For almost 50 years, George Romero has not let go of his zombies. In 1968 he directed " Night of the Living Dead " with a tiny budget. However, the resonance caused by the film was enormous: the walking dead is now the most common motif in horror cinematography, and millions of fans thank Romero for this. But the director's relationship with his creepy creations is not easy. Over the decades, he has directed a number of sequels. The last of them came out seven years ago, and it's not about the master's unwillingness to continue the author's franchise ...|
Nevertheless, the cultural value of the first film is undeniable. The Museum of Modern Art in New York, as part of its To Save and Project Film Festival, has unveiled the updated Night of the Living Dead in 4K resolution. On the occasion of another celebration of the famous film, George spoke about his long relationship with the cinema, his current struggle to keep making films and what scared him the last elections.
How is " Night of the Living Dead " playing around 48 years later?
When we were filming it, it seemed to me that we were only talking about misunderstandings between people. The fact that, even in incredible, impossible circumstances, everyone concentrates on their petty squabbles instead of rallying and paying attention to solving a common problem. Now, I find the same thing is happening, nothing has changed; it is still the only thing that seriously worries me. Then suddenly everyone decided that my movie was about racial issues, and all because of the hero Dwayne Jones. There is not a single hint of racism anywhere in the dialogues or between the lines. The emphasis in public life has simply shifted.
After the success of the first film, you did not rest on your laurels, but continued to develop the franchise until 2009 "Survival of the Dead". Have the conditions for the production of such a film production plan always been equally favorable?
" Night " could hardly have been filmed today. I can't imagine a way to submit it in order to find money. The idea itself would have to be camouflaged somehow. Even then, in a certain sense, it was hidden. Here "Dawn of the Dead", it seemed to me, was a kind of cake in the face of the consumer, but people talked about "a hidden message against the consumer society." In general, I think this is the right way. You can shoot your film only by hiding the message. Except when your message is currently acceptable. Today you cannot openly offer an idea, as I did then. This is not funded.
Have you tried to find money for new zombie movies?
Oh yes, I tried. Look, I did Land of the Dead, and it was my biggest zombie project. I don't think this scale was needed. The money went mainly to castes. The actors were great, but you could do without such a waste. Dennis Hopper's cigars alone were worth more than the entire Night of the Living Dead . That's it. Now, because of World War Z and The Walking Dead, I can't start a humble little zombie film of a socio-political nature. I learned to perfectly disguise "social" as a zombie action and could continue in the same spirit. But no - now when people hear the word “zombie” they think: “Oh, this is the movie that Brad Pitt spent hundreds of millions of dollars on.
So do you have a script for the movie that will continue with Survival of the Dead?
I had a sequel, and I even got ready to shoot it. In 2007, " Diaries of the Dead " suddenly made a good profit, and I was just blinded by it. One of the producers said, "Let's do another one, just quick." But I had nothing to add to what was said in the " Diaries ", which raised the topic of the invasion of privacy by the media. Then I decided to return to where it all began: mutual misunderstanding and inability of people to hear each other due to differences of opinion. I said that I would do the sequel as a western, and the third part as noir. I took off this western, and nobody liked it. Well, the third film, of course, did not happen. And then came " The Walking Dead ", and now you can no longer release a movie about some of your zombies, made from different dough. Zombies today should only represent chaos and destruction. And I always shot about something else.
The shooting of the first film cost a very small amount. Why don't you ask your fans to help you create a new project?
I don't know. My son is trying to raise money for a prequel, which he, of course, may well remove, because there are no copyright problems, " Night of the Living Dead " is a national treasure. But he did not consult with my co-authors, Russell Striner and John Russo, or even try to get their approval. In my opinion, this is ugly. I am a person of the old school and old traditions, and if no one who shares my approach gives money for my cinema, maybe there is a reason for that. And this is not a reason to contact just anyone.
Do you like at least some of the new films coming out today?
Don't like it at all. All I need is the Turner Classic Movies channel. I'd rather sit at home and watch the old. I vote in the Academy , so all the screeners are sent to me. And I am disappointed with everything, especially those films that ultimately win. I noticed that I never voted for the winners. [Laughs].
The directors must often ask you for advice. What are you telling them?
No advice. All you can do is say, "Always stand your ground." If you have an idea and a desire to convey it, then whose job is it? Decide for yourself whether you have enough strength to do everything exactly as you see it. The only advice I can give is: "Don't give up under the onslaught of all abominations."
If we talk about "any abomination", I cannot but ask you about the current election campaign. It feels like you are watching a horror movie every time you turn on the TV.
I didn't move to Canada because of the political situation in America. I left 12 years ago, so you can't say I was running from Trump addiction. But this, of course, is disgusting. I cannot believe that such a number of people are "seduced" by such speeches. I'm terribly disappointed; no other words.
Looking back, can you say that "Night of the Living Dead" was a political picture?
She wasn't. I understand why everyone thought so. But even now I do not see politics in it. Maybe because I remember very well what we were thinking while making the film. The need to stop sorting things out. The fact that people find themselves in a practically hopeless situation, when essential changes are taking place in the world outside, but they continue to argue about where it is safer, in the attic or in the basement. And decades later, I see exactly the same in the film.
But there was also a look at the costs of the state system.
This was meant to be about family. Then, in 1968, both institutions were unreliable - both the family and the state. And in " Nights of the Living Dead " it is shown how the family collapses completely. This is exactly what we focused on. I do not see a larger, racial statement. “Well, can't we just get along with each other?” Was the message. The heroes would break free if they acted together. And this is exactly what is happening now in the United States. If you are a Republican, you can vote only in this way, if you are a Democrat, only in this way. This is nonsense.
The Topic of Article: George Romero: “Because of The Walking Dead, I can't make a small movie”.