George Mendeluk started his career in Hollywood as a writer in 1972. Since then, he's moved up to directing dozens of movies and well-known television shows such as "Lonesome Dove," "Miami Vice," "Highlander," and "Andromeda."
Mendeluk's latest project, the zombie epidemic thriller "The Terror Experiment," just came out through Anchor Bay Entertainment. I had the opportunity to interview the filmmaker about the movie and his experience making it.
Tell me a little bit about what sets "The Terror Experiment" apart from other zombie films.
I think it's a new twist on the zombie genre. It explores what would happen if a toxic gas that the government was hiding from the populace infected a group of people in a federal building. [It shows] how they would deal with that.
I think it invokes some of the subliminal imagery of 9/11. The building is a character in itself. The people are trying to escape it. The zombies are infected. It takes place on Christmas, which I don't think we've seen before. It explores the universal sense of how you deal with fear.
Did you cast the movie?
The producers came to us with the story, script, cast, and distributor in line for "The Terror Experiment."
How was it working with such an interesting blend of actors?
It was a pleasure. A lot of genre movies have an interesting cast put together. Quentin Tarantino does this. I like "Kill Bill." [He] put David Carradine, whom I worked with for about three and a half years on "Kung Fu: The Legend Continues," together with Daryl Hannah. [That] was interesting casting. Every actor is different like every human is different.
Judd Nelson is very analytical. He likes to prepare and go over the script. That was his approach. I always respect and admire people that want to prepare. That's what I try to do.
Jason London is the heroic character [in the film]. He loves direction. He's there all the time, prepared, and very available.
C. Thomas Howell is a gentleman. He directs as well [as acts]. He knows the game. He was very helpful in making sure that I got what I needed quickly. He has his emotions very close to the surface, which is great. You don't have a lot of time to elicit emotion out of an actor on a budget and schedule like this.
Lochlyn Munro is a joy. He's funny. He did a wonderfully dramatic job.
I knew the late David Carradine for three and a half years. He was an actor's actor and in many ways underrated. [He was] a great film historian. He loved the history of cinema. I think [younger brother] Robert Carradine has that. It was nostalgic working with him.
[Son and second unit director/actor] Alexander Mendeluk has great comedic timing. I'd like to see him do more comedy. He has a leading man quality. I think there was a certain potency in his character when you saw him sacrifice himself in order to prove he was worthy to the other characters that Jason London and Alicia Leigh Willis played.
I noticed you didn't write the script for "The Terror Experiment." Most independent filmmakers usually write their own films. What drew you to do this movie that was already written?
I rewrote it but I didn't write it. I have directed a bunch of movies for television. Believe it or not, every one of them usually requires a rewrite. I don't know why that is, but it just happens. I'm just used to doing that. What I liked about the movie was the concept that these zombies were unique; they were infected and the location was contained.
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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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