George Romero Talks Survival of the Dead
05.13.10 by Ryan
When it comes to zombie movies, it's hard not to think of George Romero. The "godfather" of zombies may not have created them — zombies have been around since the 1930s — but he certainly created the modern, popularized version of zombies starting with 1968's Night of the Living Dead. Now 70, Romero has finished his sixth Dead movie in his 40-year career, Survival of the Dead, which serves as a continuation of the zombie apocalypse "reboot" Romero himself started with 2007's Diary of the Dead. For the first time in Romero's zombie career, he is making a quasi-sequel, following a smaller character (played by Alan Van Sprang) from Diary, and giving his center stage in a different movie. Romero explained his motivation for Survival in a interview with ShockTillYouDrop.
We were working on a couple of other projects, Peter [Grunwald] and I. And we still are, but this was definitely motivated because Diary did so well. It cost so little to make [$2 million], but it went on to make lots of dough. It still is. It was logical, financially, for them to want another one. And I was quite pleased with that.
With the first four [Dead] films, I was never able to cross over any of the characters because [the rights are] all controlled by different people. But here we're in an ownership position. When I did this film, I got this conceit: What if I take minor characters from Diary and come up with different storylines. I'd love to do that set, for the first time, a collage of everything I feel I need to say about zombies. I don't know if that will happen, it completely depends on how this film does. If it does what Diary did…
Survival sees Romero dabbling in the Western genre for the first time. The movie is set on an island where two feuding families can't agree on how to tend to their undead relatives. Romero admits it would have been looked more like a classic Western if he had been allowed.
When I got this idea, it grew. I said, war, conflict, I wanted to use an island. Then I thought of William Wyler's The Big Country. That was our model. I sat down with the d.p., production designer, everyone and watched that. We went widescreen, didn't mute the colors and tried to make it look that way. I wish we could go back and do another one in black and white, but no one will f**kin' let me.
Besides his own zombie movies, remakes of Romero's earlier works, such as this year's The Crazies and 2004's Dawn of the Dead, are continuing to keep his name in the spotlight. While Romero usually has nothing to do with the remakes, he admits that he would like to remake one of his own movies, 1972's Season of the Witch (a.k.a. Jack's Wife) if he got the chance.
It's the only film of mine I'd like to remake. I was too young to understand womens issues and womens lib. Not very well acted. The people raising the money shorted us by a 100 grand, so we had to finish the film on $90 thousand. Then, over the last few years, I said it'd be stronger if the film focused on a strong woman and smashed the ceiling, who is quite powerful. But in her personal life she's being crushed. I have pages written on a new script, but I don't know…. Again, it's age, time creeping up on you, you have to pick your shots. I have several things and one of these days I'll be forced to make a decision on which one to chase.
One of those things could be another Dead movie. Romero says he has ideas for two Dead movies based on other characters from Diary. Romero said working on those would "be like a vacation."
I already have the ideas and I could use that time to be noodling something else. It'd be like having a steady job for the first time in my life. I am hoping that happens.
Survival of the Dead is currently available through Video-on-Demand and opens in a limited theatrical release on May 28.