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Do you know any of these actors who starred in The Zombie Wedding, a locally filmed movie?

by Mickey Brandt
Photography by Robert Dragotta
Many local residents got to show their inner zombies as extras in The Zombie Wedding (above)—and to rub elbows with Vincent Pastore, right, who appeared as “Mayor Fanucci.”
Many local residents got to show their inner zombies as extras in The Zombie Wedding (above)—and to rub elbows with Vincent Pastore, right, who appeared as “Mayor Fanucci.”

Don’t be frightened, but zombies have been spotted in Vineland. Up and down Landis Avenue, visiting local shops, stopping in at local churches and cemeteries and many other locations. While they were here, they even made a film.

It’s about a wedding—a wedding unlike anyone has ever seen—the first known marriage between a zombie and a human.

It’s only a movie of course. We say that advisedly, though, because the Weekly World News (WWN) Studios production could be one of the more hilarious and interesting films that you’ve seen in a while. And that’s not just because it was made in Vineland.

You have a chance to see it tomorrow night, June 13, at the Landis Theater in the premiere of The Zombie Wedding.

From left: Robert Dragotta, an executive producer; Mayor Anthony Fanucci; Vincent Pastore; and Sandy Forosisky.
From left: Robert Dragotta, an executive producer; Mayor Anthony Fanucci; Vincent Pastore; and Sandy Forosisky.

It was written by WWN chief executive Greg D’Alessandro, and first produced for the stage, but was shut down by the Covid pandemic. Then, the project morphed into a film script.

Part of the morphing was the exploration of Vineland as the setting. In May 2022 preliminary meetings of film executives with Mayor Anthony Fanucci and Director of Economic Development Sandy Forosisky went well.

The filmmakers, helped by local contacts, scouted locations and lined up amateur actors and actresses and others to be extras and help the crew.

Top-notch professional crews from New York and Los Angeles started arriving for the start of production. There were dozens of residents hired, many locations used, and there is even a character named Mayor Fanucci. (The real City Councilman Paul Spinelli and his wife Josie are in the cemetery scene.)

The first clapperboard was struck in mid-October and shooting took six weeks.

The bride is Ashley Morgan, played by Deepti Menon; the groom is Zack Parker, played by Donald Chang.
The bride is Ashley Morgan, played by Deepti Menon; the groom is Zack Parker, played by Donald Chang.

The filmmakers leased the former Landis Marketplace from the city to house equipment, do post-production work, screen dailies and do all the hair styling and makeup. (Creating zombies was a bit more intense than the work in a run-of-the-mill romcom.)

Estimates vary, but during the filming, the studio spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in local payroll and at local hotels and restaurants. Its successful project has raised the possibility of more films being done here, both by WWN and others. Its bold, successful project has opened the door to the possibility of more films being done here, both by WWN and others.

“[Vineland] is a perfect place for filming; the streets and town look like anywhere America, and the people here are nice. It has great potential,” D’Alessandro told New Jersey Monthly.

“We filled every hotel room for six weeks,” said Bob Dragotta of Bridgeton, an executive producer who played a role in arranging for Vineland to land the film and used his local contacts to help make it happen. His classic home on East Lake was used as a location.

John Schnurr was a groomsman in <i>The Zombie Wedding.</i>
John Schnurr was a groomsman in The Zombie Wedding.

The many locations used were in downtown Vineland and beyond. They included Fairton’s deserted Cohanzick Country Club (you needed a spooky spot with a great sunset for this marriage proposal). The cameras rolled along virtually all of Landis Avenue, including DeSoto Jewelers (had to buy a ring), Rienzi’s Bridal Salon (brides need gowns), First United Methodist Church (had to have the ceremony), Grant Plaza (for the crazy reception), several popular Mexican restaurants and Vegans Are Us (hey, the humans in the film had to eat normal food), and Larry’s II (which did the catering for the crew, who had to eat in real life). Siloam Cemetery provided the backdrop for a touching (yes, touching) scene.

“With the enthusiastic support of the wonderful people of Vineland, we made a fun, family film that speaks to our times and the need to celebrate our differences as we embrace this crazy, beautiful world,” D’Alessandro, who is also the film’s screenwriter and sound supervisor, told the media. Our cast and crew put a great deal of heart, soul (and brains) into this film. We can’t wait for all humans and zombies to enjoy the wedding of the apocalypse!”

A producer, Sue Wolf, poses with Kevin Chamberlain, who plays Buddy Bob Morgan, the father of the bride.
A producer, Sue Wolf, poses with Kevin Chamberlain, who plays Buddy Bob Morgan, the father of the bride.

The film is a satirical romcom, some call it a zomcom. From all indications it was a fun film to shoot and should be just as much fun to watch.

While wild in its best scenes, it is not just funny. There’s an underlying theme of humans and zombies being tolerant of each other—even having friendships and romantic relations. Within the sight gags and witty dialogue, there is a subtle dynamic that tolerance between zombies and humans could lead to better understanding between humans and other humans.

The Weekly World News is a tabloid formerly published in a newspaper format reporting mostly fictional “news” stories in the United States from 1979 to 2007. The supermarket paper was renowned for its outlandish cover stories often based on supernatural or paranormal themes and an approach to news that verged on the inane. It is now published online.

It lives.

Not a Bit Part

Vincent Pastore, best known for his role as Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero in The Sopranos, plays “Mayor Fanucci” in The Zombie Wedding.

In his most prominent scene, the mayor, in best Sopranos style, confronts a zombie who is trying to bite someone in the city hall parking lot. Turnabout becomes fair play as the mayor scares off the zombie.

Pastore won the Screen Actors Guild Award in The Sopranos for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series in 2000 and was nominated in 2001.

He’s had hundreds of appearances in films and television, including some award-winning productions.

Pastore was featured as a contestant on the January 2008 edition of Celebrity Apprentice.

—M.B.

Film Facts

The $2.2 million movie tells the story of what happens when a young New Jersey couple decides to go through with their dream wedding during the zombie apocalypse. Unfortunately, the bride is a human and the groom is a zombie. Both families are fearful, but the humans’ behavior is downright beastly. When the zombies become brain-deprived, the ceremony takes a turn for the weird. Weekly World News reporters cover this wild, wacky wedding—while trying to get out alive.

The Zombie Wedding is produced by Weekly World News Studios and distributed by Freestyle Digital Media. It features a large ensemble cast that includes Cheri Oteri (Saturday Night Live), Seth Gilliam (The Walking Dead), Heather Matarazzo (Scream 3, Princess Diaries), Kevin Chamberlin (Die Hard with a Vengeance), Mu-Shaka Benson (The Dwelling), Siobhan Fallon Hogan (Men in Black), Vincent Pastore (The Sopranos), Christine Spang (Succession), Ajay Naidu (Office Space), Donald Chang (Squid Games), Deepti Menon (in her debut), and Micky Dolenz of The Monkees.

  • DIRECTOR: Micah Khan
  • WRITER: Greg D’Alessandro
  • PRODUCERS: Greg D’Alessandro, Joe Corcoran, Maria Capp, Sue Wolf, Jeff Mazzola
  • EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Robert Dragotta, Grace Lovret, Jijo Reed, John Harris, J. Todd Harris, John Fahy

—M.B.

The Red Carpet

  • DATE: Thursday, June 13
  • TIME: 7 p.m. (Doors open at 6:30)
  • AT: Landis Theater, 630 E. Landis Ave., Vineland
  • TICKETS: $10 at event-brite.com
    Zombie Wedding – Feel free to come dressed as a human or a zombie!