Dozens turn out to be zombies

Alendra Harris, a 20-year-old theater major from Auburn, bought a plaid shirt at Goodwill, lit it on fire, smeared it with fake blood and rubbed it with dirt. She veined up her forehead with blue eyeliner, streaked flour, oil and food coloring on her hands and face, popped in red contacts and took nips off a bottle of red food dye outside the audition room Tuesday morning for "How to Kill a Zombie."

"Half-assed doesn't work," she said.

Her efforts caught filmmakers' attention — after auditioning for a zombie, she was asked to read the part of Tammy. Harris apologized for getting red handprints on the script, not that she needed it. The University of Maine senior had her lines memorized inside of 10 minutes.

"She just crushed it," said Bill McLean, president of Freight Train Films, dressed as his character, Mack. All morning long, he walked people up and down the hall at the Ramada Inn toward its small second-floor theater.

More than 75 people turned out 70 an open casting call for "How to Kill a Zombie," a mix of would-be zombies, regional actors and people looking for their first shot on film. McLean plans to shoot around Maine this fall. The zombie action comedy built around a father (Mack) and son (Jesse) bonding after a zombie apocalypse will be Freight Train Film's second feature-length movie.

On Tuesday, filmmakers were casting for up to 200 zombie extras and 13 main roles.

People came from Kennebunk, Buckfield, Lewiston and New Hampshire. Some arrived in character, some with accessories.

"Here for the zombie stuff?" McLean asked a man carrying a tackle box, a field hockey stick slung over his shoulder.

He was.

Inside the theater, actors read through quick scenes with McLean and his son, Ben McLean, who co-stars as Jesse. Four people sat with scorecards grading each performance on traits like focus and believability.

"I'm not looking for the perfect zombie," assistant director P. Seth Roberts said. It's the cumulative mix of movement, facial expression and moaning that mattered.