Romero collaborator intends to get his finished screenplays produced

Last Updated on July 31, 2021

George A. Romero Land of the Dead

George A. Romero directed fifteen and a half feature films over the course of his career (the half being his Dario Argento collaboration TWO EVIL EYES), and over the decades we heard of many other projects that he wasn't able to get made. Some of the projects he worked on ended up being directed by someone else – SALEM'S LOT, THE STAND, PET SEMATARY, WAR OF THE WORLDS, THE MUMMY, RESIDENT EVIL, Nelson DeMille/Thomas Block's MAYDAY, GOOSEBUMPS, etc. Other projects, like adaptations of the Stephen King novels From a Buick 8 and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, the ghost story BEFORE I WAKE, the female-led Western GUNPERSON, the UFO films INVASION OF THE SPAGHETTI MONSTERS and SHOO BE DOO BE MOON, the vampire thriller THE ILL, a remake of Argento's DEEP RED, the Marvel Comics film MONGREL: THE LEGEND OF COPPERHEAD, an adaptation of Jay Bonansinga's The Black Mariah, an adaptation of Koji Suzuki's Solitary Isle, the zombie musical DIAMOND DEAD, the Wachowski-scripted CARNIVORE, a black & white zombie noir, and several others never happened at all. There's even at least one lost film: Romero started shooting a documentary-style monster movie called JACARANDA JOE in the mid-'90s, but it was never completed.

At the time of his passing this past weekend, Romero was preparing to present a new zombie film called ROAD OF THE DEAD to financiers at Frontières. Romero co-wrote ROAD with his LAND OF THE DEAD, DIARY OF THE DEAD, and SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD second unit director Matt Birman, who would be directing the film with Romero producing.

Birman still intends to get ROAD OF THE DEAD made, and it's not the only Romero project he plans to bring to the screen. Although he didn't reveal titles, Birman says that Romero had completed the screenplays for four movies he hoped to make beyond ROAD. Birman co-wrote one of those screenplays with him, two of them are based on novels and two are original stories. Only one of those completed screenplays is a zombie project, and it's a comedy.

Birman told IndieWire about these unproduced screenplays, saying that he 

will stop at nothing to get them made! For (Romero) and with him. He said to me, ‘Let’s get (ROAD) done so we can get on to the other stuff!'"

ROAD OF THE DEAD now becomes a legacy film. We won’t only be making the film for him, it will also be with him. He will be by my side and in my ear for the rest of my career, I have no doubt."

As Romero described it, ROAD OF THE DEAD is 

set in a sanctuary city where this fat cat runs a haven for rich folks, and one of the things that he does is stage drag races to entertain them. There’s a scientist there doing genetic experiments, trying to make the zombies stop eating us, and he has discovered that with a little tampering, they can recall certain memory skills that enable them to drive in these races. So it’s a demolition derby with zombies at the wheels, and of course the shit hits the fan in other ways. It’s really a romp; it’s great fun, with stunts galore.”

Hoping to secure financing at Frontières, Birman plans to prep ROAD in the spring of 2018, shoot the film next summer, and have it ready in time for Halloween. While doing this, he will 

protect and maintain the legacy and integrity of both the artist and the man. He was a no-bullshit, super honest, tell-it-like-it-is man and I will always continue in that tradition."

I really hope to see ROAD OF THE DEAD coming together just like Birman is planning, and I would love to see those unproduced Romero screenplays get made as well. There are so many unmade Romero projects, at least some of them need to make it out into the world in his memory.

Source: IndieWire

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.