Love bites


As any George Romero fan knows, it's utterly impossible to contain a zombie invasion. No San Francisco–set discussion of reanimated corpses should go without mentioning Bad Date, a work-in-progress by locals Sadie Shaw and Alison Childs.

A photographer who also plays guitar with the Husbands (yep, that's a zombie on the cover of their latest Swami Records release, There's Nothing I'd Like More Than to See You Dead), Shaw is also known for Charm, the 2003 feature she made with fellow Husband Sarah Reed. Visually, she's inspired by Cindy Sherman and Weegee; filmically, she's a fan of campy horror — and gore.

Psychological thriller Charm was shot on Super 8 film, with all of the dialogue and music added in postproduction. The popular soundtrack features songs tailored to specific scenes by artists like the Aislers Set and Deerhoof. For Bad Date, which runs modern romance through a meat grinder, Shaw and Childs turned to digital video to realize their zombie dreams.

"I just really love that the technology is available to people without money," says Shaw. "I don't think that people should have to go to film school to make movies."

Graphic designer Childs also plays the lead in Bad Date, which she sums up thusly: "A couple goes on a date, and it goes really poorly." (The tagline of the film is "When you think it's gotten bad, it can only get worse.") Turns out the couple are surrounded by partyers sipping on tainted beer; zombies ensue. Though Shaw describes Bad Date (shot in Port Costa, a small town on the Contra Costa inlet with such ideal locations as a decaying former brothel) as "lighthearted," the special effects are serious business. The film features work by Ross Sewage and Pie Ironside, both of whom earn high praise from the directors.

Despite busy lives aside from filmmaking, both women view Bad Date (projected total cost: $7,000) as an essential creative outlet. After its completion next year, they plan to tour the country with it, rock ’n’ roll style. The bond the two directors have forged over the project in the past year is echoed by their collaborators, some of whom have embraced the concept that romance is, in fact, undead: "We've actually made some good dates happen out of Bad Date," Shaw says with a laugh. (Cheryl Eddy)

Charm is available at

Also from this author

  • "All our families are f-ed up:" Director David Dobkin on his Duvall vs. Downey drama 'The Judge'

  • Go for Goth

    'The Guest' filmmakers talk Carpenter, moody music, and finding the humor in horror

  • You better recognize

    Under-the-radar artists (and a misunderstood legend) get their due in Mill Valley Film Fest doc

  • Also in this section

  • Con and on

    Thrilling, stylish Highsmith adaptation 'The Two Faces of January'

  • Cel mates

    Mill Valley Film Festival screens vintage and innovative animated features

  • Bridgeworthy

    More Mill Valley Film Festival picks