Think more along the lines of "The Walking Dead," the AMC survival horror series filled to the brim with grotesque flesh-eating monsters and hopeless humans seeking shelter from the storm. Set in a world where a vampire outbreak has completely derailed civilization and devoured much of mankind in the process, the blood-suckers of "Stake Land" are straight-up nightmare fuel. And if you don't believe me, just watch the exclusive clip below for all the evidence you could possibly need.
But deadly as they are, these vampires aren't indestructible.
"These vampires are hungry, but very hurtable," insists "Stake Land" star Connor Paolo, who plays normal teen turned ruthless slayer Martin. "They're strong, but only in a crackhead way. There's nothing malevolent about them – they're instinctual."
Paolo makes it a point to stress that these vampires hinge much more on scientific realism than supernatural or mythological elements, insofar as a vampire can be realistic. A large part of that portrayal owes thanks to Nick Damici, who co-wrote the film's screenplay and also stars as the mysterious Mister.
"Nick actually wrote an entire manual that he had off set about the different kinds of vampires that he was thinking about, different classes, how age effects them, time spent being a vampire," says Paolo. "So we were forced to find a way to realistically deal with these things. Usually they're kind of attractive — this is cool, I can dig this — but honestly, this was the first vampire script I've read that didn't make me want to be a vampire."
Despite the gruesome creatures littered throughout the movie, Paolo says that "Stake Land" isn't really about the vampires.
"It really isn't about making vampires badass again — I've always thought that the vampires are peripheral to the plot. I think they just happen to be there," he explains. "It's about the characters. I think it would very much be the same movie if you put any other type of negative force in there, but I think it becomes pretty clear pretty quickly that the vampires aren't the antagonist — they're just kind of the catalyst."
For Paolo, it's that very focus on characters like Martin and Mister, two very unlikely but virtually inseparable allies, that makes "Stake Land" so special.
"This is really something I haven't seen before," he says. "This film has a pace to it that's reminiscent to movies like 'Fistful of Dollars' or something like that. It has this crawling, really moseying pace to it at points, punctuated by these scenes of violence. But in between, it's a long, drawn out, thematic experience. It's rare that you find scripts with the confidence to be slow."
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