Director Zebediah De Soto on How His Night of the Living Dead: Origins Will Be Different from Other Remakes
08.23.10 by Ryan
When George Romero directed his 1968 horror classic, Night of the Living Dead, Romero didn't think he would be starting a "zombie" craze that would last for decades. In fact, Romero didn't think of his undead creatures as zombies at all, initially titling his debut work as Night of the Flesh-Eaters, When the title card to the movie was changed, the copyright symbol was not included, placing Romero's seminal work into the public domain and the source for several remakes.
Romero collaborator and special make-up effects artist Tom Savini made a respectable remake in 1990, while an unrespectable 3-D remake followed in 2006. A variety of animators combined to make Night of the Living Dead Reanimated in 2009, leaving comic book graphic artist turned movie director Zebediah de Soto to bring the latest remake, a 3-D, CGI-animated Night of the Living Dead: Origins. De Soto has described the movie as "American-style anime" that will be "an homage" to Romero's original. Origins will move the action to New York City, which de Soto explained was done so there could be "a larger body count" but also so that he could make "an epic zombie movie."
One of the coolest things about the first Resident Evil... I don’t know if everybody is a fan or not a fan… but at the very end of the movie when Milla Jovovich reaches the surface, you know, when she comes out of the hospital, the camera just keeps pulling back to this bird’s eye view of the city and you see this destruction.. it’s like f**k, man, I really wish I could have seen that part of the movie. And that was kind of like the feeling I had about the original Night of the Living Dead. They describe these really amazing scenes but you never get to see them.
Origins will include the same characters as Romero's original, such as the Cooper family, a husband and wife whose daughter was bitten by a zombie and argue for everyone to stay locked up in the basement of the house the survivors are in. De Soto told HugaZombie that one of the changes he wants to make is to include the Coopers' backstory prior to their arrival at the house.
Cooper is sitting there arguing with Ben going back and forth, back and forth. He says, "I told you, these things flipped over my car"… It’s elements like that which we didn’t see. You know, they’re stuck on the street. There are a million people running around. And their car gets overturned by a bunch of zombies and their daughter gets bitten. What was that scene? What would it be like to be in that car? What would it be like to see the entire street overtaken by these things? What would it be like, from Coopers perspective, to get bitten? What would he feel like? Why was Cooper such a d**k? Was he really a d**k or was he a man losing his family? Losing every element of control he ever had in his life? There are really interesting little things that are hinted around in the original. At one point, Cooper slaps his wife in the basement and you saw that there was something going on behind that, you know?
De Soto promises that all the characters will see their individual stories be told, including what happened to Ben's (Tony Todd, who played the character in Savini's remake) family and what exactly the young couple Tom and Judy were doing in the area. The character of Barbara (played by horror movie veteran Danille Harris in de Soto's version), which has varied from version to version, may be changed as well. In Romero's original, Barbara is often protrayed is the frightened victim, but in Savini's remake, she turns into a kick-ass zombie killer. De Soto didn't want to give away how his version will portray the character.
I’ll just say this, Barbara is Barbara. I don’t think she was a feeble liability in the original. I have some interesting perspectives. When I looked at Barbara in the original she seemed like someone that suffered from some type of post traumatic stress. But there were some different elements in terms of how she started to relate to Ben and we try to play off on that. Out of all the stories of the original Night of the Living Dead, she was the only one where we got to see how she got from point a to point b. We definitely expand upon that in this movie.
De Soto and producer Simon West are targeting a late 2010 or early 2011 release for Origins. De Soto claims he is hoping for a NC-17 rating for the movie.