I met George Romero back in 2005 while covering a huge horror convention. George’s manager, Chris Roe, brings George out to many conventions to greet, meet, chat and sign for fans!
I was lucky that Chris Roe allowed me almost 30 minutes to interview with George in his hotel suite on a morning before he went down to his booth where literally hundreds of Zombie “FAN” atics waited in line to meet George and get his autograph as well!
Here are some excerpts from this interview I had the privilege to acquire.
Mark- What gave you your start, your inception to do Night of the Living Dead in 1968 and anything even before that?
George- Well, I ripped off the idea from Richard Matheson who wrote I am Legend, and I sort of twisted it around a little bit. He used vampires, so I couldn’t, so my guys were flesh eaters, and I thought of them as ghouls, I didn’t think of them as Zombies right away.
George- Yeah, so then people started to write in and said, hey, these are Zombies, and I said, well, maybe they’re right! So people gave me credit for these new zombies, but I really didn’t think of them as zombies at that time.
Mark- So, at that time, Night of the Living Dead was not considered a cult film when it first ran?
George- Well when it first came out it was in Drive-ins and neighborhood theatres, in those days there were B movies. Ben Hur played downtown for, like, three months. So all the neighborhood screens were open, and you could get your movie onto a screen.
Mark- But not so now?
George- These days it’s completely different, they open three thousand screens on the same day.
Mark- Did you like this genre even before you came up with Night of the Living dead?
George- I always loved the genre; I grew up on comic books and Universal’s horror films. I think I’m the only man living who saw Dracula on the big screen.
We both laughed at that.
George- Well when it was re-released, I mean, I’m not that old!
More laughing together.
Mark- What is one of your favorite films that you saw yourself and not directed in any genre?
George- Well, the movie that made me want to make movies was Michael Powell’s, Tales from Hoffman. It’s a fantasy, but, it’s an opera, you know, so everybody says, “What?!!” And that turned me on to classical music too. Michael Powell’s my man; he’s just a wonderful filmmaker, such as Black Narcissus and Colonel Blimp. And you can see his technique, it was transparent, and it was easy to understand and it gave me sort of an inspiration, and I thought, well, maybe I could do this myself.
Mark- And so you did! Now, in your history of attending conventions and signing for fans, are there any really wild or unique situations you can share?
George- Well what happens is people bring things that I’ve really never seen before. Like a poster from Thailand from Monkey Shines or something. But the stuff that really blows your mind is when people have their bodies signed or images from your films, and it’s a mind blower. It’s amazing to see these beautiful beautifully crafted drawings on themselves. It’s amazing.
Mark- Yes, I often see fans showing off their Zombie tattoos of your characters and it is amazing.
George- It makes me think….” What have I done, haha?!!”
Mark- What was your favorite film you did yourself?
George- I’d have to say a film I did called Martin that still remains one of my favorites!
Mark- What do you like to do on your off time?
George- Off Time, what the heck is of time?
He laughs a lot here.
George- Hardly any such thing, but basically, I crash man, and when I’m done crashing, I just start writing again!
George was gracious and autographed many, many items I brought up to his suite to beg him to sign for me for my already big collection. George loves to attend many conventions around the world, and as long as Chris Roe continues to bring him out to shows, we will all be there to have a few minutes with this awesome Zombie Master himself!