Premiering in 2010, The Walking Dead has fast become one of the most popular series’ on television, with AMC annually renewing the zombie-infested serial drama as a result of the ever-increasing Nielsen ratings. Aside from keeping the legions of fans chomping at the bit in anticipation of each new episode, the series has also been well received by critics and nominated for several awards, including a Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series in the drama category.
Six seasons later, the cable series’ popularity seems to be spreading faster than a zombie outbreak with no signs of it dying out anytime soon, and yet (surprisingly) some people remain unaffected by the horror hype. Case and point: legendary director John Carpenter, who is most commonly associated with the horror and science-fiction genres, has revealed that he is not a fan of the post-apocalyptic show.
Featuring on an episode of WTF Podcast with Marc Maron (via Cinema Blend), the influential filmmaker criticized The Walking Dead for its imitation of George A Romero’s groundbreakingly gruesome motion picture Night of the Living Dead, which revolutionized the zombie genre:
“[The Walking Dead] was a movie that George Romero made back in 1968. And they have milked that, and they are still milking it.”
Carpenter’s history with the horror genre dates back to the 1970s and 1980s, when he helmed the likes of Halloween, The Fog and The Thing, amongst others. Amid a series of commercial successes and failures, he became known for his use of low-key lighting, static cameras and distinctive (often self-composed) synthesized scores, which has - similarly to Romero’s groundbreaking work - had an impact on today’s fearful fare.
So Carpenter has certainly earned his right to be critical of, what could be perceived as, cookie cutter productions - but is his opinion of The Walking Dead fair? Well, he is right about one thing: Romero’s Night of the Living Dead has spawned countless imitators in cinema, television and video gaming ever since its release in 1968, with many directors choosing to borrow multiple elements from the flesh-eating flick.
Others, however, have chosen to explore the popular zombie genre while undertaking different techniques, and/or shifting the narrative's focus through the presentation of entirely new stories - as an example, The Walking Dead offers a crowd-pleasing formula of steady character development and moral dilemmas as the characters fight for their survival, while its motion picture predecessor is an all-out explicit gorefest focused on the undead's nighttime activities. So, beyond the fact that both properties feature zombies with a penchant for eating flesh, the two actually hold very few comparisons to one another.
The Walking Dead season 7 premieres this October on AMC.