In a weird twist, the troubled movie spawned a reality show.

For most of the week, not much happens in Jasper, population 14,000.

John Ware's quiet Alabama hometown makes a lot of coal, is named after a war hero, and its local newspaper, the awesomely titled Daily Mountain Eagle, reports on things like quilting projects and firefighter training sessions.

But for one day a week, Jasper is also the site of a zombie outbreak.

Thanks to Ware's independent movie Thr33 Days Dead, groaning zombies would take over the city's streets, raising plenty of alarm bells in the sleepy southern town.


"The police would still get phone calls from the community, saying, 'There's people out here in the street that look like they're injured'.

"After the third or fourth time, they were just like, 'Oh it's just you guys ... have a good day'," says Ware, cracking up at the memory.

"We could hear him on the radio saying, 'Don't be alarmed, it's just the zombie guys'."

But the making of Thr33 Days Dead was no laughing matter. Ware toiled away on his low-budget film for six years while working a fulltime job in sales.

He roped in friends and family - his mother plays a zombie - and filmed for just one day a week, slowly piecing his low-budget movie together.

Over that time, almost everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

"We had cast changes. People quit. People got fired. We had two lead actresses who got pregnant. I got sick. My nephew got sick [and died]," Ware says.

The stress of the project nearly got the better of Ware, who spent three days in hospital after suffering a stroke.

"It was a devastating illness," he says. "I had a blockage in my brain. I talked backwards ... like Yoda. It was pretty scary."

He walked out of hospital ready to give up on his zombie movie dreams, before receiving a phone call that turned everything around.

"The lady said, 'I'm from Atlanta, Georgia and I make reality television. How'd you like to make a show out of this'?"

So, Ware's troubled zombie movie became the subject matter for a reality show. Called Town of the Living Dead, the SyFy network's docu-drama follows Ware and the troubled production schedule of his film, and begins airing here tonight.

Ware promises viewers are in for a "crazy, funny" ride as the show follows him fulfilling his independent zombie movie dreams.

"We were going to finish it, I just don't know how much longer it would have taken. The show came along at the right time."

And despite the problems he faced making Thr33 Days Dead, Ware has high hopes for his next project.

"Peter Jackson's first movie was a zombie film," Ware says, referencing Jackson's low-budget 1987 effort Bad Taste.

"I'm hoping that the New Zealand audience embraces it and I can come and film something there."

What: Zombie reality show Town of the Living Dead.

Where and when: The Zone, tonight 7.30pm.