Premiers at Flagship Cinema on Friday

How a Maine filmmaker created “How To Kill A Zombie”

It’s not just a zombie comedy, it’s a zomedy!
Wed, 08/13/2014 - 1:30pm

    THOMASTON — Producer and star Bill McLean, a lifelong resident of Poland and Auburn had a pivotal chat one day with his 18-year-old son, Ben, about a very serious subject — zombies.

    “My son told me he was terrified of zombies,” said McLean, laughing. “We were goofing around one night talking about which film I should shoot next. I’ve got seven or eight scripts ready to go and he said something about being afraid of zombies and the only way to cure that was to write a story about it. I started thinking of all the zombie comedies like Shawn of The Dead, Zombieland, and Fido, and I thought he might be able to write himself out of this unreasonable fear.”

    So, Ben wrote a short story and came to his dad with it. “I read it and he asked, ‘Do you think this would make a good book?’ and I said, ‘Hey, this will make a great film! So, we wrote the script together,” he said. “My wife, Tiffany was the director and editor. So, we all sat down and wrote it together with all three perspectives coming together. The script basically wrote itself and the comedy jumped right out at us. And the actors really took it and ran with it.”

    Dozens of Mainers act in the film, along with Bill and his son, with more than 200 cast and crew, who all volunteered their time and talent for the three-month shoot in Yarmouth, Lewiston, Sabbatus and Litchfield last fall and winter. McLean’s production company, Freight Train Films, has produced several award-winning films with a light-hearted nature such as Scooter McGruder and She Feast.

    He purposely hires talent from Maine and New England to make quality, entertaining feature films.  “The first horror movie that ever made an impression on me was Psycho. I saw that at a disturbingly young age and it stuck with me,” he said.

    One of his “zombies” was sitting right with McLean in the interview. Tristan Korpinen, who just graduated from Waldoboro’s Medomak Valley High School. “I played a few of the zombies in the film,” Korpinen said. “And I had a couple of great death scenes,” he said, with a hint of pride.

    “We literally stuck him with a fork and then screwed a screwdriver into him,” McLean said.

    Another zombie, Meaghan Lyndaker, is a parapalegic and her life’s dream was to be a zombie extra in a film. “Not only did we make her a zombie, we made her the lead zombie in the film,” said McLean. “She crushes it. People laugh so hard when she comes into a scene.”

    It took two years from the concept to final editing to shoot the movie, which runs feature film length at 92 minutes. The film was independently financed as well.

    “Our worldwide premier was at Flagship Cinemas in Auburn,” McLean said. “It came in second at the box office, up against nine Hollywood films and we really kicked some teeth in with that.”

    The film was just picked up by Maxim Media and will be distributed world-wide later this fall and winter to more than 180 countries. Flagship Cinemas all around Maine have been supporting the film as well.

    “It’s a real movie,” McLean whispered.

    What can film buffs of the zombie genre expect?

    “Zombiephiles will absolutely love the way we dispatch some of the zombies,” he said. “It’s extremely campy. Some people laughed so hard, tears were coming out of their eyes and they couldn’t breathe,” he said. “Luckily, we know CPR.”

    How to Kill a Zombie premieres at Flagship Cinemas in Thomaston on Friday, Aug. 15, at 7 p.m. It will run through Thursday, Aug. 21 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. daily. Actors from the film will be attending the Aug. 15 showing at 7 p.m. and will participate in a question-and-answer session after the film.

    The movie is family friendly for children ages 10 and up.

    Kay Stephens can be reached at