Yeah, we know. Another low-budget zombie movie? Seriously? But One Cut Of The Dead is something special, we swear. And if you don’t believe The A.V. Club—which declared it our favorite movie of last year’s Fantastic Fest, saying it “does something many, including this writer, didn’t think was possible ... It reinvents the zombie movie”—how about the Japanese moviegoing public? They’ve embraced the film (titled カメラを止めるな!, or, Don’t Stop The Camera!, in its native language) with open arms, racking up 2 million admissions and $26.5 million in box-office receipts over four months in Japanese movie theaters.
Many of those admissions were from repeat viewers; as director Shinichiro Ueda said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter last fall:
The first week was mainly older guys, regular indie film fans, but in the second week there were more younger people and women. Then I started seeing people in the street with One Cut of the Dead T-shirts on and heard people talking about the film. I’ve been doing indie films all this time and until now I never experienced anything like that.
All this is even more impressive when you realize that One Cut Of The Dead was not too far off from a student film. Made on a budget of about $27,000 USD, the film was produced by Enbu Seminar, an acting and directing school based in Tokyo, and its cast assembled from students of the school’s acting workshops. The film’s triumphant Japanese run hasn’t been without controversy, however, as a playwright named Ryoichi Wada complained in the weekly magazine Flash in August that Ueda had ripped off the structure of his play Ghost In The Box for the film. The two were able to reach an understanding, and Ghost In The Box now appears in the film’s credits.
Now, after nearly a year traveling the international film festival circuit, One Cut Of The Dead is set to open in American theaters after striking a U.S. distribution deal with Shudder. It’ll make its initial bow at the Alamo Drafthouse in Los Angeles and the IFC Center in NYC on September 13, and will expand nationwide through mid-October.
Shudder’s official (and spoilery) trailer is below. You can see a full list of theatrical dates and buy tickets here.