“George Romero” (CC BY 2.0) by cote
George A. Romero is the undisputed master of the zombie horror genre, and has a repertoire that includes Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead among numerous other classics. His work has inspired an endless amount of other films, TV shows, comics, and games, but in recent years the great director has been fairly quiet. Now, however, rumours are circulating that he could be about to make a comeback and direct his first picture since Survival of the Dead in 2009. Here we take a look at some of his finest work, what it inspired, and what we know about his upcoming feature.
Living Dead Franchise
Romero’s glittering career began with the now classic Night of the Living Dead in 1968. The film was a huge success, and raked in $30 million worldwide from its modest $114,000 budget. The critically acclaimed film that Rex Reed said was “unthinkable for anyone seriously interested in horror films to not see,” sparked a tremendously prosperous and influential film franchise that later included Dawn of the Dead (1978), Day of the Dead (1985), Land of the Dead (2005), Diary of the Dead (2007), and Survival of the Dead (2009). This idea of a world plagued by a zombie apocalypse has not only gone on to inspire other zombie-based works, it also arguably gave birth to the idea of cinematic universes with loosely connected films. One prime example of that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which began in 2008 with Iron Man, and now includes 15 films featuring Marvel characters including Captain America and the Hulk, and has made over $11 billion in revenue worldwide.
The Shaping of Zombie Culture
After virtually giving birth to the modern zombie genre, Romero has inspired numerous other works. Let’s forget the awful remakes of a lot of classics, but think of some of the better-received films like Zombieland (2009), which has a score of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, or TV shows like The Walking Dead, which is watched by over 12 million viewers per episode. Although these other works are hugely popular, the director himself claims that video games have been the primary force behind creating a zombie culture. There have been numerous console games over the years, including The House of the Dead (1996) for Sega, Dead Rising (2006) for Xbox, and the upcoming Days Gone which will be released in 2017 for PlayStation 4. On other platforms, there is the Lost Vegas slot at Betway Casino, which is a 5-reel survival slot game set in Las Vegas and developed by Microgaming. And there is also the hugely popular Plants vs Zombies mobile strategy game developed by PopCap Games in 2009. It seems fair to say that zombies will be around in the game world for many years to come.
What to Expect From His New Film
Romero has famously said that he doesn’t like The Walking Dead, and he believes that Brad Pitt killed the genre in 2013 with World War Z. The 77-year-old undead specialist claimed that Marc Forster’s film didn’t represent the 2006 Crown book of the same title by Max Brooks, and thought that the zombies weren’t treated right. He stated that they shouldn’t be like fast-moving “ants crawling over a wall.” As for The Walking Dead, Romero believes it’s like a soap opera with the occasional zombie in it. Judging from these comments, one would expect any new work from the legendary writer and director to be an attempt to once again reinvent the zombie genre, and perhaps move back towards the style of storytelling that kick-started the zombie movie in the first place. There would, of course, be no time for soap opera or zombies that can run in anything made by Romero. There is little else known so far, however, other than that it is called Road of the Dead and will continue the Living Dead series that began in 1968.
It is exciting to think that Romero will soon release a modern film that has all the up-to-date makeup techniques such as using CVS and Rite Aid, special effects, and filming techniques of today’s cinema. And with nearly ten years since his last directorial feature, fans are expecting a mind-blowing comeback.