How 'Cooties' Took Inspiration from 'The Breakfast Club,' 'Trainspotting' and 'Raising Arizona'

May 24, 2017 – 12:30 pm

Mon Sep 21 13:14:03 EDT 2015

In a guest post from the directors of "Cooties, " they detail the cinematic references which helped them visualize their new comedic zombie film.

When we first read the "Cooties" script (written by Leigh Whannell and Ian Brennan), we were immediately drawn to it. It was a fast-paced, entertaining, genre-bending mash-up of adorably grotesque proportions. Not only was it a highly creative (and vile), comedic take on the horror zombie genre, but it also broadened to include aspects of action movies, thrillers, coming of age and romantic comedies. To illuminate these strengths, and to help widen the reach of the movie, we had a diverse body of reference materials that helped visualize our concept for the film. The selections range from feature films of all genres to graphic novels and fine art, melding high-brow and low-brow into one wincing expression of comedic terror. We also utilized sound design and locations to help enhance both the comedic and horror elements of the movie.

Movie references

Miramax "Trainspotting"

"The Breakfast Club:" Five unique characters find themselves stuck in school, being 'attacked' by an outside force (i.e. the principal). As they try to get through the day unscathed, they discover new things about themselves and each other, drawing them closer together. "We're all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that's all." This quote from Andrew (Emilio Esteves) applies equally to both movies, as there are many shared themes. Its thoughts on parenting and coming-of-age are particularly relevant to "Cooties." Expanding on these themes, "Cooties" delves into the idea of role reversal.Cooties As normal children, the kids are pushed toward maturity and adulthood, while the adults are stuck in a sort of prolonged adolescence.

"Trainspotting:" Though this is a very serious film, its darkness is balanced with a sense of humor and style. We like its use of visual fantasy to illustrate key story points — something we employed in "Cooties." We wanted to elevate the zombie genre with gorgeous cinematography and an entertaining juxtaposition of upbeat music and dark visuals, which "Trainspotting" does excellently.

"Raising Arizona:" This film has the balls to blow up a bunny, and we think that is, well, hilarious. The characters in this film are dealing with serious problems, while being funny, and never falling into camp. Besides the stellar script, this is achieved through the way in which characters interact with each other and how they are cinematically composed. Similar to our approach to "Cooties, " sometimes the cast can be over-the-top, but we always worked grounded them in reality.

"Gremlins" (with a dash of "Aliens"): Another dark classic that successfully combines horror and comedy, our "Cooties" kids are a lot like the Gremlins. They transform from cute little youngsters to blood-lusting creatures. Patriot becomes the Spike of the movie, rallying the others to hunt after the teachers and create as much mayhem as possible. We added in a dash of "Alien, " because the Cooties are like a hybrid of the mischievousness of the Gremlins and the insane evilness of the Aliens.

Lionsgate "Cooties"


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