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George A. Romero

George A. Romero: Interviews

Edited by Tony Williams
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by:
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    George A. Romero
    Book Description:

    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 asThe Crazies,Hungry Wives,Knightriders, andBruiser.

    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.

    eISBN: 978-1-61703-028-4
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. vii-x)

    The name of George A. Romero is inevitably associated with the zombie component of the American horror film, one that he pioneered in 1968 with his innovative black and white independent film productionNight of the Living Deadand an arena within which he still works today. Ironically, George Romero began as an independent film director working within the commercial field in Pittsburgh and continues to this day over forty years later having relocated to Canada still contributing to the generic area which saw his emergence as director. However, Romero is no horror film director but an independent in every...

  4. Chronology
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Filmography
    (pp. xv-2)
  6. Night of the Living Dead—Inter/view with George A. Romero
    (pp. 3-7)
    William Terry Ork, George Abagnalo, INTERVIEW and George A. Romero

    Inter/view: I just saw your film last week and really loved it . . . I had never heard of it until some friend took me to it . . . I understand it was released over a year ago.

    Romero: Yes, last October . . . and I’ve been playing around with it . . . it’s been going into distribution overseas and it’s being brought back here withSlaves. . . that’s the package we know about.

    Inter/view: It’s getting great responses on 42ndStreet . . . Is this your first film or have you been...

  7. Filming Night of the Living Dead: An Interview with Director George Romero
    (pp. 8-17)
    Alex Ben Block and George A. Romero

    Night of the Living Deadis an intentionally crudely made film which its creator feels has been grossly misinterpreted. It is the story of what happens to the eastern United States, and more directly to a group of strangers trapped together in a farmhouse in western Pennsylvania, when a cosmic phenomenon causes the dead to return to life.

    In the opening scene blonde Barbara and her brother Johnny are attacked, without provocation, by a zombie-like middle-aged man in a torn, rumpled suit. Johnny is killed and Barbara, near hysteria, flees to a nearby farmhouse.

    After a few anxious moments Barbara...

  8. Romero: An Interview with the Director of Night of the Living Dead
    (pp. 18-35)
    Sam Nicotero, Cinefantastique and George A. Romero

    When Continental Films dumpedNight of the Living Deadonto the summer/fall drive-in circuit in 1968 with a typically gross exploitation campaign, who could have expected that this cheap, black and white horror film was anything more than what it appeared to be? Indeed, Continental Films and the entire distribution system has since been subject to criticism, that a film of undeniable merit such as George Romero’sNight of the Living Deadwas thrown away on the exploitation circuit like so many other trashy films. But really, even if Continental had realized the merit of the film that had come...

  9. George Romero: From Night of the Living Dead to The Crazies
    (pp. 36-46)
    Fran Lebowitz, Pat Hackett, Ronnie Cutrone, Arthur Rubine, Rupine and George A. Romero

    When he was twenty-eight years old, George Romero wrote and directedNight of the Living Dead, the black and white horror classic that has terrified even the most sophisticated audiences at midnight shows all over the country for the last two years. He has just completed a new film (in color),The Crazies, which is about events in a small Pennsylvania town following the crash nearby of a government plan carrying a virus used in bacteriological warfare.

    Question: When one of our writers last interviewed you, you said you were going to make a movie about hippies. Did you?


  10. Morning Becomes Romero
    (pp. 47-58)
    Dan Yakir and George A. Romero

    WithDawn of the Dead, George A. Romero emerges from the midnight circuit—where he has reigned for the last decade with hisNight of the Living Dead—as a true auteur.Dawn of the Deadis Romero’s break-through film in which his subversive, unsentimental and truly original vision is focused—with blood, guts, and humor—on our consumer society gone mad. Using the quick pace and the high-adventure format ofThe Crazies, Romero recreates the cannibalistic zombies that have become his trademark sinceNight of the Living Dead.

    Romero is undoubtedly the most important regional filmmaker working in the...

  11. The George Romero Interview
    (pp. 59-68)
    Richard Lippe, Tony Williams, Robin Wood, Richard Rubenstein and George A. Romero

    George Romero: I grew up in New York City and went to college in Pittsburgh. Right out of school I started a small contract directing company, doing commercials, industrial films, and so forth. In 1966–67 we started to try interesting investors in putting up money to make a theatrical feature film but they said, “You can’t make a theatrical feature film in Pittsburgh!” So I had written a story inspired by Richard Matheson’sI Am Legendand we decided that we could turn it into a horror film. Ten of us put up $600 apiece, rented a farmhouse and...

  12. Knight after Night with George Romero
    (pp. 69-73)
    Dan Yakir

    During the past thirteen years, filmgoers have come to associate George Romero’s name with gore and violence. Through such horror classics asNight of the Living Deadand, more recently,Dawn of the Dead, he has not only acquired a large cult following but has become—alongside John Carpenter—the most successful independent filmmaker ever. Budgeted at $114,000,Night of the Living Deadgrossed $20 million, and the $1.5 millionDawn of the Deadmade more than $55 million. The figures speak for themselves, but Romero, whose early pictures met with snickering, often hostile reviews, has also won growing critical...

  13. George Romero: Revealing the Monsters within Us
    (pp. 74-87)
    Tom Seligson, Twilight Zone and George A. Romero

    With his first film,Night of the Living Dead(1968), director George Romero made a spectacular debut. Shot for a mere $70,000 with a cast of Pittsburgh unknowns, the film did for zombies whatJawslater did for sharks. It soon became a horror cult classic, grossed over $10 million, and introduced Romero as a master of the horror genre.

    Many young directors would have caught the next plane to Hollywood, but Romero is a maverick. Remaining in Pittsburgh and worried about being typed as a horror director, he followed upNightwithIt’s Always Vanilla(1970) andJack’s Wife...

  14. The McDonaldization of America: An Interview with George A. Romero
    (pp. 88-100)
    John Hanners, Harry Kloman, Film Criticism and George A. Romero

    George A. Romero, forty-two, made his first feature film,Night of the Living Dead, in 1968. Originally dismissed as a crude horror film, the work is now in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art at New York. His other films includedDawn of the Dead(1979),Knightriders(1981), andCreepshow(1982). Born in the Bronx, he made some films as a youth with a camera given to him by a “rich uncle.” Said Romero: “I never thought of filmmaking seriously, I always thought movies were made by elves at the North Pole.” He studied at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie-Mellon...

  15. George Romero on Directing Day of the Dead
    (pp. 101-103)
    Paul Gagne and George A. Romero

    Shortly before the release ofDay of the Dead, director George Romero resigned from active participation in Laurel Productions. Partnered with producer Richard Rubinstein, Laurel producedDay of the Deadas well as earlier Romero filmsMartin, Dawn of the Dead, andCreepshow. Romero remains a stockholder in the company and is still contractually committed to Laurel to direct Stephen King’sPet Semataryas well as a project developed with Marvel Comics.

    Now a free agent, Romero is seeking representation in Hollywood and assignments on non-Laurel productions. The longtime Pittsburgh resident has also recently relocated to Florida, on the island...

  16. George Romero: Monkeying with Horror
    (pp. 104-106)
    Frederick C. Szebin

    No one is openly willing to call George Romero’s latest filmMonkey Shinesa horror movie. “It’s more of a thriller,” said star Jason Beghe. “It’s about a love bond that becomes very distorted.”

    Romero, known for his ghastly images of blasted bodies and disembowlings, doesn’t refer to it as a horror film either. “I’m hoping the last half hour will be pretty intense,” he said. “But it’s not bloody.” Though the makeup master of grue, Tom Savini, is working on the film, Romero said there’s hardly enough to keep Savini busy.

    Monkey Shines, a $6 million production which Orion...

  17. George Romero vs. Hollywood
    (pp. 107-110)
    Dennis Fischer

    Though critics found favor withMonkey Shines, the latest thematically ambitious horror effort from director George Romero, audiences shunned the film when Orion Pictures opened it last summer. For Romero, the maverick independent filmmaker who made a name for himself directingNight of the Living Deadand other low-budget shockers in Pittsburgh, the film was a move up to the majors, working for producer Charles Evans, the man who backedTootsie. Nevertheless, Romero chose to shoot the film on Pittsburgh’s home ground.

    Working for Hollywood, Romero didn’t enjoy the kind of control and creative independence he was used to. Prior...

  18. George A. Romero
    (pp. 111-121)
    Stanley Wiater and George A. Romero

    Although George A. Romero is undoubtedly one of the most effective horror directors working today, he also happens to be one of the nicest to meet with in person. In spite of a number of successful movies in the genre, he will probably forever be known for his first feature, the 1968 classic,Night of the Living Dead. Independently made on a shoestring and produced in his hometown of Pittsburgh, the film has gone on to influence an entire generation of horror filmmakers.

    Just as important, the fifty-year-old Romero is also known as a fiercely independent filmmaker—in more ways...

  19. George Romero on Bruiser, Development Hell, and Other Sundry Matters
    (pp. 122-133)
    Dennis Fischer and George A. Romero

    When filmmaker Adam Simon put together a great documentary on American horror films calledThe American Nightmare(2000), I was assigned to cover it by the late Fred Clarke, editor ofCinefantastiquemagazine. I was also given the phone numbers of a couple of directors who had contributed commentary to the documentary, one of them being George Romero, to interview for a possible sidebar. The piece about Simon’s excellent documentary was eventually published in the magazine, but not the sidebar interviews, which covered some rather interesting material.

    I had interviewed Romero previously forCinefantastique(regarding his work onMonkey Shines)...

  20. An Interview with George and Christine Romero
    (pp. 134-151)
    Tony Williams, Christine Romero and George A. Romero

    Tony Williams: When I visited Pittsburgh in 1992, Tony Buba told me about a fascinating scene from the original 204-page screenplay ofDay of the Dead. He described a scene with helicopters playing “Amazing Grace” on their p.a. systems and zapping zombies. Was this really in the original version?

    George Romero: I don’t remember the use of “Amazing Grace.” But I remember 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...

  21. Let Them Eat Flesh
    (pp. 152-155)
    Giulia D’Agnolo-Vallan

    Twenty years have passed since we left Sarah and John, the protagonists ofDay of the Dead, on a sunny, deserted island—a quiet image of hope for a new beginning for humanity, beforeSurvivorspoiled that notion forever.

    All is darkness inLand of the Dead, the new chapter in George A. Romero’s living-dead saga, which unfolds in a hellish, seemingly endless night. “EAT,” commands the broken electric sign of an abandoned diner at the beginning of the film—immediately reminding us of Romero’s ferocious sense of humor. With a gentle, almost loving touch (in one of those subtle...

  22. George A. Romero Interview
    (pp. 156-162)
    Beth Accomando and George A. Romero

    Beth Accomando: Tell me about the opening shot [ofDiary of the Dead] with the newscaster and her cameraman. I thought it was very clever. It establishes the first person point of view and it’s great the way the anchor blocks our view of the first zombies rising.

    George A. Romero: Oh man, I don’t know what to say except that it seemed like a good idea at the time. It seemed like a good way to introduce the style and to introduce the whole thematic thing about media and that’s of course while the mainstream is still functioning. It’s...

  23. Turn Me On, “Dead” Man
    (pp. 163-168)
    Peter Keough, Interrupting publicist and George A. Romero

    Before George Romero (with a nod towards Richard Matheson’s 1954 sci-fi novelI Am Legend), zombies were just bit (no pun intended) players in the horror genre, inert, usually voodooized automatons that with few exceptions (i.e, Jacques Tourneur’sI Walked With a Zombie(1943), scheduled for a 2009 remake) left little impression. George Romero made them an icon, indeed, an industry. He also showed the potential of graphic gore. So you might say he’s responsible for about 90 percent of the horror industry since 1968 when he made his debut,Night of the Living Dead.

    Not that he’s profited much...

  24. Interview with George Romero
    (pp. 169-177)
    Peter Keough and George A. Romero

    Do a search for the keyword “zombie” on the IMDB and you’ll come up with 1,149 titles. Of those some 1,080 have been or will be released since 1968, which was the year George Romero unleashed on the worldNight of the Living Dead.

    Romero himself has contributed his share of these films, all springing from his original, much imitated premise: a plague that reduces its victims to shambling, brain-dead corpses whose only instinct is to eat human flesh and thus create more victims.Survival of the Dead, which comes out May 28, is his sixth in the series. I...

  25. George A. Romero on Survival of the Dead
    (pp. 178-184)
    Tony Williams and George A. Romero

    Q: You’ve mentioned that William Wyler’sThe Big Country(1958) inspired you for the depiction of the warring O’Flynn and Muldoon patriarchs inSurvival of the Dead. Why did you choose to insert elements of the western into this film?

    A: After I madeLand of the Dead, which was the fourth of the zombie films, I was very comfortable with doing these “ten years apart” episodes reflecting the decades in which they were done and having fun with that. Basically, I’m being playful. I have this identifiable routine that I’m able to get away with to express myself and...

  26. Index
    (pp. 185-187)