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WV zombie ‘extra,’ & state indie film icon at Tricon

By Staff | Apr 1, 2013

A famous zombie “extra” and WV State University independent filmmaker will attend the Tricon, April 6 at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington. The following week, more indie filmmakers will assemble in Huntington for the Tenth Annual Appalachian Film Festival, April 12-13 at the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center.

Jeremy Ambler, a native of White Sulphur Springs, has slowly built a movie career from spot appearances. He had an uncredited spectator part in “The Dukes of Hazzard” (2005) and his first speaking part in the locally shot “Lake Forest.”

Whether you label him a reoccurring extra or a featured extra, Ambler’s assembly of small clips in flicks have made his face, often as a zombie, recognizable. From appearances on the hit TV series, “The Walking Dead” to a nearly naked flesh eater in “The Road,” the lanky Ambler also has “Killing Lincoln,” “Inferno: A Linda Lovelace Story,” “Family Property Backwoods Killing Spree” and “Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies” all under his belt.

Ambler’s role in “The Road” came after an appearance as a nightclub singer with “Twilight’s” Kristen Stewart in “Adventureland,” which was shot in and around Pittsburgh. In “The Road,” Ambler’s portrayal of a man in the cellar in the post-apocalyptic film came with a polar requirement that thankfully was not as risky as Kate Upton’s stripped down Sports Illustrated Antarctica shoot.

“Is it tasteful?” Ambler asked, not at the time knowing his mouth had uttered a double entendre to director John Hillcoat.

“He wanted me to play the nude dying man in the cellar. You will get a close up,” Ambler explained in an earlier interview. “It was three hours in makeup with layers of cold coffee poured over us. The cement floor was very, very cold. Working with Viggo (“Lord of the Rings”) Mortensen was wonderful.”

In the film, father and son (Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee) enter an apparently abandoned cellar, where they discover a secret room. Shining a light down the corridor, they see a group of people starving, bloody, partially or totally nude and some with missing limbs. One man appears to have had his leg amputated/eaten.

The shock is not the nakedness. It’s the scene that punctuates the afore alluded cannibalistic nature of some survivors in the wasted, barren land.

“People knew I would get the close ups, as skinny as I am, they wanted to detail that because [in the film] people are starving. They are looking for food.” Ambler said.

Also exhibiting at the con, Danny Boyd, one of the state’s first indie film mavericks, a West Virginia State University fine arts professor who has shot low budget horror chucklers like “Chillers,” “Invasion of the Space Preachers,” numerous documentaries, and graphic novels such as “Death Falcon Zero and the Zombie Slug Lords.”

The tricon starts at 10 a.m. and includes Chad Lambert discussing the Discovery Channel special “Eyes of the Mothman” and concludes with a 5 p.m. costume contest with WSAZ TV’s Tim Irr and WTCR’s Clint McElroy among the judges. Admission is $7.