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Politics and Zombies

Horror maestro George A. Romero at EIFF. It’s a little known fact: George A. Romero accidentally reinvented  zombies. The legendary horror director of Night of the Living Dead and Dawn ...

Horror maestro George A. Romero at EIFF.

It’s a little known fact: George A. Romero accidentally reinvented  zombies.

The legendary horror director of Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead is in Edinburgh for tonight’s premiere of his latest film, Land of the Dead, and a Reel Life Interview tomorrow.

“When ‘Night’ got noticed, some people started calling them zombies. I get credit for reinventing zombies, but I didn’t even realize I was doing it,” Romero says, pointing out that originally, his legions of undead were ghouls, or flesh eaters.

At an EIFF Press Conference today, Romero talked his influences (EC comics,) politics, and the difficulties he encountered making his newest film. Having made one zombie film per decade since the 1960’s Romero “missed the 1990’s,” and originally wanted to make Land of the Dead in the early years of the millennium.

“I sent the script out right before 9-11 [and afterwards] no one wanted to touch it. Everyone wanted to make soft, fuzzy lollypop movies,” Romero says. But the delay proved useful, as Romero had time to rewrite the script, “to reflect post 9-11 sentiments.”

Land of the Dead, like Romero’s previous work, is an apt socio-political commentary and zombie gore fest rolled into one. This time around though, Romero has targeted the US political regime, and the increasingly skewed American ideal of ‘security.’

Interestingly, Dennis Hopper who plays the film’s tyrannical city controller supports George Bush in real life, whereas Romero obviously maintains a firmly leftist stance. But despite their political differences, actor and director got along just fine.

“I didn’t know Dennis before…but he wanted to play the character. ‘This guy is Donald Rumsfeld,’ that is the first thing he said to me,” says Romero.

“We don’t negotiate with terrorists,” says Hopper as the zombies close in on the human population. In light of the current political situation, it is a comment that strikes very close to the bone.

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