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Tonight, at Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox, iconic director
George A. Romero begins his LIVING DREAD screening series, consisting of some
of his greatest works. MARTIN, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE CRAZIES, DAWN OF
THE DEAD, DAY OF THE DEAD, CREEPSHOW, MONKEY SHINES and a curve ball flick in
Michael Powell’s PEEPING TOM, handpicked and introduced by Romero himself. Read
all about this remarkable event here.
In honor of this important series, we rang longtime FANGO
friend Romero up to pick his brain about his work, his current city of
residence (Romero has lived in Toronto for almost 10 years) and of course, his
love of movies…oh, and his relationship with former partner, producer Richard
FANGORIA: George, as you stand on that stage this week at
TIFF, you will be asked to answer many of the same questions you’ve been asked
for 40 years. Is there anything left to ask about your incredible pictures? Is
there anything you’d like to be asked?
GEORGE A. ROMERO: Man, I think I’ve heard pretty much all of
them. But you never know, man, maybe someone will come up with something! I
can’t imagine anything new, unless they ask what do zombies use to floss. Do
they floss? Do zombies floss? That’s never been asked.
FANG: Well, do they?
ROMERO: In fact, they do.
FANG: Well, at least you’re prepared to answer, should that
question come up (please, let someone out there in the audience this week ask
him this! – ed). LIVING DREAD is the brainchild of TIFF’s Midnight Madness
curator Colin Geddes, a person you’ve had an ongoing relationship with in
ROMERO: Yeah, that is right. I first met Colin at the
screening room when I was finishing DIARY OF THE DEAD. I was still mixing it
and we had just finished doing the notes on it and we walked out, leaving Colin
there to sit and watch the movie in hopes that he liked it for Midnight
Madness. So, I first met him in passing, but we’ve since developed a great
relationship. We’ve become friends in addition to our professional
relationship. We see each other from time to time and have a couple a pops,
FANG: As an unapologetic film geek, do you get out to the
ROMERO: No, we haven’t been. We’re members but I have never
been to the Lightbox yet. Partly because we’ve been travelling a lot, I’ve been
working, I was sick for a while and so, no, I just haven’t been. Also, there’s
been nothing I’ve wanted to stretch to see. Not that the programs aren’t any
good, it’s just that I’m so pressed for time and well, I’ve seen ‘em all! I
have a big collection of films. I’m often tempted when I see something I’d like
to revisit but I’ve often been busy, or away. I’m excited to check it out.
FANG: Has there been anything current that you’ve seen that
really turned your crank?
ROMERO: No. Short answer. There’s not much out there. I did
see a couple of beautiful films out in Sweden. They have a fantasy film
festival there and I was a jury member. There was an Irish film called
DOLLHOUSE that was beautiful, and that’s the only films these days that really
blow me away; these little films that will never break out into the mainstream,
they fade into the festival circuit.
FANG: You’ll be showing PEEPING TOM, an amazing choice and a
film that always hides in PSYCHO’s shadow.
ROMERO: Yeah, I love this film. Have you seen it? Never
mind, of course you have. But you’d be surprised how many people have not seen
it. It’s beautifully done and the main character has a lot of hang ups, but of
course, so did Norman Bates. But I just think what happened was that the studio
viewed it as a slam on them. I think it was Pinewood studios that had it and
they were thinking it was a slam on the studio system because of the way the
executives were represented in the film, and I really think there was even more
underlying stuff. I mean, they screened it and sold it before they even had a
print! They sold off the negative before they even gave it a chance. I think
that if they had, it may not have been as much of a flop. It’s hard for me to
remember what was going on back then in the public consciousness, but you know
it was rock and roll, it was the Beatles. It was happy times, y’know? But why
did PSYCHO work and this didn’t?
FANG: Well PSYCHO was a comedy in many respects and, as you
say, it was all in the marketing.
ROMERO: Yeah, for sure.
FANG: I’m excited that you’re showing DAWN OF THE DEAD….my
favorite film, full stop and one of several films you made with your old
partner, Richard Rubenstein. Is it a print and how is your relationship with
Richard these days?
ROMERO: I don’t know where they got it, so I’m not sure if
it’s a print. My relationship with Richard is cordial as it can be. I dunno,
there’s a lot of water over the damn, so to speak. I can tolerate Richard. We
can have a conversation and get whatever business needs to be done, but he’s
never cooperative. He has a print of MARTIN and he’ll never let it out. He asks
people to pay for a print and then he will own it but, who’s gonna do that?
He’s not accomplishing anything because there are collectors out there who have
prints. There’s a print of DAWN out there that they showed in Torno that’s
pretty bleached out and it’s not very beautiful. But there are other nicer ones,
FANG: As long as we
see it on that big, gorgeous screen. DVD, Blu-ray, print, I just want to see
that head explode!
ROMERO: [Laughs] yeah, we’ll see!
And you can see too, starting tonight with a 7 p.m. “In
Conversation” live chat with Romero, moderated by programmer Geddes and
followed by a 35mm screening of the King/Romero classic omnibus CREEPSHOW at
But really, no matter where you live, pop on at least one George joint this Halloween and show respect for this maverick of movies who
changed the game.
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