George Romero, part 3


On being on the National Guard's ass, remakes, "The Big Country," and the Irish.

(For those of you just joining us, I interviewed Romero about his upcoming zombie film, "Survival of the Dead." This is Part 3; click here for Part 1 and Part 2.) 


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" financially then they will want another one and I'm ready to do it. I have a really good idea for another one which would take, I don't know if you know "Diary" but there's this black group of looters that used to be National Guardsmen too (I guess I'm on the National Guard's ass) but I'd like to do them. And then I'd like to follow the blond woman that escapes. So I have ideas for them. I don't know whether it's going to happen or not. In the meantime I'm working on another, on a hotter idea which is not zombie and my partner and I have a script that we're trying to finish which is non-horror. But I don't know. I don't have the energy anymore to go and pitch and take meetings and all that stuff so...I'd almost rather do two more of these and call it a day. It's just so tough, you never earn your credit card, your platinum card out in Hollywood and if you need a bigger budget you gotta go there, you're not gonna be able to raise it independently.

PK: You have mixed feelings about bigger budgets?

GR: Oh, definitely. I mean, oh boy, if I didn't have to do it, I wouldn't want to. But it' hit that, you hit a certain point and everything goes up, you know? The catering, you gotta have stars, you gotta be, you know, everything. From the catering to the trailers. 

PH: What was the budget like for this one?

GR: It was about twice what "Diary"'s whether you're taking American dollars or Canadian dollars, so I'm sort of the wrong guy to talk to. In my mind, "Diary" was around 2.5 US and I think this went to something over 4 US, but in Canada that converts to a lot more because of the rebates that you have. This was a completely Canadian film. They treat you well.

PK: Do you have more CGI effects in this than you do in your other films?

GR: Yeah...not necessarily more than "Diary." Again, when you're shooting, you have to get it in the can in 21 days. That's the most expensive time, you just gotta get off the set and if you start screwing around with squibs and everything you know, a squib blows the wrong way and you know, you gotta clean the know, you lose an hour on an effect that doesn't work and it's just much easier to have the actor point the gun, the other guy falls down and then you paint the flash in and you paint the splat and you're outta there.

PK: Next to the opening of "The Wild Bunch," the opening of "Dawn of the Dead" when they raid the apartment building...that's gotta be one of the most electrifying pieces of violence on film I've seen.

GR: Wow.

PK: That was all long before CGI

GR: Those were mechanical. Those were all practical, mechanical effects. [Tom] Savini  I mean, he did great stuff. And in "Day," some of the stuff that he pulled off in "Day" was sensational. We used no CG then and I love it, I loved the look of it. I mean, and you know, it acts more with everything, it's uh, you know, the blood spatter is real. Everything about it is much more real and um, the actors, it causes better performances when you're actually tearing something off a guy. So, I much prefer...but it just costs you in time. You gotta do it again and you gotta do it again sometimes. You can't do it...

PK: didn't you have like a $50 special effect challenge that I read somewhere? You challenged people to make a zombie eating effect for $50?

GR: that may have been some kind of a promotional thing that the distributors did, maybe Weinstein's did that or something, I don't know.

PK: Oh, well somebody did it for $20.

GR: Well you can, you certainly can. I see these kids...what blows me away is how many people, these young people...I go to these horror conventions you know, and there must be a dozen kids every time I go that give me a movie that they made and it's finished, they made a box, they did graphics, they did everything on it. Oh, zombie movies! And I keep saying, do something else man! I mean, there's not enough room in the world for three thousand zombie movies.

PK: do you think your career would be better in some ways if the first movie that you made that was the biggest hit was "Knightriders" (1981), as opposed to "Night of the Living Dead?"

GR: I don't know, I mean, I love "Knightriders." "Martin" and "Knightriders" are my two favorite films. They're the closest to me. Most personal I think is "Knightriders." But I don't think it would've been any more successful if it was my first film than it was when it came out. I mean, you know, that's the problem with that. Jesus, like everything else, they're talking about remaking that, they're talking about my remaking "Martin" and it just, it drives me nuts..."Crazies" got re-made. It's just like, I can't believe it, I sit here and I go, I'm being remade all over the place.

PK: Are you getting rewarded for all this, financially or anything?

GR: The only one was "The Crazies." They actually paid a fee to use my name as executive producer and I expected more involvement...they just wanted my name on it. But that's the way it goes too. There is a movie of mine that I'd like to remake. I called it "Jack's Wife" (1972) but it had several titles. I would actually like to remake that movie today, I think it would be stronger today. That was sort of my women's lib movie and I don't think I was quite sensitive enough to it when I made the film. I still think it's okay, it's not terrible, but no money and no cast...I don't mean big cast, the acting wasn't so good. I'd like to remake that one.

PK: "Survival" has kind of a Western feel, have you always wanted to make a Western? This is sort of your compromise?

GR: It's never been a passion, no. I love certain old Westerns and obviously this was...I don't know if I mentioned but "The Big Country" is what we decided, I got all the department heads together and showed them "The Big Country" (1958)

and said, "let's do this" and that's, we decided to go all the way with 2:35 [aspect ratio] and not mute the colors and you know, try to make it look a little Wyler-esque or whatever but ...that was just fun, that was indulgence.

PK: Where did the Irish accents come from?

GR: The two actors, basically. I mean, I called them O'Flynn and Muldoon but they were both... Kenny Welsh is noted for his Irish characters that he's played and the other guy, I think Richard Fitzpatrick is um, Irish...I don't know, I don't think Welsh is Irish but Richard Fitzpatrick is so they both decided to really lay it on.

PK: The Irish are known for their, um, tribalism...

GR: Well it was okay with me cause I said you know, if you want to think of this as Ireland or the middle east or whatever, but Ireland was in there, one of the places where this happens, where it has happened in the past.

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