From Pet Sematary to City of the Dead: 10 Awesome Things George Romero Almost Made


George A. Romero’s career as a director has spanned well over 40 years now, with 16 feature films to his credit (plus one O.J. Simpson documentary!). Though mostly known as the father of the modern day zombie movie, and of course the director of the three best zombie movies ever made, Romero has also strayed away from the undead to direct a handful of non-zombie flicks over the years, including films like Creepshow and Martin, and even the non-horror films Knightriders and There’s Always Vanilla.

But what about the projects Romero was attached to that never quite got off the ground? The filmmaking business is a fickle one, and any director that has been in the game as long as Romero has is bound to have a handful of projects that died before they ever had a chance to live. Things just don’t always work out as planned in Hollywood, and no exceptions to that rule were made throughout the career of this master of horror.

Whether we’re talking films that ended up being directed by someone else or projects that never ended up getting made, by anyone, Romero’s career has been plagued by things that almost were. Today we take a look at 10 of those projects – the ones that almost found a spot on George Romero’s resume!

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On June 8th, 1984, the New York Times reported that the movie rights to Stephen King’s novel Pet Sematary had been sold … to George Romero. The article went on to state that King sold the book to his Creepshow partner for “a handshake, a token payment of roughly $10,000, and a healthy share of profits from the movie.”

While King’s wishes to write the screenplay and have the film shot in Maine were fulfilled, Romero of course didn’t end up in the director’s chair. Though he worked on the project for a year and a half, things just didn’t work out in the end, and Mary Lambert eventually took over.

It’s interesting to note that Tom Savini was also offered the chance to direct the film, but he turned it down!

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Another film in a long list of Stephen King adaptations that Romero was going to direct is Salem’s Lot, which was set to be a feature film at the time Romero was attached to direct it. All systems were a go until Warner Brothers decided to turn the book into a mini-series, rather than a film, a change that was made after it was announced that a couple similar films were soon going to be hitting theaters (including Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu).

Not keen on the idea of modifying his vision to fit on network television, Romero dropped out of the project, and Tobe Hooper ended up creating a pretty effective little mini-series, despite the restrictions that Romero had no desire to work under.

Other Stephen King adaptations that Romero was at one point or another attached to? The Stand and From A Buick 8.

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Would you believe me if I told you that there was once upon a time going to be a cross-over episode of “The X-Files,” based on Night of the Living Dead? After writing an episode for Season 5 of the show, Stephen King pitched the “X-Files” team on doing an episode that would essentially serve as a remake of Night of the Living Dead, which Romero was going to direct. Romero and King reportedly met with the show’s staff, and the plan was for the episode to air during the seventh season.

Of course, it never happened, though that season did feature the episode ‘Millenium,’ a cross-over with the series of the same name which centered on re-animated corpses. In the episode, Mulder even uttered a line that was more or less directly lifted from Night of the Living Dead, as an homage to the original concept for the episode. So close, and yet so far!




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