A campy B-movie to end all B-movies 

A movie about a serial killer genetically mutated in a car wreck and turned into a homicidal snowman woudn’t necessarily be a source of inspiration for budding filmmakers — but that’s exactly what motivated Rick Popko and Dan West to put pen to paper and make a movie of their own.

What resulted was 2002’s low-budget horror-comedy "Monsturd," a movie about a serial killer who is transformed into a murderous monster made of fecal matter.

Not exactly your run-of-the-mill Hollywood fare, right? Well, Popko and West aren’t your run-of-the-mill Hollywood types.

Sure, the San Francisco-based filmmakers who met back at St. Helena High School in Napa in 1984 have had their run-ins with the crème de la crème of cinema — they actually went to school with Sofia Coppola and were offered a job to write a comedy for her father at one point — but the pair is more interested in doing flicks on their own terms, without or without Hollywood onboard for the ride.

"Dan and I were dumbstruck when we saw [‘Jack Frost’]," Popko explains. "Here we were trying to write and sell our screenplays into Hollywood for years and movies like ‘Jack Frost’ just waltz into the video store."

With the cult hit "Monsturd" under their collective belts, the B-movie bosom buddies are back with the sequel, "RetarDEAD."

The film picks up exactly where "Monsturd" left off and includes the requisite blood, gore, flesh-eating zombies andspecial appearances by burlesque troupe the Living Dead Girls, and a cameo from punk-rock icon Jello Biafra. The world-premiere screening of the special-ed zombie battle royal hits the Victoria Theatre this weekend.

"As one of the filmmakers, I can honestly say ‘RetarDEAD’ is twice as good as ‘Monsturd,’ Popko says. "Unlike ‘Monsturd,’" which has 60 or so people in it, ‘RetarDEAD’ has roughly 200. ‘RetarDEAD,’ for what it is, is an epic movie."

As epic as Popko and West’s latest effort may be, there’s no getting around the fact that it’s a direct follow-up to a movie about a poop monster. So, how do you go about marketing such a film?

"By making it about retarded zombies and giving it an eye-raising title that catches people’s attention," West says.

That said, there’s clearly a niche market for a film like "RetarDEAD" about which the filmmakers are well-aware.

"Yes, the movie is over-the-top gory, but it’s done totally tongue-in-cheek. It’s the kind of movie where we expect the audience to howl, hoot and scream at certain parts and then laugh hysterically at others," Popko says. "While the violence is as gory as ‘Dawn of the Dead,’ the humor is as weird and off-kilter as ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail.’ It’s a total popcorn movie."

IF YOU GO

RetarDEAD

When: 7 and 9:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St., San Francisco

Tickets: $10

Contact: www.4321films.com

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Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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