MORT (comedy/horror - short film)
Mort follows the gory mishaps of a sleazy mortician and his timid new assistant as they scramble to distract a repugnant small-town family after their loved one's corpse disappears minutes before a funeral.
A comedic, zombie-infested romp in a retro, midwest funeral home.
Edgar Underwood, a sleazy small-town mortician, loses his cool when his timid new assistant, Lane Lipschitz, discovers the corpse of Mort Lancaster has gone missing minutes before his funeral. Edgar convinces Lane to distract the Lancaster family in the funeral home lobby while he looks for the body.
Lane struggles to keep the overbearing Mrs. Lancaster and her brutish son, Stuart, at bay. Edgar finds the now-zombified Mort lurking in the funeral home basement and fights him with whatever weapon-like Christmas decorations are in arms reach. Edgar traps Mort but comes face-to-face with the recently zombified funeral home minister, Pastor Tim.
The Lancasters force their way into the funeral chapel despite Lane's lame attempts to lie. Mrs. Lancaster discovers that her husband's body is missing just as Edgar bursts through the chapel doors, pursued by Pastor Tim. Chaos erupts as Edgar wrestles Pastor Tim for his life. Mort shambles in and finally reunites with Mrs. Lancaster in one final, bloody embrace. Lane overcomes his fears and saves Edgar from Pastor Tim with a mind-blowing finish.
"I wrote Mort for the location where it was filmed. I wanted to tell a story about quirky Southern Illinois people in a funny and fantasy-infused situation using what I had available - an old church. The production was an exercise in working with limitations rather than against them that would not have been possible without the overwhelming support of my film industry friends and the people of Southern Illinois."
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
Mort is an independently produced short film written, produced, and directed by Charlie Queen and executive produced by his partner and wife, Lauren Leshansky. The movie is a black comedy with zombie/horror elements. It was made for roughly $12,ooo and filmed in Murphysboro, Illinois in four days. Mort is Charlie and Lauren's narrative filmmaking debut. The pair previously worked in commercial video and true crime television in San Diego and Los Angeles.
Making Movies in a Countryside Church in Southern Illinois
Charlie and Lauren moved to Carbondale, Illinois, in early 2020 and started their production company (Basic/Expert Films) to tell local stories about local people... even if the stories are also about zombies. Cory Fehrenbacher (executive producer/location manager), Charlie's brother, also moved to the area with his family around this time and purchased a small church in the country to be converted into a cidery. As soon as Charlie saw the wood-paneled interior of the church, he knew he had to write a movie for the location, and the idea for Mort was born.
The entire cast and a large portion of the crew are professionals and amateurs from all over Southern Illinois, including actor Les Lannom ("Harry O" and "Southern Comfort") as Mort and special effects makeup artist Meg Stanley. Most of the local crew were discovered and contacted through local Facebook groups such as "WTF? Carbondale" and "Southern Illinois Filmmakers and Actors."
The San Diego Connection
Charlie became friends with local San Diego filmmakers Bo Cross (director of photography), Trevor Elliott (executive producer/gaffer), and Stephen Scavulli (1st AC) after meeting on set and then playing a year-long Dungeons and Dragons game together. The group remained friends after Charlie and Lauren moved home to make films in the midwest. Mort was an interstate collaboration between this group of friends and was only possible through the expertise and equipment provided by the San Diego team (San Diego Film Equipment and Scavulli Visuals).
The Millikin Connection
A large portion of Mort's crew are students from Millikin University's student-run production company, 1901 Productions. Kev Dionysus (1st AD), the line producer at 1901, found our production through a casting call on Facebook and reached out offering 1901's help in exchange for experience on a professional set. 1901's talented members filled out a large portion of our production crew, including Rebecca Murphy (script supervisor), Zachary Cook (2nd AC), and Nate Earley-Ochwada (special FX makeup assistant).