The two young leads in “House of the Dead” are played, respectively, by Jonathan Cherry and the lovely and sexy Ona Grauer, the hero and heroine of the film, so to speak, which is no guarantee that they’ll survive. “I’m Rudy, her ex-boyfriend, and we’ve just broken up,” says Cherry who wrapped Final Destination 2, just a few days before he began work on “House of the Dead.” “I’m already on the island waiting for them when they arrive, so I know what’s going on. When they arrive, I start screaming and I start telling them about the zombies, but everyone thinks I’m crazy. Another guy who’s with me, he plays them a videotape and they see the zombies eating flesh.” For Cherry, the biggest challenge of starring in a zombie film is trying to let his character shine through the action and gore. “Oh yeah, you feel like an extra sometimes, overshadowed, they’re everywhere,” explains the young actor. “You just have to tell yourself that it’s a zombie film and that’s what the fans want to see; they want a horror film that’s going to deliver the goods and I guess the young actors serve their role, their purpose as the victims, as they do in all horror films. I love zombie movies myself and I’ve had lots of fun making this film.”

Grauer plays Alicia, Rudy’s scorned ex-girlfriend. “I’m not that excited about going to the island, but my friends drag me to it,” says Grauer whose lovely figure belies the fact that she had a baby just over a year ago. “She goes and confronts Rudy so there’s drama and tension there, but there’s so much action going on that they don’t have time to breathe much less discuss things. I’m sort of the heroine, the scream queen, the one who’s strong, the one who can keep it together. I get to kill lots of zombies and that’s a lot of fun. I won’t say whether or not I take off my clothes or not.”

As everyone knows, when the sun rises, the zombies are nowhere to be found, as was the case on the set of “House of the Dead” as cast and crew began to wind down from a long night, part of an intense, month long shooting schedule. For the makers of “House of the Dead,” the most difficult part may still be yet to come, namely getting their film into theaters and out to the fans. “I’m confident that we’re going to get a theatrical release,” asserts Altman. “It’s hard out there in the marketplace right now because years ago you could get a film like this into theaters pretty easily. You need a big company behind you nowadays and that’s what we’re trying to line up as far as a distributor. This isn’t a low budget film; it stands on its own two feet.” Altman’s previous work includes Free Enterprise, a 1998 spoof of William Shatner and “Star Trek” fan worship, which received enthusiastic reviews upon its sparse release. In 2000, Altman also wrote and produced The Specials, a super-hero spoof written by James Gunn of Scooby Doo fame (or infamy).

Altman and his production team have more video game adaptations planned in the future as well as bringing an old horror classic to life. “I’d love to do a ‘Vampirella’ film,” says Altman of the classic 1970s horror magazine. “I just pray that nobody will remember that piece of junk that Jim Wynorski made a few years back. I don’t want fans to hold that against me. It could be an amazing film and a great franchise.” Altman is also developing film versions of the video games “Crazy Taxi” and “Dead or Alive.” “My dream is for my company, Mindfire Entertainment, to become like a Dimension or a Miramax, a symbol that people look to for solid genre entertainment.” What about a sequel to “House of the Dead?” “It depends how this one does, of course,” says Boll. “We have a character, a villain, who lends himself to being a great horror villain, a new Freddy or Jason, that kind of character. We do a flashback with this Spanish boat in the seventeenth century and you meet this crazy madman scientist, Castillo, who did all of these weird experiments that turned the people on the ship into monsters, which is the origin of our zombies, so he could be our new villain. We’ll also have to see how exciting the new “House of the Dead” video games are. I’m looking forward to playing them.”

Posted on May 2, 2003 in Interviews by

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