It’s not often that a movie company decides to set up for a spell in Caliente. Yet, anyone who has passed the bridge to C.O. Bastian, next to the Caliente Hot Springs Motel and Spa, recently may have noticed the droves of undead and uniformed personnel roaming the area.
Welcome to the “Bridge of the Doomed” film set.
The plot of the film involves a zombie infestation of the world. Humanity’s hope rests on a group of soldiers tasked with holding one specific bridge against the onslaught of the undead. While this idea might seem similar to other zombie flicks, Michael Mahal, the lead producer and head of Mahal Empire Productions, is confident that there’s something new to be found in this film.
“Most movies portray the military as incompetent, like the military does something and they can’t control it, and that’s where everything goes wrong,” Mahal said. “But in this [movie], the military actually knows what it’s doing, and it’s doing its job.”
The budget for the movie is a product of a new age of filmmaking. Half of the film’s funds came from an Indiegogo campaign, while the other half came from studio equity. Other funds have been donated by the cast and crew. Even Mahal has put his own money into the production. The funds help pay the cast and crew, which include a handful of special effects experts from Los Angeles and makeup artists from Las Vegas.
While the undead on the film set may be benign, an unconfirmed report states that someone who was not aware of the filming called the police because they saw a car with mangled people inside of it. The responding officer found himself face-to-face with two zombies, who turned out to be film extras in costume.
Other funds raised are being directed toward the businesses in Caliente that are serving the cast and crew.
“We’ve spent a lot of money in this town,” Mahal explained. “We go to the hardware store to pick up supplies, and some of the restaurants are doing our catering.”
Local businesses are encouraging the patronage, with the Knotty Pine programming its digital sign with the offer, “Come in with zombie makeup on and get a free braaaaaaaain drink.”
Caliente isn’t the only place to play host to the production team, however. A small cave between Caliente and Panaca was the site of a few shoots.
Mahal and his crew are very appreciative of the community, with the producer saying, “People around here have been really good to us. They’ve been really understanding, and it’s been great to work here.”
The production was scheduled for 16 days, which means that at the time of this article’s publication the production will have wrapped up and Mahal Empire Productions will have left town. But the memories of when Caliente was besieged by polite zombies will live on.