Set in the near future, The Pain Killers is primarily a story of survival. Meteors carrying microscopic parasites shower the Earth, unleashing a deadly alien virus that shuts down the brain, takes over the body and eats the host from within. It essentially creates billions of zombies worldwide. The world’s governments unite to enact The Pain Killers Program, wherein recently infected test subjects from around the world are inoculated with an experimental vaccine in hopes of finding a cure– IT FAILED. The chemical reaction between the serum and the alien parasites proved too unstable, hundreds died but the few who survived found themselves genetically changed. They developed superpowers. Now they have a fighting chance at survival. It’s zombies versus superheroes.
The Earth’s infected, meet the cure — The Pain Killers.
I had a chance to talk with T. David Carangan, the film’s co-writer and director about the project.
What was the genesis of The Pain Killers?
I grew up reading the X-Men comic books (Specifically, Uncanny X-Men) and loved the interplay of the various characters. When Uncanny X-Men went through that writer-a-go-go phase from the mid 90s to the mid 00s, it absolutely drove me bananas. I swore to myself that when the time came, I would create my very own “X-Men” in a sense of a “super-hero team done right,” kinda way.
Fast Forward to last year: While watching The Walking Dead with my (then) 12 year old nephew, Patrick he blurted out, “If I was Iceman, I would just freeze the zombies and get it over with.” I thought to myself, “Zombies Vs. Superheroes”…interesting concept, but not really a fair fight.
So I started hammering out an outline. I wanted to make it gritty but also a fun romp.
I wrote the first draft that I sent over to my writing partner, Kimberly Angelmeyer and she spit shined the whole thing. A lot of people will be drawn to the piousness of the Reverend Lassiter character and that’s all Kimberly’s work.
After the whole kit and caboodle was done, we looked at each other and knew right away that this could be the next big thing.
It seems like you’ve stumbled upon the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of pop culture right now; superheroes vs zombies. What can you tell me about the film?
I think what sets this super hero team apart from other superhero teams is that they’re not “majestic” as the Justice League, they’re not outcasts like the X-Men.
The Pain Killers are first and foremost, survivors.
The hook is that they are INFECTED survivors that can turn into zombies at any time. The only thing keeping them baseline human is an experimental serum that’s so unstable that it gives them superpowers as a side effect BUT the more they use their superpowers, the more they burn through the serum so they need to inject themselves continuously like junkies.
The film starts off with two team members sent on a desperate reconnaissance mission to retrieve a chemist who could be the key to helping them with their “situation.” It ends with all hell breaking loose with zombies everywhere and a surprise fatal ending.
You’re launching the project via Kickstarter. Can you tell me a bit about yourself and the people you’re working with on the project?
I am actually finishing up with the cinema program at Los Angeles City College. My first film, which is a horror, BAD GIRL won audience favorite at the end of semester screenings, spring of 2011. I followed that up with the drama, FROM A GREAT HEIGHT which won audience favorite, fall of 2011.
At this point I was already being contacted by people like David Israel (The Lethal Weapon movies, Mission Impossible movies) and Steve Chivers (Honey, I Shrunk The Kids) to see if I could collaborate with them on projects.
Kimberly Angelmyer and I were actually writing a drama called, The Mighty Viking when I sprung The Pain Killers on her. It was awesome happenstance because she’s great to work with. Very patient.
I then bounced the script over to my good friend, Matthew Dennie who is an amazing cinematographer and visual effects artist and he got excited over the project and signed on. When we (Kimberly Anglemyer, Matthew Dennie & Myself) started going over the budget, the price just kept going up and up and up. Primarily because we had intricate stunt work, crazy visual effects and oh yeah… blowing up a church.
We wanted the audience to have a great experience with it and didn’t want it to have cheapo effects. 80% of the film is all visual effects. We need a lot of monetary support to make everything possible so Kickstarter was/is the best bet to get help getting this project off the ground.
What films or comics influenced the project?
Definitely the X-Men. Specifically, Chris Claremont’s X-Men. I really think he’s a genius. I’m also a big fan of George Romero’s Dead Series. I also liked what they did with 28 Days Later wherein the zombies can run.
In the The Pain Killers we’re not only introducing fast AND strong zombies but we’re also showing them in swarms.
What are you currently geeking out over?
While I respect the major works of famous authors like, Dan Brown or Isaac Asimov, I’m a major comic book geek and enjoy comic book creators more. I love and have been inspired by the works of Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Warren Ellis and Kurt Busiek.
I love going to Golden Apple every Wednesday afternoons to get my dose of DC’s New 52 series’ and Avengers Vs. X-Men. If you drop me inside a comic book store, I will do major damage. I saw Seth McFarlane’s Ted and I thought it was excellent. I also can’t wait for The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises.
Aside from screenwriting, which is a passion of mine. I’m exactly the same as everybody else.
I hope everybody will support our film and thank you for having me.