Long Haired Zombie-Killing Freak #22

“Don’t complain to me! I told you I’m not a barber.” Tracy said.

“I’m not complaining at you. I really appreciate you for taking care of this for me.” I told her, taking both of her hands in mine to drive my sincerity home. “You’re a lifesaver, and you’re compassionate beyond reason.”

She gave me a quizzical look, almost like she was trying to decide if I was serious, or if I was laying it on with a trowel.

“Frank, I don’t know you well enough to judge if you were just sincere, or if you were blowing sunshine up my ass. Which was it? I need to know if I ought to retaliate.”

“It was sincere gratitude and appreciation. I nearly died because a zombie biker caught me by the hair.”

“Oh. Well, then, you’re welcome. Can I have my hands back?”

I let her go, and she looked at the floor, as if meeting my eyes was uncomfortable. I haven’t had that effect on a woman in… a long time. A moment later, she lifted her head, and squinted at me.

“I’ll let you sweep the floor as soon as your balls will let you. I think I deserve a drink after being so compassionate.” She said, gave me a pat on my bald noggin, and sauntered over to the bar.

“Um. I feel strangely alone, and vulnerable right now.” I looked around at everyone, without moving anything below my waist, and found myself craving a hug. “I could use a hug.”

“Gosh, dude.” Shawn, the Nordic Wonder said. “If I knew you better, I’d wrap my manly arms around you, and let you chill with my southern comfort.”

“That’s really kind of you. I think.”

“Yep. I’m a magnanimous, heterosexual, kind of man.”

Marvin gave him a high-five.

Have you ever wondered if people were gaining points at your expense?

I would have continued on that thought path, if bullets hadn’t rained in through the front door, and the wall facing the street. No one inside the bar made a noise; we all hit the floor, and started to pray to our favorite deities.

The fall to the floor jostled my pummeled plums, and I bit my lower lip to keep from cursing at volume, just as the incoming fire turned the table I’d been sitting at into kindling. Whatever ammunition our attackers were using was powerful stuff, and I thanked my lucky stars they got the table, not me.

One good thing came of it: my bag of tricks (that had been sitting on the table) dropped down right in front of my face. I pulled out my .45, and whistled at everyone over near the bar. Shawn raised his disheveled head, and I threw the shotgun I’d taken off the zombies in his direction.

He caught it with one ham-sized hand—a credit to Southern manhood—and jacked a shell.

I heard Shirley do the same, with the shotgun she’d recently held to my head.

Marvin manifested an AR-15 machine gun from behind the bar, and passed it over to Tracy. Surprisingly enough, she looked completely at ease with the weapon. A moment later, Marvin’s magic caused a pair of 9mm pistols to appear in his hands. The man never ceased to surprise me.

The gunfire stopped as suddenly as it began. We looked at one another, and you could almost hear the same question being rolled around in all of our heads. “Is it okay to move now?”

Our instant cerebral gestalt extended to the answer to our shared question: “No. Don’t move.” We didn’t.

“Excuse me, people in the bar!” Someone yelled from outside the front door.

“Yes, asshole who is shooting up my walls?” Marvin replied.

“Can your zombie exterminator come out and play now?”

Marvin looked over his thick glasses at me, and flipped me the bird. I just shrugged. It wasn’t my idea that the chumps come looking for me.

“Zombie exterminator? Is that a craft, microbrew, or some kind of bottled shit that I haven’t heard of before?”

“Ha. Ha. Very funny, Mr. Bartender! The bottle of shit had better present himself in the next 30 seconds, or we’ll burn down your little establishment. Am I clear?”

Marvin winced.

“Yes, you are both clear and eloquent.”

Posted in Fiction | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Zombie Casserole Chronicles – Part Four

Our usual Thursday post happens to be on a Friday.  After a busy week and Thanksgiving, I finally have a chance to catch my breath and slow down a pace.  Hear that? No? That’s good. It’s the sound of a quiet house as I enjoy the day off.  Last weekend was another story.

Andy Prokurat, who plays Wally in Zombie Casserole, put sleep aside to come out this past Sunday and finish filming a few pick up scenes including dinner preparation and watching a zombie news broadcast. He could have been watching a blank screen to be filled in later in post editing, I wanted to give him good motivation for some Archie-Bunkeresque responses to the undead protesting for voting rights. And so the week prior was spent putting together a news clip. It still needs music in the breaking news clip and a better voice over than what I’m providing.  Nonetheless, it’s good enough to give Wally something to shout at.

I’m particularly proud of the news scroll items.  Not all of them made the cut.

  • Expresident Zombie Reagan announces plans to campaign for Z-Party
  • two-alarm fire at crematorium, zombie activists suspected
  • undead protesters motion to abolish double-tap rule
  • zombies partner with ACLU to promote zombie suffrage, undead demand the right to vote
  • Ted Nugent faces allegations of running an illegal zombie game preserve (personal favorite)
  • retailers prepare for Black Friday by barricading themselves in shopping mall
  • zombies nationwide insist on being called “undead Americans”
  • dozens of zombies found massacred in remote farm house

Next up is editing and more editing.  We’ve gotten all the footage we need.  Not it’s up to us to deliver.  We’re estimating three to six months to put it all together.  Here’s hoping it’s closer to three than six.

Posted in Behind the Scenes | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Long Haired Zombie-Killing Freak #21

Tracy pulled out the chair on the opposite side of the table and sat down. I may have tried to smile at her, but I’m pretty sure it came out as some sort of demented rictus.

“I’m wondering, Tracy Nightengale of Testicle Examinations, if you would do something else for me?” I tried to be suave.

“Is this request more or less intimate than palpating your nads?” I don’t know how she asked that with a straight face, but she did.

“Less. I’m pretty sure it qualifies as less intimate. Yet!” I raised my finger for emphasis “Yet, it is more vital to my long-term survival than my sperm production.”

She sat up a little straighter, batted her eyes, and said, “Well! Color me interested! What is it, Frank?”

“Would you shave my head?”

“What?”

I repeated myself.

“That seems like an odd request, but I’ll do it. Got a razor, clippers, or something?”

“No. I’ve got some scissors and a few really sharp knives.” I shrugged as gently as I possibly could, given my tender condition.

“I’ll do it, but I can’t guarantee it will be the best haircut you’ve ever had.”

“I appreciate it, and it doesn’t have to be fashionable… just as close to the scalp as you can get it.” I waved my hands, as it that could somehow clarify what I wanted.

She asked me where to find my scissors and a particularly sharp knife in my “upstairs apartment.” I smiled and gave her the best directions I could from my occasionally erratic memory. The next thing I know, she’d scooted out of the room, and not long after that, I heard footfalls through the ceiling.

“Shirley, Marvin?” I asked.

“Yes, Frank?” Marvin answered.

“Am I that loud when I’m walking around up there?”

“Louder.” Shirley replied.

“Sorry about that.” I said, wincing at the thought of tromping around like an elephant.

“Eh, don’t worry too much, Frank.” Marvin waved a bar rag at me. “This is the Zombie Apocalypse, after all. You can’t be super-picky about how your ‘renter’ behaves, when he’s good enough to keep flesh-eating assholes at bay.”

“Oh. Okay! Thank you, Marvin! I feel really appreciated, hearing you say that.”

“Don’t mention it. You’re better than a pack of zombies, any day. Not much, mind you, but better.” He said, dispersing my shell of warm feelings like a cold washcloth on my face, in the middle of the night.

Tracy came back in due time, scissors in one hand, a bar of soap in the other, and a tanto stuck into the waistband of her jeans. I sighed, not being particularly keen on the shearing that was about to occur… but I liked the idea of being lynched with my ponytail even less.

“I went through your knives, Frank, and I have to say you have a nice collection.” She put the scissors and soap on the table in front of me, and unsheathed the blade at her waist. “This is a work of art, and I think the sharpest thing up there. Is it okay to use this one?”

“Yeah. I won’t tell my friend, Scott, the guy who forged the blade, that we used it for anything other than killing bad guys.”

“Man,” Shawn called out from across the room, “I get to see bruised nuts and a guy get his hair shaved off! I’m not going anywhere else for beer ever again! The show here is too good!”

I stared at him and squinted. I assumed he was being funny.

“Laugh it off, fuzzball.” I growled at him.

“Dude, the terrible smell I discovered is probably comin’ from you!” He retorted.

Oh. A battle of wits: to the death.

“I find your lack of faith disturbing.”

He blinked at me and smiled. Tracy took the opportunity to grab me by my hair, and started cutting off the growth that nearly reached the small of my back. I desperately wanted to ignore what was happening… I suppose growing my hair was a symbol of my rebellious youth, and it hurt a little bit to lose it, even if it was a practical survival decision.

“Huh,” Shawn said. “Not as clumsy or random as a blaster. An elegant weapon for a more civilized age.”

“If you strike me down now, I shall become more powerful than you can ever imagine.” I replied.

“Damn. You know, you’re a complete geek.” Shawn smiled.

“Look who’s talking! Why don’t you come over here and let this nice lady shear off your blond, Nordic, hair, Mr. Thor from next door!”

“Nope!” He smiled, and smugly continued to sip his beer.

Before too long, most of my hair was decorating the floor. My head felt lighter.

“Okay. Do you want more of it off?” Tracy asked.

“Shave it.” I said.

“You’re going to look awfully funny with a bald head and the goatee. Do you want me to shave your face, too?”

“Yes, please. Thank you.” She had a point, and I wasn’t about to argue.

What transpired from that point forward was a universe of nicks, cuts, abrasions, and several applications of bandages. By the time she was finished, I felt like I’d been pulled, face-first, over broken glass. I don’t know if she was feeling sadistic when she brought out a mirror, so I could see her work, first hand.

There was only one thing I could say, upon viewing my new look in the glass.

“I look like Gollum after a fight with a piranha.”

(Your friendly storyteller here. Be sure to pop over to my blog, and track me down on Twitter @crawford4033!)

Posted in Fiction | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Zombie Casserole Chronicles – Part Three

John and I both had a difficult week following the first days of principal photography on Zombie Casserole.  We were tired and sore – one of the side effects of being in our 40’s and scampering around moving equipment and contorting our bodies to unnatural positions to frame scenes up.  The first couple of days of the week were pretty much write offs as we both caught up on much-needed sleep.  Of course, maybe nearly killing a bottle of rum between Saturday evening and Sunday morning may not have been our wisest move, but such is life.

On Monday evening, we still had to get our zombie extras nailed down because we would be filming all scenes involving our zombie activist horde the following weekend.  We sent out emails to all friends and acquaintances who had expressed interest in being zombie extras on our project and with the exceptions of a couple, everyone was game.  It’s a good thing zombies are a hot these days!

This was the weekend we were going to be eating one of the characters, which would require blood and guts.  I started listing out the items we would need: more meat jello, probably a gallon or two of edible blood, and probably some intestines.  I just *happened* to have some intestines lying around from a prior shoot, but went out and picked up more pantyhose and paper towels to make sure I had backups.  It is always entertaining to see the looks on people’s faces when I’m loitering in the women’s hosiery section deciding on the best nude hose.

Zombie CasseroleAs the week came to a close, we still had a couple of scenes we hadn’t put together shot sheets for and we had decided that we wanted to film a scene with zombie protesters parading around in a park.  Only problem was the scene hadn’t been written yet.  Doh!  The additional missing scenes were to be filmed on Sunday, so Friday night I sat down and, to put it politely, pulled Scene 22 – the zombie protest – out of my ass and then printed it up as a reference for the following day.

Saturday arrived and our makeup artists, actors and zombie extras started trickling in.  One of the most critical needs on both of these days of shooting was makeup.  We couldn’t shoot any scenes involving the horde until everyone was made up.  We shot a phone conversation scene in one room while the makeup artists were going to town on the rest of the zombies.  While others were being made up, we gave the zombies poster board, paint, markers, signposts, some hastily scrawled ideas and asked them to make protest signs.

We finished shooting Saturday’s horde scenes and were happy with the results.  One of the coolest moments was when our small horde shambled forwards en masse at the end of a stirring speech by one of their leaders.  This was totally not in the script, but just happened.  We loved it so much, we asked them to continue doing it when we filmed the scene from other angles.  We’re sure it will make it into the final product.

zombieJohn and I behaved ourselves on Saturday night and woke up bright eyed and bushy-tailed to a sunny day that promised to get into the mid-60’s.  It was perfect weather for shooting outdoor zombie mayhem.

With the weather so nice, we setup the makeup stations outside. Once again, while the makeup artists started working on zombies, we filmed other scenes we hadn’t gotten around to the prior weekend.

The makeup artists started at around 9 AM and finished up by 2 PM.  We finished the scenes we were filming and then got everyone organized.  We had to get everything done outdoors before we lost daylight.  We threw out the shot sheet and slating and just barreled ahead full-speed.

We finally got the big scene where the zombie activists confront one of the characters, he kills himself and the horde eats him.  We had warned the actor playing the character to bring a complete change of clothes, including underwear, as everything would be soaked.  And not pleasantly.  Edible fake blood is mostly corn starch and incredibly sticky. Good thing we weren’t filming in the middle of the summer or placed our actor on an ant hill.

I had expected a couple of zombies to assist in the initial tearing apart, but pretty much everyone was game.  So we pre-cut the actor’s shirt and loaded him up with meat jello, intestines and fake blood.  Told everyone we had to get this in one take and let the camera roll!  We filmed additional outdoor scenes and were then able to go back in.

We managed to get the final indoor scenes done by around 7:30 PM (we had told everyone we’d be done around 7).  Not too bad for a couple of amateurs.  We still have a couple of pick-ups to do for one of the characters, but at this point, we’ve got everything else we need to start putting together a movie!

Posted in Behind the Scenes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Long Haired Zombie-Killing Freak #20

“Look, Frank, I was an EMT before the world started to end. I’m the closest thing to a Doctor nearby, I’m willing to bet.” Tracy said to me, in all seriousness.

“Ow.” I whined.

“You need to know if you’re intact or not. If you are, then you really need to rest up and let the swelling go down.” She paused, just to add to the gravitas. “On the other hand, if you’re… damaged… something needs to be done, right now. Gangrene, or an infection, without real medical help, will kill you.”

“Shit.”

“I know. Now undo your belt, and use your arms to lever you off the chair. I’ll get your pants down, and have a look.”

“This isn’t,” I gasped as I unbuckled my belt, “a really elaborate way to look at my junk, is it?”

“You’re a strange man, joking about that at a time like this.”

I levered myself up on my arms, took a deep breath, and prepared for awful things.

“I can joke because I’m utterly terrified.” I admitted it through clenched teeth.

She didn’t respond, because she was paying attention to gently working my blood-encrusted pants off. In any other alternate universe, I would have enjoyed having a voluptuous brunette take a gander at my bits, but I couldn’t find anything remotely erotic about it at the time.

“Marvin! Hurry! Frank’s pants are down, and Tracy’s examining his balls!” Shirley called out.

That was awful, but not as bad as the front door to the bar swinging open. A huge, blond man, with long hair, was standing in the doorway. He looked around, blinked, and then locked eyes with me.

“Yeah. Well.” He stammered, sounding like he came from well south of here. “This looks like a bad time to come in for a beer. Y’all take care now.”

He turned to leave, but Shirley called out to him, and encouraged him to hang around.

“It’s okay, Shawn! Frank got a bad kick in the testies, and my niece is just making sure the little boys are still in their sacks. Marvin will be down in a minute, and he’ll get you a beer.”

“Oh. Well. That makes me feel much better.” He tried to smile, but it came out as a grimace behind his beard and mustache. “I’m sorry to hear you took a bad hit there, dude.”

“I appreciate your sympathy.” I managed to say that without wheezing from the stress, and pain that was slowly creeping up my arms. “Please don’t be disturbed if I scream at random intervals.”

Tracy tapped me on the leg, and I looked down… and instantly wished I hadn’t.

“Okay, your testicles are intact, but there’s substantial bruising and swelling.”

“They look like giant, Chinese, thousand year-old eggs!” I cried.

“Yes, but the swelling will go down, and we’ll know more then. It’ll take a little time to know if the internal damage amounts to castration. Your voice and body hair won’t change overnight.”

“Oh, man!” Shawn, the new arrival at the bar, winced and hid his face in his hand.

Marvin plowed through the kitchen door into the bar, got a look at my testicles, let out a tiny scream, and grabbed his crotch with both hands. Either he was feeling masculine sympathy, or he’d just passed a kidney stone. The other possibility was something I didn’t want to entertain: the idea that my naked, bruised, anatomy was so erotic that he had a spontaneous orgasm.

Sympathy. It had to be sympathy.

“They really do look awful.” Shirley said as she poked her head around from the side.

“Gosh. Thanks, Shirley.”

“Aunt Shirley, could you get a blanket or a towel? I don’t want to put his pants back on. They’re too restrictive, and he needs a little more… room… than usual to be comfortable.”

Shirley made an affirmative noise, and scuttled off somewhere.

I looked down at Tracy’s serious face, and felt absurdly grateful I had someone to take care of me.

“Okay. Frank, I want you to lower yourself back into the chair, slowly, and carefully. I’m going to take your boots off, and get the jeans all the way off. When Aunt Shirley comes back, I’ll put the blanket across your lap. You just sit still and we’ll let your body cope with,” she gestured at my groin, “the swelling. If we had ice, I’d have you sitting on a block, but we don’t have that luxury.”

What else could I do? Run a marathon? No. I did what she suggested, and tried not to jostle the Panza twins on my way down.

God must have been with me, because I managed it.

Shirley arrived out of nowhere, and passed a quilt to Tracy, who draped it across my lap. She did an amazing job; I didn’t even wail. Not a tiny bit!

Posted in Fiction | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment