At this point, zombies are hard to do new and improved. Sure, The Walking Dead brings in big ratings week after week but for the most part, audiences are tired of the reanimated and their search for braaaains. Enter Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead, the Austrialian action/horror film that manages to breathe not only methane (you’ll understand in a second) but new life and excitement into the undead. This movie kicks all kinds of ass and after seeing the production come from the humblest of beginnings, for director Kiah Roache-Turner, finishing his film and having it released in cinemas and VOD across the world is a complete dream come true.
“Our mom did the catering, Clarke!” he tells me. “So, we shot this film in backyards, I thought we might get into a couple of cinemas maybe even just have to upload it to YouTube and see what happens but people actually seem to like it and its fantastic. I’ll tell you what – I’m going to keep making films until I can get on the Nerdist Podcast!” Roache-Turner continued, adding, “We basically shot this film, physical production, for $160,000 which is like, that’s nothing. This film is held together by gaffer tape and hope.”
Since the zombie resurgence in mainstream popularity really took hold about 15 years ago, I had to ask why did Roache-Turner and his co-writer and brother, Tristan Roache-Turner, decide to embark on that type of movie? The director was aware of “zombie fatigue,” and explained to me, “We started this film in 2010 just when zombie fatigue was coming in and I remember sitting down with my brother going, ‘People are a little bit sick of zombies, we’re going to have to be a little original here!’ And four years later people are so sick of zombies that when you say ‘zombie,’ somebody slaps you.” Turner laughs, and continues. “They’re over-saturated. It’s The Walking Dead, it’s World War Z, it’s like come on! We do not need or want another zombie film so the biggest compliment I’ve been getting is people coming up and going, ‘Look, I’m sick of zombies but this one’s fine!'”
The director continued, “We really tried very hard, I mean, even back in 2010 we knew it was over-saturated so even then we knew we needed many hooks and really, the first premise was, look, nobody’s ever done a Mad Max, post-apocalyptic zombie film which when you think about it is kind of like, why hasn’t somebody done that already? So with the aesthetic look of it we knew we had something there. After a couple of beers one night my brother came up to me and said, ‘What if the zombies breathe methane that could power the Mad Max trucks?” and I nearly fell off my chair laughing, it was the best idea I’d ever heard. If somebody described that movie to me I would go see it on a Friday night so I was like, ‘That’s it, we’ve got it!'”
After watching the film, which sits at 74% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s safe to say they’ve succeeded. Wyrmwood is a blast from start to finish and for a low-budget indie plus action/horror film, it looks fantastic. Something Roache-Turner chalks up to being aware of the cinematic climate and determined to subvert it. “We just knew nobody wants to see the same old bull***t,” he says. “We knew we’d have to put that on it’s head so we fought really hard to have every scene go in a different direction. It’s one thing that Quentin Tarantino is good at is misdirection and mixing genres and going left when you should go right and we really tried very hard to do that in this film.”
Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead, written by Tristan Roache-Turner and Kiah Roache-Turner and directed by Kiah Roache-Turner, is available on VOD now!