Filmmaker Douglas Schulze (Dark Fields, Hellmaster) is the director of the upcoming horror film Mimesis (review coming soon) from Anchor Bay, which hits Blu-ray and DVD on February 12th. Mimesis stars horror icon Sid Haig (The Lords of Salem), Allen Maldonado (The Midnight Meat Train), and Lauren Mae Shafer. Schulze has crafted a very non-traditional take on Night of the Living Dead with an interesting twist on a classic film. I think many fans will find Mimesis a really fun watch and definitely not what they were expecting. Schulze poses an interesting question, “Why watch a horror movie when you can live one?”
Schulze is an award-winning filmmaker and has worked in the independent film arena for 25 years. His first feature film Hellmaster (1992) starred John Saxon (A Nightmare on Elm Street) and David Emge (Dawn of the Dead). Dark Heaven (2002) was his second feature film, followed by Dark Fields (2009). Dark Fields starred David Carradine, Richard Lynch, and Dee Wallace.
I had the pleasure to chat with Douglas Schulze about the origins of Mimesis, Night of the Living Dead, and more, read on for the full interview.
Michael Juvinall: Thanks for taking a few minutes out to talk with me.
MJ: Thank you. Is the correct title of the film Mimesis or Mimesis: Night of the Living Dead?
DS: It played at about 15 film festivals under the title of Mimesis. When I talked with the distributor, the tag line is Mimesis: Night of the Living Dead. We kind of felt it important in some way to acknowledge what we are mimicking in some way, hence the need for that, but you only see that title in limited advertising.
MJ: I watched the movie last night and I enjoyed it, I thought it was a pretty good movie. I liked the twist component it has in it.
DS: Cool. Thanks, I appreciate that. Some zombie fans may come to this expecting an intense zombie movie when it starts. They’re kind of wondering why the zombie makeup isn’t more intense and why isn’t this happening or that?
MJ: To be honest, I was thinking the same thing when I was watching.
DS: I think the viewers have to be patient with the unfolding and you have to get into the story. Those viewers that get into it will hopefully be pleasantly surprised when the story reveals itself as to what’s really going on.
MJ: And that’s where the twist comes in. Doug, what was the genesis for the idea for Mimesis?
DS: I’m a horror fan myself; many of my friends and I have been a part of the horror convention circuit culture for years. I used to go just as a fan, but now I get to go as a filmmaker as well too. Some of the conventions we were attending, there was one in particular two years back where we ran into a group of convention attendees that were extreme role players. They were literally frightening the convention goers and I was really taken aback by that and thought to myself that it would be an interesting premise to follow a group of extreme horror fans who tire of watching their favorite horror classic, so they set out to live that. That’s where the whole genesis of the idea came from and ultimately when it came time to choose whether they were going to be knife-wielding psychopaths or what not, I felt there’s really nothing more personal yet revolting and horrific than emulating a flesh-eating zombie. That really struck a chord with me, so I turned to the original Romero classic and that’s where the marriage came together for Mimesis: Night of the Living Dead.
MJ: I thought it was a great idea, very cool.
DS: Thank you. There’s definitely a large camp out there that dug the homage, we’re really enjoying that.
MJ: There have been a barrage of Night of the Living Dead films coming out recently, how does Mimesis stand out from the others?
DS: Well, it’s a tough question to answer on one regard. I have the late Bill Hinzeman who played the graveyard zombie in George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead; he has a cameo role in Mimesis. He came out and we knew he was ill and I wanted to work with him. We talked a lot about this and we had his full support with the idea. He loved the idea that someone was not attempting to take Romero’s film and redo it, but instead a group of people who emulate NOTLD. So it’s really not a NOTLD movie, it’s a movie about extreme role players. Our film is called Mimesis; those other films that are out there are NOTLD films and spinoffs and so forth. I’m not trying to sound arrogant or above anyone but we really went to great pains to make this homage, and a lot of the critics see that and applaud it for that. I’m almost equally unhappy with the barrage and deluge of NOTLD zombie movies that are out there, but I don’t think you’re going to see any other movie out there that is like ours.
MJ: After seeing the film now, I can definitely see the difference and I think your film works as a homage to the original film without trying to be a remake, so I applaud you for that.
DS: Thanks, I appreciate that. When someone watches this, they may not know to what degree we went to to try and create an original film that stood on its own.
MJ: You spoke briefly about Bill Hinzeman having a cameo in the film and it’s not really a NOTLD film in itself, but did you try to seek any kind of approval with anyone else associated with the original film?
DS: Yes and no. Having been in the convention circuit, I’ve ran across everyone but George (Romero). I’ve spoken with John (Russo) and there’s Russ (Streiner), I’m very familiar with all those guys. When the initial concept was thrown out, they were all made aware of it; I guess it’s probably safe to say to leave it at that. There was talk at one point of official involvement, getting names to sign on to this thing and a lot of that came with a price to be quite honest. I feel that it’s enough of a homage.
I’m running into people that have seen Mimesis who have never seen the original NOTLD, believe it or not. After seeing my film, they’re very interested in seeing the original Romero film that we emulate. I think we’re doing a service to the history of the original. I think there’s no better compensation if you will for the legacy of the film.
MJ: I also see that you already have a sequel planned for Mimesis.
DS: Yeah. It’s almost more important to say this isn’t a one-off, the idea is really to explore the psychology of the extreme horror fan here and we feel there’s a lot more ground to cover. There are some truly wonderful themes and stories out there. Some ideas have been talked about that aren’t just movies; they could be literature or even music, many types of things to be mimesised if you will. The number 2 is already in the works and we’ve got it, we’re ready to roll with it. We’re talking with our distributor right now. Cameras should roll on that this summer and we’re pretty excited about that.
MJ: Awesome. The film kind of reminds me a little bit of Fade to Black somewhat.
DS: Yeah! There you go. Wow! I’m really glad you pulled on that you know. Fade to Black was one of the fav’s of mine and obviously it’s a similar story about a guy that’s really into horror films and so forth. Definitely, it’s a strong influence there, for sure.
MJ: We’re running out of time here. I wanted to say that I was first introduced to your work some 20 odd years ago when I was attending the Dearborn Fango Weekend of Horrors and they were promoting your film Hellmaster. I think I still have my laserdisc of that film.
DS: Yeah, wow! My freshman effort, there you go. That’s definitely a blast from the past. David Emge and John Saxon, that was an interesting learning experience and some good times for sure. Glad to be connecting with you for sure.
MJ: I saw that you were actually able to get a nod to Hellmaster in Mimesis, with the poster.
DS: Ha ha, you got it! Yeah, you saw that, Very cool.
MJ: Doug, we’re out of time. It was great talking with you, I really enjoyed Mimesis and I look forward to seeing the sequel and what you have to do next.
DS: I really appreciate that Michael and hopefully we’ll talk again, maybe it will be face to face next time, and I really appreciate it.
Check out the trailer for Mimesis here,