Like the relentless, blood-hungry ghouls that helped make him a pop culture legend, filmmaker George A. Romero is both tireless and timeless and shows no signs of stopping.
The NYC-born writer/director found fame in 1968 when he and his partners cobbled together some coin, “borrowed” the premise of dark fantasy writer Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend and unleashed the now classic horror movie Night of the Living Dead.
Featuring hordes of recently deceased townsfolk leaping to life to eat human flesh, the film put Romero on the map, launching a series of intelligent and stomach churning epics that also include 1979’s landmark Dawn of the Dead and 2007’s experimental Diary of the Dead.
His latest offering is George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead, his sixth zombie film and the third shot in Toronto (Romero officially moved here in 2005).
Like his previous pictures, the movie balances graphic gore with razor-sharp social satire. Unlike the others, however, Survival is also a western.
“This is my riff on The Big Country,” says the 69-year-old icon, referencing the 1958 Gregory Peck/ Charleton Heston oater.
“There are these two warring families on this island and one of them wants to quarantine the zombies while the other wants to destroy them, leading to an all-out war.”
Survival is a traditional Romero romp, full of guns, blood, political parable and pulp escapism. He long ago learned that to make the kind of films he wants to make, he has to insert the living dead into the mix. And he’s fine with that.
“I don’t regret anything,” he insists. “Zombies have been good to me; I can’t complain.”
Want to see it?
• George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead gets its world premiere tomorrow at TIFF’s Midnight Madness program.
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