Icons Of Fright caught up with writer/director John Russo at this past weekend’s FANGORIA convention and asked him for the latest on the film version of ESCAPE OF THE LIVING DEAD, which he talked about with us in last month’s FRIGHT exclusive interview. "Well, you already know, we have Tony Todd, Gunnar Hansen, Amber Stevens from the show GREEK on the ABC Family Channel and Kristina Klebe cast. It looks like we have Kristina’s uncle Pierre Brice, who is one of the most famous actors in Germany & he’s going to play the part of Smokey."
"The project was at the Cannes Film Festival where we had a couple of million dollars in pre-sales from various countries, so now those deals have to be closed and our executive producer Dave Mendez and our co-producer Joe Majestic and Sam Sherman are working on US distribution and talking to several companies about that. But with the pre-sales, they feel we will get it sown up and probably be shooting by September and October of this year." Russo adds, "We really want to shoot in Pittsburgh."
To those unfamiliar with the ESCAPE OF THE LIVING DEAD, Russo wrote a screenplay for the project which he eventually adapted into a 5 issue mini series for Avatar Press. The book was so successful that it spawned 10 sequels in the comics. Considering the overwhelmingly positive response from the fans, it seemed only natural to go back to the original script and make it into the movie as Russo originally intended. When asked if any changes have been made from the original story, Russo explains, "The comic book was set in 1971 and this movie is going to be contemporary. It will be the same basic story, which is a really good story. Lots of twists and turns and great characters."
With the principal characters cast, Russo seems very excited at the prospect of working with these actors. "Well, Tony Todd was in our 1990 NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. I got along great with Tony during the making of that movie, so did Russ. So, it was a natural. I suggested Tony right away for the father. And then I met Kristina in Dallas and we got along well as friends. We seemed to be on the same wave length creatively and I think she’s a very charming person and a great addition to the movie. Amber I don’t know, but I’ve seen her in GREEK and she’s beautiful. And Gunnar, wait’ll you see what we turn him into!"
Lastly, Russo went on record to say that he’s become a huge fan of Icons Of Fright! "I want to say one thing. I was not familiar with the Icons Of Fright site until Beth did the interview and you guys do such a fantastic job with that site, it’s absolutely beautiful. When Russ and I saw the interview and how you laid it out, let me shake your hand. It was very well done, the whole thing. Russ saw it and said to everyone in our movie making program that they have to see this interview, because it’s terrific."
Check out the interview he’s talking about by clicking the frame below!
Check out the teaser trailer for ESCAPE OF THE LIVING DEAD!
Escape of the Living Dead – Trailer from David Mendez on Vimeo.