The gruesome twosome

If you loved Monsturd, you may just die over Retardead
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Gore 911: Retardead's directors

HORROR SEQUEL If you know Monsturd, you love Monsturd. If you don't know the 2003 horror comedy by San Francisco filmmakers Rick Popko and Dan West, imagine a tiny town menaced by a mad scientist-created shit monster, with clueless cops, a no-nonsense FBI agent, and a climax that unfolds around a chili cook-off.

Doesn't appeal? Don't read on. But fans of homespun exploito-stravaganzas will want to know that Popko and West have finally finished Monsturd's sequel (the making of which I chronicled in "Blood Brothers," [05/30/06]). It's called Retardead, and it returns to that same tiny town soon after the events of Monsturd. This time, the stakes are both higher (zombies!) and lower (zombies spawned from special education students!), and there's way more of everything: gore, off-color jokes, cursing, and totally random moments, like an LSD freak-out scene, an exploding helicopter, second-unit footage contributed by horror fans across the country, a saucy appearance by dance theatre troupe the Living Dead Girlz, and a cameo by Jello Biafra.

Popko and West, who reprise their Monsturd roles as goofy deputies, realize they've created something rather crazy — and with all the technical problems they encountered in Retardead's post-production (from editing on outdated software to the disasters they overcame while working on the film's first batch of DVDs), are now a little crazy themselves.

"The movie's cursed — I think it's karma because of the title," Popko theorized. "The karma gods are like, we're gonna let you have this movie, but it's gonna cost you in terms of pain and suffering all the way through till the very end. Monsturd took us two years, and we thought that was forever. And here we are five years after starting Retardead, and we're finally seeing the end of the tunnel."

Though the movie is completed, "we're still kind of shell-shocked," West said. "We still have the premiere to go through, and we don't trust this thing. If it can fuck with us, it will fuck with us. It's like the Frankenstein monster that has its own life, and we're its bitch."

For better or worse, the monster is at last ready to terrorize audiences. West is excited: "The movie's good. I love the movie. It's weird, it's 10 times better than Monsturd — cinematically, it's much better. The special effects are just insane. We love the weird factor of this one. We were able to get our sense of humor and get a lot of non sequiturs in there. We love that stuff."

"I love how different it is," Popko agreed. "Dan and I are big fans of the horror genre, and the comedy genre, and there are a million friggin' zombie movies out there. We didn't want to fall into that trap of just being another zombie flick. So the thing I'm most proud of with Retardead is that this is gonna be a different experience. Yes, it is a zombie movie, but it's like no other zombie movie that has ever been made before."

After the premiere — at which they'll pass out barf bags in homage to their idol, Herchell Gordon Lewis, who did the same for 1963's Blood Feast — the duo hopes to self-distribute their film over the Internet. They are also already planning a third collaboration, "a movie about making a sequel," West revealed, which will likely include pirates, Satanists, space vampires, "a werewolf thing," and more Biafra.

In the meantime, the pair hopes to greet a raucous crowd this weekend at the Victoria Theatre. "Ideally we'd like to see audiences going wild and crazy at a few of these key scenes that we've got in there that will hopefully surprise and shock people," Popko said.

"Specifically, that vomit scene," West chimed in, and the codirectors chuckled with delighted pride.

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