With his Herman Munster baritone and his spindly manorexic gams vacuum-sealed into a pair of black skinny jeans, writer and filmmaker Hamilton Morris is like some Edward Gorey character come to life. It's a look particularly suited to the protagonist's role in his new movie NZAMBI, a documentary on the legend of the Haitian zombie.
It's been 30 years since the anthropologist Wade Davis wrote The Serpent and the Rainbow, his investigation of the Haitian zombie phenomenon–human beings put into a state of suspended animation for months or years by a voodoo poison. In NZAMBI, Morris travels to Port Au Prince on a mission to substantiate Davis' research for his generation.
Like the rest of his videos for Vice Magazine's "Hamilton's Pharmacopia" series, Hamilton does a little gonzo drug experimentation too, but this time the stuff turns out to be bunk. Absent a definitive climax, he's forced to carry the movie with his deadpan voice over–and he's definitely funny, but you're never really sure if he's making fun of these Haitian Bokurs or making fun of an American audience expecting him to find answers in this spooky, magical world.
And that's probably the point. I sat down with him after his premiere party at New York's Tribeca Grand Hotel (of course they were serving a vodka punch called zombies) to talk to Hamilton about reanimation, his interest in braiiiiinns, and what his dad thinks about his chosen profession of hipster psychonaut. (more…)