Saturday at Comic Con, a little movie that could with a star-studded cast will take the stage in Hall H. What happens next? Well, I can’t tell you yet because I’m writing this from the past. Last week, /Film was one of several outlets invited to get an early look at The Knights of Badassdom, a horror comedy adventure film starring Ryan Kwanten, Peter Dinklage, Steve Zahn, Summer Glau, Danny Pudi and others about the world of live action role playing. LARPing. Directed by Joe Lynch (Wrong Turn 2) its aim is to put together everything you love about movies: action, romance, violence, comedy, fantasy, all wrapped in on story about a group of LARPers who mistakenly awake an ancient demon and are forced to defeat it. Think Evil Dead meets the last twenty minutes of Role Models. So how does the film look what does Lynch have to say about it, and who did he absolutely have to work with? Find out after the jump.

At the presentation we saw one full scene and the trailer which is scheduled to play at Comic Con. We were told the scene was not going to be seen at Comic Con, however. Instead it was a pivotal plot scene from a little further into the film that sort of set up this world for you. Lynch said the movie itself made it hard to picking which clip to show us:

It was hard to pick a clip. It’s such an amalgam of so many different genres, in a good way. For me, this is the true epitome of what an adventure film is. For all of us an adventure film isn’t just medieval swords like Romancing the Stone or Goonies or Excalibur. You have drama and thrills and chills and laughs….So for us here’s a rare opportunity to not make a remake or sequel or video game but at the same time make something original that is a little bit of everything that we love….That was the hard part of a good clip to tease because we want to give a little bit of everything. A little bit of humor, a little bit of thrilling stuff, some supernatural stuff as well. This movie is the kitchen sink, it throws it all in.

That definitely came across in the clip, which featured three of the main characters walking in the woods and encountering a beautiful, zombie girl munching on their friend. To battle it, Steve Zahn’s character, an up and coming sorcerer, reads a spell out of a book he got on eBay. Unfortunately, we learn the spell actually worked to make this girl more evil and powerful and unlocks a chain of events that will lead to a “LARPer buffet.”

Of course that’s all said and delivered with a little more pizazz and humor. And gore. In holding off the zombie girl, she gets impaled on a tree and later transforms into something super gruesome. The look of this scene was what you’d imagine the Evil Dead remake to look like. Glossy but atmospheric. Smoke billowing, moonlight shining, very horror movie stuff.

Lynch said two films that were very influential in developing the tone of the film were Shaun of the Dead and An American Werewolf in London. In both those films, the stakes are big, the characters strong and they feel real while still being entertaining. They also wanted to be very respectful to the LARP community and, obviously, drew on documentaries like Darkon and more.

The LARPing community completely embraced this film which was amazing for us because we wanted to respect them and respect the culture and they went above and beyond….To them, this was their leveling up [from Role Models] in terms of finding a way to get the LAPRing culture and community out there in a very fun and positive sort of way.

To give the film a very classic look, Lynch and company tried to work primarily with practical effects when they could.”There’s just something so tangible about seeing something on set for the crew, for the actors, for everybody,” he said. But ultimately a call from Guillermo del Toro to the people at Spectral Motion is what brought the famed effects company on board.

Luckily enough, sir del Toro called them up one day on my behalf. ‘You’ve got to work with these crazy cocksuckers, they’re fucking crazy. I love this script, it’s fucking awesome.’ So they read the script and said, ‘We’re so in.’ Because it was a chance to make creatures again, to be 12 years old again….We tried to be as practical as possible with everything because it just looks better, it feels better, it feels right.

In addition to Spectral Motion for creature and gore effects, Lynch was adamant that he wanted Sam McCurty (The Descent) to shoot it and Bear McCreary (Battlestar Galactica) to score it. They both came on board immediately.

It was so integral for us to make sure the film didn’t feel like a comedy. Because it is, it’s very funny but it’s coming from an organic kind of way. But when we were LARPing, literally my viewpoint turned into a cut scene from a video game and went [compresses hands together] 2:35:1. And I said there and said ‘If we don’t shoot this scope, we’re doing it a disservice’ because when you’re on that field, you’re looking around and it feels huge. It feels like Braveheart. And I’m going, ‘If I don’t shoot this like John Toll shot Braveheart, then I’m not showing you what it’s like to be a LARPer.’

The cast and crew embraced the concept wholeheartedly and were “in game” throughout the whole film. They did a two week boot camp before filming, actors like Steve Zahn would come to set on their days off to hand out cherries to extras and the camera operator even begged Lynch to pick up a sword and fight. “You could not have asked for more serendipity or magic in terms of the process of getting this movie made,” Lynch said.

That magic continues as the little film that could hit all the right chords and got themselves a panel in the hallowed Hall H at San Diego Comic Con:

We’re stepping into Oz at this point….but we have a film that will appeal to so many different demographics and fan bases. Just alone, Summer’s fan base, Peter’s, Ryan’s, Steve’s, Danny’s. You’re taking all these collectives of fans and you’re bringing them all in together. It’s like, screw The Avengers man, we have such a kick-ass Comic Con cast.

Even with such a “kick-ass Comic-Con cast,” the point was never to just market the film. Lynch wanted to make a movie that had “a Sundance soul but with a blockbuster skin” but at every turn he kept realizing that this was a movie that people related responded to and were passionate about. It was bigger than itself.

Everybody that’s joined the fellowship has really been so impassioned about this movie. I’m glad that we’re the underdogs going into the ring in Hall H…. There’s just not enough of these movies out there.

That’s for sure. Even the trailer itself plays with your expectations. It literally starts with the “In a world” voiceover but plays with it in a fun way:

In a world, within our world, they’ve created a world, unlike any other world.

Smash to a very well cut trailer that does a great job of embodying everything Lynch said above. It has drug jokes, violence, action, movie references and some crazy supernatural stuff. It’ll be hard to watch the trailer and not get excited for the movie.

The Knights of Badassdom is eying a Spring 2012 release. Check back soon for the trailer itself and reactions from Saturday’s panel.

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