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Last weekend, the Zombies Take Charlotte folk presented American Zombie, a retrospective of pictures by George Romero with an emphasis on the GAR-Z, his zombie movies. Brilliantly, the good man himself was there to hold a Q&A; sadly, I didn’t get to attend (being half a world away, and all) but I have just been sent a very fuzzy audio recording of the session by a jam-and-spoony chap who was there, and having finally fought my way through 90 minutes of swerving volume, muffled voices and sharp bursts of tinny pain whenever the audience laugh or applaud, I can offer you some key bullet points.

  • Asked about recent changes to the media, Romero revealed that he’s working on a script about virtual reality. He’s basing it upon advances in the tech that he’s heard about and is concerned by. Expect this to be more like eXistenZ than Virtuality or Hackers. Romero talked about people changing their appearance in virtual worlds, as well as recreation of the cross-sensational stimuli in drinking a cold drink, for example.
  • Romero said that Zombies are just his “ticket to ride”, the way he gets the pictures funded, but that the films are really about humans. He didn’t really need to explain this, of course – it’s obvious enough and part of his defining style. Romero did say that he’s past resisting the zombie subgenre, however, so as long as cheques keep getting offered on the basis that he’ll make a zombie film, he’ll make a zombie film.
  • Romero wanted Savini to make a cameo effect, one great zombie effect, for his new Dead film but the Canadian film board denied this. However, music can be legally outsourced so John Harrison who did the much loved Dawn score was allowed to do the music.
  • There are countless horses in the footage we’ve seen so far and dogs too. Romero says that this time out he specifically addresses the issues of animals and zombies, but he didn’t give a clear explanation of how – zombies feeding on beasts? Zombified animals? Or just a reveal that the undead definitely don’t want to feast on animal flesh?
  • Asked about Slumdog Millionaire and The Dark Knight, Romero didn’t really have much nice to say so he trailed off pretty quickly. That’s my boy.
  • Romero would still like to make Before I Wake – the project that cost him The Mummy – but three studios have spent development money on it now so it’s already in significant debt and, as such, is seen as being “star dependent”. We need a Romero loving star to throw themselves at the film before we have any chance of seeing it.

There was a behind the scenes featurette shown at the Q&A and a quick trip to YouTube reveals some fearless pirate captured it. This spy footage is, of course, wonky and imperfectly focused, but the clip shown does contain quite a lot of actual imagery from the film and reveals a wealth of zombies – probably more in these few scenes than in the entirety of Diary of the Dead.

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