AS the Edinburgh International Film Festival gets into full swing, it’s good to see that it’s not just a celebration of subtitled foreign language films and obscure documentaries that make up the programme.
Look closely and you’ll spot the odd blockbuster, the occasional romcom and even an action movie receiving their premiers. Films like Outpost 3: Rise of the Spetsnaz, which receives its world premiere at the Filmhouse, on Lothian Road tonight.
‘The year is 1944. Deep behind enemy lines on the Eastern Front, Sergeant Dolokhov and his band of hard-as-nails Spetsnaz Commandos have spent weeks wreaking havoc on the opposing Nazi forces. Using guerrilla tactics, they’ve hit supply lines, reserve forces, bridges and encampments, slowly crippling the front lines.
‘After a successful raid on a Nazi convoy, Dolokhov and his men uncover research that could potentially change the tide of the war, but before they can get to safety, they are captured by a patrolling Nazi unit.’
Familiar so far? However, Outpost 3 is no ordinary war movie. As anyone who has seen the earlier films in the franchise knows, it’s only a matter of time before an army of zombies put in an appearance, and sure enough...
‘Taken into the bowels of a Nazi research facility, Dolokhov discovers that Nazi scientists are engaging in terrifying and tortuous experiments – attempting to develop an invincible fighting force. Will the Nazis perfect their research and march their zombie army into heart of Moscow?’
Returning to the franchise having being killed, many times, in the second instalment, Edinburgh actor Gareth Morrison plays both soldier and zombie in the latest movie.
“I was one of the three lead Nazi zombies in Outpost 2 and yes, I did die a few times throughout the film, but being a super-breed of zombie, we kept coming back,” he explains with a grin.
In Rise of the Spetsnaz, Morrison plays Petrovsky, a Russian soldier and a ‘Berserker’ zombie.
“Zombies, werewolves and vampires are big at the moment. Everybody likes a bit of zombie action,” says the 31-year-old, recalling that he watched the first of the Outpost trilogy with his dad.
“Knowing that it had been filmed in Scotland, I was raging that I hadn’t been seen for it,” he laughs. “Then, I discovered that a friend of mine had been the fight choreographer on that first film. He suggested I audition for the second one. So I did. Then I went along to a fight workshop where I met the director and one of the producers and, two days later, I was offered the job.”
Overjoyed to have won a place in the movie, Morrison had no idea what he’d let himself in for but soon found himself spending up to six hours a day in the make-up chair.
“Actually, the make-up on this film was much easier than on the last one. For that we had full prosthetics, which came in five different parts - head, two ears, neck and face.
“You would be in the make-up chair for four hours as each individual bit piece was glued on to your face. Then it took another couple of hours to get them all off.
“In Outpost 3, it only took two hours because they created these high quality pull-on masks. Once the mask was on, all they had to do was stick it down and work on the make-up.”
However, the new masks brought their own problems, especially as the actors were sometimes encased in them for 14 hours a day.
“To be honest, I preferred working in the full prosthetics we had in the second film because they were designed and moulded to fit to our face,” admits Morrison. “Although the new masks were too, they didn’t move as well, and it was difficult to hear and see out of them. You also had to be clean shaven and have your hair cropped short so that the glue would take, and they got very hot - they were terrible for you skin,” he laughs.
It was also impossible to eat while wearing his zombie mask, as the actor soon discovered.
“There was a runner whose job was to hand me a plastic cup with a straw, which they would feed through the mask to keep me hydrated and although I’d always work through lunch, they would feed me soup, again through a straw. In my head, I still have a bizarre little image of a lone zombie, sitting in the woods, sucking his soup through a straw.”
Morrison is no stranger to monstrous roles. He recently took part in Deadinburgh, Summerhall’s zombie-fest and is currently shooting a film called Skeletons, in which he plays a killer. And during the Fringe he will reprise the role of serial killer Peter Sutcliffe, in Taggart creator Glenn Chandler’s Killers, at the Assembly Rooms.
“I always thought I’d end up doing romcoms but it hasn’t worked out like that,” quips the Leith-based actor. “But it’s interesting playing these characters.
“The zombie stuff allows the 10-year-old boy in me a bit of freedom to express himself. As for Sutcliffe, well, someone asked me the other day about being Peter Sutcliffe.
“I explained it wasn’t about glorifying him, but about exploring a character. About taking the name Sutcliffe away from him and exploring how this guy, who is locked away for his crimes, can still be allowed to manuipulate women.
“You enjoy these roles when you get them because they’re more of a challenge.”
Tonight, however, Morrison will be able to sit back and enjoy the result of all those hours encased in latex when Outpost 3 premieres.
“There are a lot of people out there who love a good zombie film. Team that up with the action of a war movie and Nazi zombies and you have double evil. “Although I attended the Outpost 2 premiere in London, this will be the red carpet I’ve been on home turf - that makes it a bit special.”
Outpost 3: Rise of the Spetsnaz, Filmhouse 1, Lothian Road, tonight, 11pm and Cineworld 11, Saturday, 12.30pm, £9, 0131-623 8030