By Justin Fornal, Writer and Filmmaker
The Birth of Zombie Pug
In May of 2015, my wife shared with me a series of strong images from Curly Tail Pug Rescue’s Instagram page. The pictures showed a gaunt senior pug named Brutus mid-rescue, bloody eyes hanging from his face. Then 12 years old, he had been living under inhumane conditions and was brought in ”bloody, skinny and diseased”. The rescue transporter described it as one of the worst cases they had ever seen.
Following his rescue, it was necessary for Brutus’ eyes to be removed due to severe untreated glaucoma. He was deaf and had a displaced jaw from prior trauma. He was also up for adoption. My wife felt very strongly about providing a loving home for this little fellow who had clearly had a rough go. A month later, Brutus moved into our home and was welcomed by his sister pug, Sweetums, and little brother, Goblin.
Despite all of the hardships he endured, Brutus is a warm and trusting dog with a friendly demeanor. He navigates by smell and wags his tail when he knows you are close by. With his recessed eye sockets and long hanging tongue, his appearance often shocks people who are seeing him for the first time. My daughter, Tatiana, (who was 5 years old at the time) came up with the idea of making a movie where Brutus is a zombie who attacks people who are cruel to animals. Zombie Pug was born.
I wrote the script, Tatiana directed it, and we finished the 15 minute piece with the support of fellow actors, film makers, special effects folks, and musicians. For her first film it was important to Tatiana that Zombie Pug contain an adequate balance of humor, horror, and social commentary. This is a quintessential revenge film viewed from the animal’s perspective.
A Film with a Purpose
We hoped the film could provide an avenue for drawing attention to another cause, the plight of New Beginning Animal Rescue in the Bronx, which is the borough’s only no-kill animal shelter. Pedro Rosario of New Beginning essentially cashed out his retirement fund some years back and used it to open the shelter. He doesn’t receive any subsidies from the city and relies entirely on donations to keep his shelter open. Needless to say, it’s a pretty desperate situation that can change from month to month. It’s a constant struggle to keep the facility running using donations and volunteers only.
After a hard life, Brutus has been given a chance to strike a cinematic blow for abused and abandoned animals everywhere. “Animal abusers beware. The curly tailed avenger is coming!”
Purchase tickets for our Zombie Pug screening on Sunday, January 8 at 1:00 pm. Location: BarkBox HQ, 221 Canal Street, NYC.
Can’t make the event? Consider making a donation to support New Beginning Animal Rescue, the only no-kill animal shelter in the Bronx.