George Romero is the granddaddy of zombie films, having basically invented the genre back in 1968 with Night of the Living Dead. And like your grandfather, Romano has no patience for what the kids are up to these days.
In an interview with io9, Romero talks about how his walking dead compare with the new era of zombies, particularly those in AMC’s The Walking Dead.
What do you think of Walking Dead?
I love the books, I haven’t seen any of the episodes. Listen I love Frank [Darabont], I know he’s done a good job. I love the books, I never watched any of the episodes because… my zombies are sort of my own. I didn’t want to be part of it. Producers called and said, “do you want to direct some of these,” and I said no. Because I just didn’t think it was me. I’ve been waiting to see the whole first season, which I missed because I’ve been traveling. I’ve been waiting to look at it, but I haven’t seen any of it.
You said they’re not not “my zombies.” So what’s a Romero zombie?
My zombies are purely a disaster. They are a natural disaster. God has changed the rules, and somehow this thing is happening. My stories are about the humans who deal with it stupidly, and that’s what I use them for. I use them to sort of make fun of what’s going on in a number of societal events. And that’s it, I don’t use them to just create gore. Even though I use gore, that’s not what my films are about, they’re much more political. That’s it. This whole zombie revolution, it’s unbelievable. We were in France last week, and 3,000 zombies came out for the zombie walk. We’re going to Mexico City next week and there are 5,000 zombies expected to show up. I don’t know what that’s about.
Maybe we’re just too jaded by Romero style of slow-moving undead and instead go for the fast-paced maniacs of the 28 Days Later variety. But it’s true when Romero claims that the new zombies abide by different rules, whereas his creations were mostly terrifying because there were so many of them. (Although, really, they are pretty dumb and slow zombies, right?) While Romero goes on to say that he’s still interested in making more zombie movies with political overtones (“I would love to do something about the economy,” he says. “But zombies are not good mathematicians — I don’t think they’re going to be out selling cheesy mortgages or anything like that.”), maybe he could make a zombie flick in which the concept of zombie movies exists, so that the living protagonists actually have an idea of what the hell is going on. Maybe a zombie walk populated with actual zombies?