Stalled – The restroom from hell!
Stalled – A UK Zomedy
The British do it again, arguably we are the kings of zomedy and as long as films like Stalled are being made then I am pleased to state that the title is safe.
If you suffer from panic attacks using public or work restrooms then this may not be a movie for you as the film follows the events of a luckless janitor who becomes trapped in a ladies restroom just as the zombie apocalypse hits. This is a film we are very excited about and not just because it stars the gorgeous Tamaryn Payne (Hollyoaks).
Zombipedia caught up with Stalled’s writer/star Dan Palmer, who horror fans may know and have seen in Evil Aliens and Small Town Folk, for which he also contributed some material for, and this is what he had to say about the creation and production of upcoming UK zombie flick Stalled:
DP: The idea wasn’t initially a movie concept, it was simply a horrifying thought that popped into my head as a kid. The first time I watched ‘Day of the Dead’-the finale, when the compound is deluged by zombies, really freaked me out. When Steel gets cornered I thought to myself; ‘Why doesn’t he hide in a cupboard or something? ‘then a beat later realised he would then be trapped in an even more confined space surrounded by the undead.
I think it was the first time, outside of ‘Jaws’, when a film caused my own thoughts to freak me out! Years later it popped back in the old grey matter as a film concept and I moved it to a ladies’ restroom ..as that is slightly more interesting than a closet. Short films do not really interest me so, it was always intended as a feature.
● Described by some as the Evil Dead meets Phone Booth (FrightFest website) do you think that is a fair way to describe the film? What logline have you given the film?
DP: It’s a decent short-hand but obviously there is a little more to it than that. My original pitch was ‘Day of the Dead meets Career Opportunities ‘but no one has seen the latter film. To add further confusion, in the UK it’s called ‘One Wild Night’ and in Germany they titled it ‘Kevin’s Cousin’ to cash-in on ‘Home Alone’-which I suppose was, subconsciously, another influence.
● Did you initially know that this was going to be a film with zombies or did that idea develop through the initial thought process?
DP: It was only after the fact that we briefly rethought the threat being something other than zombies. In fact, when I first gave Christian James the director the screenplay I didn’t mention zombies as I knew it would probably take him twice as long to read it. After a bit of deliberation we realised it couldn’t be anything but. Plus the best zombie films are NOT directly about the undead they are about the situation and the characters therein and I think we pull that off.
● What was your writing process and key influences behind this movie as there appears to be a lot of humour contained? Were there any particular connotations or comparisons that you consciously wanted to avoid?
DP: I wrote the first draft pretty quickly. There was no producer or director at that point so there were no notes to consider. I didn’t do an extensive outline-the lead character is in a sitting position waiting to see what happens next, so I basically took the same approach when writing! I then went back and reverse-engineered the cause and affect in subsequent drafts, but all the nuts and bolts were there in the initial draft. The films I looked at for inspiration were ‘Day of the Dead’, ‘Career Opportunities’, ‘Three O’Clock High’, ‘Before Sunrise’ and ‘Evil Dead II’.
● Could you introduce us to the key characters in the film and any interesting facts or thoughts about them?
DP: I play a lowly janitor who is never named in the film, although he is referred to as WC in the script. It is Christmas Eve and it’s his last day on the job, he is one of those ‘the world owes me something’ personalities. He finds himself trapped in a cubicle during a zombie outbreak and his physical situation begins to mirror is psychological state.
● Us Brits have had a good record recently for horror-comedy and in particular zombie comedy (Shaun of the Dead, Stag Night of the Dead etc), what does Stalled bring to the sub-genre?
DP: I can’t really answer that question without spoiling the film a little. The reason being the elements of ‘Stalled’ that seem to have surprised audiences thus far have been kept out of the trailers. So, sorry to be that guy but, ‘See the movie!’
● You have previously had roles in genre films such as Evil Aliens and Small Town Folk, did you write the role of W.C. in this movie with you in mind?
DP: Yeah, I wrote the film with myself in mind. I said to the producer Richard Kerrigan and the exec Daniel Pickering that if my playing the role ever becomes an obstacle in getting the film off the ground then I would fall on my sword and play, I don’t know, ‘Brain Chomper #32’. If they need Noel Clarke or Danny Dyer then go for it. Thankfully they had faith in me and I got to play the part ..which I think was ultimately good for them because the schedule was so tight mine and Christian’s short-hand was a real advantage. Hopefully now with this film under my belt I’ll be able to continue as I mean to go on.
● Sticking with the casting, you also have the extremely gorgeous Tamaryn Payne (Hollyoaks) and Antonia Bernath (St Trinians) and experienced Mark Holden (Final Destination, World War Z) amongst others, did you have a say in the casting and how close were they to your initial perceptions of the characters? Did any of them surprise you and make you see the characters in a different light?
DP: Mark was Christian’s first choice as they had worked together on a short film and now I can’t imagine anyone else playing that part. Tamaryn and I are old pals from ‘Small Town Folk’. Christian, Richard and I knew Antonia from casting her in a previous project that went belly up. It’s all very incestuous! Antonia had a bit of freedom to improvise so she added a really nice, goofy edge to her character. We were up against it time-wise with Tamaryn’s scenes. It was a God’s send that she played the role as she was fresh off a long TV run so she was like an acting machine. Hits her marks everytime, knows her lenses. Bitch made me look bad.
● Tell me about your scriptwriting process? Do you like to plan and story board or have a more organic approach to film making preferring to go with the flow?
DP: I don’t do anything visual as that would be stepping on the director’s toes. Christian worked with Natasha Saville extensively storyboarding a huge percentage of the film. Knowing that our schedule would be very tight they wanted to have as much visual reference as possible so everyone from Christian to the DoP to myself to the caterer were on the same page when we hit the ground running.
● We all know that what is written isn’t necessarily what gets filmed, were they any compromises that need to be made and how close is the film to your final script?
DP: It was funny, we did numerous drafts but the shooting script bears the most resemblance to the initial incarnation. After Christian came on board we tried other things out and a few producers pre Richard asked for rewrites for various actors. One producer wanted us to include cut-aways to other stuff going down. My take was as soon as we do that you burst the bubble of the concept. We did try it though and, needless to say, it didn’t work.
The positive from that experience was that we actually fleshed out the zombie characters in human form so, in the final version, Christian and I have a back-story for some of the members of the undead in our noggins.
●Now that the film has been completed are you happy with it and is there anything you would like to have written differently or developed?
DP: I am very proud of it and I am very proud of the cast & crew. I know that 95% of the crew worked that asses off and put their all into it. The few things in the film that I am not content with were beyond my control so there is no point getting an ulcer over it. I think we have put together a great little indie horror that will appeal to true horror fans and surprise non-horror fans if they give it a chance.
DP: Yes! That’s amazing. I was stunned. Can’t wait for that. Christian, Richard and myself will be there. I think Tamaryn will be there on the Monday to sign boners. It’s a huge honour to be playing at Fright Fest, especially as Alan Jones HATED our first film! He said to Christian that Stalled has helped erase the memory of it. Oh, Alan! But yes, I hope the Fright Fest audiences get a kick out of it. I am sure they will.
Tickets have been selling well. Couldn’t be happier. Our world premiere was at PiFan in South Korea and the reaction was tremendous, we will be announcing other festival appearances on our official website, Facebook and on Twitter over the next few weeks.
● What reaction has the film had so far from any critic reviews or performances?
DP: It hasn’t been reviewed yet so am waiting to get the proverbial ball-kicking. I mean a zombie film set in a toilet isn’t going to win any BAFTAs. As long as the Fright Festers, Fangorians and Goreheads like it I’ll be happy. We had a BAFTA screening late last year which was a blast and the South Koreans went crazy for it at PiFan ..but in the interest of disclosure we also had a tiny industry screening for some suits ..which had the atmosphere of a baby funeral.
● Have you got any other films in the pipeline either as a writer or actor or will you now spend your time promoting Stalled or working?
DP: We are in the midst of Stalled promotional stuff at the moment but we do have a couple of things on the boil. All depends on what takes. Ideally I’d like to be in pre-production on something before the end of the year, but the time between our debut film and ‘Stalled’ is seven years ..so, I’ll see you in 2020.
● Any news on when we can expect to see this film on home entertainment release?
DP: Stalled’ comes out theatrically in the US on October 4th. It will be hitting US VOD between October 4th and October 8th on Comcast, Cablevision, Cox and others. Home video should be around then too.
The interview shows that this is not only a man who understands the genre but he also understands movies, but what excites us most at Zombipedia is that the story is paramount. Perhaps a grand comparison but like Romero or even Kirkman, the story isnt actually about the zombies themselves and it is that realisation that helps drive the film while adding depth and dare I say it heart to a film.
Don’t just take our word for it though, check out the trailer below and we guarantee you will feel the same as us.
Stalled is showing at Frightfest 2013 on Saturday 24th (10.40 am) and Monday 26th (6.50 pm and 8.50 pm).
Read our review here.