The Resurrection Game

In 1997 Mike Watt, Bill Homan, and Amy Lynn Best decided to make a movie. All of them being avid horror fans, and living in Pittsburgh, the only movie they could make was a zombie movie. Watt wrote the script with input from Homan and Best. Early on the idea was that if this was the only movie they ever made, they were going to include everything they ever wanted to do in a movie, The original script was a somewhat parody of a zombie movie and included puppets, gore, sword fights, dancing girls, and motorcycles. Subsequent drafts saw the movie losing the parody and becoming more of a noir film. Unfortunately some of the elements were cut but the puppets and sword fighting remained.

Best and Homan as Bliss and MacForman.
Early publicity shot of Best and Homan as Bliss and MacForman.

They trio began shooting in 1997 with 16mm equipment from Pittsburgh Filmmakers and Performance Lighting. Due to job schedules and other setbacks, including a lead moving out of the country with 75% of the filming complete which then had to be recast and reshot, principle photography took over 3 years. During this time Best and Watt had been travelling to various movie and comic book conventions to promote the film and make connections.

Best and Watt show off NecroPhil at Pittsburgh Comicon (2001)

Once principle photography was finished Watt began cutting the film using editing equipment from Pittsburgh Filmmakers and an upright Moviola! Processing film was expensive and DV was not quite there yet so a fine cut, on 16mm, was completed by Watt. Soon after DV took of and it was decided to transfer the cut to DV to finish the edit. Best and Watt sold VHS copies of the “rough cut bootleg” to fund the completion.

There have been many versions of The Resurrection Game but the official release was on DVD in 2007, just in time for the movie’s 10 year anniversary. By the time the movie was released officially it had been winning awards for years and was known all over the world. Despite the technical flaws it remains a well-regarded film due to it being shot on film, the atypical zombie- film script, the cult-like characters of Best and Homan, the full-size puppet, celebrity cameos (included Pittsburgh Theater critic Ted Hoover and horror actresses Jasi Lanier and Debbie Rochon), the troupe of Girl Scouts who earned a badge byh being zombies in a movie, and the tenacity of the producers. Happy Cloud would go on to make more features, shot on DV and HD, but The Resurrection Game will remain a favorite for what it taught us about filmmaking and the friends and colleagues we met along the way.