Dallas-based filmmaker Israel Luna is ready to premiere his newest film, Kicking Zombie Ass for Jesus at the end of the month. However, one place it won’t be showing is the small town of Graham, about two-and-a-half hours away from Dallas. Normally a small town of under 9,000 people not playing a queer cult film wouldn’t be noteworthy. But Kicking Zombie Ass for Jesus was filmed mostly in Graham. Not just that, but a number of Graham citizens appear as extras.
In Kicking Zombie Ass for Jesus, a miracle pill that supposedly will cure all viral infectious diseases turns most of humanity into Zombies. The few survivors in a small Texas town barricade themselves into an abandoned building. It soon becomes clear that the survivors can be split into two camps: Bible-thumpers and queer folk.
Though the film was shot in Graham, Texas — the filmmakers felt some pushback from the town. When the word went out that Luna was looking for children to play zombie extras, the teachers at the Graham school warned students away.
Luna also told the Dallas Voice about one Graham resident. After inquiring about his child playing a zombie, he found out about the content of the film and decided not to let his child join. He then hopped on Facebook to warn the town, claiming it to be “an insult to my community.” Another actor told Luna he wouldn’t be in the film because he’s “been saved.”
The last shot for a Kicking Zombie Ass for Jesus screening in Graham was at the local Graham Drive-In Theater. Unfortunately, though the owners had helped Luna before, they rejected the film. They told Luna they feared the film would be “offensive to many.” Given the small population, they “have to be careful” about what’s put on screen.
Luna is disappointed the film won’t show in Graham. He said, “I was excited to screen the film in Graham, Texas since we shot a large portion of the film there. It was disheartening to know that they chose not to screen it. I would think that the message of ‘we’re all the same and we should stop fighting’ would’ve encouraged them to screen it.”
Hopefully some Graham residents will make the trek to Dallas.