Horrors! Cameras will roll in Mystic this summer for new zombie movie

Mystic - "Mystic Pizza." "Amistad." And now a feature-length zombie movie.

A Rocky Hill-based horror production company announced Tuesday that for three weeks in June it will film at the Ramada Inn on Route 27, turning the inside into a replica of a small casino in Reno, Nev.

Producer Andrew Gernhard, a 34-year-old Norwich Free Academy graduate, said that his company, Synthetic Cinema International, is turning Steve Niles' graphic novel "Remains" into a movie for Chiller, a 24-hour cable network owned by NBC Universal that features horror films and shows. He said the film will have a limited theatrical release and then premiere on Chiller this fall.

Locally, Thames Valley Communications currently offers Chiller, and Metrocast will broadcast the network starting April 1.

The movie follows others made in Mystic such as the 1988 Julia Roberts film "Mystic Pizza" and Steven Spielberg's "Amistad," released in 1997.

The new movie is based on the novel "Remains," written by Steve Niles and illustrated by Kieron Dwyer of Captain America comic-book fame. It tells the story of a blackjack dealer and an exotic dancer who are trapped in a post-apocalyptic Reno casino by zombies. It is part of the rising popularity of zombie-themed films, television shows and video games.

Niles is well known in comic-book circles for authoring those with horror themes such as the vampire miniseries "30 Days of Night."

Gernhard said the crew will include about 20 people while the cast will include three leads, five supporting actors and extras. The three stars of the movie will be known actors, he said.

In addition to filming at the Ramada, some exterior filming will be done in Gernhard's hometown of Norwich, as well as in Reno.

Gernhard said the zombies in this movie are not the usual walking dead. Instead, these zombies have melted flesh and are almost unstoppable.

He said his firm is taking advantage of state tax credits for filmmaking. Being a Connecticut company, he "wants to spend as much money as we can in the state."

Gernhard said he had originally thought of filming at Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods Resort Casino, but the novel calls for a small, slightly run-down casino. He heard about the closed Ramada and got in touch with the owners through Stonington First Selectman Ed Haberek.

Haberek, who has been meeting with Gernhard over the past few weeks, welcomed the filming. "It's a great opportunity to showcase Mystic," he said, adding that use of the bankrupt hotel could provide money for the creditors.

Gernhard is scheduled to present an overview of the filming to the Board of Selectmen when it meets tonight at 7 p.m. at the police station.



An audition will be held for zombies and extras from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m Saturday at Manchester Community College.

The movie is looking for “talented, non-union performers who are able to make a significant time commitment.

Unusual looks, physical traits, unique skills, and athletic abilities are welcomed.”

No prior knowledge or experience is required, but extras must be at least 18 years old.

Parking will be in Lot C outside the Arts and Sciences building. Check-in is in the adjoining Learning Resource Center, in Room B144.

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