Sometimes you just know when you’re in the company of greatness. The films of George A. Romero have long been a staple of our genre.
He’s had the dead walking for decades, but now he has something else in mind for our flesh-hungry rotting reapers. A return to Day One. Since the news broke about Diary of the Dead a few weeks back, everyone’s been scouring all of their sources for answers. What is it? Is it for real? You betcha!
Get ready to hear all about it and then some from the man himself as Dread Central presents for your listening and downloading pleasure another audio interview.
Click here to listen in MP3 format, or scroll down and read the transcript.
Uncle Creepy: Hey, everybody. This is Steve “Uncle Creepy” Barton with Dread Central, and holy shit, do we have a treat for you today! With us is none other than the Godfather of our genre, the man whose hand I kissed at the Land of the Dead premiere… and he’s been totally shunning my public displays of affection ever since… George A. Romero! George!
George Romero: (laughing): How are you?
UC: How you doin’, buddy? Been a long time!
GR: Good. It’s been too long. Yeah.
UC: We got to get together and have another little pow-wow.
GR: Well, I guess I have to make another flick, I don’t know.
UC: I think you better, and I think that’s kind of what we’re here to talk about, as a matter of fact. The Internet has been a-buzz, but there’s never really been any official word or anything even remotely like that. So… Diary of the Dead. What is the deal?
GR: Well, I’m sort of going back to the roots, basically. I’m going back to the first night, when things started. You know, I’ve done the four films in the series… can’t call it a trilogy anymore, cause there’s four of them… but I wanted to… you know there’s a lot of sort of unanswered questions. People keep saying, “Well, you know, like, can animals come back from the dead?” and a million unanswered questions… So I wanted to go back to the very first night, the first night that it started, and I wanted do it from like a different, completely different perspective… and have characters that learn about it the way… in the original Night, you know the people in the farmhouse learn about it on the news and, you know, not so much from first-hand experience because they’re just locked up in this house. So I wanted a new set of characters… and sort of like, I don’t know, Skip and Spector did those books called Book of the Dead, and so it’s basically going back to the beginning with a different set of character and taking the whole phenomenon as it comes. And it’s all subjective camera. It’s a bunch of kids that are out making a movie… college kids that are making their own little horror flick and they have a camera… and they get the news and they take off in a van and it’s all then, it’s all from this guy’s camera. I guess, in a way I guess it’s like Blair Witch… but it’s not… you know, I’m not trying to imitate Blair Witch…. I’m just trying to do it from a subjective point of view with no music and no… just really do it raw. It’s kind of a stylistic experiment, under the radar, low budget thing. It’s just sort of from the heart, you know.
UC: Well, yeah, I mean… god… You’ve had an illustrious career to say the least. How is it going from a mega-budget movie like Land of the Dead… or at least the biggest budget you’ve had I should say?
GR: Well, yeah, it was the biggest budget I ever had on a Dead film; it wasn’t the biggest budget I’ve ever had, but um… for Dead films for sure. But we weren’t rich, man. I mean that was a very, very complex and difficult film to shoot. And it basically still was guerilla filmmaking.
UC: And you were freezing your ass off to boot.
GR: And we froze our asses off. That’s right, and we’re gonna do it again, because we’re gonna shoot this October or November. So, can’t seem to escape the cold weather.
UC: So, Diary of the Dead shoots in October and November?
UC: Now what are you doing with Diary? Is it going to be a theatrical release? Is going to be something that’s put on video? What is the plan for the movie?
GR: Yeah… The people that are financing it are reserving the right to put it out theatrically. I didn’t… I don’t necessarily want that. I wanted all this emerging media stuff, like Internet and cell phones. I wanted to do it sort of episodically. You know, little snatches here and there and then glue them together and then put out a DVD or something. That’s what I’m interested in. I’m interested in this emerging media stuff. I have another project that’s exclusively for… you know, initially for cell phones and then put them all together in a collection. I’m interested in it because I’ve always been… I don’t know… you know I’m not a Hollywood guy, and I’ve been sort of… I much prefer sort of sneaking in under the radar. And you know finding a way to make a film and distribute it and I don’t care in what format but own it, own it myself… Night of the Living Dead got away from us, went into public domain so… and I guess what I’m trying to do is sort of recreate that, you know, go back to the past and start over with this rather that just do another sequel like that. So maybe, start a new business so to speak.
UC: Reinvent the franchise a little bit maybe.
GR: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
UC: Are you going for the usual high amount of gore? Are we going to be in for something different yet something familiar? Where are you at with that?
GR: Yeah, I mean I’d like to retain that. That’s part of it, as far as I’m concerned. Trying to do this from a subjective camera… you know it’ll be either a little more distant… I won’t… it’s not like a third person, here’s the camera, and here’s gore right in your face. It’ll be more… I’m interested in that, in trying to indicate it maybe from a little more distance. This guy wouldn’t keep shooting if somebody was being eaten. He’d either grab a gun or run…
UC: Or if he was stupid…
GR: That’s true… So, you know… I’m playing around with ideas in my head and figuring out how to… exactly how to do that. I think it might even be more believable if it’s… you know if it’s almost like a Discovery Channel thing, watching the hyenas eat the zebra.
UC: Well, it’s definitely an interesting take. Yeah, really. As far as effects, are you thinking about maybe going back to KNB?
GR: Yeah, we’re talking to Greg right now. I don’t know whether… I know that he’s at least going to act as an advisor. I may use some cats from up in Toronto, the guys that worked with Greg on Land of the Dead. But Greg will be doing some design work and some consultation at least, and he’ll probably show up. He can’t resist.
UC: Well, who the fuck could, George? Now are you talking about filming up in Canada again?
GR: Yeah, yeah we are.
UC: So you’re definitely a glutton for the cold weather then.
GR: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Actually I love it up there. I’ve been living there since Land.
UC: Ah, it’s beautiful.
GR: All my old buds from the ‘Burgh moved out to LA, so I got some new buds, people that I’ve been working with, I worked with on Bruiser and Land and they’ll be working on this too.
UC: That’s exciting. Good for you.
GR: Yeah, so it’s great, man. I’m having an okay time.
UC: Yeah, you’re living the life. But I just have to put in one request, George… other than me being a zombie… but anyway…
GR: Yeah, you know I hope we can do that, but you know they have rules up there that we should have in the States, actually… but you have to use Canadian extras…
UC: I hear ya… I’m just being a facetious, yet semi-serious dick…but anyway…
GR: No, no… that’s alright… okay.
UC: Okay. The one thing Land was missing… was the intestine tug of war. We need to bring back the intestine tug of war. It’s just too goddamn funny.
GR: Okay. A little bit in the Director’s Cut. It never quite becomes a tug of war, but there’s two guys fighting over the same piece of guts.
UC: Yeah, but you know we need that official Romero centered intestine yank in half, you know what I’m saying. It’s the principle.
GR: I know, well… man, if those…you know, hey if United Film was still around and willing to release unrated I could do it. The problem is there’s nobody around like that, or no independent distributors around that are willing to take that kind of risk, you know.
UC: So, is that another focus point for you to make a decision to do a smaller budget film so you don’t have to worry about the MPAA or some shit like that, you can basically just do what you want to do?
GR: Yes, exactly. I mean that’s a big part of this. And particularly if it’s just DVD, or if it’s initially cell phones, whatever. It’s any which way but loose.
UC: The cell phone project, is that going to be a Dead project as well, or is that going to be something else?
GR: Well, it’s a Dead thing… but it’s not like this at all. It’s more like the coyote and the roadrunner. It’s one zombie and one victim, the whole thing. It really is. It’s a comedy, it’s like coyote and roadrunner.
UC: That’s pretty cool.
GR: A zombie keeps trying to nail this woman… a babe, and you know he just keeps… everything backfires on him and he keeps getting fucked over.
UC: (laughing) Definitely sounds like something I’d fucking watch, I gotta tell you. ‘Cause lord knows I’m used to pursuing babes and having everything go wrong, so I can kinda relate.
GR: (laughing) Well, that’s what it is. And of course you know, zombies don’t die so when he gets flattened by a boulder, he remains flat.
UC: Good shit. Another thing that your name has been attached to recently that we haven’t heard anything else about is Solitary Isle.
GR: Yeah, you know man… I don’t know. Those guys… they, you know… I haven’t signed a paper yet. They put out a release on it, but I haven’t signed a contract. It’s a project I really love, and you know I haven’t seen any paperwork yet. But I think it’s happening, but who knows?
UC: Just a little bit of overzealous, kind of jumping the gun thing.
GR: That happens a lot, it’s amazing. I was amazed that they put out a release on it without sending me a contract.
UC: I hear ya, man.
GR: It’s one of those things. But I think it’ll probably happen. It looks like it’s gonna happen. So we’ll see.
UC: We’ll all keep our fingers crossed. And today you’re at DragonCon in Atlanta. You’re still doing the convention scene.
GR: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s fun. I mean, it’s great. You get to see old buddies. Adrienne Barbeau is here. And Tom Atkins and some old friends of mine. Savini usually shows up, but he’s not here I don’t think… I don’t know if Greg is here or not. I know… Maybe not. I saw him at Baltimore a month ago.
UC: I’m sure the one thing you can count on being there is a bunch of rabid fucking fans totally jazzed to see you.
UC: What do you think of the fans? I mean… They get pretty nuts at the conventions, huh?
GR: Well, you know… what’s not to like? I mean… people line up to tell you that you’re okay, which is always nice. (laughing)
UC: (laughing) Well, considering you’re talking to somebody who usually has people line up to tell him he’s a shithead, I hear ya.
GR: So, you know I enjoy it. It’s great. And it’s… I can’t do it when I’m working so… In between, it’s nice to have something to do and have people remind me that I’m a filmmaker, you know.
UC: No, it’s also nice… I’ve seen you lavished with gifts like bags of M&M’s and cookies.
UC: That’s always fun.
GR: That’s nice too. I always wonder what’s in them.
UC: A note pleading with you to remember their address to put them in as a zombie in your next film, that’s what’s in them.
GR: Yeah, probably.
UC: All right, brother… Well, thank you so much for your time, and Diary of the Dead starts rolling in October/November you said?
GR: Yes, yeah, hopefully October. Hopefully we don’t bleed into December and have to you know, get foot warmers again.
UC: Christmas ghouls.
GR: That’s it. There it is. That’s the new one.
UC: All righty, brother George, thank you so much for your time.
GR: Thank you, man.
UC: This is Steve “Uncle Creepy” Barton for Dread Central signing the fuck off.
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