While talking to George Romero today about the Blu-ray/DVD release of Survival of the Dead (8/24), B-D got the legendary director to talk about the possible next two films in the Living Dead series, in which he hopes to expand the storylines of minor characters from Diary. In addition, he told us he’s nearly finished with the script for a non-zombie horror project with a more psychological bent. Read inside for details!
After wading through big-studio waters with 2005’s ‘Land of the Dead’, the fourth film in the ‘Living Dead’ series, George Romero went back to his roots to craft a small-scale follow-up — shaky-cam-style ‘Diary of the Dead’ in 2007. That film proved a profitable venture once worldwide theatrical/DVD grosses were accounted for, prompting the financiers to ask for another sequel, which became this year’s ‘Survival of the Dead’. So what, if anything, is next for the franchise? According to Romero, if ‘Survival’ ends up becoming a success like its predecessor we can expect at least one more ‘Dead’ film in the near future.
“I said `now what if [`Survival’] makes a lot of money, and they’re gonna want another one?’“, said the director. “So I had this brainstorm that I would take minor characters from `Diary’. And I developed three storylines that I could use, and [‘Survival’] is the first one. Now I don’t know if the other ones are gonna get made, but I’m ready to do them if this film winds up making a lot of bread.”
So what characters from ‘Diary’ can we expect to be followed in the next two installments? “There are these African-American guys who are also sort of deserters, who are looters. That would be one group“, Romero told us. “And the blonde that gets away in the end [of ‘Diary’]…she wasn’t a minor character but she survived and takes off after the other guys lock themselves in the mansion.”
One intriguing aspect of this new series of ‘Dead’ films is Romero’s idea to do each one in a disparate filmmaking style. So whereas ‘Diary’ was shot using a ‘mock-doc’ approach and ‘Survival’ is a throwback to widescreen, big-studio Westerns, the next installment will be…?
“If we do another one, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll try to do it [film]-noir, or…I don’t know. But I love just sort of playing with the medium that way“, he said, while also adding, “you know, I never know if this stuff is working. They’re all little conceits and fun that I’m having, and I hope that it’s fun for the audience too.”
For those of you that haven’t particularly been having fun with Romero’s latter-day ‘Living Dead’ films and are yearning for something different from the director, for your own sake you may want to cross your fingers that the financiers decide not to bankroll another installment in the series, in which case it sounds like Romero’s next project could very well be a more psychological, non-zombie horror film he’s currently writing the script for.
“I can’t really tell you the storyline because it’s sort of a one-trick pony and I’m trying to keep it secret“, he said about the project. “But it’s a non-zombie horror film, and for the first time really in my whole career…you know, people call me the `scare guy’ and I don’t think of my movies as scary at all. Not since `Night of the Living Dead’ when I was trying to sort of get under your skin a little bit and make it kinda creepy, I’ve sort of gone comic book with everything, and the scares are just sort of tricks, you know? Loud sounds, quick movements…they’re not the kind of films that get under your skin. So this is a psychological drama, it’s psychological fear. We’re working on it right now. In fact, I’ve been writing the script. I should have it finished in a couple of weeks.”
Of course that all depends on how well ‘Survival’ fares after all the receipts are counted. “If `Survival’ winds up making a shitload of money, I’ll be doing a couple more zombie films“, said Romero. “I’d be happy to do that, I mean it’s the closest thing that I’ve ever had to sort of having a job and knowing what I’ll be doing for the next two years. So I would welcome [making two more ‘Dead’ films] if it happens. If it doesn’t happen, we’ll chase this one…if it’s not zombies when it’s me, it’s much harder to find the financing, you have to sort of jump through hoops and convince people the project’s worth doing. And at my age, I don’t know. I’ve sort of had it with that. You never earn a platinum card in this business. You have to always convince people and do the pitches and all of that, and I’m no good at that but…we’ll see.”