The zombie apocalypse came to life on the Sony Pictures Studios lot on Wednesday night at the world premiere of “Dead Rising: Watchtower,” an original feature film by Crackle, Sony’s streaming network.
Actors in full freaky zombie makeup lumbered around the event, getting attendees in the mood for the film, which stars Jesse Metcalfe (“Desperate Housewives”) as a reporter who finds himself in a zombie-infested war zone.
The film is based on the popular “Dead Rising” video game franchise published by Capcom, which was heavily involved in the filmmaking process.
“When we heard about this, we just thought it was an amazing fit with our brand and with our audience, and are just excited to bring this type of content to them,” said Eric Berger, exec VP of Digital Networks at Sony Pictures Television and g.m. of Crackle. He also spoke to the advantages and challenges of the digital medium: “Direct access to consumers (means being able to) get that feedback immediately. (You) have to bring something fresh and original to an audience fast, so you move quickly through the development process, through the production process, and get it out to fans across all platforms on demand as quickly as possible.”
Director Zach Lipovsky explained that the movie’s plot is set someplace between the “Dead Rising 2” and “Dead Rising 3” games. He said the team spent a lot of time making sure that the movie stayed true to the source material.
One of the game franchise’s trademarks is its creative combo weapons that characters use to massacre zombies. Some of the instruments are serious, like the spiked bat that users create by combining a baseball bat with a box of nails; some are comical, like the beer hat made by combining beer with a construction hat; and others are both, like the Hail Mary, which combines a football with a grenade.
Lipovsky said that part of the fun of making the film was experimenting with weapon combos. His personal favorite is the half-katana, half-shovel.
“That way you can slice them, and then bash their brains in. You’ve got both (mashing) and slicing — that’s pretty good,” he said.
Metcalfe, meanwhile, had a few different ideas for how he would ward off the zombie invasion. In the game, he likes the spiked bat. In the movie, his character is a huge fan of the sledge saw.
“The sledge saw is like another character,” he said.
But as for which weaponry he’d use in real life? He figures an AR-15 with a hundred-round clip might get the job done.
Dennis Haysbert agreed that if he had to fight a real-life zombie, he would probably opt for some heavy firearms like an M-60.
“My idea is shoot ’em in the kneecaps, and then double-tap in the head,” he said to the detriment of millions of zombies everywhere.
Rob Riggle (“The Daily Show”) had a more futuristic idea of how to fight off zombies.
“By then I hope we have lightsabers,” he said. “I’ve wanted one forever.”
But until lightsabers are invented, his best advice to any concerned viewer is to prepare with some good ol’ fashioned cardio.
After the premiere, the cast, crew and attendees celebrated at a zombie-themed after-party on the Sony lot. Walking into the party, zombies jumped out from behind bushes and trees, causing unsuspecting guests to scream with terror and delight.
The party also featured smoke machines, a zombie photo booth and a special zombie-inspired Bourbon drink called the “Zombrex,” named after the “Dead Rising” zombie medication. The chainsaw-shaped plastic skewers in the short rib sandwich hors d’oeuvre were the cherry on top of the (bloody zombie) sundae, leaving guests with a memento of the frighteningly unforgettable night.