Thanks to Night of the Living Dead, it's safe to say that filmmaker George Romero helped solidify the popularity of zombies in pop culture, defining the shambling corpses in a way that movies, TV shows, and books have adopted since its premiere in 1968. That film also made possible the TV show The Walking Dead, which is currently one of the most popular shows on television. Rather than supporting the zombie show, Romero revealed to Indiewire that he harbors "a lot of resentment" towards the program.
The filmmaker is headed to the Fantasia International Film Festival in hopes of securing funding for his latest film, Road of the Dead, but both The Walking Dead and World War Z have made that quite difficult.
"I harbor a lot of resentment…I used to be the only guy on the zombie playground, and unfortunately Brad Pitt and The Walking Dead have made it Hollywood-ized. I was ready to do another one, a $2-3 million one, and nobody will finance a zombie film now."
Considering Romero has become a legend in the subgenre, having made six zombie films, the filmmaker clarified, "It's not really resentment." He added, "I've had a terrific run."
With the impact Romero has had on the zombie genre, you'd think he'd be happy to see the ghouls take their place in pop culture, but he has often turned down opportunities to direct episodes of The Walking Dead, which he's often described as a "soap opera with a zombie occasionally."
Another one of the issues he's taken with the popularity of zombies recently is that they seem to be missing a bigger picture.
"Mine have always been political. It's not gore, it's not just horror — I've always tried to put a little something in there," the filmmaker explained. "I felt that I almost found a niche, but it was bound to happen," he says of zombie stories focusing more on gore than deeper meaning.
The premise of Road of the Dead is as follows:
"In the darkest days of the zombie apocalypse, the last safe place on earth is anything but, as a mad despot uses the spectacle of high-octane carnage to keep control of his populace."
The filmmaker is handing over directorial duties to Matt Birman, who was the second-unit director on Romero's last three zombie films, but the pair have co-written the story together. Romero is gladly letting Birman step up, as he considers himself "a story guy" and the action-oriented new film "isn't [his] cup of tea."