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WHY ROMERO HATES THE WALKING DEAD

WHY ROMERO HATES THE WALKING DEAD

George Romero recently sat down with Andrew Burns to discuss his life, career and zombies as part of an exclusive new interview featured in this month’s upcoming edition of The Big Issue. In addition to speaking about the Voodoo origins of the undead, modern movie zombies and his classic film Night Of The Living Dead… Romero revealed his reasons for turning down an opportunity to direct an episode of The Walking Dead.

“They asked me to do a couple of episodes of The Walking Dead but I didn’t want to be a part of it,” Romero told The Big Issue. “Basically it’s just a soap opera with a zombie occasionally. I always used the zombie as a character for satire or a political criticism and I find that missing in what’s happening now.”

Of course this attitude towards the popular television series is nothing new, as regular readers of the Zombie Research Society already know. While discussing a successful stage adaptation of Night Of The Living Dead with our very own David Marks, George Romero was quoted as saying that The Walking Dead “just pisses me off.”

“We did it, and we should have been involved if anyone was going to do it” he went on to explain during the interview. The comment touched off a bit of controversy among many zombie enthusiasts and fans of the television series itself. However with an upcoming comic book and film in the works, Romero is certainly busy enough with his own projects.

To read more of the exclusive interview with The Big Issue including additional comments on Zack Snyder, Dawn Of The Dead and World War Z… just visit their official website. And be sure to check out our recent interview with George Romero right here online at the Zombie Research Society!

26 comments

  1. I seem to be the only one who never found Romero’s alleged commentary very impressive. It always struck me as vastly overstated by critics and Romero himself. I think it’s just not enough to have a horse of Zombies and tell the audience they’re a metaphor for consumerism. Big deal. It’s superficial and simplistic.
    In contrast, the social interactions and character development in TWD often convey a much more complex and thoughtful message even in things that aren’t said – just a pause for example – than I ever got from Romero.

  2. So he’s doesn’t like it because they are not doing commentary they way HE would have done it?

    Oh well.

    The show is chock FULL of commentary on humanity (or lack there off) after the end of civilization. How people face the end and choose to carry or not give up. Very good stuff more often then not.

    If talking about racism, suicide, religion, political structures and the effects of this on the children (or even the abortion of them) isn’t enough for Romero… well he can turn the channel. He has every right to dislike it.

    • I know that’s why I love The Walking Dead. I love it’s investigation of humanity after the collapse of society. It also says a lot about why we have and need societies. The walkers are simply the catalyst for the end as well as an underlying threat, but they are far from the only or even main problem presented. Sure, if you want a pure zombie hack and slash, you won’t like the deeper themes of TWD.

  3. Im really tired of hearing people complain about the walking dead being a soap opera. Not just Romero, but I listened to The Dead Men Talking Podcast today and all they did was bitch and moan about how TWD has turned into a soap opera aimed towards women. It was so condescending and ignorant I dont think I can listen to it anymore. Writing for movies and a tv series are so different you cant compare the two. You can jam pack a movie with effects, gore, action and have a sub par story because you only need to write a 1.5-2 hour storyline. A tv series depends on dramatics, emotions, relationships between characters, a larger conflict than killing monsters every episode. Look at any successful tv drama and they all go deeper into character relationships and internal conflict and emotions than any movie will. To dismiss it as a soap opera is just ignorant. To Romero, to the Dead Men Talking Podcast, to all the other people who watch the show every week and then just critique the hell out of it for the next week before they watch the next one, if you are such an expert on a situation that presently is complete fantasy THEN MAKE YOUR OWN MOVIE/SHOW. Instead of shitting on what is proven to be a success and popular culture juggernaut, go do it yourself, its easier now than it ever has been with the internet and outlets such as kickstarter that if you have an idea of what it should be than do it instead of whining about what someone elses idea is.

  4. I really don’t mind that he thinks it’s a soap, but I don’t think that necessarily means he doesn’t like it. If he doesn’t watch it, how can he know for sure? Anyway, he should get respect for what he popularized, but that was over forty years ago, and that innovative relevance has faded over the years. I wish he had done something with TWD, if only to see his spin on it. Also, the fact that he calls it a soap opera in contrast to his work, which was social commentary, kinda proves he doesn’t watch. Anyone who does can point out that the show does depict how people would react after the collapse of society. It’s actually kind of funny to hear people call it a soap opera, what exactly did you expect the collapse of society to be, Pleasantville? Wouldn’t it be more incredible if the conflicts in the show were a black and white reflection of the political atmosphere? It’s also not really fair to compare movies to television, the same opportunities for depth that television offers are also challenges. Knowing that Romero loathes TWD won’t decrease my enjoyment of the show, or the discussions it inspires, or increase my enjoyment of his films, but I do hope he comes out with something that impresses me.

  5. Honestly, not sure why people hate on it so much just because there aren’t zombies around every corner. It’s not a soap opera, and it’s not a zombie action show. It’s a show about how life might actually be when living in a true zombie apocalypse, that doesn’t end when the bad guy who made the biological weapon is caught. Despite all the whiners about there not being enough action (yes it can be boring sometimes), it is quite well done. I do have my criticisms of it, but really, people would turn on each other like they do in the show due to the stresses of heir environment, and tensions would be high constantly. In a zombie apocalypse, there would be more problems than just the zombies, and unlike most shows and movies, good or bad, this show portrays that well.

    • Definitely the show isn’t about constant action and truly you can’t do that in a tv series. It if was it’d be a short lived show because the zombie battles would eventually become boring being constantly done and every possible action situation would quickly be used leaving for nothing new. You just cannot have constant action in a tv series. When I want gore and adrenaline…I’ll go to the movies (which they really need to get some more zombie movies out now). When I want an actual story line then I have the tv series. I know Vince down there thinks those of us like TWD should just go watch Twilight, but personally I grew up on Romero zombies. He is the Godfather of them and it’s through his work that I grew an appreciation for all gore movies. I can still remember seeing my first one of his, “Dawn of the Dead” and while watching it come to realize that I was actually watching it in the movie theatre of the mall it was filmed in (as a 10 yo that really freaked me out). But anyway….just because I have an appreciation for TWD doesn’t make me any less of a zombie freak than those who go for strictly the Romero zombies.

  6. Just please, please, don’t let there be a TWD musical, unless it’s done as a comedy. I actually prefer the horror created by constantly being afraid of zombies, rather than focusing on relationships of characters and letting them become completely unshocked by zombie presence. would agree with George’s soap opera statement, although the zombie action is very well done, there’s not enough of it to please my zombie hunger. :p

  7. Nicely said mister Romero. TWD fans should give up the zombie genre and watch Twilight or Sex and the city.

  8. The funny thing about artists is their thinly veiled jealousy/contempt for those whose works are more successful

  9. Wow!!! Couldnt even believe that a praised director , and that I actually have his movies out of respect can say anything falsely about the TWD lets face it , you havent made a decent zombie film in decades , your 3 last films were crap!!! and you get praised by everybody in the genre , and you lash out at the people who look up at you !! ?? You know wat??!! Im done wit romero with his old outdated crap! Face it romero the genre has evolved and its sad that you just cant handle it

  10. Dawn of the Dead (Romero’s…not Synders – although I like his too) is where I got my start in zombies. Zombie movies are great for a couple hours of adrenaline and a taste of fear. That is the whole reason that scary movies thrive. And I don’t miss a single horror movie that is put out. I love them.

    But I’m also very addicted to The Walking Dead. With the show it’s really about adrenaline and fear. It’s about how we as a society would act after a the collapse of civilization. Not even necessarily from zombies…just the aftermath of anything that takes out the majority of the world’s population. The question of “how would we survive this new reality” holds a particular interest to me and to many who watch the show. I’ve tried to explain to friends who don’t watch because they don’t like scary zombie movies that the show ISN’T about the zombies…it’s about each of us, the left behind of humanity, and how we would survive and relate to others who have survived with us. Would we work together? Would we kill each other out of fear? How would it change our everyday attitudes and thinking to be in a situation of being left as one of the small number of survivors after such a calamity?

    We all know that we live with the possibility of such a disaster of such proportions could actually become a reality. So we can’t help but to wonder…if we are one of the few who survive…what would we do to continue to survive in the new world.

  11. Matter of fact its insulting to ask someone like Goerge to ruin the show with its mediocre acting and shitty details.

  12. George A romero hasnt made one decent zombie movie. Sure he was one of the originals but the way he portrays a zombie is just plain stupid. None of the story line nor the actual behavior of the zombies were anywhere near the intensity of TWD. There is barely any zombies in his movies all they do is show up here and there same with walking dead. George is just a hypocrite and hates that he couldnt get zombies on TV.

  13. Its certainly not in dispute that Romero is the father of zombie films. An it is certainly not disputed that he deserves the credit for laying the groundwork for others to follow so we can have the thriving zombie genre that we have now. However, he does not OWN the realm of the zombie apocalypse. His films infused political statements and satire for what is going on in the world. Fine. Good. Great. But is that the be-all end-all of what zombies can be used for? TWD chooses to show what life would be like AFTER the apocalypse and how would not only people survive, but also the very concept of society. He can be pissed off all he wants, it doesn’t change the fact that TWD is a damn good series that deals with the harshness of life as a whole in a world overcome by zombies. Romero’s style is antiquated, and if he wants to regain his past relevance, he needs to make a good movie instead of the unwatchable bore-fests he has been making over past several attempts. Do we want to hear Romero’s thoughts on the current state of the zombie genre? Sure we do. And we respect his right to his opinion. However, he did come across to me as a bit stuck up. Kind of like “I am the King of zombie movies and if you aren’t doing it my way, then you’re doing it wrong.” It may not appear that way to others, but thats how it seemed to me.

  14. He’s spot on about the walking dead. the first season was brilliantly directed by Frank Darabont but it all went downhill starting with the second season when Glen Mazzara took over and turned it into a soap opera.

  15. I love TWD. I also respect the political commentary in Romero’s work, and I agree that TWD could go there more frequently.

    A big part of the point of a zombie apocalypse is exploring how dulled and zombified we all are, now, by materialism and routine, and how liberated from norms (no white shoes after Labor Day!) and authentic one might feel post-apocalypse. More scenes in TWD of people remembering the past, or relating to old standards of behavior (not moral behavior, which they grapple with daily, but more mundane rules and traditions) would be interesting.

    More looting of fine stores, more desire for convenience, more memory (not just songs or bottles of alcohol, but the objects and status symbols) of the old life, could be good.

    With all this said, however, I love TWD and think it’s one of the finest and most morally and emotionally nuanced shows on tv. It’s not just a soap with zombies.

  16. In all honesty, Romero was pretty much the founding father of zombie movies today. Granted that I am a fan of the walking dead and I think the fame and the following of the series is great, I can’t understand Romero and not wanting to do an episode. He has different point of views on how a zombie series should play out. As noted in previous interviews that I have come across, he basically has a serious of his own. Several repeated characters such as military personal and lead roles. I support Romero in his decision although I think it would be an interesting twist to The Walking Dead if he did happen to do an episode. Possibly it would progress the series and allow more progress for future zombie films and series to come. However, I am more greatly interested in the new film Romero is working on than The Walking Dead.

  17. Sounds more like hes jealous of their success over his cheesy B-movies more than anything.. Did it ever occur to him that people don’t want overbearing tones of political criticism in their zombie flicks and what drives the zombie ‘fascination’ is the human element? How everyone reacts, the breakdown of society.. these are the things that capture our imagination.. not you putting a zombie in place of some political argument.. I love some of his movies but don’t be such a pompous douche because you didn’t think of it first.

    • How does his quote make him a pompous douche? He doesn’t like it. Big deal.

    • The Antioch Ghost

      Yeah, he’s totally jealous when he’s the most famous name when it comes to zombies. TWD would not exist if Romero didn’t popularize zombies. He’s more or less saying he doesn’t like it being referred to as a zombie show when the zombies are more of just the background and not the focal point of the story.

  18. As much as I respect Romero – wouldn’t directing an episode have been a perfect way for him to bring that sort of satire or political commentary to his episode and therefore to the series itself? Opting out just meant he gave up the chance to do things his way and show those millions of viewers his way of doing things with the show.

    • Well, directing =\= writing. Directors have to work with the script given, so his ability to affect change would have been strictly limited.

      • Actually, dearie, the director can do whatever he wants with what’s written, to an extent. I had an English teacher who was a script writer for some time in his life, and he explained how little freedom as an author he had because the director could do what he wanted with it. A bit too long? Rip out three pages from the script. Don’t like a phrase? Cut it. Don’t like a scene? Rewrite it altogether. It was so constricting that when he started writing books he simply skipped the middleman altogether and published independently. Although he was the most persnickety teacher I ever had, he knew what he was talking about with any medium of the writing business he was part of, whether as a script writer, a novelist, a journalist…

        Although, it is quite possible that Romero simply did not want to be associated with TWD…

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