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The Inside Story Of The Vet-Produced Zombie Vom-Com ‘Range 15’ Just Dropped
In October 2015, six U.S. military veterans descended on an abandoned college campus two hours east of Los Angeles for what would prove to be one of the most challenging missions of their lives. They were armed with a script, some experience shooting low-budget YouTube videos, $1.1 million raised for the production on Indiegogo, and not much else. In fact, none of them had ever made a movie before. They were t-shirt vendors from two competing military-themed apparel companies, Ranger Up and Article 15. The project was aptly dubbed ‘Range 15.’ Their goal: to produce and star in the most bizarre, disgusting, irreverent zombie apocalypse spoof in the history of the genre.
They did have some outside help: a director, a couple producers (actual ones), a handful of professional actors — including a few bona fide celebrities, like William Shatner, Danny Trejo, and Sean Astin — and all the other behind-the-scenes talent necessary to make a movie. But 90 percent of the cast and crew were veterans, many of whom had lost limbs in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Two were Medal of Honor recipients. The Green Beret and UFC fighter Tim Kennedy was there; so was Marcus Luttrell, the retired Navy SEAL portrayed by Mark Wahlberg in Peter Berg’s 2013 Afghan War drama Lone Survivor. This time, however, Luttrell would be playing himself, and he wouldn’t survive. Instead, he’d be the first to go, torn limb-from-limb by a pack of zombies within the first few minutes of the film.
I arrived on set on a crisp, sunny California day, just in time to see the filming of the scene where (spoiler alert) Black Rifle Coffee Company CEO Evan Hafer gets beaten to death by his own severed penis. I was there to chronicle the madness for Maxim, where I worked between 2013-2016. I had flown in from New York to capture the absurdity of a bunch of battle-hardened vets getting together to make a movie that would, as one of them told me, inspire civilians to “never thank another veteran for their service ever again.” It was a beautiful sight to behold, and my story hardly did it justice. Fortunately, the talented filmmaker Tim O’Donnell was there to chronicle the three weeks of blood, sweat, and dick jokes that went into making Range 15, which debuted in selected theaters across the country in May 2016.
O’Donnell’s behind-the-scenes documentary, called Not a War Story, just dropped on iTunes and Amazon on Nov. 7, and it is a far more engrossing film than Range 15. With its utterly offensive humor, the zombie flick was only intended to resonate with a very niche audience; the documentary, on the other hand, has a more universal appeal. But Not A War Story isn’t just an up-close-and-personal look at the grueling process of making a movie with little money and even less talent — it’s about group of young vets attempting to channel their frustrations and insanity into a movie they hoped would capture a side of the veteran experience that is rarely, if ever acknowledged in Hollywood films. And that would be the side that’d feature a scene of a double-amputee knife-fighting a zombie played by a woman who got her arms blown off by an IED in Iraq.
“This movie is for the veteran community,” Nick Palmisciano, the CEO of Ranger Up who plays himself in Range 15, says in the documentary. “It’s not for anyone else if they don’t want it to be. I hope many people enjoy it. I hope that it becomes a big hit. I hope it makes a lot of people smile. I hope it does a lot to bridge the civilian-military divide. But if it doesn’t, and the only thing that happens is that our community has a movie that they love, then we succeeded.”
“And honest to God,” he addes, ”and I mean this sincerely: everyone else can really go fuck themselves.”
Not a War Story is, ultimately, the story of a dream coming true. Palmisciano, Mat Best, Jared Taylor, Vincent “Rocco” Vargas, Jack Mandaville, and Hafer, the six novice filmmakers, did exactly what they set off to do. Despite the obstacles — and, as the documentary shows, there were plenty of obstacles — they managed to cobble together a movie about veterans that was like nothing that’s ever been produced. Not a War Story was intended for a slightly different audience than the one that flocked to theaters to see Range 15. The documentary is an explainer of sorts; it’s an attempt to help outsiders make sense of this strange, obscure little DIY project that received little attention beyond the military community.
I imagine O’Donnell set off to do what I had aimed to do with my Maxim article: find out why a bunch of war heroes would go out of their way to portray themselves as perverse goofballs. To put it bluntly: why would they stoop so low? He nailed it. For me, personally, being on the set of Range 15 was the first time I had hung out with a group of veterans in several years. I had forgotten how good it felt to be around people who had been through similar things that I had been through, who got my humor and didn’t hesitate to ask me blunt questions about my experiences at war. It was a life-changing few days: After writing my story, I left Maxim and joined the Task & Purpose team.
GENEVA/DUBAI (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said he was prepared to take military action to stop Tehran from getting a nuclear bomb but left open whether he would back the use of force to protect Gulf oil supplies that Washington fears may be under threat by Iran.
Worries about a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since attacks last week on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping lane at the entrance to the Gulf. Washington blamed long-time foe Iran for the incidents.
Tehran denies responsibility but the attacks, and similar ones in May, have further soured relations that have plummeted since Trump pulled the United States out of a landmark international nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018.
Trump has restored and extended U.S. economic sanctions on Iran. That has forced countries around the world to boycott Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.
But in an interview with Time magazine, Trump, striking a different tone from some Republican lawmakers who have urged a military approach to Iran, said last week's tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman had only a "very minor" impact so far.
Asked if he would consider military action to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons or to ensure the free flow of oil through the Gulf, Trump said: "I would certainly go over nuclear weapons and I would keep the other a question mark."
Minnesota Democratic Party staffer under fire for calling USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul a 'murder boat'
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday he is appalled by a state DFL Party staff member's tweet referring to the recently-launched USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul as a "murder boat."
"Certainly, the disrespect shown is beyond the pale," said Walz, who served in the Army National Guard.
William Davis, who has been the DFL Party's research director and deputy communications director, made the controversial comment in response to a tweet about the launch of a new Navy combat ship in Wisconsin: "But actually, I think it's gross they're using the name of our fine cities for a murder boat," Davis wrote on Twitter over the weekend.
'We are there to deter aggression' — Pompeo addressed CENTCOM on Iran mere moments before Shanahan announced his departure
TAMPA — Minutes before the Acting Secretary of Defense withdrew Tuesday from his confirmation process, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke at MacDill Air Force Base about the need to coordinate "diplomatic and defense efforts'' to address rising tensions with Iran.
Pompeo, who arrived in Tampa on Monday, met with Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. and Army Gen. Richard Clarke, commanders of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command respectively, to align the Government's efforts in the Middle East, according to Central Command.
NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — The trial of Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher officially kicked off on Tuesday with the completion of jury selection, opening statements, and witness testimony indicating that drinking alcohol on the front lines of Mosul, Iraq in 2017 seemed to be a common occurrence for members of SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon.
Government prosecutors characterized Gallagher as a knife-wielding murderer who not only killed a wounded ISIS fighter but shot indiscriminately at innocent civilians, while the defense argued that those allegations were falsehoods spread by Gallagher's angry subordinates, with attorney Tim Parlatore telling the jury that "this trial is not about murder. It's about mutiny."
President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will "not to go forward with his confirmation process."
Trump said that Army Secretary Mark Esper will now serve as acting defense secretary.