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By Eric Campos | August 20, 2004

It’s all his fault! Direct all blame at this guy – Andy Koontz. He’s the one who’s transformed Portland, Oregon into a zombie wasteland with his short films “Them Damn Zombies” and “Zombie Dawn.” Now, Koontz has recently completed work on his debut feature length film – ritualistic killer thriller “Clearwater.”

Andy Koontz granted us a little time to talk about his latest film, as well as this apparent zombie fetish of his.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a filmmaker? Have you received any training?
Lets see…I’ve been making little films ever since I was a kid (7 or 8). First with our SUPER 8 Film camera, then later when our family made the move to “CAMCORDER” technology. It was always horror films…kinda funny when I look back at it.

As far as training, just dozens of years of watching the best and the worst that the local video store had to offer.

Are horror movies your true passion?
Definitely! Horror films and thrillers are (to me) some of the best films out there.

I have also been playing music professionally for about 11 years. I’m currently in the middle of recording a “Solo” record while my band recovers from last year’s crazy touring schedule. I also did all the music for “Clearwater”.

Do you plan on making any more zombie films?
Hell Yeah! Zombie films rock! They are some of my fave…

Besides your own, what are your top three favorite movies?
That’s easy…my top three favorite films would and will always be…
#1 – “Suspiria” (Director: Dario Argento)
#2 – Night of the Living Dead (Director: George Romero)
#3 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Director: Tobe Hooper)

and of course I would have to throw in…
“Dawn of the Dead” (Director: George Romero)
& Black Christmas (Director: Bob Clark).

Which are you most proud of – “Them Damn Zombies” or “Zombie Dawn”?
Oh, how do I choose…I’m proud of both of them. They were the first films I ever shot with a budget, a “REAL” script and used a real “EDITOR” on.

To me they are both fun films. A lot of people have really embraced these to wacky little films and of course there are those that act like they are a plague upon the earth. To me, they are a moment in time for my filmmaking, the start of something much bigger to come…so I am proud of both of them.

How did you assemble your cast and crew?
I just asked people I knew if they wanted to be in a movie and blammo! Cast assembled!

Did any of them have problems with all the gore flying around?
On “Zombie Dawn” YES…and I don’t get it, some people wouldn’t bite done on the latex appliances. For example, we had this rubber head with a spinal cord coming out of the bottom of it and I asked if one of my extras could just chomp on it once or twice. The guy acted like it was anthrax; he wouldn’t come anywhere near the thing…finally good old Kevin Phillips jumped on in and took a bite out of it…

On “Them Damn Zombies,” people were much easier to work with in that arena. Everyone was there to have fun and that’s what we did…

Were there any major problems in getting these films made?
Not really…they were pretty cut and dry.

Tell me a little bit about “Clearwater.”
“Clearwater” started off as an experiment for me. It’s dark and very, very stark. I think that people who were really into “Them Damn Zombies” will be very surprised at the difference between the two films. While “TDZ” was a funny goofball film, “Clearwater” is serious…and is actually kinda freaky. I think it really shows my growth and promise as a director. I think that “TDZ” fans will really dig it.

Will there be any upcoming screenings of “Clearwater”?
Actually, yes. There are several festivals that have plans to show the film and I am premiering it on October 25th here in my home town of Portland, Oregon.

Any upcoming projects?
Yes, I am currently casting for two films, one which will shoot in December of this year and another that will shoot in Summer of 2004. It’s gonna be a busy one…

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