Inside the Creation of a
Story by Ryan Percy
Photography courtesy of Jakob Skrzypa
In the small quiet town of Marlow, the universe is about to feel a bit more inhabited as the townsfolk are about to learn that not only are zombies real but the walking dead are actually Vampire Zombies… From Space!
Filming is now completed on the local R-Rated blood and guts comedy satire of the ‘so bad they’re good’ drive-in films of the 50’s. Viewers will be awed, disgusted and bent over laughing as they follow a rag-tag group who find their small town turned into a battleground of intergalactic proportions.
Jakob Skrzypa teamed up with his friend Alex Forman to co-write and see this movie come to life, and it’s been quite the time coming for the two of them.
“This was a script I initially wrote in high school and Alex acted in,” Jakob says with a bit of a laugh at the origin of the movie. “I was a big fan of Mel Brooks’ films and I was also watching these really bad Ed Wood movies like Plan 9 from Outer Space. I just saw so many opportunities for parody within these old horror films.”
The two have become a powerhouse comedy duo working together, starting from simple roots.
“I’m similar to Jakob,” Alex says of getting into film, “I’ve been doing this like my whole life ever since I got an old camcorder in grade eight. I’d watch people make silly videos on YouTube and think ‘I can do something like that.’ From there we went to school for it and we went from home videos to comedy sketches on YouTube and now to our first feature film with an actual budget.”
Both have a sturdy track record in the film and television industry. Skrzypa produces on the Paramount+ and MTV series The Challenge, has worked on Big Brother Canada, Survivor, Nathan for You and others while Forman has been featured on Funny or Die and numerous film festivals.
The movie is a satire and riff on the old campy horror movies of the 50’s. The kind of crazy things where you see the strings holding up the UFOs and the craziness of pulpy storytelling meets horror that lead people with that decade’s sensibilities to faint in the aisles.
But as a satire it is honed through two lenses, the over the top comedy of Mel Brooks and the irreverence of South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker.
“It’s crude, inappropriate and lots of fun,” Jakob says of the kind of comedy they have worked into the movie.”
Some local names stand out among the crew. Ken Amlin is director of photography for the filming with over 14 years of experience. Mike Stasko is the director, with multiple films to his name including Iodine, The Birder, and Boys vs. Girls. Stasko especially is the one man the two seem to look up to.
“One of the reasons we’re doing the film is Stasko is a big believer in growing the film community in Windsor,” Alex says of working with their director. “He wants to keep getting more projects like ours going in the future. The goal is to have the crew who’s working on this film be working on another in six months and then another one and keep it going back-to-back so the community keeps growing.”
It seems also the community of Windsor-Essex has jumped on the bandwagon of this schlocky satire.
“Windsor-Essex has been really great to us,” Jakob says. “We’ve gotten about 30 period cars from multiple owners. Locations like Heritage Village, The Essex Railway Station, Low-Martin Mansion, La Rocca Restaurant, Christ Church Cemetery and the Essex United Church have opened up for us. “With Mike’s feature film track record, and Alex and my comedy track record, I think people are excited about this and excited for something being made within the community.”
“I just think we’re so lucky to be in Windsor-Essex for this project specifically,” Alex says. “If we were making this film in Toronto, renting a place like Essex United Church might cost us ten times as much as it does in Windsor.”
But it is not just the two of them putting it all together. It takes a village at the end of the day.
“It’s a couple hundred people easily from start to finish,” says Jakob of how many people it takes to actually put a movie together. “If we’re talking daily, on set it’s 30 or 40 people but some days we’re going to have 70 extras alone.”
The film will also feature a multitude of familiar local faces, filmmaker Gavin Michael Booth, AM800’s Dan MacDonald, and former Essex Mayor Ron McDermott are just a few local faces you can spot in the film. There is also talk of getting a few well known individuals in the comedy and horror genres to make cameo appearances.
“We’re bringing in Lloyd Kaufman from New York,” Jakob says of getting the producer of Toxic Avenger and other cult classics to come down, “The cast is mostly local but we have people from Toronto, Lloyd and then we’re reaching out to a few other celebrities.”
The film has a private source of funding but also reached out to the community through a Kickstarter and later IndieGoGo campaign. Extra funds raised went right back into buying better special effects and paying crew more for their time. To date over $20,000 has been raised by the public to see the movie shine.
However, at the end of the day, this work is almost a celebration of Windsor-Essex, something envisioned to happen in your own backyard.
“Marlow is Essex,” Jakob says. ‘It’s been that way in my head the whole time since I first wrote it. There’s references to Sadler’s Pond and we use so many local locations. It’s a big project for the community but it is a lot of fun.”
Keep an eye to the sky for vampire filled UFOs and if you want to learn more or report any strange activity, head over to vampirezombiesmovie.com for more info. The movie is currently in the editing stage with plans to hit the film circuit late 2023, early 2024.
The filmmaking team is continuing to accept contributions to the project via IndieGoGo. You can also support the film and receive exclusive perks like t-shirts, signed scripts or DVDs by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.