George A. Romero’s epic zombie novel The Living Dead will be published in 2020. Romero passed away in 2017 at the age of 77 and left a profound legacy on the horror genre. He practically invented the zombie movie with 1968’s Night Of The Living Dead, where a group of survivors board themselves in an isolated farmhouse and are quickly besieged by waves of the undead. The movie’s stark documentary style, black & white photography and shocking ending made it an instant classic, though a mistake while copyrighting the movie tragically meant neither Romero nor his partners made any profit from the movie's success.
Romero’s follow-up zombie movies Dawn Of The Dead and Day Of The Dead are also considered classics of the genre, combining gory violence with thoughtful commentary. The success of his zombie movies meant Romero was essentially typecast as a horror director and he would go on to make films like Martin, Creepshow and The Dark Half. Prior to his passing, he was working on a novel called The Living Dead, which jumps between three different time periods and perspectives. The filmmaker had previously written novelizations of Dawn Of The Dead and Martin and wanted to tell a zombie story that wasn’t confined by a low budget.
Romero tinkered with The Living Dead for over a decade before passing away, with writer Daniel Kraus later brought on to finish the book. Now Kraus has confirmed via his Twitter that his work is finished and the book has been submitted. Tor Books will publish the novel in June 2020.
I have turned in THE LIVING DEAD, the massive zombie epic I co-wrote with George Romero. While writing, I wore George’s scarf, a gift from his wife. ☠️💚 (June 2020 from @torbooks) pic.twitter.com/QySG1deNVS— Daniel Kraus (@DanielDKraus) February 19, 2019
Romero preferred his creative freedom over working with a studio, so he often made movies with lower budgets. His original script for Day Of The Dead was more sprawling in focus and was once dubbed the Gone With The Wind of zombie scripts, but when he couldn’t raise the finances needed due to the extreme violence of the story, he trimmed it down. According to Kraus, the manuscript for The Living Dead was in good shape by the time he started work on it, and he mainly needed to flesh out sections towards the end of the book.
The Living Dead won’t be the only George Romero project his fans can look forward to. In 1973, Romero directed a 60-minute PSA called The Amusement Park, which was funded by a religious group. This film was intended as a critique of the way society treats the elderly, but the financers found Romero’s film so dark and disturbing they locked it away and it's never been released. It was so obscure most fans didn’t even realize it existed until Kraus tweeted about it last year, and plans to restore and release the film are currently underway. Romero was also once set to direct Marvel's first live-action superhero movie Copperhead in the early 1980s, which fell apart over financing.
Source: Daniel Kraus