste makes contact with a bear and it turns into this mutant bear thing.
J. Weary: “No sh-t?! [Laughs]”
No joke. It has one of the funniest, best movie death scenes ever (watch the clip here). This bear grabs a hold of this guy in this banana-shaped sleeping bag, throws him at a boulder and he explodes.
J. Weary: “Oh my God! That sounds awesome.”
It is! But the thing is… there’s no blood during that scene. He explodes and it’s chicken feathers. It makes no sense, but it’s great.
J. Weary: “That sounds so awesome. You will have to send that to me.”
[Laughs] Will do. This shouldn’t be a spoiler, but people die in ZOMBEAVERS, and in some pretty epic ways. Do you have any favorite movie death scenes?
J. Weary: “Pretty much every time Steve Buscemi dies in a movie– it’s the funniest thing to me. Have you seen the Youtube video on all the Steve Buscemi deaths?”
No, I sure haven’t, but I will now (watch the clip here).
J. Weary: “Oh my God, you have to watch it! It’s the funniest sh-t ever. It’s so funny to watch the way he acts when he dies. FARGO is probably my favorite movie death.”
That’s a really good one! I’d have to say Sam Jackson in DEEP BLUE SEA, too (watch the clip here).
J. Weary: “Oh yeah! How does he die in that again?”
He’s giving this speech to pump the party up near open water and a shark jumps up and pulls him in the water– but it looks super fake.
J. Weary: “Oh, right! [Laughs] I forgot he was in it. I thought it was just LL Cool J. Wait, is LL Cool J in it?”
Yeah! LL Cool J and Sam Jackson [Laughs]. Brad Pitt in THE COUNSELOR was pretty interesting as well.
J. Weary: “I didn’t see that.”
I had high hopes for it as a massive Cormac McCarthy fan, but it really just let me down.
J. Weary: “Yeah, that’s what I heard. It got pretty sh-tty reviews.”
Yeah, it did. I wasn’t too kind to it neither.
J. Weary: “That’s funny.”
Yeah. Cormac McCarthy just has the most unique weapons in his films and books. In THE COUNSELOR, there’s this device that works as this timed noose. It is slipped over your neck just tight enough to where you can’t get it off, and it has this timer that slowly makes it tighter to where it ultimately decapitates you. It’s pretty sick, literally.
J. Weary: “Whoa. Weird! I may just have to watch it now.”
Proceed with caution.
J. Weary: “[Laughs]”
B-movies have been around since the start of film. They we’re huge in the 50s and 80s. Is there an aspect from that early age of filmmaking that you wish you could have experienced? I guess IT FOLLOWS was sort of 80s since it paid homage to classic Carpenter films.
J. Weary: “Yeah! I don’t know. What do you consider a B-movie? What the difference between a B-movie and let’s say an A-movie?”
Something cheap, over-the-top, and ridiculous just for the sake of being ridiculous.
J. Weary: “So something so stupid it’s funny?”
J. Weary: “Yeah. I don’t know. I wasn’t really the biggest B-movie guy growing up. I just didn’t really get into them. I guess because I just didn’t get the joke [Laughs]. I don’t know. I guess a movie like WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER is a B-movie of sorts. Right?”
Yeah, I would say so.
J. Weary: “The funny, over-the-top sort–“
Of the comedy genre. Sure.
J. Weary: “Yeah. Something like that. I would really love to do something like that. That’s the kind of comedies I like, where it’s played so straight but the subject material is so out there. I would really love to do something like that– where it’s ridiculous but still grounded.”
Yeah, like you have to see it to know what is it, but with a movie like ZOMBEAVERS, you know what you’re in for based on the title alone.
J. Weary: “Exactly! Like, oh, you’re seeing a movie about zombie-beavers.”
J. Weary: “I’m excited for people to see it. So much hard work went into the making of this film, unlike CGI fish in a tornado. We had people sweating their asses off doing the puppetry for this film.”
Yeah, man. I haven’t seen the SHARKNADO movies, but they probably only spent a week filming it and the rest was just adding the sharks in with CGI.
J. Weary: “Yeah! It’s so easy to throw a shark at someone in post. When we were shooting ZOMBEAVERS, there was this actual, tangible thing that we could perform off of. That’s what made it such a fun experience, and that’s what sold me about doing it– that everything, for the most part, was going to be done practically. It really added to the comedy aspect of it, because you would have this zombie-beaver thing with it’s guts hanging out. It’s so absurd and ridiculous but still fun, exciting and scary.”
ZOMBEAVERS is available on VOD now.