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April 30, 2012

‘Dead’ heads: Zack Snyder, Robert Kirkman lead L.A. zombie summit

Posted in: Movies

2012 HERO COMPLEX FILM FESTIVAL

zack snyder happy Dead heads: Zack Snyder, Robert Kirkman lead L.A. zombie summit

Zack Snyder (Warner Bros.)

The zombie business isn’t for the meek. Just ask Zack Snyder, who ran in the face of genre tradition with his daring “Dawn of the Dead” remake, or Robert Kirkman, who shattered core assumptions about marketplace and medium with “The Walking Dead,” which began as a comic book epic (the Image Comics series is now closing in on its 100th issue) and found second life on television (last month’s second-season finale drew 9 million viewers, making it the most-watched basic cable drama telecast in history).

Snyder and Kirkman will take the stage together on May 18 at the 2012 Hero Complex Film Festival to discuss, celebrate and debate zombies and a horror subgenre that seems to possess an undying appeal.

The pair also will share their Hollywood survival tales and share tidbits about their upcoming projects — including Snyder’s “Man of Steel,” which arrives in theaters next year with a new vision of Superman that includes a reworked origin tale and a sharp break from the hero’s previous screen appearances.

robert kirkman Dead heads: Zack Snyder, Robert Kirkman lead L.A. zombie summit

Robert Kirkman on the set of AMC show "The Walking Dead." (Scott Garfield/AMC)

The program will begin with a 7 p.m. screening of Snyder’s “Dawn of the Dead” (2004), which marked the feature-film debut for a director who would go on to “300,” “Watchmen” and “Sucker Punch.” The remake of writer-director George A. Romero’s 1978 classic became an international hit (the film cost $26 million to make and piled up $102 million at the box office) but also a divisive flashpoint for zombie fans (many were aghast to see “fast” zombies, a startling departure from the genre’s trademark sequences of slow, shambling corpses).

Any outrage was balanced by strong notices, such as the review by Washington Post film critic Michael O’Sullivan, who wrote: “A paradigm of its genre: bloody (and bloody scary), stylish, smart, audacious and edgy, darkly pessimistic yet inflected with touches of deliciously sick humor…it more than surpasses the original.”

The film screening will be followed by an extended highlight reel for the second season of “The Walking Dead,” which concluded on March 19 with an episode that strongly sets up next season’s prison saga and the arrival of a character called the Governor (David Morrissey of “State of Play”), who earned a special infamy among loyal readers of the comic series.

Kirkman is a writer and executive producer of the show, which premiered on Halloween night 2010 and stars Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, who was a sheriff’s deputy when law, order and the living still reigned – back before the walkers came.

After the onstage Q&A with Snyder and Kirkman, there will be an intermission as the theater is cleared for the second part of the evening’s “Zombie Summit” program: “Shaun of the Dead,” also from 2004, will be screened and director and co-writer Edgar Wright will be interviewed onstage afterward. Check back here for a post about that screening, which will be ticketed separately.

The third edition of the Hero Complex Film Festival runs May 18-21 at the Regal Cinemas at L.A. Live. Tickets are now on sale. For a full list of screenings and ticket information, visit the festival landing page.

– Geoff Boucher

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