The Zombie apocalypse has become one of the biggest fixations in our modern culture, as embodied by The Walking Dead's reign as king of television and/or pop-culture. In the 21st century, zombie apocalypse movies have also done well, with properties like the 28 Days Later franchise and World War Z finding big office success.
However, as 'zombie mania' has swept through pop-culture, it's also left behind some of its humble indie horror roots, and nothing embodies those roots more than the work of George A. Romero.
The director of Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead (and so many other zombie movies after that) was recently giving an interview, in which he lamented how hard it is for him to get one of his projects greenlit these days. Romero had a culprits in particular to identify for the decline in the zombie movie genre: Brad Pitt and The Walking Dead.
Speaking to Indiewire, Romero said that, "because of World War Z and The Walking Dead, I can't pitch a modest little zombie film, which is meant to be socio-political...The moment you mention the word zombie, it's got to be, 'hey, Brad Pitt paid $400 million to do that' ... It had to be a zombie film with just zombies wreaking havoc. That's not what I'm about."
Romero's Dead films have always been wonderfully subversive when it comes to using zombies as metaphor for things like consumer culture (Dawn of the Dead) or modern voyeuristic culture (Diary of the Dead). And yet, the filmmaker is correct in saying that in modern times, that subversive message has been ignored in favor of using zombies as one simple metaphor: apocalyptic cataclysm. It's hard to look at 28 Days, World War Z or even Walking Dead and find a more insightful message behind the mindless, ravenous, rotting monsters in those works - they're little more than catalyst for all the human survival drama that takes place. But apparently, that's what the fans want.
There have been three Romero zombie films released since 2000 - Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead, Survival of the Dead - and none of them have made much of an impact at all. At this point, the new generation of horror fans have come in, and their preference in zombie horror holds little trace of Romero's influence. Time and tastes have, as they say, moved on.
Do you prefer the old George A. Romero style of zombie movie to the new zombie craze? Want to see the director make a final comeback with the genre he godfathered? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @ComicbookNOW.