It was back in 1968 that George Romero gave rise to the modern zombie with Night of the Living Dead, and a lot has changed since the godfather of the sub-genre wrote the rules and paved the way for all things undead. Zombies are as mainstream as movie monsters get, and Romero’s not exactly happy about that.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Romero spoke about the present landscape of zombie cinema, bemoaning the fact that Hollywood is no longer interested in the sorts of low-budget, intimate zombie movies that he built a career on.
“The Hollywood wisdom is you can’t make money with a zombie film unless you put big money into it,” noted Romero, indicating why it’s been nearly a decade since he last made a zombie movie. “You have to invest $200 million to make the film fantastic. I’m the opposite of that.”
Romero points to 2013’s World War Z as the catalyst for this change in the Hollywood mindset, as the action film had a budget of nearly $200 million and featured A-list superstar Brad Pitt in the lead role – the sort of casting you’d never find in a Romero zombie movie.
“Brad Pitt was the guy that took the big bite with World War Z, and butchered it basically,” says Romero. “The zombies were like army ants. It was like the remake of The Naked Jungle.”
What’s next for Romero? Though Hollywood may not want anything to do with him, and vice versa, he’s currently hard at work on a small screen adaptation of his graphic novel series Empire of the Dead, which he will both write and executive produce.
“You can be a little tougher on cable. You don’t have to be as gentle,” Romero notes, excited about the idea of bringing his particular brand of undead mayhem to cable.
With the landscape of TV changing of favor of the horror genre, it seems that George Romero has once again found a home he’s happy to be in. And that’s good news for us all.