Gore-e-ography: The Making of Death Harmony (2010) – By Cary Conley

Death Harmony is the first film of one Blake Nelson, a middle-aged man whose dream has come true: now that his mother-in-law is dead, he can use her inheritance to make his low-budget opus about the relationships between zombies, vampires and ninjas. Initially these three groups were sworn enemies, but with the pending marriage between zombie girl and vampire boy, a union amongst the groups may forge peace for the first time ever. Meant to be a horror-action-adventure-musical, Death Harmony is as silly as it sounds.

Gore-e-ography (as in “choreography,” as in what you need for any musical, including one that features zombies, vampires and ninjas) is the “making of” documentary of Nelson’s horror musical. What we really have is a mockumentary similar to This is Spinal Tap.

The real director of this cute little comment on pompous and pretentious would-be filmmakers and actors is Anthony Kilburn. Three things are almost immediately obvious: first, Kilburn loves horror movies, as evidenced by this feature being broken into chapters with titles like “The Lost Boys” and “Scream” as well as some well-placed homages within the film itself. Second, Kilburn is tired of DVD special features and cast and crew interviews that are just lovefests but don’t really address how the film was made. And third, Kilburn knows how to have a good time by poking fun at these self-absorbed Hollywood types.

Filled with intentionally horrendous acting and funny interviews with the “cast” and “crew” of Death Harmony, I enjoyed laughing inwardly and rolling my eyes at these pretentious characters while they blathered on meaninglessly. But Gore-e-ography is more than just a cute film that pokes fun at Hollywood. Kilburn does a terrific job of actually creating well-rounded characters and giving each one an arc. For instance, Blake Nelson, the director of Death Harmony can talk endlessly about the meaning behind every movement of each character and the perfect number of beats to his musical feature all the while inadvertently displaying his sheer amateurism for the “documentary camera”. Nelson is hilarious and sympathetic as he puts heart and soul into what is obviously going to rival Ed Wood’s own Plan 9 from Outer Space in sheer ineptness. Nelson also works hard at using symbolism in his movie and agonizes over such pretentious scenes as a vampire being crucified in the exact position of Christ on the cross. At the same time, he is sleeping with his “star” while sending his wife on a much-needed “vacation.”

The male and female leads of the faux film are also funny as we watch their character arcs. Obviously amateurs with no experience, they spout their stereotypical philosophies on acting until the viewer wants to strangle them. Their only knowledge of acting obviously came from a book checked out from the local library. The two stars go from respecting each other’s “performances” to competing with each other for “face time” during the documentary interviews to the moment when they must kiss in the film. It is only then that they realize they have fallen for each other and fall back on the sappy sweet comments about how one wouldn’t be as good without the other.

The film is filled with these kinds of stereotypical characters and events that we have all seen in interviews with cast members and the crew. Courtney Gardner as the lead zombie plays the diva flawlessly and so accurately you want to drown her in her own sticky sweetness. And Matt Shuman stars as her vampire counterpart and is almost as big a diva as she is. His personal goal is to end up on the cover of Tiger Beat magazine with his cool, iconic pose he already has worked out. Bill Welch plays the director of Death Harmony, Blake Nelson, to pretentious perfection, including a mind-blowing meltdown during filming that is a thing of painful beauty. Trying to walk out on filming, he allows his bruised ego to be soothed by his cast and crew and once enough warm fuzzies have been transferred, he’s right back in the thick of things.

The real director of this film, Anthony Kilburn, has crafted a pretty funny and dead-on commentary of all the Hollywood types we Rogue readers love to hate. The result is an entertaining little film with enough snickers and eye rolls to keep everyone interested. My only complaint is the choice to use the absolutely gorgeous Kimbyr Leigha in a male role so we don’t get to see her ample assets as much as we might like.

All joking aside, Gore-e-ography is definitely worth catching. The film is all the more impressive as it was filmed completely using improvisation. I had fun watching the actors and actresses bouncing ideas off of each other and responding in kind during the documentary interview sessions. These folks are good at what they do. The film has literally just been completed—it doesn’t premiere until October 28th—but keep a lookout for more information on its release by checking out the production company at http://www.killacozzy.com.