PARKERSBURG - Cast and crew members of "Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies" are returning to the area this week - perhaps not for the last time.
The local premiere of the action-horror film shot mostly in Parkersburg last year is slated for Friday evening at Parkersburg High School, with a free autograph session featuring wrestling legend "Rowdy" Roddy Piper today at the National Guard Armory on Blizzard Drive.
And as buzz about the movie grows, writer/director Cody Knotts said they're already thinking sequel.
"If we make that sequel, we are coming back to West Virginia," said Knotts, a Pennsylvania resident whose past credits include "Lucifer's Unholy Desire" and "Breeding Farm." "It's my intent to come back to Parkersburg or near it."
Tickets are still available for the premiere, which starts at 5:30 p.m. for holders of Super Fan and VIP tickets. The screening starts at 7.
Tickets are available at www.brownpapertickets.com, where extras in the film can get general admission tickets for $10, half off the regular price. Some $20 tickets will also be available at the door.
Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies events
6 to 9 p.m. today, National Guard Armory, Blizzard Drive - Free autograph signing by star "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and Jeremy Ambler, a West Virginia resident who appears in the movie and has been featured as a zombie on "The Walking Dead."
7 p.m. Friday, Parkersburg High School - Parkersburg premiere of "Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies," attended by Piper, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, The Franchise Shane Douglas and more.
The day before, Piper, one of the film's stars, and Jeremy Ambler, a West Virginia resident who appears as a zombie in the film and has been a featured walker on AMC's "The Walking Dead" series, will be at the armory from 6 to 9 p.m. There is no charge for admission, and while merchandise will be for sale, people can bring their own items to be autographed.
"Roddy Piper will be there as a thank-you to the City of Parkersburg, signing autographs for free," said Mineral Wells resident Amy Giffin, an extra in "Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies" who is helping to coordinate local events.
Although the movie was filmed in the Mid-Ohio Valley at locations including City Park and the former Wood County Holding Center, it's getting attention all over the country.
Showings are scheduled for tonight in Pittsburgh, Thursday in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday in Charleston and Monday in Cleveland. Its off-the-wall premise, summed up in the title, has drawn attention from Sports Illustrated's Extra Mustard website and the film is moving up the ranks among the Internet Movie Database's most popular zombie (No. 2) and horror (No. 31) movies of 2014.
And Knotts said Tuesday he'd just learned there would be a panel about the film at this year's San Diego Comic-Con, the ultimate pop culture barometer.
Knotts said he's surprised by the response the movie has gotten, but he always felt it had the potential to be big.
"People underestimate the amount of wrestling fans in the United States," he said.
The main secret to the film's appeal, Knotts said, is a word used by multiple reviewers in describing it - "fun."
"The emotion you get when you watch it is fun," he said. "It's a comedy."
The film is expected to receive an R rating for language and violence.