Day 2 of my 13 Horrifically Silly Days of Halloween series, with my guest Inna Korobkina, from "Dawn of the Dead"!
Mwa ha ha ha...it's Day 2 and my guest is the horrorifically talented actress Inna Korobkina!
You may remember her as the pregnant zombie from Dawn of the Dead (2004), directed by Zack Snyder.
Inna Korobkina is a Russian/Canadian film and television actor whose work includes Dawn of The Dead, Transformers, Ruslan, popular Canadian television series The Border and Cra$h and Burn.
She is a mom of two kids and the founder of FlashAnista, an education platform that teaches kids and their families “fashion in a flash”.
Let's dive right into the gore, shall we?
What I’d most like to talk to you about is your role in and thoughts on the Dawn of the Dead remake by Zach Snyder in 2004…
What was it like to work on that set, with that cast and crew and specifically Zach Snyder? Any memories or stories you’d like to share would be great to hear!
It was my first big feature film and at the time I really didn’t have much to compare the experience to, but looking back it was such a wild, beautiful situation. This amazing ensemble of actors all sorts of ages, experiences and backgrounds filming in an abandoned mall.
It really was a very special a group and a very special circumstance. Filming later projects I came to realize acting can sometimes be lonely. There is you and the other actor or two in the scene, maybe extras and between takes you go to your trailer, but not with Dawn of the Dead. With the movie having such a large ensemble cast between takes always felt like we were around a campfire sharing stories.
We were filming in an abandoned mall, which was later torn down and replaced with condominiums. At lunchtime some crew members took to biking through hallways and Sarah (Polley) brought in a pilates instructor to keep us fit. The classes would take place in one of the empty storefronts. Sarah Polley really held her own in a group, she was like mother hen always making sure everything was fair and everyone was happy.
The entire cast would sit around in a group discussing various topics and life in general. Ty Burrell was a wonderful conversationalist with an eternal mischief in this eyes, as was Ving Rhames. Everyone had their unique personality that fit in very well into the group dynamic.
Okay, and how about delivering a zombie baby as you yourself were a (very vicious) zombie? That was pretty cool for horror fans to watch…how was it to execute (so to speak)?
It was all already in the writing and the Zack Snyder had a crystal clear vision of how an updated version of a zombie genre should look. First, James Gunn created this beautiful set up, a super pregnant, scared woman who has difficulty expressing herself as English is not her first language. Swinging in the complete opposite direction with the character seemed like an interesting thing to do. To go from scared and lost to vicious and hungry was exciting. You don’t see it coming, especially because, to me the original Dawn of the Dead was not meant to be scary, but to dig at how our society mindlessly consumes material things.
With the birth scene the room was small and dark so the only camera we could film on was a steady cam. Zack took over operating the camera and it was just the three of us; Zack, Mekhi Phifer and me in the room acting, directing and filming. It was spontaneous art and the energy in the room was electric.
When it came to playing Luda the biggest choice I had to make as an actress was how do I play the transition between being alive to dying and then becoming a vicious zombie? How vicious do you go? How does a zombie die? How does a zombie come “to life”? I was the first of the group of survivors to die in the movie. The biggest acting lesson I learned on that set was to trust that inspiration will come and to be open to it. I was watching Zack direct a group of zombie extras one day and there was this one tall, thin man, the makeup on him was unreal, it was so well done. Zack put him at the very front of the shot and told him and the rest of the extras to really go for it, to hit the doors with all their might. Five takes later I see Zack getting frustrated. In their minds the extras had an “idea” of what zombies “should” act and Zack had this new and exciting vision. It wasn’t computing for them. Fast, vicious zombies? The original Dawn of the Dead was such a legend even the extras couldn’t drop the old idea of how a zombie “should act”. So that’s really how I ended up playing a super vicious zombie. There was no other option. You either stay in the past or you move forward and innovate.
You mentioned to me and in one of the Dawn of the Dead special features that you loved watching horror movies growing up—could you expand on this for me? Especially since you grew up in Russia and getting access to American movies wasn’t always a simple thing, right?
I left Russia with my family in 1991, when I was ten years old. My parents got an opportunity to travel to Canada in 1989 and they brought back with them two VCR’s. At the time the Russian ruble was almost twice the value of the American dollar so their money went far on that trip. One of the VCR’s they sold and used the money to purchase a car. You can imagine how prized entertainment was back in Communist Russian when a VCR is worth the same as a car.
The other allowed us to watch American and foreign films we rented from a black market video store. I remember descending these steps into a hidden basement video rental shop with my dad back in Magadan to rent movies.
American cartoons really brightened my childhood. They were the funnies thing I had ever seen. I have fond memories of watching Tom & Jerry and Looney Toons with my friends and us rolling over on the floor laughing hysterically because the cartoon was a type of humor we have never experience before and it short circuited our little brains.
I honestly by chance watched a small part of one American horror film Predator, 1987 directed by John McTiernan. My grandmother was babysitting us one day and I don’t think she had any idea what it was about when she put it on for us. It scared me for life. That’s the movie I was referring to in the interview. I didn’t get chance to finish watching it. Once my grandma realized this movie was not for children she turned it off, but it still made a huge impact on me at 9 years old and solidified an image for me of what a truly scary American film was. The other two “horror” movies from childhood that come to mind, which will probably make you laugh, were Labyrinth with David Bowie and The NeverEnding Story. They spooked me as a kid, but are not considered horror by any means. The story telling and special effects were nothing like I had ever seen before and they really had an impact on me.
When we moved to Canada and I lived in Calgary, Alberta, my friends and I would go to the movies religiously. Every Tuesday movies would cost $2 at our local movie theatre and it was the highlight of our week. We watched everything that would come out and was rated for our young eyes. I grew up in the 90’s on fun horror films like my My Boyfriend is Back, sci-fi horror Event Horizon and vampire horror Interview with the Vampire and of course, I Know What You Did Last Summer.
Don't stop reading now...there's much more!
You also mentioned to me that years later, after filming (and not so much during), the themes and commentary on consumerism really started to resonate for you. Please tell me about that.
I wasn’t aware of the concept of consumerism growing up. In Russia in the 80’s the store shelves were empty, there was nothing to buy and each family was allocated a certain amount of food basics, like milk, sugar and flour. I remember as a child my grandmother sending me out with an empty jug to be filled up with milk. It was milk delivery day and people would crowd around the milk truck, pushing in to get their allotment. I will never forget how when the adults saw me, there must have been over a hundred of them, they in unison decided to let me get the milk first. “Let the child come through and get the milk.” Echoed through the crowd. Of course my grandmother was clever she didn’t want to wait for hours in a crowd, but she had a hunch they might let me go first. I didn’t expect that to happen, it really surprised me and touched my heart. Russian people are courageous and kindhearted and despite all the suffering they had to endure throughout the 20th century.
I’m getting off topic here. When we moved to Canada it wasn’t so much consumerism to me it was abundance! It was choice and options compared to what I grew up with.
I didn’t give it any thought when I bought into cheap clothing fads as a teen and in my 20’s. It would all fall apart and go out of style and of course ended up in the landfill.
But then in 2016 I watched what I consider to be the scariest and most heart-breaking movie of all time, the documentary True Cost. It turned my entire world up side down.
I realized what once meant abundance, choice and options to me was actually exploitation of earth resources and people. It was the other extreme of what I experienced growing up in Communist Russia.
For the longest time very little was known about fashion industry’s impact on the world, and it’s huge. Billions of pounds of clothing end up in the landfill each year. Garment workers in third world countries who are mostly small children and women work long hours in derelict building for a wage that doesn’t even begin to cover basic necessities. Children need to be in school getting an education, not making clothing and making some corporation rich.
Fast fashion is destroying the planet.
But with the rise of social media and instant access to information we can choose to be informed about all types of world issues. We must stay informed. That’s the only way any change can happen. I turn to Eco-Age, Dr. Christina Dean, Fashion Takes Action and #whomademyclothes for my eco-fashion information. Eco-Age (@eco-age) specifically has a blog filled with fantastic articles on how to make ethical and eco-friendly fashion choices. Their monthly newsletter is my source of inspiration and education.
I have always loved fashion and dressing as an art form. Watching True Cost sent me on my own personal path to educate myself, my kids and their peers about fashion, style and the art of getting dressed. That’s why I founded The FlashAnista brand and blog. I have been deep into creating a series of fashion flashcards that teach kids all about fashion and style. A major part of the flashcards are the fashion art activities that I custom developed and have been beta-testing on my own kids and their friends. The art activities are fun, but at the same time help expand a child’s fashion vocabulary and knowledge.
I think a rich fashion vocabulary is absolutely essential so the next generation, and even ours, can eloquently express what they like to wear and what they don’t like. I think knowledge and awareness are the first steps to curing the over consumption problem and our heavy reliance on fast fashion.
We are facing many challenges right now, which all require a creative approach in order to solve them.
Zombies can’t be creative. But humans can.
And now, my more standard questions for all of my 13 Horrifically Silly Days of Halloween guests:
What is your favourite horror movie?
The Exorcist 1973 and the original Poltergeist 1982 for me compete for the top spot. I also recently watched a Russian sci-fi horror film Sputnik directed by Egor Abramenko and really enjoyed it. The directing, acting and story were all fantastic.
What about your favourite horror comedy movie?
By far I think the best horror comedy movie is ironically Shaun of the Dead.
What is your fav B-movie? Or perhaps your fav old B-movie and fav modern B-movie.
When I think of a B-movie words like “campy”, “gory” and “fun” come to mind. I honestly don’t really watch gory films as I prefer sci-fi and psychological thrillers. So the only movie that kind of meets this criteria is The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It doesn’t exactly classify as a B-movie, but it is campy and fun and I love that it’s a musical!
Interested in some of Inna's favourite movies mentioned in this blog? Check them out:
Click here to see Day 1