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While hanging out at scrappy Canadian horror/cult film
convention Shock Stock, FANGORIA met up with the enterprising Chris Harrison
and Phil Pattison of Nictophobia Films (DEVIL’S NIGHT, VS. THE DEAD) who were
promoting one helluva concept: a live, faithful while at the same time
irreverent stage version of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.
The idea of reconceiving George A. Romero’s inimitable 1968
horror masterpiece as bizarre theater is interesting enough, but even more
exciting is that these lads are planning to light and design the entire show in
source-faithful black and white! Now, ideas are a dime a dozen, but unlike
those legions of daydreamers who shoot for the moon but can’t get off the
couch, Harrison, Pattison and co. are actually doing it. In fact, they were in
Toronto recently to meet with Romero and his old pal Russ Streiner in the flesh
to work out the details. This will
happen, and Fango will be faithfully following the story as it evolves,
starting here with our exclusive chat with Harrison.
FANGORIA: Why NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD? Do you have a
personal connection to it?
CHRIS HARRISON: I have always loved NIGHT, but I would say
my connection is more with Romero as a filmmaker than to one of his films. I
have followed his career since I was a young boy, and continue to admire his
body of work. I still watch films like CREEPSHOW, DAY OF THE DEAD and THE DARK
HALF weekly. That may seem a little extreme, but there’s something about these
films that reminds me why I do this for a living. George Romero, Stephen King
and Tom Savini are the reason I love horror and continue to work in the
industry. Life would be boring without those guys!
FANG: When did the lightning strike to take this iconic
picture and warp it?
HARRISON: I saw a picture of a friend who was dressed as a
NIGHT zombie for Halloween. He had made himself up completely black-and-white,
and it looked wicked! The motors were instantly fired up, and I thought,
“Wow—the whole movie takes place in a house; that could actually work as a
stage play.” I immediately told Phil Pattison, my partner at Nictophobia, and
he got it right away. We both knew we were onto something here, and started
writing a draft. As things progressed, the idea got bigger and bigger, and we
realized this was something the original creators should be involved in. Our
friend Dave Daniloff introduced us to Russ Streiner and John Russo. They were
very keen on the idea, and since then we’ve become friends, and they’re the
executive producers of the show along with Romero.
We didn’t stop there; with the legends on as executive
producers, we needed to make sure the script and direction were executed by the
right people. So we chose to have Chris Bond [co-creator and director of EVIL
DEAD: THE MUSICAL] to direct the play, and co-write it with Trevor Martin [of
the new indie film A LITTLE BIT ZOMBIE] and Dale Boyer. They have come up with
some great ideas, and I think fans new and old are really going to enjoy the
show we’re putting on!
FANG: Talk about how you are planning to light it and stage
HARRISON: We’re in the preliminary stages, so I don’t have
much info for you on this right now, but I can tell you that we are trying to
light it as similar to the film as possible. We love all of the big shadows and
rawness of the original film, so we’re attempting to try and keep the integrity
of that as closely as we can. The staging is also difficult to discuss at this
time, as we’re still debating the venue, but I can assure that there will be a
cool farmhouse set.
FANG: Who’s doing the music?
HARRISON: That’s still up in the air, but we would also like
to keep that as close to the original as possible. New music would rule, but we
all love the film’s score and would like to keep it close, or entirely the
same. Our first thought was to just use the soundtrack from the movie and cue
it, but if someone was interested in collaborating with us to create an
original version of the music, we would be willing to meet with them.
FANG: How involved are Romero, Russo and Streiner?
HARRISON: I deal mostly with Russ Streiner; he’s an amazing
guy and has been incredibly generous and helpful through this process. George,
Russ and John are all involved and comment on ideas, but they have given us
creative control and assured us the show is ours to run with. We really try to
keep them as involved as possible, but they have very busy schedules, so they
are not on it full-time, but they are around and give us advice and suggestions
on anything we need. They’re all really great and talented men.
FANG: Where are you going to premiere the show? Toronto?
HARRISON: The show is going to open in Toronto in spring
2013, with the hopes of it playing in Pittsburgh in October 2013 for the film’s
45th anniversary. We’re taking our time to make sure the show is great, and
from what I know right now and as a fan of the film, I can assure it is going
Of that, we have no doubt. Stay tuned to Fangoria.com and
FANGORIA magazine for more details as they come. And be sure to brush up on
your Romero education by purchasing our new, limited-edition FANGORIA Legends
Presents George A. Romero magazine, available only at our store.
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