The universally acknowledged godfather of the zombie movie is coming back for another bloodthirsty bite.
George A Romero, director of the iconic, decades-spanning horror series that began with 1968’s ‘Night of the Living Dead,’ is returning to the genre he pioneered with a new movie entitled ‘George A Romero Presents: Road of the Dead.’
However, Indiewire report that while the 77-year old New York-born filmmaker has co-written the film and will also produce, directorial duties will go to Matt Birman, second unit director on Romero’s last three films and an experienced stunt coordinator, who has also co-written the script for ‘Road of the Dead’ and came up with the concept.
And it’s a pretty outlandish concept, as reportedly the film is “set on an island where zombie prisoners race cars in a modern-day Coliseum for the entertainment of wealthy humans.” Birman cites ‘Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior,’ ‘Rollerball’ and ‘Ben-Hur’ as key influences.
The idea of zombies driving cars might put off some genre purists, but then Romero’s most recent films also saw the living dead using guns and riding horses.
1968’s ‘Night of the Living Dead’ proved a major game-changer, not only for establishing the formula for virtually every zombie film made in the 49 years since, but also for opening the door on socially conscious horror movies which confronted the issues of the day. This helped pave the way for the groundbreaking horror which would follow in the 1970s from such filmmakers as Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper, David Cronenberg and John Carpenter.
While Romero has worked in other genres, he has always been most closely associated with zombies. His 1979 sequel ‘Dawn of the Dead’ proved as influential as its precursor, but after 1985’s ‘Day of the Dead’ he took an extended break from zombies, until revisiting them 20 years later with 2005’s ‘Land of the Dead.’
However, 2007’s ‘Diary of the Dead’ and 2009’s ‘Survival of the Dead’ went down badly with critics and audiences, and Romero has since lamented that he was unable to secure funding for further films.
Romero complained in October 2016 that Brad Pitt’s ‘World War Z’ and TV’s ‘The Walking Dead’ had left him unable to “pitch a modest little zombie film, which is meant to be sociopolitical.”