George A. Romero: Interviews (Conversations with Filmmakers Series)
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George A. Romero (b. 1940) has achieved a surprising longevity as director since his first film, Night of the Living Dead (1968). After recently relocating to Canada, he shows no signs of slowing up: his recent film, Survival of the Dead (2009), is discussed in a new interview conducted by Tony Williams for this volume, and still other films are awaiting release. Although commonly known as a director of zombie films, a genre he himself launched, Romero's films often transcend easy labels. His films are best understood as allegorical commentaries on American life that just happen to appropriate horror as a convenient vehicle. Romero's films encompass works as different as The Crazies, Hungry Wives, Knightriders, and Bruiser.
The interviews in this collection cover a period of over forty years. In whatever format they originally appeared-the printed page, the internet, or the video interview-these discussions illustrate both the evolution of Romero's chosen forms of technology and the development of his thinking about the relationship between cinema and society. They present Romero as an independent director in every sense of the word.
George Romero: I read a book called I Am Legend by Richard Matheson and got very much into the socio-political through-line that’s present in it, although it doesn’t really follow through. Inspired by it, I wrote a short story which dealt with a revolutionary society coming into being in the form of a zombie society—people coming back to life as soon as they die—and it was a trilogy right from the jump. In Part I, they appear, but operative society seems to be staying on top of it, even though
goes back to Nosferatu, Frankenstein, and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. It’s always there in Steve’s work, no matter how gruesome the surface is. That’s precisely what was missing from The Shining—there were no real people in Kubrick’s ﬁlm.” Unlike Creepshow, The Stand is an expensive project which is likely to require star casting and, in Romero’s words, “various ancillary values.” But both King and Romero agree that unless they can do it their way, they won’t do it at all. Other projects? There
30 opening date, in order to bid theaters, we had to have it ﬁnished by the end of June and we also needed it for the Cannes Festival. It was a squeaker pulling it off. January was the ﬁrst time I saw the whole movie on a big screen without breaks and without looking at it on a Moviola. I wanted another month to sit with it, and I wanted to cut it, but I couldn’t get the money it would have required. Then we showed it at Cannes, and we couldn’t pull all that glue apart. You can’t just go in with
writing a scene about the helicopters attacking zombies in the city. The original was a bigger script and would have cost too much to ﬁlm. They were willing to ﬁnance it but the difference was that this version would have cost $7 million and would have become an R-rated picture. I don’t remember the “Amazing Grace” sequence. I’ll have to go and look it up. Tony Williams: Can you remember what other incidents appeared in the original draft of the Day of the Dead screenplay? George Romero: It
they’re so creative. Some of the makeup is great, some of the walks and stuff that they do is worthy of Lon Chaney. But why is that fun? That’s like a, some kind of a new happening. I can’t quite identify it. George Romero, Part 3 On being on the National Guard’s ass, remakes, The Big Country, and the Irish. peter keough / 2010 175 PK: So you do have more Dead movies in the works? GR: If it happens. I mean, this completely depends on how this ﬁlm does. If this ﬁlm performs like Diary