King Z - Page 2

Bring out your dead: An interview with zombie-master George A. Romero

So I got the idea for doing it like a Western, which came from an old William Wyler film called The Big Country (1958) — it's the same two old farts shooting at each other. The next one, if we do it, I'd love to do it noir.

SFBG The zombie attack is already underway when Survival begins. The human survivors are almost jaded by their presence — the undead take a back seat to the human conflict more often than not.

GAM Yes, in this film, more than any of the other ones that I've done. In a way, if you think of it, my stories are all about the humans, because the zombies could be almost any disaster — it's just that zombies are more fun for me and for horror fans. But in this one, they're almost just an annoyance, like mosquitoes. Also, except for Night and Diary, they've always started with the thing well underway. I think there's also a horror tradition there, too — from the second Godzilla movie on, it's, "Oh, it's just Godzilla."

SFBG Zombies seem to be enjoying a particularly high pop culture profile these days. What do you think is the reason behind their neverending popularity?

GAM I think video games really popularized them. There's only been one real blockbuster zombie film, Zombieland (2009), and that's very recent. It started with Resident Evil, House of the Dead. Now there's this huge thing, Left 4 Dead. Zombies are perfect targets for a first-person shooter — they're like the coyotes of monsterland. It's fun to see them eat a stick of dynamite. But zombie walks — I've had my voice piped into Budapest for a zombie walk. What? Thousands of people coming out and doing this. It's sort of a happening — go out and get drunk. It's cheap costuming — smear up your clothes, slap some goop on your face, and go stumbling out. Even if you're drunk, you can still stumble.

SFBG Do you watch the new zombie movies, like Zombieland?

GAM I don't like them very much. As I said, I think it all started with video games — they have to move fast in video games to make the game fun. So filmmakers like Zack [Snyder], when he did the remake of Dawn of the Dead (2004), made the zombies run. I thought that was crazy. That whole evolution seems to have just warped it. To me, zombies should be like my guys, kind of stupidly stumbling along, and only have power in numbers or when people make mistakes.

SFBG Final question. Do you ever get tired of talking about zombies?

GAM [Laughs] Yeah! *

SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD opens Fri/28 in Bay Area theaters.

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