Zombie legend George Romero says he is unlikely to direct an episode of 'The Walking Dead': 'I have my own little franchise'

George-A-Romero-DeadImage Credit: Michael GibsonLegendary horror director George Romero has told EW he is unlikely to direct an episode of Frank Darabont’s new AMC zombie show The Walking Dead, which debuts this Halloween. There has been a lot of speculation over the past few months that Romero — who effectively invented the modern zombie genre with his 1968 shocker Night of the Living Dead and has since made five sequels — might oversee an episode if AMC commissioned the show for a second season. Just a couple of days ago, Walking Dead producer Gale Anne Hurd told me that it was a “dream” of Darabont’s to bring Romero onboard.

Yesterday, Romero informed EW, in the nicest possible way, that the Shawshank Redemption director’s dream is likely to remain just that. “I don’t know that I would really want to,” he said. “It’s not mine, you know. I have my own little franchise on the side over here. I think I’d rather stick with my [zombies] rather than get involved. But Frank’s a terrific filmmaker and I’m sure he’ll do a great job with it.”

Romero also confirmed that he hopes to make at least two more zombie movies, which would follow characters he first introduced in 2007’s Diary of the Dead. His most recent zombie film Survival of the Dead, which is now available on DVD and Blu-ray, hinged around Alan Van Sprang’s soldier Sarge, who Romero fans initially encountered in Diary.

You can check out trailers for both The Walking Dead and Survival of the Dead below. And look out next week for a special report on the enduring, and still growing, influence of Night of the Living Dead with contributions from, among others, Romero, Darabont, NotLD star Russ Streiner, Walking Dead makeup effects wizard Greg Nicotero, and Hatchet director Adam Green.

Are you looking forward to seeing the Darabont-directed Walking Dead pilot on Halloween? Do you hope Mr. Romero changes his mind about helming an episode?

Read more:
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‘Walking Dead’ and AMC: The best-idea-ever of the day

Comments (20 total) Add your comment
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  • UGH

    I just finished watching episode 1 online….Amazing!
    They need to renew this for season 2 pronto!
    One critique: I liked the faux-opening credits that were online a couple of weeks ago better than what they cooked up.

  • JPX

    Show some respect. You wouldn’t have The Walking Dead if it wasn’t for Romero. He revolutionized the Zombie genre. Insulting him because he’s old is what a 14-year old might do. I suppose you’ll be young forever, huh Larry David? You can only hope that you’d still be making movies when you’re his age.

  • DW

    This is good news for anyone who had the misfortune of sitting through recent George Romero movies.

  • MIB

    No offense JPX, but Larry David is very right, Romero has’nt been making good zombie movies lately. Im not sad that he’s not doing it, but Im also not happy about it.

  • JR

    I respect George A. Romero for introducing us to zombie horror. I am an absolute zombie freak. I have read all of the Walking Dead comics and I can’t wait for Halloween night to see what Darabont has done with the franchise. I got to say, it’s sad that Romero chooses not to explore other realms of zombie horror other than his own. More sad is the fact that he hasn’t delivered a good zombie movie in a very long time.

  • Deez Nutz

    So your statement about him living in his sister’s basement was not based around hate at all…

  • Jay

    Forget “lately”. Tell me when Romero ever made GOOD zombie films. The man is an awful filmmaker.

    • TB

      Go rot in a hole Jay

  • Rick

    Romero’s first 3 zombie flicks are great. He should’ve ended his franchise there.
    Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead, and Survival of the Dead are horrible.
    I was able to watch the first episode of The Walking Dead online the other day and it looks great. It’s sad that they only gave it a 6 episode arc for the first season. I hope they renew it for a full season soon.

    • Eric VT

      I could not agree more George has not added anything good to the genre sence 1985 when Day hit. His last 3 films were just as bad as could be,The Dawn remake put all 3 to shame, and his last Survival was in a league of its own on how bad George has gotten with Zombie Films. I can’t even belive the same person who gave us Night,Dawn and Day would even stamp his name on such garbage. O respect every thing Romero was done but his time is long done the Genre has moved on to way bigger and better things.

  • Walter

    Granted George is the father of zombie flicks, but he should have retired years ago.

    The genre has taken too many leaps forward and his poor writing, directing, special effects, and casting just don’t cut it anymore.

  • Mary B

    They should keep to their separate projects. The world of zombie film-making will be the richer for it. Can’t wait for Zombie Survival Guide.

  • RomeroHasLostIt

    Romero needs a co-writer. His last films have been weak. How could the same man who brought us the sublime “Bub” in Day give us the campy, howling “Big Daddy” in Land? He’s lost it. His latest film, Survival, while a step-up from Diary, is weak. Worse yet, it features very few zombies.

  • Shea

    Romero’s first zombie film was good, but his subsequent films are wooden and poorly scripted.
    Since “The Walking Dead” is about the people–NOT the zombies–Romero should be kept far, far away.
    Another George made some good movies a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, but I’m not clamoring for him to direct/write anything these days.

    • R. Lapidus

      Gotta disagree.

      “Day,” along with “Alien” established the SF/horror mashup and the former film single-handedly created the apocalyptic-horror sub-genre.

      Romero’s all about atmospherics and the almost uncanny way his films predict trends (anyone notice the economic collapse/elites fleecing the average joe theme in “Land?” A film made during the first Bush administration and issued three years before the real-estate propelled collapse). And, despite his limitations with scripting and actors manages to evoke strong feelings for his central characters—and, at times, even for the Zombies.

      Another great, non-Zombie but similarly genre’ed [gotta excuse that one] was his “The Crazies” made between “Night”and “Dawn.” What about “Martin?” This guy cooked and, I submit, will be appreciated for cooking right on into the 21st century.

      Max Brooks, Sam Raimi, Simon Pegg, Zack and Durabont all owe a debt of gratitude to Romero and they’re not shy about saying so.

      My take? It takes awhile before the full impact of a Romero Zombie movie hits home (with the exception of “Night”) with the critics and viewers but, eventually, they do hit home.

  • R. Lapidus

    They always say Romero “hasn’t made a good zombie movie, lately.” That’s been going on since 1979, or after the issuance of the original “Dawn of the Dead.” They said that about “Day of the Dead” and now, only recently, have they acknowledged that film to be a classic within the genre.

    Me? Not only did I immediately see “Day” for what it was but I think “Land” and “Diary” will come to be appreciated, if only because of the always present (in Romero’s films) atmospheric sense of dread (mixed with the inimitable ghoulish humour).

  • toolboy

    I don’t think anyone is disrespecting Romero JPX. People are tired of weak zombie films. The last effort that was good was “DAY” and zombie fans were hoping he could create the same magic that he did with his first 3. But from land on it seems its getting exponentially worse and it seems GAR doesn’t care as long as its “HIS” and to be honest i think maybe he had more help with ideas for “DAWN” and “DAY” after watching some of the documentaries more than one knows.

  • Mahoney

    I’m sitting here watching the episode “guts” right now. This looks like a remake of the remake of Dawn of the Dead. It’s offensively unoriginal. The characters are straight out of “Scary Movie”. “Oooh don’t go in there, oooh I can’t look!” The writing actually reminded me of that turd that won that oscar prize or whatever a few years back. “Crash” I think it was called. 2nd graders found that waste of good actors truthful and insightful (although there are no good actors here. Some pretty silly buddy movie scenes though.) George Romero was being very tactful in his declining the invitation to direct in the same way Stevie Wonder should have declined sharing a stage with the Jonas Brothers at another one of those Hollywood Awards. In conclusion: I’m sorry some of the reviewers here don’t get Romero’s films. I’m glad he never dumbed them down.

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