Howard J. Ford and John Ford are directing partners and brothers who have spent their professional careers making commercials. Their dream was always to one day make a zombie film. That day has arrived, and now we get to see the fruit of their labors with the release of "The Dead."
The film begins when the last evacuation flight out of war-torn Africa crashes off the coast. American Air Force engineer Lt. Brian Murphy emerges as the sole survivor in a land where the dead are returning to life and attacking the living. I had the opportunity to speak with the Ford brothers about the movie.
How is it to work with your brother so closely on a movie?
John: We were under extreme circumstances on this particular one. We had high stress. Normally we work very well together. This whole Ford brothers thing came about as a natural progression over the years. When we were out there working on "The Dead" [there were] so many challenges, disagreements, and tussles here and there. We were frustrated that what we had down on paper we couldn't always pull off.
Howard: You can read all about his dirty secrets and what happened on set when my book "Surviving The Dead" comes out in three weeks. It's going to have more of the details on it. That's going to have all the horror about lead actor Rob Freeman really almost dying of malaria. He was within two to three days of being dead in a hospital after collapsing in the middle of filming. There were days when we were projectile vomiting while discussing shots. It was horrible.
Is there anything you're trying to say with "The Dead"?
John: There is. I don't want to say it all. While we were writing this movie we were aware it was quite the ridiculous thing we were doing. [We were] adding so many potentially controversial layers to a zombie movie. There are social and political messages in there. It's also about life, death, and fundamental things in life like survival. A lot of these problems are there in Africa anyway. It's about human beings' place on this planet. We went way too deep into a zombie movie. We also wanted people who weren't worried about those things to enjoy it on a straightforward level. It's a zombie movie [with] a bit of ass-kicking and a bit of blood. [You can still have] a good time and enjoy it on both levels.
Howard: I hope that people feel quite uncomfortable in certain areas about the film. It's nothing to do with the plot. You see bodies lying around on the ground in fields and images like that you may well have seen in news reel footage of Rwanda slaughters. I hope people feel very uncomfortable when they watch that. There's a lot of reality horror in this. Some of the zombies you see onscreen were quite literally people who were starving to death. Some of them hadn't eaten in two or three days. The guy at the beginning had a real crippled leg. We put the bone on but it's a deformed leg. There's some reality in there and we wanted that to be part of the film.
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Eric Shirey is the founder and former editor of Rondo Award nominated movie news websites MovieGeekFeed.com and TheSpectralRealm.com. His work has been featured on Yahoo!, DC Comics, StarWars.com, and other entertainment websites. Eric has interviewed and worked with actors like Harrison Ford, Brooke Shields, Gerard Butler, Brendan Fraser, Selena Gomez, and many more.
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- John Ford