Despite his legendary status as the creator of the zombie movie, writer-director George A Romero says he has been unable to secure funding for any new movies today.
Romero’s original ‘Dead’ trilogy - groundbreaking 1968 horror ‘Night of the Living Dead,’ its equally influential 1979 sequel ‘Dawn of the Dead,’ and 1985’s marginally less revered but still hugely impressive third film ‘Day of the Dead’ – are universally acknowledged as the cornerstones of the zombie genre, without which the likes of ‘World War Z’ and TV’s ‘The Walking Dead’ would not exist.
However, the 76-year old filmmaker tells Indiewire that because of these horror blockbusters, “I can’t pitch a modest little zombie film, which is meant to be sociopolitical.
“I used to be able to pitch them on the basis of the zombie action, and I could hide the message inside that. Now, you can’t. The moment you mention the word “zombie,” it’s got to be, “Hey, Brad Pitt paid $400 million to do that.”
Romero enjoyed a brief career resurgence with 2005’s ‘Land of the Dead,’ the largest scale film he has done to date (he wryly remarks, “Dennis Hopper’s cigar budget cost more than the entire production of ‘Night of the Living Dead’”), then followed this with 2007’s ‘Diary of the Dead,’ a found footage horror which divided opinion but made enough money to green-light a follow-up:
“In 2007, ‘Diary of the Dead’ all of a sudden made money. I was blind-sighted by that. One of the producers said, “Let’s make another one quick.” I didn’t know what else I could talk about…
“I said I’ll do this one [2009’s ‘Survival of the Dead,’ his last film to date] as a western and the next one as a noir. So [I] did the western, nobody liked it, and the other one fell away.
“Then, all of a sudden, here came ‘The Walking Dead.’ So you couldn’t [make] a zombie film that had any sort of substance. It had to be a zombie film with just zombies wreaking havoc. That’s not what I’m about.”
Asked if he would consider taking the crowdfunding approach via sites such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo – as his son Cameron Romero has done for a proposed ‘Night of the Living Dead’ prequel – the filmmaker made clear his distaste for that approach.
“The whole thing seems a bit sleazy to me. I’m an old guy that is stuck with tradition and if none of the traditional people want to give me the money to make a movie, then maybe there’s a reason for that. It’s never going to go anywhere.”
Picture Credit: WENN, AMC