More horror films are looming into view as a local tradition of gruesomely funny movies gains a new lease of life - or death.

Kiwi cannibal comedy-horror Fresh Meat, starring Temuera Morrison, has a nationwide premiere on October 25. Producers have recently released a new trailer showing forced cross-dressing and a bevy of buxom women, including emerging actress Hanna Tevita as a schoolgirl with lesbian leanings.

Meanwhile, burly local Spartacus star Barry Duffield and Hollywood actress Jessica McNamee hope to start filming Blood-Sucking Leeches and Flesh-Eating Maggots in Australia next year.

Veteran British actor Malcolm McDowell has been offered a role and Duffield said his own own character would be a "sleazy kind of mechanic".


Auckland-based Duffield said the comedy-horror genre was in good health. "It's that 1950s throwback, the same kind of thing they did with Eight-Legged Freaks."

Fresh Meat producer Dave Gibson agreed: "Pure horror is not a wide cinema-going thing. By putting the comedy and the action into it, you'll probably get something that's a lot more fun for the audiences here"

Gibson's next project is also a comedy-horror, with the working title of Steve the Surfing Vampire.

The New Zealand Film Commission predicts even more growth for fun and gore. "We've noticed an interest among movie goers for the comedy horror genre, and we seek to support films that connect with diverse audiences," spokeswoman Gina Rogers said.

Duffield was also working on Tandoori Apocalypse. "It's [about] two Indian guys in a dairy at the end of the world with a vampire holocaust coming ... and they're trying to keep the dairy open."

Lions Gate, America's biggest film distributor, was said to be interested and Hollywood star Kal Penn from the Harold and Kumar stoner film franchise was thought to be a contender for a role. Aucklander Michael Hurst will direct Tandoori Apocalypse.