The Mocking Dead

This article originally appeared in the Journal Inquirer, a newspaper out of Manchester, Connecticut.

Local filmmaker to debut “Atomic Zombie” movie in Stafford

By Heather J. Linder

Torj (left), played by Ed Gasiorek, meets with his master, the evil scientist Dr. Harry Housen , played by Andrew Wrobel, in front of the atomic pile used to conduct Housen's experiements in the B-movie spoof Attack of the Atomic Zombies.

Zombies are taking over the Old Town Hall Saturday as local composer-turned-filmmaker Tony Diana hosts the debut of his first movie, Attack of the Atomic Zombies.

Diana, along with his two friends, created Butterfleye Films to pursue his passion for movie making. The trio developed the zombie movie as a spoof of black-and-white B-movies of the 1950s, he said.

The premiere starts at 6 p.m. at the Old Town Hall, located on Route 19 near Hydeville Road, and costs $5 to get in.

The cast and crew will be present to answer questions and sign autographs. DVD copies of the movie will be on sale for $10.

Attack of the Atomic Zombies was filmed exclusively in Stafford and features an almost entirely local cast of actors, including Diana’s wife and daughter.

The film’s plot centers around an evil scientist named Dr. Harry Housen who comes to town to conduct experiments and then dumps atomic waste into the Stafford water supply. When residents drink the water, they are transformed into atomic zombies.

Diana’s zombie’s don’t attack or bite, though. They loiter more than anything, he said, which was designed as a parody on small town life.

The film is a “love letter to the B-movie genre,” Diana said. “The acting is supposed to be stiff and wooden to make it work. It comes across really hilarious.”

The production company had a limited budget and all-volunteer talent, so Diana, who freelances full-time as a composer and digital editor, used his computer editing skills to enhance the film and make its ‘50s setting look more realistic.

In one scene, he superimposed a 1950s Chevrolet Bel Air in a parking lot, and in others he digitally removed cars or objects that looked too modern.

“The computer opens up a whole bunch of possibilities,” he said.

The movie’s dialogue is also unique, Diana said, because none of the lines were scripted. Rather, Diana wrote a synopsis of all 23 scenes and let the actors improvise.

“They knew what they had to do in the scene but not what to say,” he said.

Many of the actors were familiar with improvisation, but some were new to the craft.

When the cast viewed the film for the first time in November, they were relieved at how well the movie turned out and how hilarious the dialogue was, he said.

“The film has a good heart,” he said, “and it’s a lot of fun. People had a passion for making it.”

All three members of Butterfleye Films worked on the production. Diana wrote the film’s music and synopsis and did visual effects. Brian Thone made all of the props, including Dr. Housen’s nuclear reactor, and did zombie makeup. Steve Bednar helped create the film’s concept and plays Sheriff Ed Wood, the story’s hero, on screen.

The trio is already busy making their second film, which Diana said will be more dramatic and ambitious than the comical zombie spoof.

He hopes to someday make movies full-time and to work with a consistent group of friends and actors to pursue his “intense passion” for filmmaking.

“My hope as we go forward with this venture is to keep using the same people to develop a troupe,” he said. “People will get used to the actors in it and see them play different roles in different movies.”

The movie’s runtime is 71 minutes, including trailers. It was filmed in early September over three weekends, and Diana spent five weeks editing and adding special effects.

After the special Stafford showing Saturday, Attack of the Atomic Zombies will make an appearance at Boston Comic Con in April.

For upcoming event information, visit the film’s website,

Author Forecasts a Warm, Dark Future in New Story

This article originally appeared in the Monday edition of the Journal Inquirer, a newspaper out of Manchester, Connecticut.

JI editor forecasts a warm, dark future in ‘The End of Ordinary Life’

By Julie Ruth

The year is 2028. An Alaskan bush pilot is flying an electric plane. The Arctic Ocean is ice-free because of global warming. The U.S. has been in an economic slump ever since the banks collapsed in 2008, and things are coming to a head. That’s the backdrop for Journal Inquirer Associate Editor Daniel Hatch’s latest science fiction story, “The End of Ordinary Life,” which appears in the May issue of Analog: Science Fiction and Factmagazine.Hatch, who’s published more than 20 works of science fiction in Analog, Absolute Magnitude, and other publications, opens his latest science fiction story in southeast Alaska, where his lead character, Tom O’Reilly, discovers that each of his four girlfriends has disappeared. When he later finds himself uprooted against his will as well, O’Reilly realizes that what he has known as “ordinary life” is now over.

“I have been living in the shadow of the economic collapse, and the bill is finally coming due,” O’Reilly says.

The story explores the consequences of global warming and a longterm economic slump following the 2008 banking crisis.

“It’s a pessimistic projection that we don’t fix the things that are wrong with the economy, and they get worse,” he explained. “All kinds of solutions out there are easily attainable but nobody wants to touch them because they will interfere with the profit stream of the big corporate players.”

Hatch is a longtime contributor to Analog, which has been around since the 1930s, the Golden Age of science fiction, when there were dozens of fiction magazines.

Analog is known as the “hard science fiction” magazine, where stories are driven by science rather than characters, said Hatch.

He got the idea for the story after reading a report prepared for the U.S. Navy that predicts that the Arctic Ocean will have no ice during the summer within the next 20 years.

“It said we’re going to have an extra ocean to deal with, and we should start making plans now.” The report included things the Navy should watch out for, like terrorists and arms smugglers coming through Canada.

Hatch said he discovered science fiction in first grade, when he found “Danny Dunn and the Weather Machine” in the library, a novel about a teenager who discovers a device that can make small clouds and miniature rainstorms.

Like many teenage boys in the ’60s, he was reading science fiction novels voraciously.

He wrote his first saleable science fiction story during a stint in the U.S. Coast Guard in Cape May, N.J., after finding a book in the library. Written in 1929 by John Gallishaw, who taught at Harvard, it was called “20 Problems of the Fiction Writer.”

“I still have it; I never took it back,” he said. Which is just as well, since the book is no longer in print.

At the University of Connecticut Hatch prepared for his writing career.

“I studied all the things science fiction writers should study: Shakespeare, history, journalism,” he said. “Because you’re writing grand narratives about the meaning of life in the universe, man’s place in the universe.”

After graduating in 1980, he worked for the Connecticut State News Bureau and The New York Times before joining the Journal Inquirer in 1988.

Hatch said the story is also an excuse to write about flying, one of his passions, though he learned flying through the Microsoft Flight Simulator program, rather than by spending actual time in the air.

After Hatch submitted the story, his longtime Analog editor, Stanley Schmidt, sent him an email: “I don’t remember your ever saying anything about being a pilot, or living or traveling in southeastern Alaska, but if you haven’t done those things, you sure know how to research a story. I’ve done both, and this feels real!”

The May issue of Analog magazine featuring Hatch’s story will be available at Barnes & Noble stores.

The issue is also available on Barnes and Noble’s Nook and Amazon’s Kindle.