Interview: George A. Romero

A candid chat about his career, 3D & more

George A. Romero’s sixth entry in his long-running Dead series, Survival of the Dead, hits DVD and Blu-Ray today, via Magnet Releasing. Always amiable and consistently interesting to talk to, Romero took some free time to allow Shock to pick his brain even more (this is my sixth or seventh time speaking to the writer-director over the last few years).

Shock Till You Drop: A few, but not all, of your films have made the leap to Blu-Ray. What’s your take on the format?

George Romero: I don’t really care about it. You make a film on a small screen. Many of the mistakes I find in my own work come from that, but I don’t know…[laughs] As far as the only technology that effects me is on the set technology. CG and that stuff. Release formats, I don’t think about it. The film is there and you can look at it any way you want.

Shock: There’s been a lot of backlash about films that are de-grained and such, so I was curious to hear if your thoughts and if you had any stance on it.

Romero: Well, I got so used to seeing Night of the Living Dead, I think they used to run the early prints on toilet paper and not film. [laughs] I got used to seeing it that way. The first time they cleaned it up, oh man! It’s too bright, it’s too clean. I thought it lost some of its character. It’s the same movie. If the story is the same, then everything is the same. I’m not that sensitive to it. With Survival, it will be served well because we shot this widescreen 2.35 and were trying to emulate The Big Country, an old western. I think to see it crisp and clear, it’ll look great.

Shock: What’s been your reaction to the fan reaction to Survival? Do you not give a damn to what people think?

Romero: I basically don’t give a damn. [laughs] It’s always nice when people get it. I found on some reviews of this film, the people that didn’t get it, they’d ask is this a horror movie? Is this a western? Hey, man…why does that matter? Why is there all of this humor? If you’ve seen any of my films, I can’t get my tongue out of my cheek. With this film, particularly, you have to give me a break. We had the creative controls on it, we decided to emulate an old Hollywood western and I put all of these Looney Tunes moments, which was fun. The fans that dig it, really dig it. It’s so funny, man, all of these zombie films have all been different. Had a different flavor. Some fans like that, some fans just want me to make Dawn of the Dead over and over. It’s a bit weird. I have to be extremely grateful. My stuff has a long shelf life and there are more fans that dig it than don’t.

Shock: Now that you’ve got six of these under your belt, give me your favorites in order…

Romero: Oh…that’s a tough one. Who’s your favorite kid? I don’t know. I have the softest spot in my heart for Day of the Dead, I don’t know why. Sometimes, it’s the experience of making the film. The people you’re working with and working with that cast was a wonderful experience even if it was grueling. Working in those caves, I think we came out with black lung. Everyone helped pull the weight. It’s hard to separate. I can’t look at them and say, this was a better film than that one. Outside of the zombies, maybe Martin, on that level, is probably my favorite film that I’ve made. Aside from that, it’s about the experience and whether they were up to snuff or not. Even my older stuff, it’s hard to look at them objectively. Because I look at them and just remember, oh shit, that was the day it snowed or the day it rained. That was the day somebody threw up. You can’t shake that baggage. I would say that my three favorites are Martin, Knightriders and Bruiser in that order. My favorites in terms of my work, in translating what I had on the written page to film. The zombies films, I don’t think, represent my best work.

Shock: Since we last talked in May, has there been any development on the two proposed zombie films you wanted to do next?

Romero: No. [laughs] I have an outline. I haven’t written scripts. I told my partner and financiers what they are. Right now it’s based on how much Survival makes. Survival made money because Diary of the Dead made money – we made money on that because we made the film for so little money. I want to shoot the next two back-to-back.

Shock: I don’t suspect you’ll be doing those in 3D…

Romero: [laughs] I was around for the first wave of 3D films, man. There were movies back in those days…nobody knows they were released in 3D these days: Nobody knows Dial M for Murder was a 3D movie, nobody knows D.O.A. was a 3D movie. I was there for all of them. And all I saw was people taking their glasses off and preferring to watch the double image because the glasses were giving them headaches. I hear the same thing now. I went to see Avatar and people were saying, “Oy, such a headache!” I don’t know if this 3D is going to catch on. It’s amazing how much is being invested in it. But it can’t be the only way to see a movie. Especially these movies that are converted. But I shouldn’t talk because my ex-partner is converting Dawn of the Dead into 3D. I saw a sample reel and it looks great. But I don’t know about the quick cuts. You see Alice in Wonderland and it’s like yikes!

Romero also talked about why he’d turn down The Walking Dead, if a directing opportunity came his way, and the non-zombie feature he’s also writing in this news item.

Source: Ryan Turek, Managing Editor


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