George Romero dismisses ‘The Walking Dead’ as ‘soap opera’

George Romero directed "Night of the Living Dead," the film that helped inspire "The Walking Dead."
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

George A. Romero is known popularly as the father of the modern movie zombie because of his 1968 classic, “Night of the Living Dead.” But he recently had some less-than-flattering things to say about “The Walking Dead,” the zombie TV series that wears its Romero influence on its sleeve.

Speaking to the U.K. newspaper the Big Issue, Romero stated that he’s chosen to stay far away from the AMC series, which is pushing zombies to the forefront of the pop culture zeitgeist.

“They asked me to do a couple of episodes of ‘The Walking Dead,’ but I didn’t want to be a part of it,” Romero said.


“Basically it’s just a soap opera with a zombie occasionally. I always used the zombie as a character for satire or a political criticism, and I find that missing in what’s happening now.”

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The series is based on the comic book created by Robert Kirkman, who has frequently cited Romero’s zombie films, including “Night of the Living Dead,” “Dawn of the Dead” and “Day of the Dead,” as a huge influence.

While those films were all moderate successes in their day, they’ve cast a long shadow over all subsequent zombie-related works of art. By contrast, “The Walking Dead” series on AMC is a current phenomenon, with the fourth season premiere grabbing 16.1 million viewers, making it the highest-rated drama series episode in basic cable history.

Romero also has been less than impressed with other films that owe a debt to his works, including Zack Snyder’s remake of “Dawn of the Dead” and “World War Z.” Of the changes to the mythos, including running zombies, Romero told the newspaper, “I guess Zack Snyder started that with the remake of ‘Dawn of the Dead’ -- fast-moving zombies, but the zombies in ‘World War Z,’ my God, they’re like army ants!”

In 2012, Snyder told the audience at the Hero Complex Film Festival that fans of Romero’s films were way more intense than other fan groups he’s encountered, including people who loved Alan Moore’s “Watchmen.”


“Zombie fans [were more strident], for sure. One hundred percent sure,” he said. “I feel like the ‘Watchmen’ fans, you can reason with them, you know. When they have you in an alley, you can talk your way kind of out of there. But zombie fans are certainly much more -- especially before the movie came out, and we were just talking about what the movie would be, and how we would remake ‘Dawn of the Dead.’ It was pretty intense.”


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