LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Exclusive interview with George A. Romero
By James Whittington, Thursday 20th November 2008
Mention the name George A. Romero and one instantly thinks of the black and white horror classic Night of the Living Dead. Well Mr Romero is back with his fifth “dead” movie, Diary of the Dead and we were lucky enough to be able to grab him for a few moments for this exclusive interview.
ZONE HORROR: Where did the idea for Night of the Living Dead come from and how has the huge success of the film changed your life?
GEORGE A ROMERO: (laughs) Well it changed my life meaning that is the only reason that I’m talking to you! (laughs) While the idea was not necessarily original, the idea came from the Richard Matheson novel I Am Legend which is back with us now with Will Smith and big Hollywood effects. But I had read that novel and thought that it was about revolution and it was the 60’s we were sort of angry guys thinking that the 60’s hadn’t really worked. And that’s where the idea came from, doing something about a revolution that people failed to recognise and respond to inappropriately and that’s really where it came from. I never thought of these things as zombies, basically back then zombies to me were those guys in the Caribbean doing the wet work for those guys who ran the plantations and I never really thought of them as zombies until people began to write about them and call them zombies. I don’t know if I can take any credit for creating a new kind of zombie. Maybe if I did do anything it was to create the idea of the zombie being your neighbour, neighbours are frightening enough.
ZH: Why did you go back to being an independent film maker for Diary of the Dead? Did making Land of the Dead put you off studios and all the hassle they gave you?
GAR: I have absolutely no complaints about Universal, they basically let me make the film that I wanted to make, I just found that when it was finished that I didn’t know where to go from there. It just got so big that it lost all connections with its origins basically. I just wanted to see if I could go back and I could do something small. All of my zombie films have been basically grown out of observations that I’ve made about what’s happening there in the outside world and this was the fate. I had this idea, I wanted to go back and do something small and we found producers who were willing to finance it and give me the controls that I wanted which was absolute. It’s really the first time I’ve made a film since Night of the Living Dead where it was completely mine.
ZH: Diary of the Dead is an intelligent and compelling horror movie, what made you return once more into the land of the living dead?
GAR: Ah, I’ve never left (laughs) I have to concede that no matter what’s happening in the world I can glue zombies on it and get some kind of a movie deal on it. I don’t think I’ve ever left; it’s my kind of platform. Maybe I’m the Michael Moore of Horror!
ZH: That’s not such a bad title to have! Diary of the Dead is not as bloody as some of your past zombie movies, a lot of the gory stuff happens off camera. Was that something you did on purpose, to censor the film?
GAR: We had no censorship worries at all; I actually thought it was more affective. I mean the kills are pretty gruesome. When you’re shooting objectively, when you’re just shooting a regular movie you can go in for close ups you can dwell on things that makes it, I think, feel a bit more graphic. And it is more graphic because you’re actually going in shooting close up’s, you know, and extending time. This, because of the premise, needed to be shot by the characters and from a distance, they’re not gonna rush in and get a close up (laughs) and I wound up thinking that the way it’s more effective, standing back and viewing it and it also plays into the feel of the film which is the whole idea of that everyone’s a camera. You know, most people have shot home movies and it’s never perfect, there’s never a close up so it’s just what you’re able to capture.
ZH: The film has a strong message about the world we live in, how the media reports news and how they put their spin on it so was this a personal movie and how do you feel about the way the media behaves?
GAR: I think that the media behaves predictably I don’t have a particular complaint about organised or established media and that’s not what the film complains about either. It’s really this emerging multi-tentacled beast that we’re all captured by, you know, Blogs. Hitler wouldn’t have to go into the town’s square today at all! He’d throw up a Blog and have a million followers if he sounded reasonable, and that’s the stuff that worries me, it’s that what bothers me. We’re having this intense political race here and right in the middle of Super Tuesday CNN says “We have a report of tornadoes in Arkansaw, if you can give us a shot of it we’ll put it on the air and give you a coffee mug!” and everyone’s obsessed by this. People are just waiting to see if they can get a plane crash and sell this stuff. It seems like that has become the new reality. We live for the media.
ZH: The young actors give very realistic performances in Diary of the Dead, was it hard to cast this movie?
GAR: It wasn’t hard, in fact it was a great relief because there was nobody over my shoulder saying you had to use Dennis Hopper and John Leguizamo or whatever, I loved those guys, they were great, they did the job but I’d much rather cast, in particularly with these people who are all young. The only young people who are stars just cost a fortune to cast so that’s part of it, so I have this belief that if you don’t know who the people are you’re a bit more on guard, you’re don’t know exactly what’s going to happen to them, they don’t bring any baggage to it and I like that idea very much. I also like the idea of getting a bunch of people who really want to work.
ZH: Scott Wentworth gives a standout performance as Maxwell, the world weary, alcoholic tutor; did he remain in character on set?
GAR: (laughs) No, he didn’t! (laughs) Oddly enough he’s from Baltimore, I mean he’s just not at all what, he’s not that character in real life. Not at all. But he works steadily, we have in Ontario, Stratford Ontario which is a company that does Shakespeare plays where I first saw Scott and that’s where he comes from. So he’s a pure technician if you will.
ZH: The ending is deliberately left open for another instalment, will there be another page to this diary?
GAR: You know I have no idea. Land of the Dead was wide open for a sequel, I just have no idea. Actually if you think about it except for in the first film everybody dies, I’ve sort of left things open in all of the films just in case. But I’ve never really felt an urge, there’s never really been anything else for me to talk about or want to go on about the same story. I mean if I was forced contractually to do a sequel to this film yes I have an open door there where I can just pick it up.
ZH: Always have a Plan B!
GAR: (laughs) Yeah (laughs)
ZH: George A Romero, thank you very much.
GAR: My pleasure
Thanks go to the Greenroom Digital team for arranging this interview.
To Enter our Land of the Dead Competition Click Here
To Read our review of Land of the Dead Click Here
MORE ARTICLES This summer, the original hero in a half-shell returns!
Posted in News, Monday 24th February 2020
For the first time ever worldwide, Arrow Video has collected together all twelve tales of the adventures of everyone's favourite titanic terrapin, in one deluxe Blu-ray box set. Japanese icon Gamera first appeared onscreen in 1965, and gave homegrown creature-feature favourite Godzilla a run for his money, going on to become one of the most beloved movie monsters of all time.
This deluxe, limited edition collectors' set traces the decades-long evolution of Gamera, from the "friend of all children" in his more light-hearted earlier films, to the Guardian of the Universe in the groundbreaking 1990s reboot series, often hailed as three of the best kaiju films ever made...SHARE: READ MORE Obituary - Director Mojica Marins known to millions as the creator of Coffin Joe
Posted in News, Thursday 20th February 2020
Pop culture icon and global genre star, Mojica Marins, known to the world as Coffin Joe, sadly died recently aged 83. He had been suffering from pneumonia after wrestling with ill health for several years.
Here, Betina Goldman from One Eyed Films pays her respects.With sadness and regret we would like to share the sad news of the passing away yesterday in Sao Paulo, Brazil, of the filmmaker Mojica Marins, legendary Master of horror Cinema, Director, actor and creator of the memorable evil, cult character Coffin Joe.
With of over 40 feature films as Director and over 60 films as actor, working in extreme financial challenging conditions in Brazil, in a long and twisting road that ev...SHARE: READ MORE Horror Channel gets beastly in March with Creature Feature season
Posted in Features, Thursday 20th February 2020
Carnivorous sandworms, murderous ant hybrids, a giant snake and deadly creepy spiders... Horror Channel gets beastly this March with a Creature Feature Season - a monstrous collection of creature carnage, which includes the UK TV premieres of It Came From The Desert, Marko Makilaakso's smart, funny and very creepy homage to Ray Harryhausen, and Micah Gallo's skin-tingling directorial debut Itsy Bitsy, every arachnophobe's worst nightmare.
Broadcast on Friday nights throughout the month, the season also includes the channel premiere of Tremors, Ron Underwood's affectionate throwback to 1950s creature features, starring Kevin Bacon, and the star-studded jungle snake nightmare Anaconda, s...SHARE: READ MORE Discover how to create incredible SFX with this new guide
Posted in , Thursday 20th February 2020
Ever wanted to try your hand at creating movie-standard SFX? Well now you have the information at hand!
Uncover the secrets of horror makeup in the third volume of the acclaimed special effects makeup series. Learn how to apply gory, realistic, and captivating scar and wound makeup from leading Japanese special effects makeup artists. Discover the hidden tricks behind special effects makeup, mask-making, and more.
Acclaimed as the best book series ever published on Special Effects Makeup - whether you are a beginner preparing for a Halloween party, or interested in more complex techniques, this is the definitive guide covering everything from basic facial makeup styles, and simple sc...SHARE: READ MORE Dorothy McShane is back. Do you know "Who" she is?
Posted in News, Thursday 20th February 2020
Past, present and future collide as the Thirteenth Doctor meets classic Doctor Who companion Ace - in the first epic novel from the woman who played her, Sophie Aldred; Doctor Who: At Childhood's End.
Once, a girl called Ace travelled the universe with the Doctor - until, in the wake of a terrible tragedy they parted company. Decades later, she is known as Dorothy McShane, the reclusive millionaire philanthropist who heads global organisation A Charitable Earth.
Dorothy is haunted by terrible nightmares, vivid dreams that begin just as scores of young runaways are vanishing from the dark alleyways of London. Could the disappearances be linked to sightings of sinister cr...SHARE: READ MORE Is home where the heart is? Not in smart sci-fi shocker, Vivarium
Posted in News, Tuesday 18th February 2020
Following rave reviews at the BFI London Film Festival (2019), sci-fi thriller Vivarium will be released in UK and Irish cinemas and on digital on 27th March 2020 courtesy of Vertigo Releasing and Wildcard Distribution. It will also open the Virgin Media International Dublin Film Festival on the 26th February, and will be shown at the Glasgow Film Festival on the 27th and 28th February. The film stars The Social Network's Jesse Eisenberg and Green Room's Imogen Poots, and is from the producers of cult hits Mandy and The Void.
The movie won the Gan Foundation Award at Cannes Film Festival (2019), and Imogen Poots was awarded Best Actress at Sitges International Film Festival ...SHARE: READ MORE New anthology that will enchant and thrill!
Posted in News, Tuesday 18th February 2020
"It's the prick of blood, the bite of an apple, the evil eye, a wedding ring or a pair of red shoes. Curses come in all shapes and sizes, and when you least expect them..."
Editors Marie O'Regan and Paul Kane present Cursed, an anthology of unique twists on the fairy tale conceit of the curse from an exciting line-up of bestselling and award-winning authors. From the traditional to the modern, this collection gives us brand new mythologies as well as new approaches to well-loved fables from a carefully cultivated selection of brand-new stories, folk-horror poetry and modern classic tales.
Some might shock you, some might make you laugh, and they will all impress you with their origina...SHARE: READ MORE Ravers! A movie we'll drink to!
Posted in News, Tuesday 18th February 2020
Party like there's no tomorrow with Ravers, the blissfully violent and drug-addled horror set in the shady underground of illegal raves!
A group of clubbers descend on an abandoned warehouse for a night of twisted techno and hedonistic drug-taking, but the illegal rave takes a blood-stained turn for the worse when the whacked-out partygoers discover a case of energy drink 'Renergize'.
Little do they know, the experimental drink caused a factory worker to butcher his colleagues months earlier and soon the party descends into violent carnage. Caught in the middle of the slaughter is Becky (Georgia Hirst), a germaphobic journalist who must overcome her crippling-fea...SHARE: READ MORE The hunt for Vlad the Impaler will begin in March.
Posted in News, Tuesday 18th February 2020
Game of Thrones meets Vikings - with a Dracula origin story - in this thunderous tale of seven fierce warriors in 15th Century Turkey, tasked with hunting down the vicious warlord Vlad the Impaler, to put an end to his cruel reign of terror.
Think of The Magnificent Seven crossed with Conan, as the unstoppable wing-backed warriors close in on their foe - with and a superbly sinister performance from Turkish star Erkan Petekkaya as the villainous Vlad Dracula, the 'heir of the devil', and the inspiration for vampire mythology.
In the middle of the 15th Century, in the depths of Turkey during the Ottoman Empire, the land is torn apart by horrendous atrocities and bloody murder...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Julien Seri, director of Anderson Falls
Posted in Frightfest, Interviews, Tuesday 18th February 2020
Ahead of the UK premiere of serial killer thriller Anderson Falls at Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2020, director Julien Seri reflects on this, his first 'American' experience, challenging fight scenes and the importance of personal vision.
It has been five years since we premiered Night Fare at FrightFest London, what have you been up to since then?
JS: I worked on two, very singular, projects as a producer and/or director. I signed for both with Wild Bunch, but we've failed to produce them yet. So I keep fighting. And I did a lot of commercials, TV series and music videos.
When did you first hear about the Anderson Falls script and why did you think it was perfect for yo...SHARE: READ MORE Chilling modern folk horror coming from T. Kingfisher
Posted in News, Friday 14th February 2020
The Twisted Ones is the celebrated debut from T. Kingfisher. Published last year in the US, The Twisted Ones was shortlisted in the Goodreads Reader's Choice for horror and received rave reviews, now Titan will be bringing it to the UK market for the first time on 17th March.
When Mouse's dad asks her to clean out her dead grandmother's house, she says yes. After all, how bad could it be? Answer: pretty bad. Grandma was a hoarder, and her house is stuffed with useless rubbish. Mouse stumbles across her step-grandfather;s journal, which seems like nonsense until Mouse encounters some of the terrifying things he described. Alone in the woods with her dog, Mouse finds herself face to face...SHARE: READ MORE The Breach - brand new fiction from M.T. Hill
Posted in News, Monday 10th February 2020
Award-winning author M.T. Hill returns with a new science fiction novel that blurs the lines between reality and fiction in a gripping exploration of the dangerous underground world of urban exploration. With hints of the claustrophobic terror of Sarah Lotz's The White Road blended with Philip K. Dick-esque imaginings, The Breach is genre-bending, pageturning read that aptly demonstrates why Hill is one of today's most exciting new voices in weird fiction.
Freya Medlock, a reporter at her local paper, is down on her luck and chasing a break. When she's assigned to cover the death of a young climber named Stephen, she might just have the story she needs. Digging into Stephen's life, Frey...SHARE: READ MORE Articles Archive: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 PICK OF THE WEEK
Friday 6th March
Tuesday 10th March
Monday 2nd March