10 Questions for George Romero

The horror master's latest zombie film, Survival of the Dead , is in theaters. George Romero will now take your questions

  • Seth Kushner / Retna

    Film critics have hypothesized about representations of race in Night of the Living Dead. Were you trying to make a social statement? — Tori Dailey, JACKSONVILLE, FLA.
    It was 1968. We were angry that peace and love hadn't worked the way we had hoped. But the racial theme was an accident. Duane Jones was the best actor among our friends. We were originally thinking of the guy as a white guy. Duane was much more sensitive to it than I was. He was more sensitive to the fact that he had to beat up this white guy and knock out a white woman.

    Is there a recent horror film you admire so much that you wish you had directed it? — Luca Zanzi, ALLSTON, MASS.
    No. I don't like the new trends in horror. All this torture stuff seems really mean-spirited. People have forgotten how to laugh, and I don't see anybody who's using it as allegory. The guy I love right now is Guillermo del Toro. I'd love to make a film like Pan's Labyrinth .

    Your career began with Fred Rogers, of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood . What was that like? — Charles R. Ott Jr., PITTSBURGH, PA.
    What you see is what you get. Fred was exactly that guy. He was a gentle, wonderful educator. Originally I wanted to use Betty Aberlin [who played Lady Aberlin on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood ] in the role of Judy in Night of the Living Dead. Fred said no to that.

    What do you think of the way other directors have handled the zombie genre, which you essentially created? — David José Martins, OLHÃO, PORTUGAL
    I don't rush out to see those films. I have a particular use for them. If there's something I'd like to criticize, I can bring the zombies out. And I get the financing that way. So I've been able to express my political views through those films.

    What's your favorite horror movie? — Monica Dimas, DALLAS
    The Thing from Another World was the first movie that really scared me. But the one that made me want to make movies was The Tales of Hoffman . That's my favorite film of all time. It's a fantasy film. It's an opera. I never get tired of it.

    What is the one career misstep you wish you could take back? — Lee Karr, MONROEVILLE, PA.
    I suppose turning down Scream . But everyone was turning it down. I'm glad Wes [Craven] got to do it. It reinvigorated his career.

    Do you have plans to make a nonzombie movie? — Eleon Basiño, MANILA
    I'd love to do two more films [in the series]. But as far as plans, you can have plans and they can blow up. At my age, I don't have time to go out and work on something for two years and have it not happen. But yes, my partner and I have a script that is nonhorror we'd very much like to do.

    What attracts you to horror movies? — Jaskaran Dhillon, SACRAMENTO, CALIF.
    When I was old enough to go to movies alone, I got to see Frankenstein and Dracula on the big screen. I just fell in love with them. I always loved the genre and always wanted to work in it. A lot of my friends are people who do horror films: Wes Craven, John Carpenter, Stephen King.

    Do you concern yourself with the critical reception of your films? — Chad Benky, PERTH, AUSTRALIA
    I don't get particularly concerned about it. Mine was sort of a baptism by fire. When we made Night of the Living Dead , we got riddled. There was this famous article Roger Ebert wrote just blasting the film because he had gone to see it at some screening where there were all these kids in the audience. I don't know why that happened. We didn't make the movie for kids.

    Do zombies have an expiration date? — Zachary Williams, BURNABY, B.C.
    I hope that my guys don't have an expiration date. My zombies will never take over the world because I need the humans. The humans are the ones I dislike the most, and they're where the trouble really lies. The zombies are just [swats at the air] mosquitoes.