SWORD OF THE DEAD is a feudal Japan set samurai/zombie film. Think Yojimbo meets 28 Days Later. The story follows a Ronin who upon returning home from exile finds the island he once knew plagued by a dark curse and overrun by the dead. The idea originated from my love of Japanese cinema and the jidaigeki films of directors like Masaki Kobayashi (Kwaidan and Harakiri) and of course the countless samurai films of Akira Kurosawa. I also love horror films and zombie films – specifically those of George A. Romero and John Carpenter. I wanted to explore the idea of injecting a western cinema creation into eastern cinema. The blend felt like something that was haunting, exciting and filled with visceral action – lending itself to a really interesting dissection of how the iconography of each could inform each other to create something entirely new and very cinematic. Initially, the unique tone of Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns was something that came to mind – in regards to how his interpretation of American Westerns as an Italian filmmaker yielded something different within an established genre.

Once I began researching the time period the story is set I found it to be a very rich and fascinating socio-political landscape to dive into themes that elevate a good zombie film and tell a very human story. I was excited to tailor what the idea of a zombie would be in that time period and culture – mythology of which I really hope I get to expand on in a feature length version.

The film stars Masami Kosaka and Rome Kanda. The stunt coordinator was the very talented Hiroo Minami. The wardrobe department was run by the amazing Sueko Oshimoto. The zombies and makeup by Casey Wong and the score – something I told the composer was meant to sound like a mix between the sweeping, bold scores of Masaru Sato with the sinister pop synth soundscapes of John Carpenter’s films – was done by Joey Newman.