After essentially rebooting his zombie apocalypse universe for the modern age with the 2007 found footage film DIARY OF THE DEAD, master of horror George A. Romero said he had plans for three spin-offs that would each follow different characters introduced in DIARY. We got one of those soon after, 2009's SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD, which followed a National Guard soldier played by Alan Van Sprang. Now seven years have passed, and there has been no news on the other two stories Romero had planned to tell, one which would have followed a group of survivors the DIARY characters cross paths with and another which would have centered on blonde Texan Tracy Thurman (Amy Lalonde, pictured below), a film which Romero described as a "zombie noir".
In a new interview with IndieWire, Romero reveals that he has actively pursued the idea of getting the zombie noir off the ground, he was ready to shoot it, but the problem is that he can't get it funded.
You’ve struggled to get financing to make more zombie movies?
Oh, completely. Man. Listen. I did “Land of the Dead,” which was the biggest zombie film I had ever made. I don’t think it needed to be that big. That money went largely to the cast. They were great, but I don’t think that money needed to be spent. Dennis Hopper’s cigar budget cost more than the entire production of “Night of the Living Dead.” That’s the way it is. Now, because of “World War Z” and “The Walking Dead,” I can’t pitch a modest little zombie film, which is meant to be sociopolitical. I used to be able to pitch them on the basis of the zombie action, and I could hide the message inside that. Now, you can’t. The moment you mention the word “zombie,” it’s got to be, “Hey, Brad Pitt paid $400 million to do that.”
So you’ve written a new zombie film to follow “Survival of the Dead”?
I had a sequel. I was ready to shoot. In 2007, “Diary of the Dead” all of a sudden made money. I was blind-sided by that. One of the producers said, “Let’s make another one quick.” I didn’t know what else I could talk about. “Diary of the Dead” talked about how social media is haunting us today. I didn’t have anything else to talk about. So I decided to go back to the original premise of misunderstanding and people not being able to see each other’s point of view. I said I’ll do this one as a western and the next one as a noir. So did the western, nobody liked it, and the other one fell away. Then, all of a sudden, here came “The Walking Dead.” So you couldn’t make a zombie film that had any sort of substance. It had to be a zombie film with just zombies wreaking havoc. That’s not what I’m about.
Regardless of how well received Romero's latest entries in the zombie sub-genre were, it truly is a shame that the man who created flesh-eating ghouls can't get the money to make another zombie movie when he has the drive to make one and a story he'd like to tell. It's especially disappointing because it sounds like he's aiming for a lower budget, and you'd think a low budget Romero zombie movie would be able to make a profit pretty easily.
Are you out there listening, Jason Blum?
To read the rest of the interview, in which Romero discusses the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, politics, whether or not he keeps up with modern releases, and his thoughts on his son Cameron Romero's attempts to make a NIGHT prequel called ORIGINS, head over to IndieWire.