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George A. Romero, Creator of the Modern Zombie, Offers Opinion on The Walking Dead

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The Big Issue

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http://www.bigissue.com/mix/news/3181/george-romero-interview-walking-dead-just-soap-opera-occasional-zombie

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George A. Romero, Creator of the Modern Zombie, Offers Opinion on The Walking DeadWhen you try to trace the origins of movie monsters, it’s usually a bit muddled. Werewolves came from this legend or that, this demon begat that one… and just try to trace the history of the vampire. But zombies as we know them, that’s easy. George A. Romero invented them.

Romero unleashed the modern zombie on the world, as we all know, in his classic 1968 film Night of the Living Dead. He was inspired by the vampiric creatures in Richard Matheson’s book I Am Legend and created ghouls for NOTLD. Those ghouls would go on to become the modern-day zombie. But interesting news recently arose. Romero was approached to work on the most popular zombie project in the world right now, “The Walking Dead.” And he said thanks, but no thanks.

In a recent interview with The Big Issue, Romero said, “They asked me to do a couple of episodes of ‘The Walking Dead,’ but I didn’t want to be a part of it. Basically it’s just a soap opera with a zombie occasionally. I always used the zombie as a character for satire or a political criticism, and I find that missing in what’s happening now.”

That’s quite a statement from the man who got the whole zombie ball rolling. Romero went on to discuss a topic that comes up often, the evolution of the zombie from slow shambling creature to damn near Olympic sprinter. “I guess Zack Snyder started that with the remake of Dawn of the Dead, fast-moving zombies,” Romero said. “But the zombies in World War Z, my God, they’re like army ants! But in all the adverts here they never called it a zombie film.”

So whether fans of “The Walking Dead” agree or disagree with Romero’s opinion on the show, one thing is for sure: We can all give George A. Romero a big thank you because without him there would be no zombies, no walkers, no biters, no Night of the Living Dead and Rick Grimes would still be patrolling the streets of Atlanta because without Romero we certainly would not have “The Walking Dead.”

“The Walking Dead” Episode 4.04 – “Indifference” (airs 11/3/13)
While on a supplies mission to a local college, members of the group run into multiple hurdles. Things at the prison are getting worse. Written by Matt Negrete and directed by Tricia Brock.

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Scott Hallam

We all go a little mad sometimes...haven't you?

  • Cinemascribe

    I wanted to clarify some information for this ongoing thread: Land of the Dead wasn’t a flop. I’m not talking about personal preference (I quite enjoyed it, myself), I’m talking strictly by the numbers. On a $15 million budget it earned $46 million in box office and earned fairly strong reviews, with a 74% from critics and 55% from audiences at Rotten Tomatoes – so the professionals favored it and audiences were split. Romero was so pissed at the controls the big studios put into place during the filming of Land that he vowed to return to indie film making . Diary is a tough call.. it purportedly cost about $2 million to make and grossed a little over $5 million.. not a blockbuster by any stretch, but still managing to turn a profit, which is actually kind of cool considering the production and theatrical release were all independently handled. 62% (fresh range) for the professionals and 42% from audiences. Once again, it had its fans but clearly there was some disappointment(not from me though. I fucking love that movie). That leads to Survival..which WAS a flop. $4 million with a gross of about $143,000 with a 30% from the professionals and meager 21% from fans at RT. This one I enjoyed,but with reservations. I don’t think it’s the epic disaster so many people made it out to be, but I found it repetitive and lacking compared to his earlier films. Presumably Romero has a non zombie horror film in the works at the moment. Anyway, he’s had one flop recently, not three. Both Land and Diary turned a profit and managed to garner fairly solid reviews, the latter doing so with no studio support. A flop by definition is a movie that is both a critical and box office failure ..and the numbers say two of Romero’s last three zombie films weren’t.

  • GODFLESH69

    Good times this is entertaining the fiends are arguing about this really? geez lets step back and grab the reigns this is a horror site and nobodies opinion even Romero’s makes it so it’s just that an opinion no reason for us to get all personal just enjoy the horror or dont move along now…BRAINS!!!

  • Terminal

    Kirkman stated in one of his special editions that The Walking Dead was originally named Night of the Living Dead, and it was even set in the sixties, but was scrapped in favor of a more modern approach and a new title.

    Romero is entitled to his opinion, it’s up to us if we listen or not. Hearing him on pod casts, he doesn’t understand “The Walking Dead” series at all, claiming it’s zombie porn with no humanity, when that’s an outright fallacy from head to toe. I can name a ton of instances where zombies in the show have been humanized or mourned over.

    Hell, Sophia in season two emerging as a zombie was a horrible loss for the group, and the fall out after her death was huge. Humanity was also injected in to the turning of Amy, Shane, Merle, and Bicycle girl from the pilot. There’s also always a lot of emphases on lost humanity with a lot of the walkers the group comes across, acknowledging they were once happy and content, but now cursed as a walker.

    In either case, Romero is like Stan Lee: One of the innovators who comments on modern phases of the medium he helped build every now and then. He doesn’t always get what’s going on now, but it’s still fun to hear his opinion, at least.

    I get not liking Night, Dawn, Day or his other efforts, but you have to admit without him, the whole flesh eating zombie sub-genre would be an uncertain future.

  • The Buz

    It’s incredible to me the brain aneurysms that are occurring because someone said another thing isn’t for him and his taste.

    How quick you folks are to froth at the mouth and bring up every single terrible thing Romero has ever written or directed in order to discredit his opinion.

    I’m so sorry that the guy who invented the modern undead doesn’t like your precious zombie soap opera. Give me a break.

    First off it’s one guys opinion, and it’s unfortunate that it doesn’t agree with a lot of you. And second off, he has more of a right to have an opinion that matters on the subject than anyone currently commenting in this thread.

    And while I agree with him about not liking TWD, I disagree with his analysis. The show is about how the living are really the walking dead and are just waiting for their turn. However I don’t know if that point comes across as strong in the show as it does in the comic so who knows.

    I digress. Cool your jets, folks. George Romero and many others hold opinions. Whether they’ve made good or bad things, doesn’t mean they have bad/good taste, or are talented/untalented. It’s just your opinion, man.

  • Uncle Creepy

    Man, can KC get people talking! LOL That being said…

    There’s no bigger Romero fan here than I am. I love the dude, he’s like my crazy uncle who’s into making cool stuff. Kidd is very much entitled to his opinion though… as are you guys.

    Just remember: George is a big supporter of unpopular opinion. It’s like his thing. No reason for anyone to ride anyone else or freak out over another’s thoughts no matter how much they deviate from common sense. (Sorry, Kidd. I had to at least take one shot.)

    • kiddcapone

      Haha, yeah, it’s all in good fun. My life that last couple years has been mostly Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and kid parties. Any chance I get to talk horror and rattle some cages puts a smile on my face. It amuses me when people freak out of nonsense.

      That being said, Romero sucks. I just believe he is a bitter man at this point. His latest zombie genre efforts have all been for the most part ignored while everyone else is experiencing great success. I think that’s why he’s so quick to shit on stuff like The Walking Dead or fast moving zombies flicks. He feels like his crap is high art and everyone else’s ideas are beneath him. Romero needs to face reality: His archaic ideas of filmmaking that worked 30+ years ago are over. Evolution has past him by. This generation wants entertainment, and sadly for Mr Romero, he wouldn’t know what entertaining is in the year 2013 if it dug itself up from a grave and bit him on his old wrinkly ass…

      • LSD Zombie

        Even the best filmmakers are guaranteed to make a few stinkers during their lifetime. You know why that is? Because like the rest of us, they are imperfect human beings who will falter at some point in their lives.

        And It’s a good thing Kirkman cared enough about Romero’s work so that he could provide you with The Walking Dead.

      • Sirand

        “Evolution has past him by. This generation wants entertainment”

        …like A Haunted House.

        • kiddcapone

          A Haunted House is not entertaining, unless you have an IQ under 5.

          You know exactly what I mean my little pretentious dvd special feature editing friend, but per usual you enjoy throwing out little comments to perpetrate your own delusional value of self-importance.

          All classic characters evolve over time. It’s why you don’t see Bela Lugosi clones playing the role of Dracula or Werewolf transformations pulled off with elapsed time editing. George Romero has done virtually NOTHING to improve upon the shambling ghouls from NOTLD. Same old tired formula of bad actors and even worse dialogue.

          The Walking Dead has managed to do something Romero hasn’t been able to do in over 40 years and that’s create interesting characters people want to see. And he has the balls to call it just a soap opera with his history of writing? It’s like Steven Seagal telling Jason Statham that his films have no depth. It’s jealously.

          You can’t deny one simple fact: In an era where zombies have never been more popular, Romero is a complete non-factor. He should be the king sitting on top of his zombie empire; instead he’s just sitting around throwing digs at other people currently working in the genre wondering why his last 2 films were completely ignored abysmal failures.

          Survival of the Dead cost $4 million and made $100,000. Diary of the Dead cost $2 million and made $950,000. If anyone asks George to direct anything again, he better jump at the chance because right now everything he touches turns to shit and loses money.

          • Cinemascribe

            “You enjoy throwing out little comments to perpetrate your own delusional value of self-importance.”

            The irony here is so thick we need a chainsaw to cut it.

          • Sirand

            “Survival of the Dead cost $4 million and made $100,000. Diary of the Dead cost $2 million and made $950,000. If anyone asks George to direct anything again, he better jump at the chance because right now everything he touches turns to shit and loses money.”

            Well, look at the industry expert who went to Box Office Mojo. Here’s a free lesson on the wonderful world of moving pictures: What a movie makes in theaters is the tiniest fraction of what it actually earns. Those grosses are for the LIMITED theatrical releases – meaning they only played in a handful of theaters. It’s all based on very specific industry business models. That doesn’t include home video, television or foreign sales which is how all movies make their real money. Both DIARY and SURVIVAL were in profit on foreign pre-sales alone before they were even finished.

            And Romero is currently working on a new film. So yeah, he’s doing just fine. Nice attempt at insight though.

          • Jinx

            Heh.

            Aheh heh.

            Hee hee. Hurm.

            Ahem.

            AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

            *claps*

          • kiddcapone

            No shit Sherlock, ya don’t say ?? Thank god we’ve got a real industry expert like yourself to teach us all… This is the first time ever I’ve heard about home video sales or foreign markets included…Very insightful. You’re giving the Boom Operator who worked on Puppet Master vs Demonic Toys a real run for his money as leading internet insider still waiting for his big break in Hollywood…

            I guess the real question is, why is the undisputed KING of zombie movies forced to deal with LIMITED theatrical releases like unproven directors and must rely on secondary markets to offset potential lost revenue in this era when everything zombie related is highly successful?

          • Sirand

            “I guess the real question is, why is the undisputed KING of zombie movies forced to deal with LIMITED theatrical releases like unproven directors and must rely on secondary markets to offset potential lost revenue in this era when everything zombie related is highly successful?”

            Out of Romero’s SIX zombie films, only one got a nationwide release. Now use your post-80’s film knowledge and think reeeeaaaally hard all the way back to 2005. The reason LAND OF THE DEAD hit wide was because it was produced by Universal. All the other Dead films were made and distributed independently.

            To release a film nationwide requires a minimum of $30 million dollars. That’s why you see nothing but big-budget remakes and sequels in theaters and all the great horror movies are playing film festivals and going direct-to-DVD. These days, movies get limited releases only to fill certain requirements for home video, foreign and VOD distribution. That’s where all the money is made. It has zero to do with the quality of the film and filmmakers and everything to do with complex industry economics.

            Lemme know if I can school ya any further, kiddo…

          • LifeMi

            100% agree with Andrew. Keep in mind, if quality was the determining factor in a movie’s release, then films like The Signal and Trick ‘R’ Treat would have had nationwide releases and the Platinum Dunes and Screen Gems crap would’ve been shit onto home video. You’re really losing this argument big time, Kidd. That being said, I respect you having the balls to come onto a horror website (one run by a HUGE Romero fan)and diss Romero. At the very least, it’s created some fun conversation.

          • kiddcapone

            Absolutely…

            So, let me think back all the way to 2004. The Dawn of the Dead remake also got a wide release, also by Universal, and it grossed three times the amount of Land of the Dead which was released a year later.

            If George Romero’s name alone brings in viewers, because everyone acknowledges he’s the “master” of the zombie genre, he does it BEST, why can’t he produce better results than a fucking remake of his own film? He had the budget. He had known actors. He had a major studio backing…What went wrong?

            No one wants to invest $30 million dollars in George Romero to create another wide release zombie film because his past history shows very limited potential to turn a major profit. And that’s really saying something considering how the zombie genre is hotter than hell right now.

            So it all comes full circle: Who gives a shit what Romero thinks in 2013 about more successful zombie shows when the guy himself can’t get better distribution than a few obscure independant studios for his shitty movies that are getting worse with each release.

          • LifeMi

            C’mon Kidd, we’re talking about mainstream audiences here; of course they’d rather watch a kinetic, fast-moving zombie film over a slower, more character-driven one, regardless of who made it. Hollywood won’t take risks on a smart filmmaker like Romero, and that’s one reason none of his Dead films have had a wide release outside of Land. I doubt most mainstream audiences even know who he is. And as for your comment about who gives a shit what Romero thinks? Anyone who loves the horror genre, except for yourself.

          • kiddcapone

            I don’t seem to recall kinetic fast moving zombies on The Walking Dead, and I guarantee, if they wanted to green light a feature film next week, it wouldn’t be a low budget limited release by some independent studio.

            Instead of showing support for successful offshoots, Romero is throwing out cheap shots. That’s why no one should give a shit about what he thinks because he sounds like a cantankerous bitter old fart jealous over everyone else’s popularity. It must be a tough pill to swallow going from undisputed king to irrelevant archaic footnote who can’t even approach a fraction of his former accomplishments.

          • LifeMi

            Cheap shots? Sure he’s criticized Walking Dead and Return of The Living Dead, but don’t forget he also praised Shaun of the Dead. Furthermore, I don’t know what comments you read, but it didn’t sound like an old man decrying the new kids on the block; it’s just his opinion. By the way, did you see how much World War Z made? I guarantee most audiences prefer their zombies fast and mobile (not me personally) and outside of Walking Dead, we won’t be seeing old-school Romero style zombies in most media. I’ll agree with you Land (okay), Diary (bad, but fascinating) and Survival (good) aren’t anywhere near as good as Night, Dawn and Day, but that doesn’t make him irrelevant or a footnote and to say otherwise is disrespectful to George’s legacy.

          • Sirand

            “If George Romero’s name alone brings in viewers, because everyone acknowledges he’s the “master” of the zombie genre, he does it BEST, why can’t he produce better results than a fucking remake of his own film? He had the budget. He had known actors. He had a major studio backing…What went wrong?”

            What went wrong is Universal got cocky and released LAND into the overcrowded summer movie season against freagin’ STAR WARS and BATMAN while DAWN ’04 came out early in the year where there wasn’t any competition. It has nothing to do with Romero.

            Your argument assumes that the number of theaters and box office dollars speaks about quality which we all know is bullshit. And no filmmaker’s name alone is enough to bring in massive crowds. That has never happened, period. If that were true, John Carpenter would have never had a flop.

          • kiddcapone

            Always a list of excuses on why a man 40+ years in the industry and highly regarded as the best is still relegated to making cheap independent films with limited release and mediocre success.

            My argument isn’t based on theaters or box office dollars equaling quality, but it plays a small part in the big equation. It allows the director the opportunity on a big stage. If you are the biggest name in zombie genre and you can’t get anyone to finance a wide released film when everything zombie related is red hot, something is wrong. Obviously they don’t have faith in your abilities.

            Carpenter has his share of hits and misses, but I guarantee, if they made the announcement Carpenter was going to return and make a new Halloween flick, it would be the most successful film since the original. His name matched with the Halloween franchise would bring in massive crowds.

          • MonsterMash

            So… anything without the funding for a big-budget sequel and a wide release is automatically shit? Nice.

          • kiddcapone

            What the fuck is so difficult to understand?

            Let me dumb it down even further for you: A horror legend who is considered the KING of zombies should NOT have any problems getting investors to finance a wide release zombie film, ESPECIALLY, during a time where ZOMBIES have NEVER been more POPULAR.

            Romero + Zombies SHOULD equal CLASSIC. Unfortunately, the guy is coming off 3 flops in a row and no major studio is interested in risking money on a man who last directed a good movie 28 years ago and doesn’t turn a profit.

          • Sirand

            You act like George Romero WANTS to make gigantic movies and become an A-lister. If you knew anything about the man and his movies, you’d know that he has little to no interest in mainstream success. He wants to be left alone to make personal projects because that’s how he functions. And his steadfast refusal to sell out has been a major theme in his own work (watch Ed Harris in Knightriders). Believe it or not, not everyone in the movie business wants to be an A-lister. Some people just want to make independent passion projects and that’s what the man has done for most of his career.

            So good on George. He’s the godfather of modern horror and has never compromised who he is. If everyone were like that, cinema as a whole would be far more interesting.

          • kiddcapone

            I forgot you know him personally…If his life ambition is to not have mainstream success and not be an A-lister, then Mission Accomplished! Shoot for the middle my man….Just don’t criticize others who have more aspiration to evolve and entertain…

          • MonsterMash

            So because he’s not an A-Lister today, then I guess everybody in the industry save for Raimi, only because he directs big budget white noise, is aiming for a lackluster spot in film history. By that non-logic the only good horror films are his Evil Dead series. I’m done. If not putting out a masterpiece every year means an artist isn’t entertaining… I’m so done. George don’t sell out to your Walking Dead bullshit.

          • MonsterMash

            You talk like everything that comes out of the man should make billions. I guarantee if, like you said, Carpenter came back to Halloween and did another, and there was something you didn’t think was perfect, you’d be the first to start whining how “Carpenter’s lost his edge” and “Carpenter’s a hack!”. Besides, he did a small amount of work on the sequel anyway. Your entire argument falls apart right there.

          • Jinx

            ”Carpenter has his share of hits and misses, but I guarantee, if they made the announcement Carpenter was going to return and make a new Halloween flick, it would be the most successful film since the original. His name matched with the Halloween franchise would bring in massive crowds.”

            …like when Craven did Scream 4?

  • LifeMi

    Romero is a genius, on par with John Carpenter and David Cronenberg. I can’t even begin to understand how anyone could dismiss his importance to the horror genre or the quality of his films.

  • James Coker

    to everyone saying Romero is a shitty filmmaker….what about Creepshow?

    • Sirand

      Anyone who says Romero is a shitty filmmaker knows fuck-all about movies, movie history or storytelling in general. Outside of creating an entire subgenre with 3 classic films, he’s made some of the most interesting genre movies of the last 40 years (Martin, Knightriders, The Crazies) and they’re every bit as relevant today as when he made them. Hell, Land of the Dead (which is still the best serious zombie film of the last 20 years no matter how many people bitch) predicted the Occupy movement. The modern zombie trend wouldn’t even exist without him. And for all its success, The Walking Dead wants to be Romero so bad, it might as well be fan fiction.

      Romero is a true artist who has spent his entire career fighting the good fight to make films that are about something and he’s made them on his own terms. Even when he fails, he makes interesting failures. He is horror’s greatest living auteur for a damn good reason.

      • Jinx

        Couldn’t agree more with this.

      • MonsterMash

        Preach!

      • aliensharkboy

        Also spoken like a boss. 😉

  • GODFLESH69

    BRAINS!!!Thought Romero would show some love since his boy Nicotero is working on series I think the Walkers have passed him by and agree that his latest offerings haven’t exactly been classics the first 3 maybe the others not so much .

    • kiddcapone

      The Walkers have past him by, hell, the old geriatric godfather of zombies makes them look nimble by comparison…

      But seriously, just take a look, the Zombie genre has NEVER been more popular. It’s a major cash cow everywhere you look. Big budget movies, comics, zombie horror conventions, merchandise, The Walking Dead is the most watched show on cable television, etc.

      And was it George Romero’s last 3 films that caused the resent resurgence? Nope. Everything zombie related is hot shit right now yet Romero’s last 3 films all failed miserably and will fade away into obscurity. I guess that’s a bitter Metamucil pill to swallow for the man who is supposed to be the zombie guru. Knowing you lost your touch and everyone else is more successful working in a genre that you helped create…

      • Chernobyl Kinsman

        Make some more age related digs, they really help you not look like a tool.

  • kiddcapone

    While I appreciate everyone’s two cents, the only opinion that counts in my universe is mine. No amount of whining and crying is ever going to change my opinion of George A Romero. I’ve been consistent throughout the years and I stand pact, the guy is overrated. I’m not saying it to just ruffle the feathers of horror nerds, it’s my belief, and I stand by it.

    I find it ridiculous Romero goes out of his way to criticize any zombie film or show especially since the majority of his own work is substandard. The man is completely irreverent outside of the fanboy geeks who swing from his shriveled up nutsack based on a few okay films he directed over 3 decades ago. He’s the epitome of right place, right time, and he’s milked it for much too long in my book. Don’t agree? I don’t care.

  • kiddcapone

    Spoken like a bitter old man sitting around listening to his arteries harden…

    Romero took a preexisting character and added in “flesh eating”, which was already taking place on the pages of EC Comics just not on film. Now he’s the world’s authority on “zombies” until the end of time? Who gives a shit what he thinks.

    Yes, 1968’s Night of the Living Dead was groundbreaking at it’s time for the horror genre. BUT, it is in no way a masterpiece of filmmaking. It’s a poorly made movie and nothing highlighted this more than the last Riff Trax live event. It’s a BAD movie. The camera work, the shadows of the film crew on the walls in the house, the acting is atrocious, the editing is subpar, the characters say and do dumb shit, the story is weak, the dialogue is pathetic, etc.

    Thank you George Romero for opening the box, but you are not a great filmmaker and why anyone would want you to fuck up their film is a mystery. I would much rather watch Savini’s 1990 remake of Night and Snyder’s 2004 remake of Dawn over your originals any day of the week. And I’d rather watch the worst episode of The Walking Dead than Land, Diary, and Survival of the Dead combined. Besides, who are you to criticize about being a “soap opera”, Mr. Lets-Put-Characters-Trapped-In-A-Location-Yelling-At-Each-Other-Until-The-Zombies-Break-In-At-The-End. You took the same exact script and whited-out the location and character names for each film. A Farm House, A Mall, Underground, etc. No one cares about your social commentary, so don’t assume it’s the missing ingredient.

    • Sirand

      “No one cares about your social commentary”

      If by “no one” you mean just you, then you are correct.

      • Matt Serafini

        ^ This. 100% this.

    • LSD Zombie

      Did Romero shoot your dog or something?!

    • MonsterMash

      Say what you will about Romero, but He’s the one who defines the zombie sub-genre, inspired a new wave of modern zombie films, and you’re just here trolling every other DC article that comes out when anyone has anything positive to say about something. Without Romero, there would be no modern zombie film. Without Romero, there would be no Walking Dead, which so many seem to be creaming their pants over a pretentious soap-opera that forgets it’s supposed to have zombies in it half the time. I could poke holes in that show all day, but the writers do a damn fine job of that for me. Romero’s films are loved decades after their initial releases. The Walking Dead fills a Sunday night cable slot.

    • LSD Zombie

      It annoys me to no end when people can’t differentiate between not liking something popular and something being fundamentally bad.

      Night of the Living Dead isn’t one of them.

    • Cinemascribe

      Some info concerning Night of the Living Dead 1990:

      Directed by Tom Savini

      Produced by Declan Baldwin
      Christine Forrest

      SCREENPLAY GEORGE A. ROMERO

      Based on an original screenplay by:
      George A. Romero
      John A. Russo

      So, just to be clear, to make your case against Romero’s quality as a filmmaker, you state in the course of your post that you would rather watch a remake of Romero’s film that Romero himself was the sole author on, meaning that whatever new qualities or story elements can be found in the screenplay to the 1990 film that might make it superior to the original are actually Romero’s doing.

      As to him not being a good filmmaker: You’re entitled to your opinion, but films I’ve absolutely loved over the years like Creepshow, Monkey Shines, Knightriders, Martin, Codename:Trixie and Season of the Witch say otherwise. And honestly, although I enjoyed Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead quite a bit, I’d take Land,Diary or even Survival any day..at least they’re actually about something and they don’t try to suggest that a reanimated corpse well into rigor mortis and/or severe decay can sprint like a goddamned decathlon runner.
      I think the missing ingredient is interest,not commentary. The Walking Dead is taking four years to make the same basic points about the horrors of the zombie apocalypse and human nature that the 1978 Dawn did in a little over two hours, while supplying us more honest to goodness hardcore zombie action to boot. I don’t hate TWD, but it’s definitely slowed to a crawl compared to those epic first two seasons.

    • Chernobyl Kinsman

      No offence, but you are full of shit =)

  • aliensharkboy

    Like a boss.