Now, cinema's coolest zombie, "Tarman" as played by Allan Trautman!

1- How did you get involved with 'ROTLD'?

Via an audition, just like (I assume) most of the other performers. Of course, this audition had only one line of dialogue ("Brains!"), so the objective was mostly to see the movement. The director, Dan O'Bannon, didn't want just another zombie walking around with its arms outstretched, so the idea was to show the thought behind the actions. Other than that, it was just a regular audition, first for a casting director, then for Dan.

2- What was it like working with Dan O'Bannon?

Fine. I had the stupid head on the whole time I was on the set, so there wasn't a lot of banter if you know what I mean. There wasn't much rehearsing, either. I just showed up on the day, he told me what to do, we walked through it once or twice and rolled.

3- Of all the work you've done, how often are you asked about 'ROTLD'?

I have to tell you I'm surprised by the fact that I get more email from my website about Tarman than about any other specific character I've played or project I've worked on. I started working with Jim Henson's Creature Shop as a puppeteer in the early 1990s, and I felt well respected by the crew there, but when some of them found out I had played the Tarman, they went bonkers. THEN they were impressed.

4- Are you happy that the film is *finally* being re-released on home video?

Yes. I didn't know about that until just a few weeks ago. It'll be a lot of fun seeing the movie again. I know I'll add it to my collection! I bet I'll even learn a thing or two from the extras.

5- What did you think of the film the first time you saw it?

I have to tell you, I'm not the hippest person in the world. I wasn't into the whole punk scene then, and I wasn't even a fan of horror movies. I didn't quite get Dan's mixture of comedy and horror, which was unique back then, when you think about it. Of course, years later when I looked at it again, I realized it was a howl. I guess I was just too close to it the first time around.

6- Do you enjoy hearing from fans?

Of course. It's good to know that I helped to create some fun memories for people, and to have them share those with me is gratifying.

7- Have you seen the two sequels to 'ROTLD'?

I saw Part 2, because I was in it, but I never got around to seeing Part 3.

8- Are your children old enough to have seen the movie? If so, how did they react?

My boys are now twelve and fourteen. They've seen pictures from the film, and they know about Tarman, but I'm going to wait until I see it again before deciding if they're old enough to see it now.

9- How does it feel knowing that you portrayed the most recognized (and popular) zombie in the long history of horror films?

I bet you say that to all the zombies! Actually, that description is very flattering, and I hear that a lot, but only from fans who write to me. I'm sure other zombies have their minions, er, fans who feel the same way about them. Either way, it makes me feel good to have pleased so many people with what, at the time, was to me just an interesting acting challenge.

10- What was the process like in becoming 'tarman'? How long did it take from start to finish?

After I was cast, I spent a little time with Bill Munns, who pretty much built the suit around my body in his garage workshop. (He didn't take a body cast.) Then I remember doing a head cast for the head piece. It's an interesting experience, having your head completely enveloped with goo, breathing through soda straws and hoping you don't have to sneeze. A couple of fittings later, and I was on the set. I think I waited a few days until they actually got to my scene, but I remember that going very quickly, in just a couple of days. It's possible that in memory, the timeline has been compressed. I might have been on the set for two or three weeks all together.
I just reread the question and realized you were probably asking how long it took to apply the suit each day for shooting. It wasn't too bad, because they weren't applying pieces directly to my face. It was basically a two-piece leotard, feet and gloved. The head had to be glued down to the body, though, to make the drips flow from top to bottom, and that took a little time. Then, right before the cameras rolled, they applied the goo to make me look all slimy.

11- Are you looking forward to the 'ROTLD' reunion at Creepcon this year? Do you stay in touch with anyone else from the film?

I am looking forward to the reunion. I've never been to a fan convention, so this should prove both entertaining and educational. The only cast member I've seen since the movie was Don Calfa, who was in the mental hospital sequence of Dr. Dolittle. I was the lead puppeteer and performance coordinator for Jim Henson's Creature Shop on the film, and Don and I had a bit of time to talk about our prior work together. Of course, he didn't recognize me at all, since I pretty much always had the head on when I was on the set, but I knew him, and once I told him who I was, it was like a mini reunion.

12- Perhaps you could clear up some confusion among fans. Did 'tarman' come from the broken open trioxin container? Some think that corpse "melted" when it hit the air (James Karen's character said this in the film.) If that was the case, where did 'tarman' come from?

Dan may be a better person to ask to clear this up, but I assumed I was the creature from the container in the basement. I think the "melting" referred to his skin. I imagine some liberty was taken with the actual physical processes at work in the interest of advancing the storyline. I mean, the story is ludicrous, and that's what makes it so funny. Dan very skillfully weaved the horror and the comedy so that the audience just sort of shrugged and said, this ride is so much fun, I'll go along with this as far as you'd like to take me, and stop asking questions. In other words, Dan invoked a huge suspension of disbelief on the part of the audience, and that's not easy to do.

13- Finally, what are you working on now? Any future projects we can look forward to?

I have two films coming out in July: Men in Black II and The Country Bears. The Worm Guys are back in MIBII, and they have an expanded role. You even get to see their New York bachelor pad. It's a hoot.
Country Bears is from Disney, and it's the first of three movies based on theme park attractions. It's rated G, but don't let that scare you away. It's got great music written by John Hiatt, and I think it's a really cute picture all the way around. I puppeteered Fred Bedderhead, the big harmonica/bass player (he's the one diving into the crowd in the trailer currently running) and I'm proud of the work I did on the film.