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Bring out your Dead

Rio Theatre brings zombie film festival back to life
On August 19, the top 10 Dead on Film finalists will vie for $1,000 in prize money and the coveted Zoscar statue. Deadline for submissions is July 31.

Corinne Lea has a craving for fresh brains. More specifically, the manager of East Vancouvers Rio Theatre is looking for creative typesparticularly those with strong stomachs and makeup skillsto take part in the venues upcoming second annual Dead On Film zombie-themed short film festival.

Lea said that last years inaugural event, which coincided with the annual Zombie Walk that sees hundreds of undead wannabes taking to the streets of Terminal City, drew over 30 submissions and the audience, who get to choose the winning film from 10 surviving finalists, seemed hungry for more.

It was totally sold out, said Lea, who has been running the 450-seat theatre for the past three years. It wont surprise me if this year we get even more films sent in because we upped the prize to a thousand dollar cash prize. Plus its not just for the fun of dressing up because people get to have a say and handpick the winner. People really got excited about that last time because it wasnt just the filmmakers and their friends.

The deadline for DVD submissions, which should be around five-minutes long, is midnight of July 31. The top 10 finalists will be screened August 19. A Facebook page has also been set up for scriptwriters, actors and filmmakers interested in sinking their teeth into the project to hook up together.

Bren Lynne, the director of last years winning entry Kidz, said he is hoping to defend his title and is hard at work on a new film entitled Fancy Brains From Farm 6.

We were actually shooting today using pretty much the same crew as last time, said the 42-year-old local filmmaker, who has also designed a video game called Night of a Million Billion Zombies through his software company, PowerUp Studios.

While Kidz centered around a trio of newly orphaned children forced into battle with the undead, Lynne said the young actors wont be back for his latest bloody offering. We decided not to use as many kids this time around, he said with a laugh. Well let the therapists do the work for that.

He said the short film, which can be found on YouTube, has also taken on new life since winning Dead On Film. Its now doing the festival circuit in the U.K. It also got an airing recently on a show on MyNetworkTV called Creeps Creature Feature.

Its been more than 40 years since George Romeros shambling hordes first won over peoples hearts and minds through, well, devouring peoples hearts and minds in the now-classic Night of the Living Dead. Zombies have since become of veritable part of the zeitgeist, and the horror subculture is no longer confined to movies and video games. A Google search spits out 243,000 hits on the subject, including a Zombie Survival Wiki. There are currently best-selling books (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) and a hit TV (The Walking Dead) show devoted to the subject. It has become a bonafide pop culture phenomenon that shows no sign of slowing down and, as evidenced in films like 28 Days Later and the Resident Evil franchise, is only speeding up.

I think it is fascinating were so interested in the undead, said Lea, who is also known for putting on zombie-themed burlesque shows. Death is like this ultimate thing that we all have to deal with, and this is kind of a way to smile and laugh about it while were alive. Its interesting that it has become so huge and there really doesnt seem to be any end in sight. I think zombies are here to stay.

For more information about the Dead On Film festival, visit

Twitter: @flematic