new zombie comedy film has michigan ‘brains’ behind it


Dead Heads


Dead HeadsLately I’ve been thinking: enough with the zombie movies, already. It seems like every indie movie that comes out is zombie this, and apocalypse that. I mean, I really liked Zombieland. And, of course, Shaun of the Dead and Evil Dead were both great. But enough is enough, right? I just thought we don’t need any more versions of the same old stuff. It isn’t possible to come up with something new, right?

I must concede that I was mistaken. Thank God Deadheads is breathing life into the genre that just won’t die. I obviously have an affinity for Zombie-Comedies, considering the three movies I listed above. But not only does Deadheads appear to have come up with a creative twist on the “Zom-Com” genre, but they’ve thrown a little “Rom” into the mix, as well. Apparently, not all of the hearts in this movie have to be eaten.

Deadheads is the brainchild of Drew and Brett Pierce, two Michigan native brothers, who co-wrote and co-directed the movie. It’s no accident that the Pierce brothers have such an attraction to this genre. Their father is Bart Pierce, who worked from their basement on the special effects for the original “Evil Dead,” directed by Sam Raimi. Growing up amid the “Dead” crew put the bug in them for movie making, and in the direction they wanted, behind the camera.

Dead HeadsThe story follows two zombie slackers, Mike and his new zombie friend Brent, who find themselves surprisingly reborn from the dead, amid a disastrous zombie outbreak. However, they seem to have retained their reasoning mind, and ability to speak. After discovering an engagement ring in his coat pocket, Mike enlists his zombie pal, Brent, to embark on a quest in search of his lost love. At the beginning of the movie, Mike finds himself running from a zombie hoard, before he realizes that he is, in fact, one of them. So while he is rational, and even repulsed by the mindless pursuits of his lesser-minded peers, his body continues to rot and fall apart. Come to think of it, I know exactly how that feels… I just choose to rot at a much slower pace.

FROBRO FilmsThe Pierce brothers, who formed FroBro Films, cut their teeth in Michigan, making student films and low- budget (read: NO budget) independent movies and occasionally they even got their creations onto the shelf at Thomas Video, in Royal Oak. Thomas Video is a store where they both once worked, and is known for its support of the local independent film community. The Pierce brothers were instrumental in completing Dead/Undead with a budget of about a thousand dollars. That movie is now available in Thailand and Germany, according to the movie’s website. Eventually, that moderate success, and their love for film work, led them to California in 2004. Since arriving in tinsel-town Drew has been working as an animator, including Futurama, while Brett is now the Production Coordinator for Ice Road Truckers.

While working various film and television jobs in LA, they religiously hammered out the script for their first budgeted feature film, Deadheads. The script, as described by their website, was “overly ambitious and epic in scope compared to most first-time director indie films. It featured elaborate action sequences, numerous special effects, over 20 locations, and a large cast. For an indie film, it was a suicide mission.” After spending years in preproduction, working on financing, casting, and set design, the brothers decided in 2008 it was time to begin shooting.

A precipitating factor in that decision was the passage of the then-new Michigan Film Tax Credit, a State program to incentivize filmmakers to shoot their projects to Michigan. “The film credit actually made this movie possible,” according to Brett. “Investors wouldn’t have said yes without that additional incentive.”

The duo came back to Michigan, and set up shop in their parents’ house in Royal Oak. From that home base, they arranged for a crew. After ten weeks of shooting, and few months of post-production, they ended up with the movie they envisioned.

So what is Brett’s advice for budding moviemakers? “Trust your gut; make something you want to watch.” That seems to have paid off in this case. The movie has been making the rounds in numerous film festivals, and receiving multiple awards. It was awarded the 2011 Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking award at the Newport Beach Film Festival and was the 2011 Official Selection at the FrightFest in London. There are now distribution deals in Germany and the U.K., and pending deals for France, Australia, New Zealand, and the Middle East.

There is no U.S. distribution yet, but that seems likely, given the accolades being given by those still living mortals who attend film festivals. It even seems to have earned the stamp of approval from a much respected source in the industry, Michigan native Bruce Campbell, of the Evil Dead trilogy, is quoted as saying, “In a world of putrid zombie movies, Deadheads is a breath of fresh air!”

So if you want to see this movie, and you darn well should, write your congressman, petition your local theater, do whatever it takes to get this movie the broad-based attention it deserves – because finally, here’s a zombie comedy with brains.

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