Anchorage provides movie backdrop

MARIETTA – Strange lights emanating from the Anchorage or horse drawn carriages milling about in the streets of Harmar may have given pause to area residents over the past couple weeks. But fear not. The odd occurrences were actually part of a movie being filmed on the west side of Marietta.

Besides using local sets for filming, local actors and crew members were also a big part of “White Zombie,” which began filming in Marietta in late May and wrapped up filming last week. Scenes were also shot in the Cutler area.

The film is a re-imagining of the 1932 film by the same name, said Parkersburg resident Susan Sheppard, who wrote the script.

Sheppard also acted as a producer for the film, which was directed by Little Hocking native Arthur Collins and is being made by his production company Ragnbones Productions, based in Youngstown.

The original movie centers on a young woman traveling to an island to marry her beloved. During the trip a rich plantation owner falls in love with her and decides to have her turned into a zombie so she will be his. But he quickly regrets the decision.

“Probably about 60 percent of the movie is brand new,” said Sheppard, who added new characters and made the existing characters more complex than in the original script.

The movie does not feature the typical brain-eating zombies popular in modern culture, she pointed out. Instead the film builds on voodoo legend that a person can be turned into a mindless slave through brainwashing.

Working on the film was an inspiring experience for Beverly resident Rush Whitacre, who began making a film in Marietta several years ago and then shelved the project.

“After meeting Arthur Collins and that whole group of people, it’s reinvigorated my interest in getting that movie done,” said Whitacre.

Whitacre threw himself enthusiastically into the movie making process, taking on a small acting role and building anything needed. Whitacre’s favorite project was building the intricate set needed for the lair of the antagonist-a voodoo master played by Bela Lugosi in the original film.

“We started with a dingy, old, completely unused basement and converted it into something that looked like it had been used by this evil guy for years and years and years,” said Whitacre, who holds a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Cincinnati.

Area residents will likely have a chance to watch the film upon its completion, said Sheppard. Currently the hope is the movie will be finished in early 2014, she said. Collins is hoping to do a screening of the film in Marietta, said Sheppard, but the specifics have not yet been decided.