So, what if the zombies invaded and the world ... just dealt with it?
That's the essential premise of "My Boring Zombie Apocalypse," a six-years-in-the-making first film from director Kevin Perkins. Getting its world premiere at Baltimore's Senator Theatre on Thursday, the 40-minute film posits a world where, yes, zombies are scouring the countryside for brains to eat, but people have learned to cope — often by simply staying out of their way (zombies don't move all that fast, so they're kinda easy to avoid), sometimes by gleefully using them for target practice.
"It's a zombie film as if the Coen brothers directed it," says 49-year-old Perkins, invoking the Oscar-winning names of Joel and Ethan Coen, they of the deadpan, understated but unmistakable humor so prominently displayed in films like "Fargo," "Barton Fink," "Inside Llewyn Davis" and many others. "I really like that sort of dark comedy,"
Although the movie itself won't be shown until later this week, harbingers are available on YouTube — a short undead adventure, featuring Baltimore pastry chef Duff Goldman and his cohorts at Charm City Cakes (check out "The Charm City Cakes Massacre"), and a commercial for "Billy Bob's Medicine Show and Zombie Huntin' Emporium" that had originally been planned for the movie, but ended up on the cutting-room floor.
"Billy Bob's" — a tongue-firmly-in-cheek advertisement for a Texas resort where visitors are free to shoot and otherwise torment zombies as long as the ammunition holds out — especially captures the spirit of "Boring," Perkins says.
"I wanted to see what a zombie apocalypse would be like in our world," he explains. "You're watching 'The Walking Dead,' or you're watching a lot of these zombie films — not all of them, but a lot of them — the premise is that they're taking place in a world where no one's ever heard of zombies before. So they don't know to shoot for the head, things like that."
Example? In one scene from the film's trailer, an old man sits on a park bench, quietly reading his newspaper, as a horde of lurching, slow-moving zombies approaches. Annoyed but hardly threatened, he simply gets up and walks away as the zombies approach.
"Yeah, if they're slow, they're pretty easily taken care of," Perkins says with a laugh. "There's a lot of reasons why a slow zombie invasion would be easily handled."
Perkins, a longtime figure on the Baltimore film scene who spent more than 20 years in advertising and promotion, shepherding Hollywood movies through their Baltimore releases, came up with the idea for "My Boring Zombie Apocalypse" in 2009. Originally, he and a friend, former WBFF-TV news editor Chris Resnick, envisioned it as a five- or 10-minute short they could show to friends. But things quickly got out of hand.
"Kevin, he had sort of a cool idea," Resnick recalls. "But what started off as a summer project slowly became a five-year endeavor."
Actor Charlie Dreizen, who plays the film's bored teenage narrator, says working with Perkins was a pleasure. The director clearly relished what he was doing, Dreizen says.
"Kevin's a really cool guy," he says. "He's really nice, really lenient. It was a pleasure to work with him."
The thing is, Perkins explains, making the movie was just so much fun — tiring and sometimes all-consuming, but fun. After all, what movie geek could turn down the opportunity to take some 500 actors, throw fake blood and dirt on them and oversee a late-night invasion of the Avenue at White Marsh?
That shoot, staged on a cloudy July evening in 2011, may have been the highlight of the entire shoot, Perkins says.
A few weeks earlier, he had posted a plea on Facebook, looking for zombie volunteers. "Originally, my goal was to get 40, 50 zombies. In reality, with Facebook, I figured, 'If we get 10 … I could still work with 10 — 10 will be fine.' And then the number started to creep up on the invite page on Facebook. Two days before the event, we were up to 1,700 people.
"I was terrified at this point," Perkins says. "I was calling police officer friends of mine, saying, 'Hey, can I rent you for the night, to come and be security?' We're really starting to panic."
Happily, a manageable 500 or so people actually showed up, and a grand time making movies was had by all. In fact, shooting continued into the wee hours of the morning, and then well into the daylight.
"There were about 40 or 50 people left — the die-hards. God bless 'em," Perkins says.
If you go
"My Boring Zombie Apocalypse" will have its world premiere at the Senator Theatre, 5904 York Road, at 9 p.m. Thursday — part of a bill that will also include a 30th-anniversary screening of Dan O'Bannon's "The Return of the Living Dead." Tickets are $10. thesenatortheatre.com.