The nightmare zombie movie that started with a dream

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now a special treat on this Halloween, a story about the magic of movies and zombies.

The “NewsHour”‘s Mike Melia has our update.

MIKE MELIA: You don’t often get to see someone’s dreams come true, even if they are the stuff of nightmares.

We first met Sam Suchmann and Mattie Zufelt two years ago, when all they had was a big idea and a Kickstarter to make an epic zombie movie.

MATTIE ZUFELT, Filmmaker: It’s going to be like between horror and comedy, drama, same kind of thing.

SAM SUCHMANN, Filmmaker: We have every average, everyday teen drama, like love triangles, or like heartbreaks or betrayals or people living like…

MATTIE ZUFELT: Or it could be like teenagers’ secret life.

SAM SUCHMANN: What I do to Mattie is, I leave him behind.


SAM SUCHMANN: And that is not cool. So…

MATTIE ZUFELT: No. You can’t leave a friend behind.

MIKE MELIA: The best friends — both have Down syndrome — first met at the Special Olympics in grade school.

From his living room in Rhode Island, Sam told us a very personal reason for wanting to make the movie.

SAM SUCHMANN: My whole life, I feel like I never fit in anywhere or had a voice, but someday, that will change. I will be somebody. And that day is today.

MIKE MELIA: In many ways, Sam was right. Their lives were about to change in dramatic ways.

Their Kickstarter raised nearly $70,000. They gathered together family, friends, along with film industry and special effects professionals. It was all happening.

We got invited on set for a day, when they were filming a party scene on a yacht. Sam and Mattie originally wanted a cruise ship, but this was close. Peter Farrelly, behind hits like “Dumb and Dumber” and “Something About Mary,” was also on set.

I was transformed into a zombie — but more on that later.

The day before, “The Jersey Shore”‘s D.J. Pauly D. was there. He had been at the top of Sam and Mattie’s wish list for celebrity cameos. In some ways, they were becoming famous.

MATTIE ZUFELT: I want to be famous because I want to be a deejay.

SAM SUCHMANN: Yes. I want to be famous because I love to sing.

MATTIE ZUFELT: Yes. He has a good voice.

SAM SUCHMANN: I’m a singer. And I can rap, too. I’m do a little rap. Maybe you want to hear.

MIKE MELIA: I would love to hear it. Yes.

SAM SUCHMANN: Right here.


MATTIE ZUFELT: Yes, that’s really good. You’re good.

MIKE MELIA: There are no record deals yet, but since our story first aired, Sam and Mattie have been profiled by “People” magazine, “The Today Show,” The Huffington Post, just to name a few.

Microsoft flew them to L.A. as the official spokes-dudes for the Special Olympics World Games in 2015.

SAM SUCHMANN: Stay tuned for more.

MIKE MELIA: And they also made the movie. “Spring Break Zombie Massacre” premiered in September in their hometown of Providence. A week later, they were guests on Conan O’Brien’s show.

CONAN O’BRIEN, Host, “Late Night With Conan O’Brien”: What I love about what you guys have done is, you met years ago, you talked about this dream, and you made it happen.

Here we are, all these years later, and you made you made your zombie movie, and you had a premiere, a premiere that the press attended. Everyone loves the movie. And then you fly out here to come on our show. This is pretty spectacular.

MIKE MELIA: It is pretty spectacular. I caught up with them for the film’s New York City premiere. They pulled up to the red carpet in a bloody SUV, to a long line of fans waiting outside.

Don’t be confused. This is not a kids’ movie.

JESSE SUCHMANN, Sam’s Brother: This is a hard R, OK? Like, there is guts. There is urinating on guts, OK?

MIKE MELIA: Jesse Suchmann is Sam’s brother. He helped put together the original Kickstarter and has helped orchestrate everything since.

JESSE SUCHMANN: I have learned so much from them. And I want to be like them. And I think that their confidence in their ideas and their clarity of vision and their confidence in themselves is so intoxicating to everyone around, that it drives everybody to do better.

MIKE MELIA: It’s been a wild ride for me, too. Remember when I said I became a zombie? Turns out — and here’s a mini-spoiler — in the climatic fight scene, I get my head split open by a record thrown by D.J. Pauly D.

After the New York screening, I asked Sam and Mattie what it’s been like for them.

MATTIE ZUFELT: It is a hell of a ride. It is, never expecting much people — never expecting people to see this movie.

SAM SUCHMANN: Chase your dreams, and always follow your dreams. Don’t let anyone tell you different. And don’t be a victim to bullies. And do not party like me and Mattie. I’m looking forward for having more Sam and Mattie adventures on the way.

MATTIE ZUFELT: Yes, there will.

SAM SUCHMANN: Yes, there is Mattie deejaying and dancing. And I can’t wait. It’s going to be fun.

MIKE MELIA: Just yesterday, they were featured on “CBS Sunday Morning.”

SAM SUCHMANN: I don’t do it for fame. I do it because I love it and because…

MATTIE ZUFELT: I’m doing it for the money.

QUESTION: You’re doing it for the money?


SAM SUCHMANN: Well, I do it because I love it.

QUESTION: Have you gotten rich on this so far?


MIKE MELIA: They are also making a documentary about their journey.

Tim Forster is leading that project.

TIM FORSTER, Movie Editor: We that as being kind of the big culmination of this whole thing. Obviously, the movie is — stands on its own, and we think professionals are going to love it, people are going to love it on its own.

But to see the time, the effort, the patience involved with making this movie, that’s the real story.

MIKE MELIA: On this Halloween, updating a feel-good zombie story, I’m Mike Melia for the “PBS NewsHour.”

JUDY WOODRUFF: Sam and Mattie have a big future. We want to be there to cover the whole thing.

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