Parasite Quarantine | Product notes

Getting started/Preproduction

The idea for Parasite Quarantine came after I had had a binge of watching way too many independent/low budget shot-on-video horror movies. I was baffled. Was it really impossible to make a good horror/zombie movie with low budget? Most of the movies were bad beyond belief, and even the good ones were good only because of the copious amounts of gore in them. Bad ones didn't have even that. It was like the makers of those movies didn't understand the principals of entertainment, nor had they any clue how to create tension. Could it really be that hard? I decided to find out. I had wanted to make a zombie film for a long time, but there was never enough inspiration or "spark" to start up a project with the living dead. Now there was. I wanted to make a no-budget zombie movie that would blow other low budget shockers out of the water.

So forward we went, and like with TNT:merchants of death, the preproduction was very short. After the script was finished, it took less than a week and we were shooting the movie in an underground bomb shelter in downtown Turku. We had a great cast of both new and familiar faces. And in the beginning, we really had no idea what we had gotten ourselves into.

The shoot

After TNT, I was pretty much sick of "realistic" look and manic handheld photography. I wanted to try something different. I'm a huge fan of Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci, and wanted to make the movie have the same kind of look and feel as their movies. So I completely ditched the handheld approach, built a easily movable dolly track, and went on with an attitude that the movie should be shot with tripod and tracking shots only. Of course, this principal was broken by the third day of shoot, when I did one steadicam shot... so the movie is not the antithesis of moving camera, but it is visually much calmer and more thought-out than TNT.

The shelters we shot in turned out to be a total goldmine of shooting locations. The whole place had an extremely claustrophobic feel, and there were spots that we just had to have in the movie. We actually went as far as to adding new scenes in the script so we could take advantage of the great "props" we had at the shelter. It had its downside as well; working in the dark bunkers in the middle of summer, when the sun was shining and it was 30 degrees celsius outside... well, sometimes it made us think that we could've been doing something else...

The highlight of the shoot in the bunkers was the "zombie day". We got 20 zombie extras with us in the narrow corridors of the bomb shelter to shoot some zombie action. With the clausthrophobia-inducing hallways being packed with actors, the shoot felt really tense. Having the a main character surrounded by zombies in full makeup was something truly awesome, I mean, getting surrounded by zombies in a narrow hallway? That's the highest degree of being totally fucked. There were problems as well, there always are. Again, we were working on a tight schedule, which forced us to leave the FX work to be done with inserts. Also, it was incredibly hot down in the shelter. With over 20 people packed there in full makeup, with 2 500W lights and very little ventilation... Yeah, we were sweating.

Of course the movie wasn't just shot in the bomb shelter. One very cool location was the Turku tech center, where we had a computer room on our disposal. We really made a mess there, making the place really look like it was attacked. We brought our own old computers, monitors etc, broke them and scattered around the floor. Shot with long tracking shots, it looked absolutely great.

We also shot in an abandoned silo at the outskirts of Turku. The place was really in a disgusting shape... and what we didn't know beforehand was that the place was a common hangout for junkies and hobos! That wasn't a very pleasant surprise. Luckily there was about 20 of us with gas masks and guns in our hands, so we didn't get any trouble... It was pretty creepy though, since I heard afterwards that some of Turku's junkies actually live inside the crumbling silo. We only shot scenes outside, going inside the old wreckage of a building would've been just fucking stupid.

With Parasite Q we did the same thing as with TNT, we left most of the gore FX to be shot afterwards as inserts. With Parasite we've been able to fit all the gore very seamlessly into the action scenes, and boy does it look great! We really wanted to make this one splattery, so we pulled pretty much every trick imaginable, from gutmunching to exploding heads and from people being ripped apart to machete mutilation. Gorehounds and horror fans will certainly appreciate this one.

Written by: Esa Jussila