KUALA LUMPUR, July 2 — Director Woo Ming Jin is hoping his latest zombie flick, Zombitopia will be groundbreaking.

Taking notes from iconic zombie films, series and comics, he admitted that Zombitopia was influenced by several mediums.

From Zack Snyder’s Dawn Of The Dead to Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead and to Yeon Sang-ho’s Train To Busan, Woo’s second zombie film since his 2013 KL Zombi will hopefully be more gripping.

Zombitopia is more visceral, more serious and more dramatic and realistic as a zombie film.

“The last zombie movie, it was fun, it was great, but I feel like I have left some petrol in the tank and there is more to do.

“I know that zombies are a fantasy, but I want to make realistic looking zombies that can run fast and that are actually dangerous.”

And that’s how it started.

From script development, he knew he wanted to work with the best actors in the industry, “and thankfully we got Shaheizy Sam, Bront Palarae, Datin Elvina Mohamad and Nani (Sharifah Amani).”

Woo and his crew worked on special effects makeup, obtaining customised contact lenses from a special effects artist in New York who has worked on The Walking Dead.

They caused some commotion on set when some of the actors had difficulty seeing through it which led the crew needing to verbally guide the actors on set.

Woo admitted that working with CGI has proven to be the most challenging part. — Picture via Disney+Hotstar
Woo admitted that working with CGI has proven to be the most challenging part. — Picture via Disney+Hotstar

The Barbarian Invasion producer took a page from Train to Busan and hired local breakdancers to act as zombies for more fluidity in body movements.

Woo said that working with CGI has proved to be the most challenging part.

“We had CGI characters that used a lot of visual effect elements which I was not used to, and I think our industry is also not used to it and it was very difficult.

“I’m not quite sure on the percentage of CGI used because there are a lot of small things that audiences might not think there’s CGI but there is actually CGI like the veins, blood and sometimes just a simple wiring.

“A lot of small things were cleaned up and we had a lot of shots, over a thousand CGI shots and it was pretty crazy.

“Also having the actors act to an imaginary object or to somebody holding a c-stand with a tennis ball is also difficult,” he said.

For the cast, it was no less challenging.

Bront Palarae said he faced a technically challenging setup when shooting for Zombitopia.

“We had this tennis ball on a stick, which was kind of the authority on set because everyone was revolving around the tennis ball and the stick.

“The guy holding the stick was an intern. Imagine a fresh newcomer who was overwhelmed in the middle of the set because all the actors were reacting to him.

“So I had to ask the kid to help me out with the scene instead of just having him standing timidly there,” Bront said.

Meanwhile actress Sharifah Amani admitted she was clueless on set when it came to some of the action scenes where she had to depend on her imagination.

“I wasn’t used to CGI elements, and I had a few scenes where I needed to run and since it is CGI, I don't know what I was running from. 

“So, I just ran, then suddenly there was a bomb and the director said to react to it and I was like, where is the bomb?

“For me I think the imagining part, even though I’m an imaginative person, was probably the hard part for me,” she said, though she did add that she was grateful CGI was in place instead of real explosions in the scenes.

Actor Shaheizy Sam said he is looking forward to the premiere of Zombitopia after it was shot way back in 2016.

The actor also said that local audiences will now be able to enjoy a serious local zombie film.

“Because before this we got Zombi Kampung Pisang which was a comedy and there weren’t any serious zombie films.

“So, this is something new for the viewers,” Shaheizy said.

Zombitopia is finally making its way to local viewers via Disney+ Hotstar which will be premiering on July 2.