Wrapping up our coverage from Flashback Weekend, I have my exclusive interview session with George A. Romero. We talked about why Day of the Dead is his favorite “Dead” movie, upcoming projects, a new Day of the Dead remake, and he shared his thoughts on The Walking Dead.
Day of the Dead is a movie that seems to be steadily getting a bigger following of fans every year and I’ve heard you say that this is your personal favorite of the “Dead” films you directed. Why did you enjoy making this one over the others?
George A. Romero: When it first came out, I think everyone wanted Dawn of the Dead over again. There was some disappointment when it first came out, but that has changed now that it’s been out on video for a while. It also wasn’t distributed with any pizzazz at all initially and was almost invisible. Fans are discovering it, happily, and digging it.
I think it’s the campiest and the reason I like it the most is that I had the best time making it. Everyone in the cast was friends and we had a wonderful time doing it. We were all happy together and it was just great.
It’s hard to separate the experience of making a film and the film itself. It may not be the best film. As far as craftsmanship, I think Survival of the Dead is my best work, but I just didn’t have the same affection when we made it.
We were so free and easy back in those early days and doing just exactly what we wanted to do. We were able to take chances and I didn’t have to write a memo if I saw a nice moon I wanted to film. Now, you have to do everything on paper.
So many modern zombie movies try to copy the same formula instead of trying something different. Your zombies have been evolving from movie to movie. How do you see humans and zombies decades from now in your “Dead” world? Do you think they have a chance of co-existing?
George A. Romero: You have to ask Max Brooks about that [LAUGHS]. Max Brooks and I do these panel discussions together and he believes that humans don’t stand a chance. I don’t know… I’m writing a comic book series right now for Marvel. I can’t really say anything about the story, but I’ll just say that the zombies are advancing even a little further.
Is the plan for this to be an ongoing series like The Walking Dead or more of a limited series?
George A. Romero: It’s fifteen books, so it’s long. It’s the equivalent of two and a half screenplays. It’s a novel basically and, in fact, I might novelize it.
Originally, Marvel teased a fall 2013 release date. Is that still the plan?
George A. Romero: They were going to originally launch it in October, but I understand that they’re pushing it back. I don’t know why, but maybe they don’t want to bridge it over Christmas.
Another project I’ve heard about is a big budget remake of Day of the Dead. Have you been contacted about the movie and do you have any involvement?
George A. Romero: I’m not involved, but they’ve been trying to get me involved. Initially, they called my partner and I, and they asked to make the original script. Originally, I wrote a longer script for Day of the Dead, but it was too expensive and I had to cut it back. The result was the Day of the Dead that now exists. It wasn’t that different and a lot of the characters were still the same, but it was bigger and there were a lot of action sequences above ground.
They wanted to make it and that script is available on the internet. I said that I had no idea who owned the rights. Even though I never shot that movie, I knew that the rights were held by my ex-partner and I didn’t know where he sold the rights. Then they asked If I’d write a new script and I said I didn’t want to do that. It’s sort of “been there, done that.” The movie has already been remade and it was terrible. [Laughs]
A project I know you’ve been working on for the last couple of years is an adaptation of The Zombie Autopsies. Is that the movie you’d like to film next?
George A. Romero: I hope. I never know what’s going to be next, because the one that’s going to be next is the one that finds the money first.
Actually, the day before I left to come here, I finished the script and talked to Schloz about it. He approved it, so we sent it to my agents and they sent it around. You never know what’s going to happen, but it’s out in circulation and I hope it works out.
The Walking Dead TV series is now seen by tens of millions of people around the world. Have you had a chance to catch up on the TV series and what are your thoughts on the show’s massive popularity?
George A. Romero: I have to say that I love The Walking Dead [comic] books. Frank Darabont did a great job with the first season, but I didn’t know what happened with the show after. I used to be the only guy in this playground, but now there’s too damn many. It’s very hard now, particularly with World War Z [the movie]. When I first saw it, I wasn’t thrilled with it, but the following weekend, I saw Man of Steel and I suddenly loved World War Z [laughs].
As soon as I heard there was going to be a Dawn of the Dead reunion at Flashback Weekend, I knew I had to make a trip out to Chicago. George A. Romero has not appeared at too many events over the last few years and seeing him with Ken Foree, David Emge, Gaylen Ross, and Scott Reiniger was something special. We want to give a big thanks to the team at Flashback Weekend for allowing us to cover this event for our readers. Catch up on our recent Flashback coverage by visiting the following links: