George Romero is moving forward with yet another zombie film, this time titled Road of the Dead. Once upon a time, Romero came up with the idea for a low-budget horror movie about zombies menacing a rag-tag group of humans holed up inside a Pennsylvania farm house. The film that grew from that idea, Night of the Living Dead, would go on to spawn countless imitators, launching an entire genre of horror.
Romero himself would return to the zombie genre with the sequels Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead, and years later would launch another zombie trilogy: Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead and Survival of the Dead. The now 77-year-old Romero seems to have retired from directing movies (his last was in 2009), but he's still out there helping young filmmakers launch their own horror movie careers - by lending his wisdom and (more importantly) his name to their projects.
The newest film to be stamped with the Romero name is a planned zombie picture from stuntman-turned-director Matt Birman and the description of this movie (via IndieWire) is pretty wild. George A. Romero Presents: Road of the Dead takes place on an island after the zombie apocalypse (naturally) and involves zombie prisoners racing cars NASCAR-style in a Roman-like Coliseum for the amusement of wealthy human survivors. Co-written by Romero and Birman, the movie has been announced as part of the first wave of projects at Frontieres, an international co-production market.
Matt Birman came up with the idea for Road of the Dead, said to be inspired in part by The Road Warrior, Rollerball and Ben-Hur, ten years ago when he was working as a second-unit director on some of Romero's films. Birman's background as a stunt man will no doubt come in handy as he realizes his vision of zombie NASCAR on an island populated by decadent humans who draw inspiration for their games from ancient Rome and post-apocalyptic '80s action movies.
After seeming to reach a peak in the early 2000s with films like Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later and Zack Snyder's much-admired Dawn of the Dead remake, the zombie genre launched by Romero has lost a lot of its luster for feature filmmakers (though it lives on in a big way on TV thanks to AMC's The Walking Dead, a show Romero himself is not particularly fond of). In recent years, the most successful zombie films have added some kind of twist, refreshing the old formulas by mixing zombies with other genres (Zombieland, Warm Bodies).
Romero himself tried mining the old zombie tropes for new thrills with his last zombie trilogy, but for the most part the results were mixed. Matt Birman's Road of the Dead idea at least sounds filled with crazy potential, but we'll see if he and Romero are actually able to pull off their wild genre mash-up.
Source: Indie Wire