Expanding Romero’s universe through a new vision
Caught in the confused chaos of the Los Angeles riots of the early ’90s, a young Zebediah de Soto witnessed first-hand smoke-filled skies and people in the throes of panic. For his largest endeavor yet, a 3-D CGI Night of the Living Dead film subtitled “Origins,” co written by David Schwartz and produced by Simon West Productions, De Soto wants to take those riot images etched into his brain and translate them to the screen. Adding in a horde of ravenous zombies, of course.
“I want to see a helicopter clipping its propeller on a building and careening into a crowd of people. Zombies going through the streets. A thousand people tearing each other apart, zombies tearing them apart, total chaos,” De Soto expresses with an air of enthusiasm that is fighting off waves of fatigue from working all night. But wait, helicopters, explosions, and a sea of zombies – this sort of contradicts George A. Romero’s original vision put on screen in ’68, doesn’t it? You bet. De Soto is bringing, to the Dead universe a sense of scope that, he says, has never been seen before in the zombie genre.
“One of the first horror films I owned was Night of the Living Dead, it made a huge impression on me,” he explains of the impetus driving the project. “There are all of these interesting little back stories in terms of the other characters, but we only got to follow Barbara in the original. They were always describing these really big scenes, like Ben says a truck is chased down by a horde of zombies. I always wished I could have seen that.”
De Soto describes Night of the Living Dead: Origins as an expansion of the original film. A chance to see moments in the undead uprising that were only alluded to, while tapping into the back stories of the main character who have been familiar to us for over 30 decades.
“It’s not a prequel,” he maintains. “I loved Romero’s movie and there are so many people out there raping it to death, I didn’t want to be next in line to the gang bang. But I really wanted to do something that was a little creative but an homage to what he was doing. I want to see a zombie movie on the scale of [the Max Brooks novel] World War Z and the only thing I changed in terms of the terrain is that we go into New York City. This is a post-9/11 world we live in and how would people react to this if it really happened? How would they respond? For me, one of the things missing from zombie films is effects done on a level no one has ever seen before like Spider-Man or The Hulk. Those effects applied to a zombie film.”
All environments and characters will be created in CG via De Soto and Gus Malliarodakis’ New Golden Digital. Asked if he was going for the same motion capture feel of Robert Zemeckis’ latest works (Beowulf, A Christmas Carol), De Soto says we’re on the right track, however, “it lends itself more to the movie 9 in that I want this to look like a living painting. The only thing that ever came close to that idea is Zack Snyder’s 300 but this is a bit more stylized than that. I originally came from comic books and I was a graphic artist for nine or ten years. I always wanted to see something like this.”
On the casting front, it appears he has locked Danielle Harris to star as Barbara. For the role of Ben, De Soto has gone out to Mos Def (Be Kind Rewind). “I loved his performance in Monster’s Ball he’s great in that. His people responded, expressed interest and we sent some numbers to them. We’ll see.”
Night of the Living Dead: Origins is currently in production with a 2010 release date in mind. Zombie fans will want to keep their eyes peeled to the web as De Soto revealed he wants to unveil a teaser trailer this Halloween. “I know so many people get pissed off about this movie being redone again, but it’s not the same regurgitated bullshit. We’re taking this seriously.”
Source: Ryan Rotten, Managing Editor