What do you get when you cross chemical waste with beavers? The answer is the horror-comedy Zombeavers — and Hollywood’s latest viral phenomenon. The trailer for this film about (you guessed it!) zombified beavers has racked up almost 2 million views since it debuted a couple of weeks back. “It’s cool to get the validation,” says first-time director Jordan Rubin, who co-penned the film with regular writing partners Al and Jon Kaplan. “Once something starts getting up in the hits it’s interesting to see how people go, ‘Oh, we might have something here.”
So what was the “Eureka!” moment, Zombeavers-wise? “We had written two ‘straight’ comedy scripts and Al and Jon were leaving my apartment one day and I said, ‘I’d really love to do a horror,’” recalls Rubin. “Al said, ‘What about Zombeavers?’ I just started laughing. I was like, ‘I’m in. That’s our next film. Let’s do that.’”
Once the trio had written the script, Rubin teamed with producer Evan Astrowsky (Cabin Fever). The pair began to shop the project around armed with a trailer made up from snippets of horror movies and BBC beaver documentary footage. Incredibly, not everyone saw the potential in Zombeavers. “25 people passed on it,” says Rubin. “It’s one of those things [where] you’re in on the joke and you get it, or you think it’s the most ridiculous thing you ever heard.”
The pair eventually struck a deal with producers JC Spink and Chris Bender, whose credits include We’re The Millers, The Hangover, and the Wes Craven thriller Red Eye. “Benderspink were partnering with another production company, Armory Films, to get into the micro-budget space,” says Rubin. “Which was an interesting choice for them because they do these much bigger, blockbustery Hollywood films. In a way, for people like that, it’s a penny stock to get into this game. But it could pay off — and they seem to be having a lot of fun with it.”
In traditional horror movie manner, Rubin filled his cast with faces both youthful (Lexi Atkins, Cortney Palm, Days of Our Lives alum Rachel Melvin) and seasoned (comedian Bill Burr, Rex Linn from CSI: Miami) while working with the FX company Creature Effects to create the perfect, ahem, beaver. “We had one hero beaver which, even if you were in broad daylight, would probably convince you that it’s real,” says the director. “Then you had one that was really just more of a head. And then you had more puppet ones, and then you had just a couple that were called ‘stuffies’ which were basically stuffed animals which were used for, like, explosions or flying through the air or something. These days even low-budget films seem to rely so heavily on CG, and this is much more practical. Everything’s in camera, which I think just looks better and it’s more fun. I’m a huge fan of Gremlins, where it was all practical effects. I actually got to meet [Gremlins director] Joe Dante the other day. He apparently said, after I left, ‘Zombeavers? Why didn’t I think of that!’ I don’t know if he was joking or not.”
Speaking of jokes, Rubin says he tried not to lean too heavily on the obvious double entendre inherent in the film’s title. “We were very careful on the amount of puns or jokes on that word that we did throughout the thing,” he explains. “There’s actually a line in the film where one of the characters yells, ‘Will you please stop with the beaver jokes!’” Indeed, Rubin insists his film is a proper terror flick and not just an extended gag. “I would say it’s a horror movie in the traditional, ‘80s-sense,” he says. “It’s played completely straight in the face of the ludicrous conceit, which is obviously complete insanity.”
Rubin hopes the trailer’s YouTube success — which was assisted by Zombeavers-referencing tweets by Eli Roth and Whitney Cummings, among others — will help secure a decent theatrical release for the film, which is being domestically repped by UTA. He also reveals that the Zombeavers team have had fun coming up with ideas for a possible sequel. “We have daydreamed about 40 different titles,” he says. “Evan Astrowsky came up with Zombulls — that one still cracks me up. The other one was Zombeaarthur — Bea Arthur as a zombie. You can run through the gamut. Zombaboons and Zombeards — that’s your hipsters in Brooklyn. And that’s just the ‘B’s!”
You can check out some exclusive — and, in one case, extremely gruesome — Zombeaver images below. And you can see the foul-mouthed and gory trailer below that. Enjoy!