Kool Kat of the Week: Stan Bowman, a.k.a. “Stan the Zombie” Gets Reanimated in a Starring Role with STAN THE ZOMBIE: THE MOVIE, While Staggering Through Atlanta’s Undead Horror Scene Devouring the Locals One Rotting Piece of Flesh at a Time

Posted on: Jun 25th, 2015 By:

by Melanie Crewstan the zombie promo
Managing Editor

Stan Bowman, a.k.a. “Stan the Zombie”, has become a local legend within Atlanta’s homegrown bloody fangtastic horror scene, staggering his way through cons and events donning rotting flesh while reeking of the undead. He’s been dressing up in bloody-gore-filled costumes since he was a teen and has made dining on the flesh of locals his go-to thing. So much so, that in 2010, he trade-marked “Stan the Zombie” and has been cast as such in several film and television productions, including his first taste of the biz, Giles Shepherd’s ACE THE ZOMBIE: THE MOTION PICTURE (2012). “Stan the Zombie” has also made appearances on the talk-show SCARY TIMES in 2014, and has had roles in AJ Caruso’s horror short, Z.14.12 (2014); a comedy TV series, ZOMBIE SOCKS in 2014; Jason Lumberjack Johnson’s video short, SUPERMANN TREE SERVICE (2015) and more! “Stan the Zombie” will even have his own stand-alone film, STAN THE ZOMBIE: THE MOVIE, which is currently in pre-production and will take viewers down his deep dark path of his hellishly undead past. For a sneak peek teaser and fleshy taste of the upcoming film, grab a copy of the comic book, STAN THE ZOMBIE!

Although Bowman is largely known as one of Atlanta’s favorite reanimated human corpses, he’s been busy working on non-zombie productions as a professionally trained actor as well. Stan_the_Zombie_comic_jpgPresently, he’s playing a role in Keith Bailey’s TEST GROUP, which is currently filming. He’s also played “Dr. Acula” in Giles Shepherd’s comedy-horror film ATLANTA VAMPIRE MOVIE (post-production); “Mastermind” in the fan web-series UNCANNY X-MEN in 2012; and plays the role of “Detective Mike Jordan” in Naz Pankey’s action-horror film I THOUGHT YOU WERE A NICE MAN (post-production). So, if you haven’t had the chance to experience “Stan the Zombie” and/or Stan Bowman the actor, you’ll want to haunt on down to one of Atlanta’s many conventions and horror events for a fleshy taste of the undead!

ATLRetro caught up with Stan Bowman for a quick interview about the history of “Stan the Zombie”; George Romero; his immersion into Atlanta’ horror film scene; and his current film shenanigans! And while you’re takin’ a peek at our little Q&A with Bowman, listen to his interview with Project IRadio’s “Nerdvanahere, as well as an interview with “Stan the Zombie” and John Farris of Dead, Buried and Back at Comic Con 2013 here.

ATLRetro: “Stan the Zombie” causes quite a rotting ruckus across Atlanta! Can you tell our readers a little bit about your undead back story?

Stan Bowman: Well, I’ve been a zombie fan since I was a kid, a big George Romero fan. I started dressing up like a zombie when I was teenager for

Project IRadio

Project IRadio

Halloween. Then in 2007, a friend brought me to Dragon Con. I saw a lot of people dressed up in costume, so I came back the next day in zombie, and was a hit! Every year I would try something and work on making it better. In 2010 I decided to coin the name “Stan the Zombie.”

What brought you to the deep dark underbelly of Atlanta’s monstrous film community and what keeps you coming back for more?

Pure luck? Nah, just going out there and doing my thing with one thing leading to another. After being discovered at Dragon Con for ACE THE ZOMBIE, some SCAD students tracked me down and asked me to be in a short movie with them. It just kept growing from there.

We’ve read that your “Stan the Zombie” character is highly inspired by George Romero films. Which would you say had the most influence and why?

Yes, like I mentioned, George Romero inspired me. It was the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, the black and white one. My sister and I used to beg our parents to let us stay up late and watch it. I can’t count how many times I’ve watched it!

Ace_The_Zombie_Movie_Poster_%20Clown_BLOGCan you tell our readers a little about your first film, 2010’s ACE THE ZOMBIE, directed by Giles Shepherd, and how you landed the role? Any behind-the-scenes shenanigans you’d like to share?

Well, the cameraman approached me at Dragon Con and asked if I wanted to be in a movie. Of course, I agreed. When I showed up on set in Milledgeville GA, no one recognized me without makeup. So they cast me as a ZCF Doctor. The second time I was on set, the AD asked me to come in my zombie makeup. When I showed up, everyone recognized me. Ha! It was a fun crew to work with, but with long days and nights on set. We had to be a little crazy to make it though. Ha!

Which other films, directors or actors have inspired you the most? If you could choose your favorite old-school director (besides Romero), who would it be and why?

If you’re referring to horror and zombie films, I would say Wes Craven, John Carpenter, Sam Raimi and Alfred Hitchcock. My favorite would be Wes Craven, because I’m also a big fan of THE NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET movies.

Atlanta’s independent horror film scene seems to be thriving!  What do you think draws the crowds to the lower budget independent films? And why?

Stan Bowman - The man behind the rotting flesh.

Stan Bowman – The man behind the rotting flesh.

I guess I would have to say the original stories, the hard work everyone puts in. And THE WALKING DEAD being filmed here doesn’t hurt. Atlanta has a lot of horror film fans. We took over being the zombie capital of the US from Seattle several years ago.

You’ve recently branched out beyond the rotting undead and have played some non-zombie roles, including comedy-horror flick, ATLANTA VAMPIRE MOVIE, also directed by Giles Shepherd, where you play “Dr. Acula.” Without giving too much away, what can you tell us about this production, which is set to release in October 2015?

It’s basically a spoof of BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA, but it’s very original in its own right. Everyone put a lot of time and energy into it, and we had an excellent writer. As far as a release date? Not sure, it’s still in post-production right now.

We hear there’s a STAN THE ZOMBIE: THE MOVIE in the making. Can you tell us a little about that and the comic which came out in May 2014?

Well, a Hollywood producer recommended that I come out with a comic book to add more legitimacy to my character. So I contacted a friend of mine, Zak Vaudo, and we began working on it. Zak was already half-way through the script for the movie, so we just borrowed scenes from it for the book. And Alison Cundiff did the illustrations for the comic.

You do a lot of guest appearances at horror events across town. Can you tell us a little about those? Which is your favorite annual event and why?

That’s a tough one, because I like them all; Dragon Con and Walker Stalker, of course. But the smaller ones like Days of the Dead, Twisted Fears and now Wizard World are nice, too. My favorite is still Dragon Con. It’s crowded, but that’s where STZ got his start.

i-thought-you-were-a-nice-man-posterYour first speaking role without makeup was in the web-series, the UNCANNY X-MEN in 2012, where you played “Mastermind.” How did that experience differ from your usual zombified performances?

It was a little unnerving. When you’re in makeup, it’s like a mask. But, without it and having to hear your own voice, well, that’s why I started working with a coach afterwards. Ha! But I liked it. It was a challenge and I look forward to more. It’s fun! But I’ll keep doing zombie as long has my body holds out. Ha!

You’ve also played a few detective roles, including “Detective Mike Jordan” in I THOUGHT YOU WERE A NICE MAN, which is in post-production. Can you fill our readers in a bit on this role?

Well, I’m under a nondisclosure agreement, so I can’t say too much. I play a homicide detective protecting his fiancé’s daughter. Sadly, can’t say more. But, you’ll have to see it when it comes out!

If you could put together a monster movie with all your favorite actors/actresses (alive or not), who would you choose and why?

Hmm. Arnold Schwarzenegger (Having “The Terminator” is always cool!), Kevin Spacey (I love his acting and dry sense of humor.), Kathy Bates (A great actress and she can play the creepy roles.), Jennifer Love Hewitt (Because she’s hot!), Debby Ryan (Because she’s hot and I met her..lol), Sid Haig (He can scare you too death. Ha!). I can go on and on, but those are some who come to mind.

So, what’s next for Stan Bowman? For “Stan the Zombie”?

Well, we are presently in the budget/script editing/shot list phase of STAN THE ZOMBIE: THE MOVIE. Putting together a feature isn’t as easy as people think. It’s a lot of work. We are hoping to start shooting before the end of the year, but that’s a long shot. You never know. In the mean time, I have more non-zombie roles on the docket, and hope to show that I’m more than just another pretty zombie. Ha!

Can you tell our readers something you’d like folks to know that they don’t know already?Stan the zombie headshot doctor (2)

Let’s see, I have always been a big time apocalyptic movie fan, and post-civilization (PLANET OF THE APES, OMEGA MAN, etc). I’m a big history buff and love to explore other cultures. And, I’m actually a pretty private person when I’m not doing conventions or on set.

What question do you wish somebody would ask you and what’s the answer?

Ok, I’ve been asked most through the years, but no one asked me if I could live anywhere I wanted, where would it be? Answer: In the country with three big dogs, off the grid and completely self-sufficient. Can you tell I’m an apocalyptic movie fan? Ha!

All photos courtesy of Stan Bowman and used with permission.

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Retro Review: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Cabin in the Woods: EVIL DEAD 2 Is a Vicious, Nasty, Bloody, Frightening and Smart Movie!

Posted on: May 28th, 2013 By:

Rock & Roll Monster Bash presents EVIL DEAD 2 (1987); Dir. Sam Raimi; Starring Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry and Dan Hicks; Sunday, June 2; Starlight Six Drive-In; Buy tickets here; Trailer here.

By Aleck Bennett
Contributing Writer

It’s Rock & Roll Monster Bashin’ time, ladies and gents! And if you’ve spent all day celebrating at the Starlight Six Drive-In, there’s no better way to cap off the night than with a double-bill of fright featuring folks messing around with books they ought not be messin’ around with. And they don’t come any better than Sam Raimi’s EVIL DEAD 2.

It was 1983 and I had started sailing awkwardly into teenagerhood. FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND was on the verge of closing up shop, and I had been steadily supplementing my reading material with FANGORIA. A video rental store named Video Land had just opened up in town to provide stiff competition to the local movie house (the Royal Rocking Chair Cinema), and my main after-school preoccupation was scouring the shelves of the horror section to rent whatever I hadn’t seen yet. And one day, there it was: the Thorn/EMI plastic clamshell case for THE EVIL DEAD. In the coming years, I must have paid for half of Video Land’s entire inventory just from renting that movie over and over again. It was mindblowing. Just a vicious, nasty, bloody, frightening and smart movie—not just script-wise, but so audacious visually that it was like few things I’d seen to that point.

So when FANGO started reporting that Sam Raimi was teaming back up with Bruce Campbell to make EVIL DEAD 2, I was rabid. And then, the Royal put up the poster for it as a coming attraction. I pestered the hell out of the people running the place about when they were going to get it, and every time, they’d say “soon.” Maybe it would be that they were holding over that week’s show. Or maybe it would be that a big release was coming in the next week that they had to run instead. But every time, something different. And they must have had that poster up for a year. Like they were doing it out of spite, just to taunt me or something.

So, like so many others like me who were living out in the pits of Nowheresvilles all across the country, I had to wait for it to come out on video to see it. And when I finally got my grubby mitts on it…it was a comedy?

Because how can you follow up a movie whose own closing credits describe it as “the ultimate experience in grueling terror?” By piling on the excesses of the first until it becomes so overloaded with the wacky that it collapses in hysterics. (And by describing the result in its closing credits as “the sequel to the ultimate experience in grueling terror.”) Where the first film was visually inventive, this took every lesson learned from that first movie and asked the question, “how can we do this BIGGER?” If THE EVIL DEAD used the whip pan as a stylistic device, let’s do everything in whip pans. Lots of blood all over the place in the first movie? Let’s shoot it out of fire hoses at Bruce Campbell. The first movie has Bruce wielding a chainsaw? Let’s give Bruce a chainsaw for a hand! The first film has violence so over-the-top that it borders on the absurd? Let’s demonstrate that Bruce Campbell is an incredibly agile physical comedian and have him beat the living daylights out of himself with everything but the kitchen sink, like he’s both Moe and Curly trapped inside the same body.

Groovy.

This became my new gospel. I’d sit and pick over the minutiae of this movie like I was in seminary and this was the Codex Sinaiticus. Like I was Wilbur Whateley poring over my John Dee translation of the NECRONOMICON. This was now part of my personal canon, alongside THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE or…well…THE EVIL DEAD.

Capsule recap: Ash Williams and his girlfriend Linda head out to a secluded cabin for a quiet getaway. Ash plays a tape recording found which was made by the professor staying there previously, and which contains translations of the bound-in-flesh NECRONOMICON EX MORTIS (which was also found in the cabin). It summons up evil forces from beyond that possess Linda, Ash, his hand, and soon threaten to possess the people heading to the cabin, mistakenly believing that they’re meeting the now-late professor.

Bruce Campbell in EVIL DEAD 2.

There are few sequels that are better than the first movie. You can probably count them on your fingers. Both hands, if you’re feeling generous. You know it. I know it. More importantly, Sam Raimi knew it. He knew that since the first film was celebrated as a straight-up horror movie, that the second movie could only disappoint in comparison. So he made a different movie. A movie that didn’t even try to do what the first one did so well, but aimed for something he knew he could pull off: the first splatstick comedy. I mean, Sam Raimi had never wanted to be just a horror film director anyway; he just saw horror as an easy way to get his foot in the door. Most of his own short films were comedies, and he had followed up THE EVIL DEAD with an attempt to make a live-action LOONEY TUNES / Tex Avery-styled comedy in collaboration with Joel and Ethan Coen, CRIMEWAVE. That it flopped seemed to only strengthen his resolve to take a bigger risk by making EVIL DEAD 2 a comedy.

And it worked. Oh, man, how it worked. It quickly became the MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL for the horror geek scene. Whereas the first film presented Bruce Campbell as Ash, a likeably bland lead, this movie established Bruce Campbell in my mind (and that of anyone else who saw it) as Bruce Campbell, Movie God. This was the movie where he finally came into his own, delivering a tour de force performance that would have killed a lesser man to give. And the guts of Raimi to essentially condense the entire first movie into the first half-hour of the second, retelling it and streamlining it (removing any character other than Ash and his girlfriend Linda). It was like Raimi explicitly saying, “this is not that movie. This is a whole different thing.” The only thing about the movie that suffers is the collective performances of the secondary cast members, which are generally either a little too broad or a little too wooden. But it’s hard to really judge them because they are unfortunately cast alongside the marvel that is BRUCE F’ING CAMPBELL. Olivier might have suffered in comparison. (We’ll never know. He wisely stayed away, and never suffered those slings and arrows, the coward.)

Some movies are fun. Some of those movies are described as “a roller coaster ride.” EVIL DEAD 2 is like Disneyland riding a roller coaster through Knott’s Scary Farm while the Ramones are playing on top of a blood-filled Splash Mountain. Strap in, kids, because it’s gonna get MESSY.

Aleck Bennett is a writer, blogger, pug warden, pop culture enthusiast, raconteur and bon vivant from the greater Atlanta area. Visit his blog atdoctorsardonicus.wordpress.com

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Retro Review: Comparing Corpses: Two EVIL DEAD Go Head-To-Blood-and-Gory-Head!

Posted on: Apr 24th, 2013 By:

THE EVIL DEAD (1981); Dir. Sam Raimi; Starring Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Hal Delrich, Betsy Baker and Sarah York; Available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Anchor Bay Entertainment; Trailer here.

By Aleck Bennett
Contributing Writer

There’s such a hue and cry over the seemingly unending parade of remakes coming out of the Hollywood horror entertainment complex. It’s increasingly hard to approach one on its own terms without feeling like you’re betraying all that is good and true in this world. And when it comes to a beloved horror classic like Sam Raimi’s 1981 gorefest THE EVIL DEAD, the stakes are raised even higher.

But here’s the complication: THE EVIL DEAD has already been remade. Not once, but twice. The film’s plot was summarized and streamlined into the first quarter hour or so of 1987’s EVIL DEAD II, which was then subsequently summarized and streamlined into the opening segment of the series’ third film, 1992’s ARMY OF DARKNESS. Further complicating matters is the fact that THE EVIL DEAD is itself a remake. Raimi’s 1978 short film WITHIN THE WOODS was developed as a prototype horror film to draw investors, and it successfully led to Raimi raising the nearly $100,000 needed to develop a feature-length version of the short.

To be clear: THE EVIL DEAD is far from being some sacred, untouchable text. Not even Raimi sees it as being one, as he’s been futzing around with the same story since 1978. And even then it wasn’t that original an idea: though Raimi denies having seen the film prior to production, the storyline of THE EVIL DEAD is relatively close to that of the 1967-70 drive-in classic EQUINOX. Both involve scientists who have unwittingly opened a portal between this world and a demonic realm, a mysterious occult text and a handful of early-20s youths who visit the scientist’s cabin and wind up fighting off demons. It’s become such an archetypal setup that the “five kids in a cabin” trope is the basis for Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s ultimate meta horror-comedy, 2012’s THE CABIN IN THE WOODS.

That being said, how does Fede Alvarez’s 2013 version compare with the 1981 model? Let’s take a look.

Both stories are superficially similar: a group of five kids in their 20s visit a remote cabin, wherein they stumble upon a mysterious tome, the NATURON DEMONTO, which contains passages intended to open a portal and summon demons to this realm. The spells are read aloud (in the original, played via a scientist’s tape recording; in the 2013 version, directly read from the book), and said demons are summoned. One by one, the five are picked off and controlled by the ancient evil called forth by the book.

The first thing you’ll notice as different is the film’s immediate stylization. In the original, there’s a sense of everything being normal until we get to the cabin. In the remake, a pre-credit sequence of sacrifice casts a shadow over the proceedings, and to reflect that, there’s a consistent color desaturation which gives everything a sickly pallor and darkens the tone of the film. While I miss the gradual move away from “reality” that the original possesses, the point stands that the remake is, well, a remake. We know that bad stuff is about to go down and we know where it’s located (and if you didn’t know, the establishing sacrifice informs you).

The second thing is a deviation from the original’s storyline that affects the audience’s relationship with the characters: in the original, Bruce Campbell’s Ash is part of an ensemble and emerges as the film’s lead over time. In the remake, Jane Levy’s Mia (a recovering drug addict who has chosen the isolated cabin as a place to detox) is quickly established as the film’s focal character. By announcing right out of the gate who the film’s protagonist is, the sensation at the original’s outset that anybody could die at any time is somewhat lessened. We already know which character is established as the hero, but the question remains: how long will our hero last? Both films take their own path to establishing that question, but the original’s route creates more audience empathy. The remake’s approach results in a decrease in the sense of danger, meaning that no matter how many times the film pulls this rug out from under the viewer, the viewer is still inclined to think, “well, sure, but they can’t kill her; she’s the star!”

One thing in which both films succeed is the application of gore. Though budget kept the original’s prosthetic appliances looking like anything but prosthetic appliances, they made up for any shortcomings with a shocking amount of blood. And not just blood spurting from wounds, but from everywhere. And Raimi’s bravura direction pulled maximum shock out of every instance. Alvarez’s higher budget has resulted in more successful practical effects (he boasts that every effect was done on-set using practical effects, with CGI only used for touch-ups and more general uses such as manipulating the film’s color palette), and his insistence on not backing down from the original’s bloody reputation has resulted in this being quite probably the most gore-filled major studio film I’ve ever seen.

Bruce Campbell in the original EVIL DEAD. New Line Cinema, 1981. Available on DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Meanwhile, let me address something that I’ve seen crop up elsewhere in comparing the two: criticism that the 2013 film lacks the comedy of the original. The original film IS. NOT. FUNNY. Sure, there are one or two intentionally comedic moments in the first few minutes of the film as we follow our gang to the cabin. But the “splatstick” comedy that so many people associate with the EVIL DEAD franchise was something that popped up in the sequel, EVIL DEAD II. The first EVIL DEAD movie is every bit as serious about what’s going on as the remake. Got it? Good.

The main question, though, is this: does the film stand on its own two legs? I’d argue that it does, unequivocally. It does lack some of the sense of fun that the original had, particularly in its first half. But when the possession starts going and the blood starts flowing, it’s too easy to get caught up in the unbridled enthusiasm of the movie to not enjoy it from that point onward. Sure, there are plot holes and contrivances that might bring down any attempt to reason with the film, but in a movie like this, reason is the last thing you want to bring into the theater with you. The entire point of either film is to show what happens when reason can no longer be applied. And both films succeed and fail at showing that in probably equal amounts. And the remake might lack some of the bizarro flourishes that made Raimi’s film stand out that much more in that regard. But you can walk into this film not knowing of Bruce Campbell’s existence (I can’t imagine living such a life, but to each their own) and come away happy.

And I—knowing and loving the original, which I’ve probably owned more copies of in my life than any other film—walked away having enjoyed myself thoroughly. It’s a nice complement to the original, which it references enough to question whether it might be some kind of sequel: not only are the superficial elements in place (the cabin and the book, though the book has been redesigned due to copyright problems), but Ash’s 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale is still present outside the cabin. (Nerds like myself might chime in with “…but Ash’s car was transported through the portal to ancient Sumeria in 1300 at the end of EVIL DEAD II!” To which I award you the coveted No-Prize, and direct you to the lobby to collect it.)

The new EVIL DEAD equals the original in blood and gore. Sony Pictures Entertainment, 2013.

It’s certainly the best of the recent crop of horror movie remakes. And while that might sound like damning with faint praise, it’s not intended to be. It works as both a celebration of the original and a successful horror film on its own. It doesn’t shy away from its visceral roots in order to deliver a PG-13 rating, or preemptively compromise itself so as to not invoke the MPAA’s wrath. Surprisingly, something this brutal made it through unscathed.

Five kids in a cabin. Deceptively easy to screw up. Thankfully, Fede Alvarez has kept things simple.

Blood simple.

Aleck Bennett is a writer, blogger, pug warden, pop culture enthusiast, raconteur and bon vivant from the greater Atlanta area. Visit his blog atdoctorsardonicus.wordpress.com

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