When George A. Romero passed away in 2017, he left behind dozens of unmade screenplays, an unfinished novel, and an unreleased film, produced in the early 1970s, called Amusement Park. When Romero’s widow Suzanne Desrocher-Romero hired Guillermo del Toro collaborator Daniel Kraus to complete the novel, she also graced him with a private screening of Amusement Park. Now, the filmmaker is championing the unseen film’s release (via Twitter), describing it in legendary terms.
“With the exception of Night of the Living Dead -maybe- The Amusement Park is Romero’s most overtly horrifying film. Hugely upsetting in form & function.”
“It was never shown publicly. The people who funded it wouldn’t allow it. And no wonder. It’s hellish. In Romero’s long career of criticizing American institutions, never was he so merciless.”
“It’s dangerous and uncomfortable.”
With the exception of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD—maybe—THE AMUSEMENT PARK is Romero’s most overtly horrifying film. Hugely upsetting in form & function. pic.twitter.com/BmyS5iTIyU
Hardcore fans of George A. Romero may be aware that between Season of the Witch and The Crazies, Romero shot a 60-minute film titled The Amusement Park, made in 1973 but largely unseen to this day. Billed as a “PSA on age discrimination,” the film was apparently shot for TV but never actually released, and it’s making waves on Twitter this weekend.
NY Times best-selling author Daniel Kraus (Trollhunters, The Shape of Water, The Living Dead) announced on Twitter tonight that he was watching the “virtually unseen” Romero movie, which he’s been seeking out for the past 20 years. In a multi-tweet thread, Kraus subsequently called the film “a revelation,” as well as “Romero’s most overtly horrifying film.”
“The people who funded it wouldn’t allow it. And no wonder. It’s hellish. In Romero’s long career of criticizing American institutions, never was he so merciless,” Kraus continued. “Where can you see this savage masterwork? You can’t. But I’m dedicating myself to changing that. Can you help? Yes, probably. Give me some time to figure out what’s what.”
He added, “This is truly one of those magical (cursed?) objects that I cannot believe has fallen through the cinematic cracks. We’ll drag it back.”
As you may recall, the late George Romero’s wife Suzanne Desrocher-Romero had teased earlier this year that a film Romero shot in 1973 was going to be restored and released for all to see, which we now know to be The Amusement Park. She had mentioned last month, “We’re gonna restore it, and we’re gonna show it to Romero cinephiles. It’s a scary movie, but it’s not a horror movie, and it’s about ageism. Anyway, he has a cameo in it, and it’ll be fun. And we’ll show the movie, or get it distributed. It’ll be a project that the foundation’s gonna do.”
In The Amusement Park…
“An elderly gentlemen sets out for what he thinks will be a normal day at an amusement park and is soon embroiled in a waking nightmare the likes of which you’ve never seen.”
It was never shown publicly. The people who funded it wouldn’t allow it. And no wonder. It’s hellish. In Romero’s long career of criticizing American institutions, never was he so merciless. pic.twitter.com/987qbeb1J0
Can you help? Yes, probably. Give me some time to figure out what’s what. This is truly one of those magical (cursed?) objects that I cannot believe has fallen through the cinematic cracks. We’ll drag it back.
“I never thought of them as zombies. People started writing about Night of the Living Dead and called them zombies. To me, they were dead neighbors.” George A. Romero
We recently marked the 50th Anniversary of George A. Romero’s seminal zombie shocker Night of the Living Dead. Related festivities included theater screenings, mobile apps, and even the announcement of an upcoming tabletop game. The milestone also inspired us to make this “November of the Living Dead”, meaning our monthly horror movie challenge is completely zombie-themed!
A short film produced by our friends at Fright Rags is an outstanding tribute to Romero, Night of the Living Dead, and the film’s enduring legacy. Dead Neighbors portrays Romero as a young man with an extremely active imagination, illustrating how the horrors of childhood can have a lasting impact. While hardly terrifying, the aesthetic and mood are spot on, making Dead Neighbors an effective acknowledgment of a true Master of Horror. Romero passed away in 2017.
Dead Neighbors stars Leo Hogan-Roy, Chris Tanski, and Russ Streiner (who played Johnny, the character who famously teased “They’re coming to get you Barbara!” in the original Night of the Living Dead). Give it a spin below and let us know what you think in the Comments section or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!
Synopsis: Everyone knows that George A. Romero is the father of the modern zombie movie and that his 1968 masterpiece inspired every ghoul-filled horror flick that followed. But what inspired Romero?
This is the best thing we’ve seen all week. And you should really watch it too.
The late George A. Romero once said that he never thought of the ghouls in his Night of the Living Dead as being “zombies,” but rather they were “dead neighbors” to him. This quote inspired the team over at Fright Rags to put together a wonderful little short for the film’s 50th anniversary, which is fittingly titled, well… Dead Neighbors.
Running just under six minutes long, the short centers on a young George Romero, and imagines a scenario that implanted the idea for Night of the Living Dead into his young mind.
Not to spoil the fun, but keep your eyes peeled for a cameo from a NotLD star!
Fifty years ago the world of horror and cinema as a whole was changed forever with the release of Night of the Living Dead. Now a direct sequel is in the works from the creative team who brought the un-dead to life.
According to a recent interview, original NotLD scribes, the late George A. Romero and John A. Russo wrote a direct sequel to the 1968 original which has now been unearthed by Living Dead Media, an entertainment web site dedicated to the series.
The script, after having not been produced for many years, is being planned to release theaters next year with the original surviving writers and producers at the helm.
According to Living Dead Media, “That history and Night of the Living Dead’s place on the Mt. Rushmore of horror films is known by most horror fans and people all over the world. But, unknown to most is that in the 1970’s, the original writers and producers of Night of the Living Dead penned a sequel to their masterpiece. A sequel that inexplicably has gone unproduced for over forty years – until now. Living Dead Media has brushed away the dirt from this amazing follow up to a classic and brought together a great team to produce the new film.”
Even after spawning a franchise that went on for five stand-alone sequels, the new film is planned to be a direct continuation of the story when it all began.
It is Living Dead Media that is looking to continue Romero’s legacy with multiple unused scripts, novels and films after his passing in 2017.
Night of the Living Dead was filmed in Evans City, PA just outside of Pittsburgh for the fraction of the cost of a Hollywood feature film by a band of filmmakers determined to make history.
Romero’s magnum opus is one of the greatest stories of independent film making as an ultra-low-budget midnight hit turned box-office success that became one of the most influential films ever made.
The original film depicted a group of strangers trapped in a farmhouse who find themselves fending off a horde of flesh-eating ghouls who’ve risen from their graves. Romero’s grim vision of a late-sixties America tearing itself apart rewrote the rules of the horror genre.
Look for Night of the Living Dead Part II in 2019.
As we learned last year, shortly before he passed away, George A. Romero‘s zombie franchise was set to continue with Road of the Dead, co-written by Romero but with Romero passing the directorial torch over to Matt Birman. Allegedly, Birman still plans on making the movie, but we haven’t heard a peep about the project in quite some time now.
Road of the Dead takes place six years after Land of the Dead, set on an island where zombie prisoners race cars in a modern-day Coliseum for the entertainment of wealthy humans.
“In the darkest days of the zombie apocalypse, the last safe place on earth is anything but, as a mad despot uses the spectacle of high octane carnage to keep control of his populous.”
While we wait for the movie, Syfy Wire brings us the news that IDW is bringing Road of the Dead to life with a prequel comic book mini-series, previewed by the website today.
As the site explains, “Road of the Dead: Highway To Hell is a three-issue miniseries written by New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry (V-Wars) with insane interior art by Drew Moss (Copperhead). This shocking series acts as an over-the-top prequel to Romero’s final zombie film and expands upon the horrific mythology.”
“The storyline has legions of deadheads feasting on the living as a young female scientist holds the secret to a possible cure for the savage pandemic. On the run for her life, famished zombies, looney looters, and ruthless biker gangs hit the road to try and stop this savior, while lovable losers in muscle cars and a hijacked Abrams tank risk everything to save her.”
Road of the Dead: Highway to Hell will arrive in comic shops November 7.
Starring Tom Atkins, Leslie Nielsen, Ted Danson, Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau
Directed by George A. Romero
Distributed by Scream Factory
The melding of two creative geniuses does not always bear delicious fruit, but when those two masterminds are director George A. Romero and author Stephen King – and an unbridled passion for all things horror generates that meld – magic did indeed happen. Sharing a love of EC Comics’ horror tales and subsequent anthology films, Tales from the Crypt (1972) and The Vault of Horror (1973), King and Romero set about to create a wholly unique horror experience – one that set the bar for horror anthology films (to which only Trick ‘r Treat (2007) has come close). The ensuing film, Creepshow (1982), is the cinema equivalent to lightning in a bottle. Romero and King, who wrote the screenplay, were two of the film’s four essential players – the others being FX legend Tom Savini and director of photography Michael Gornick. Together, these four produced one of the few comic book-inspired films that looks like a comic come to life. Colors! Panels! The lighting, color palette, splashy FX work, and caricature acting all combine to make Creepshow one of horror’s most distinct and enduring films.
We all know these stories inside and out, right? Tom Atkins plays a tough father in the wraparound, cursing his son, Billy (Joe King; yes, Stephen’s son), for reading “horror crap”. “Father’s Day” introduces viewers to the Grantham clan, their penchant for drinking and dopey dancing, and Bedelia (Viveca Lindfors), who arrives late to lay flowers at the grave of her father (Jon Lormer), whom she murdered years ago. But this year daddy wants out of the grave for a piece of his Father’s Day cake. In “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill”, our eponymous lead, played by Stephen King, finds a meteorite on his property and collects it, hoping to score a big cash payout. Instead, he finds his property and himself overcome by fast-growing foliage spawned from ooze leaking from his find. “Something to Tide You Over” sees Leslie Nielsen in a gallows humor role as Richard, a jilted husband who plays a nasty game with his wife, Becky (Gaylen Ross), and her lover, Harry (Ted Danson), only to have the tide turn (sure, pun intended) when the two reunite to give Richard a dose of his own medicine.
My personal favorite segment is “The Crate”, wherein two university professors – Henry (Hal Holbrook) and Dexter (Fritz Weaver) – are alerted to a mysterious crate tucked beneath the basement stairs. Inside, a ravenous creature lurks, waiting to rip the flesh from any unlucky person nearby. Dexter sees the creature as an abomination, while Henry sees an opportunity to finally rid himself of his obnoxious drunk of a wife, Wilma (Adrienne Barbeau). Finally, “They’re Creeping Up on You” presents Upson Pratt (E.G. Marshall), a rude and reclusive New York businessman who is obsessed with cleanliness and ridding his immaculate apartment of germs and bugs. While rolling blackouts leave most of the city in the dark, Pratt spends his night fastidiously eradicating a new horde of cockroaches infesting his place, though he soon learns when you see one cockroach it means there are countless more within the walls. The picture then wraps up the wraparound segment, to the dismay of militant parents everywhere.
This is a film I can watch over and over and never tire of seeing. Adapting comic books to the screen is one thing, but to give your viewers the sense they are living the comic, that’s a feat rarely achieved. Through bold lighting, color gels, Savini’s over-the-top cartoony FX work, transitions that mimic the panels of a comic book, and small digestible stories Romero weaves a colorful tapestry that exists somewhere between film and print. There are several shots that could have been ripped from an EC Comic splash page. Actors play up the necessary bravado required to emulate their comic book personas, too. Nielsen, in particular, has a grand time chewing every bit of scenery he can swallow. Humor and horror come in equal waves – and unlike many of those hybrid pictures both work well together here. And every story wraps up things with a twist, delivering minor bits of morality to go with the mayhem and murder.
A score can sometimes make or break a film and I would be remiss not to mention composer John Harrison’s incredible soundtrack. Harrison pulled double duty as both 1st A.D. and composer – not an impossible task, but both tough jobs. His cues perfectly complement each segment, delivering an audible experience in sync with the on-screen action. The music takes viewers on a journey, telling a story just as distinctly as the action on screen. Harrison only composed a handful of film soundtracks, all for Romero, and it’s a shame he never branched out further because his work is always a highlight of its respective films. I play his Creepshow and Day of the Dead (1985) scores on a regular basis.
After languishing with subpar home video releases for… ever, really, Scream Factory finally gives this cult classic the prestigious treatment it deserves. This release includes stunning A/V quality and more bonus features than fans could ever have asked for… but in order to have the complete package you’ll still need to pick up Synapse’s Blu-ray of Just Desserts: The Making of Creepshow (2007). While this release does share some bonus features with that edition, it is understandable why Scream Factory wasn’t able to include that mammoth documentary on their release. Even without it, fans will agree this is the release we’ve all been waiting for.
I wish Scream Factory would go back to the original camera negative (OCN) more often for their releases because the results of the new 1.85:1 1080p image, culled from a new 4K scan of the OCN supervised by D.P. Michael Gornick, are astoundingly good. It was like watching the film for the first time with clarity so sharp it’s like watching the movie unfold through a window. Details in skin and cloth and patterns and textures – all given new life thanks to the exquisite definition presented here. I was blown away from the opening frames and the picture never dulled from that moment on. The only possible complaint I could make is film grain is awfully heavy during the animated sequences, but that is to be expected given how they were photographed so it really isn’t a valid complaint at all. This is undoubtedly the bestCreepshow has ever looked – only a true 4K release could top this image.
Having already raved about the score, I can only say the English DTS-HD Master Audio tracks are provided in both 2.0 and 5.1 and either option provides plenty of bang for the buck. Harrison’s score gets the most breathing room out of the surround soundtrack and would be my choice for listeners. The original mix was done in Dolby Stereo, but the multi-channel isn’t such an abomination that fans won’t want to add in some extra channels for greater immersion. Dialogue is a touch on the low side, though everything is consistently clean and easy to understand. Subtitles are available in English SDH.
There are a whopping FOUR audio commentary tracks included here, some new and some not, featuring: Director George A. Romero and Special Make-Up Effects Creator Tom Savini; Composer/First Assistant Director John Harrison and Construction Coordinator Ed Fountain; Director of Photography Michael Gornick; and an Audio Interviews Commentary, with Director of Photography Michael Gornick, Actor John Amplas, Property Master Bruce Alan Miller, and Make-Up Effects Assistant Darryl Ferrucci.
Terror and the Three Rivers is a new roundtable interview with John Amplas, Tom Atkins, Tom Savini, and Marty Schiff, all of whom discuss the making of “Creepshow” and Romero’s local work.
The Comic Book Look is a new interview with Costume Designer Barbara Anderson, covering how she was able to dress the cast to look like comic characters.
Ripped from the Pages is a new interview with Animator Rick Catizone, who did all of the animation seen in the film.
The Colors of Creepshow is a new interview with Director of Photography Michael Gornick, discussing the film’s striking cinematography and bold use of colors.
Into the Mix is a new interview with Sound Re-Recordist Chris Jenkins.
Mondo Macabre is a chat with a couple of the guys who work with/for Mondo, creating specialty posters for “Creepshow” among other films.
Collecting Creepshow is an interview with superfan Dave Burian, who owns many props made for the film.
Tom Savini’s Behind-the-Scenes Footage focuses mainly on the film’s FX work, as seen on set during filming.
Another hilarious and informative episode of “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds” is included here, featuring the locations of “Creepshow” as they look today.
A number of deleted scenes are available, each with a brief text explanation of where they fit and why they were cut.
Two trailers, one American and one Portuguese, are included along with a TV spot and two radio spots. .
There are several still galleries included for Posters & Lobby Cards, Movie Posters, Color Stills, Special FX Makeup, and Behind the Scenes.
The attractive package also includes a rarity for Scream Factory – a thick, perfect-bound booklet with an essay by Michael Gingold and dozens of production photos. The booklet and disc case are housed within a sturdy, slick chipboard slipcase.
NEW 4K scan of the original camera negative – Color correction supervised and approved by director of photography Michael Gornick
Audio Commentary with Director George A. Romero and Special Make-Up Effects Creator Tom Savini
NEW Audio Commentary with director of photography Michael Gornick
NEW Audio Commentary with composer/first assistant director John Harrison and construction coordinator Ed Fountain
NEW Terror and the Three Rivers – a round table discussion on the making of Creepshow with John Amplas, Tom Atkins, Tom Savini and Marty Schiff
NEW The Comic Book Look – an interview with costume designer Barbara Anderson
NEW Ripped From The Pages – an interview with animator Rick Catizone
NEW The Colors of Creepshow – a look at the restoration of Creepshow with director of photography Michael Gornick
NEW Into The Mix – an interview with sound re-recordist Chris Jenkins
NEW Mondo Macabre – A look at Mondo’s various Creepshow posters with Mondo Co-Founder Rob Jones and Mondo Gallery events planner Josh Curry
NEW Collecting Creepshow – a look at some of the original props and collectibles from the film with collector Dave Burian
Audio Interviews with director of photography Michael Gornick, actor John Amplas, property master Bruce Alan Miller, and make-up effects assistant Darryl Ferrucci
Tom Savini’s Behind-the-Scenes Footage
Horror’s Hallowed Grounds – a look at the original film locations hosted by Sean Clark
Still Galleries – Posters, Lobby Cards and Movie Stills
October is almost in the rear-view mirror, but that doesn’t mean we can’t roll into another month filled to the brim with horror! Regular readers of Dread Central know that we first liberated the 31-day horror challenge from the month of October way back in July. While Every Day has been Halloween this month, we’ve also had challenges with themes like Horror Heatwave, Aquatic Terrors, and Back to School.
Since we just recently celebrated the 50th Anniversary of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, the seminal film that launched the zombie subgenre, next month will be November of the Living Dead! In addition to looking at the majority of Romero’s Living Dead franchise, we’ll be looking many of the best films that took inspiration from the film, as well as unique spins on established tropes.
The idea is to create unique and inspiring curriculums for the truly devoted, so ask yourself: Are you a horror fan who lives every day like it’s Halloween, too? Do you have the gumption and the stamina to consume a new horror movie every day of every month? If so, feast your eyes on our 30-day horror challenge for November below. Let us know you’re joining in the festivities by using #MonthOfDread on your social accounts when you watch these films! Good luck and pleasant screams!
Did your favorite zombie-themed horror movie make the list? What are some other flicks about zombies that deserve a shout-out? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!
*Click images (separated by week) to enlarge, download, and print; you can also see a complete list of films in November’s 30-Day Horror Challenge at the bottom of the article. Enjoy!