Zombie fans revisit filming locations for 'Remains'

By Janice Steinhagen- Staff Writer
Norwich - posted Mon., Oct. 14, 2013
Dillan, 10 (left), and Kaydance, 8 (right), gear up for the zombie walk as their grandfather, Mike Denomme, of Bozrah, looks on. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
Dillan, 10 (left), and Kaydance, 8 (right), gear up for the zombie walk as their grandfather, Mike Denomme, of Bozrah, looks on. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

The filming may be over and the movie on DVD, but the film “Remains” lives on in the hearts of local zombie fans, who turned out by the dozens to tour film locations in the Rose City with the movie’s producer, Norwich native Andrew Gernhard. The Oct. 4 walk was part of Eastern Connecticut’s Walktober observance.

As the group of about 50 wound its way through the city, Gernhard regaled them with anecdotes about the filming process, which came to Norwich in the summer of 2011. On the roof of a downtown garage, where characters watch the distant explosion that transforms people into zombies, he related how a very expensive camera was accidentally dropped. “I thought we had lost a half day’s work” because the film inside was exposed to light, he said. But as it turned out, “we only lost one take.” A new camera had to be express-shipped out to the set, but filming continued.

“Every movie is a problem, one after the other,” said Gernhard. “The main problem in this one was getting hundreds of zombies to listen. You’ve just got to keep going no matter what, keep shooting the movie.”

In a later scene, Gernhard said, the film’s protagonist had to speed up the street in a car to the garage entrance. After one take, he turned and drove back up the street for a retake… but didn’t return for a long, long time. It turned out that Norwich police had stopped him and were in the process of writing him a citation, even though the street had been closed off.

Other sites crucial to the film were City Hall, where two main characters locked themselves in the vault for what Gernhard euphemistically referred to as “a little alone time,” and Franklin Square, where the horrors of the zombie apocalypse play themselves out in the streets. In some scenes, computer-generated effects transformed the background landscapes with CG mountains to simulate the movie’s setting of Reno, Nevada. Computer magic also turned scenes shot in daylight into night scenes.

Several of the walkers were locals who had bit parts in the horror film, including Gina Godish. She showed up in her zombie get-up, although she noted that in the movie, she had “much better make-up.”

Andrew Harvey of Willimantic also had his few seconds of fame on film, playing a patron of the casino in the beginning of the film. “I thought I was going to be a zombie, but I was happy just to be part of [the movie],” he said. Plenty of zombie wannabes of all ages also dressed up for the occasion, adorned with appropriate amounts of fake blood.

Gernhard, a 1995 graduate of Norwich Free Academy, said he chose Norwich after also considering and rejecting Willimantic (“too rough”) and New Britain (“way too busy”). The Rose City’s architectural richness was a big factor as well, he said. Unlike Las Vegas, “Reno looks just like Norwich,” he said. Even the Ramada Inn in Reno is nearly identical to the Ramada Inn in Mystic, where many of the casino interior shots were filmed. “I like trying to keep as much money local as possible. It’s kind of fun to come home. I know everything here, but a lot has changed.”

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