The zombie romance movie “Warm Bodies” is just hitting theaters, but, in Hollywood, it’s never too early to pitch ideas for a sequel. And during my recent interview with the film’s co-star Analeigh Tipton and director Jonathan Levine, that’s exactly what we did.
“What if Rob Pattinson showed up as a vampire?” said Tipton, who plays zombie apocalypse survivor Nora.
“That’s a good idea. And they have a fight,” added Levine, who previously directed the 2011 film “50/50.”
“Or they have a zombie baby,” I offered.
“Alright, here’s what’s gonna happen,” Levine began. “The baby that Kristen Stewart has [in ‘Twilight’] grows up and meets Nick [Hoult’s zombie], and they fall in love.”
But, certainly, that would not sit well with Jacob Black, the “Twilight” werewolf who claimed Bella’s half-vampire offspring as his eternal soul mate.
“Jacob the werewolf is upset,” Levine continued. “But Nora maybe hooks up with Jacob the werewolf? We can talk about that. He’s got killer abs.”
“That’s true. I do like dogs,” Tipton surrendered.
As fate would have it, author Isaac Marion, who penned the novel on which the “Warm Bodies” film is based, released a prequel novella called “The New Hunger” earlier this week and revealed that the sequel, tentatively titled “Book 2,” is in the works.
Meanwhile, film fans are getting their first look at the big-screen adaptation of Marion’s original book, which tells the story of a 20-something zombie named R (played by Nicholas Hoult) who falls in love with a human apocalypse survivor named Julie (Teresa Palmer). Twenty-four-year-old Tipton, who is best known for her role as babysitter Jessica in “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” plays Julie’s best friend, while actor Rob Corddry appears as R’s zombie pal and John Malkovich cameos as the leader of the survivor enclave.
“Warm Bodies” adds several new twists to zombie lore, but according to Levine, there are some elements of the undead that are best left untouched.
“Our zombies are walkers,” he told me. “They’re slow zombies, but when they get around food, they kind of speed up. And that’s how Isaac wrote it in the book. I tried to have them follow pretty closely in the [George A.] Romero tradition of zombies.”
To capture just the right about of shuffling, lurching, dragging and stumbling for his pack of zombies, Jonathan turned to an expert in the art of physical expression.
“We got this guy from Cirque du Soleil who was a choreographer, who was able to work – not only with Nick and Rob – but with a bunch of the core zombies to figure out everyone’s movements,” Levine explained. “He would send me tapes of him working with his own dancers until we found some movements that we liked. We didn’t want it to look like ‘Thriller.’ And when we did it with Nick and Rob, I literally was just waiting for them to be like, ‘What the [expletive] are we doing?’ and just leave.”
As with the aforementioned “Twilight” series, “Warm Bodies” boasts an inviting PG-13 rating, despite the blood-lusting, undead characters that populate the story. And while some zombies (and humans) take quite a beating on the screen, horror fans shouldn’t expect to fill their quota of exploding heads and gushing wounds during the film’s 97 minutes.
“We wanted to push the envelope as much as we could,” Levine said. “It would be self-sabotaging to make it an R-rated movie – especially when the tone of it is so positive and has such a nice message. We’re not trying to push the envelope with gore. And we’re not trying to gross people out. We’re not even really trying to scare people all that much. We’re trying to tell a funny, entertaining adventure story.”
There is, however, just a smidge of gratuitous brain eating.
“But, dude, we have so much worse stuff of him eating a brain,” Levine said before explaining that he had to tone down the crunchy, gooey, mooshy, slimey sound effects in the film, which also could have earned “Warm Bodies” an R rating.
“The sound effects always kill me,” Tipton chimed in. “Like the thud of a head.”
“There’s [expletive] we shot where – I was watching the monitor and was like, ‘There is no way.’ It would be NC-17, it was so disgusting,” Jonathan said with a laugh. “So, maybe someday I’ll just put it on YouTube.”
“Warm Bodies” opens in theaters everywhere on February 1. Click here to order tickets through Fandango.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.