Have you played the game Biohazard?
I never played it, no.
Where did you get the image for this commercial?
I looked at game footage that the people from Size Inc. (American production office) sent me, and we looked at the location together. We tried to match what we had seen, but we couldn't duplicate it exactly. So we tried to match as best we could.
How do you feel the commercial will come out now that filming is done?
I think it turned out very well. From what I can see of the footage, it looks great. But you don't get familiar with it until you sit down and watch it a few times. I think that after we put the music and sound effects it'll turn out quite well.
How do you direct zombies??
Well, I don't tell them how to move. If I go like this (hold arms out) or any kind of move with my body then everyone does the same thing. Everyone is pretty inventive, you know. Everyone comes with their own ideas. I think that everyone loves to try it. Everyone has their own different walk. Anything goes, unless somebody is being silly.
Were you happy with the cast and the zombie characters?
Oh yeah. I thought it all looked great. 'Actor X' and Adrienne looked good, they looked like the characters. The zombies were Mad George's invention. He wasn't trying to match the zombies from the game. They were his invention. But we couldn't shoot any of them, shoot them in the head that is, because it's a television commercial.
Did you select 'Actor X'?
No, I didn't. Capcom did.
Why is conflict such an important theme in your films?
Well that's a particular theme that I've always used in my zombie films, the inability to communicate. Because it's easy to solve the problem if everybody works together--or easier to solve the problem.
Do you like zombies?
I've always like zombies. When I was a kid there were a lot of zombie movies. But they were always voodoo and it was Bela Lugosi and the like. I just wanted to use the idea of what would happen if the dead came back to life. And they're weak and can be defeated just the same as we. But when they get together, and we don't get together, they are unstoppable.
It's been thirty years since you gave us the Romero version of the zombie and today they are being made into games and are more popular than ever. How do you feel about this?
I'm delighted. With regards to this game, it's fabulous. And now I'm hoping that I can make the movie of the first game.
Why do you think zombies are so popular?
It's a very easy to understand monster. And it's easily defeated. You don't need fancy weapons or radioactive isotopes. So I think they make sense, particularly in a game.
How does 'Actor X' compare with other actors in your zombie films?
Well, we were trying to do two things. One, was to match the characters in the game and also 'Actor X' is a star. I usually draw very archetypal characters. Characters broadly stroked, if they have problems they are very simple problems. Like the characters in Night of the Living Dead are clearly drawn, like the young couple or the bad guy and his wife.
How was the communication between you and 'Actor X'? What did you talk about?
Well, we talked mostly about other works. What so and so liked, how was this guy to work with? He wants to make his own films. I could speak to him almost in short hand. A fifteen-year old boy understanding about the process is very interesting. He knows very much about the film making process, more than adult actors I know.
Were there any conflict between the two of you.
No, none at all. All his contributions and ideas were good. No problems at all.
Is there something in particular that you want the audience to watch for in this commercial?
No, not really . It's just an exciting little moment. Hopefully it will draw some interests from the viewers. All we were trying to do was grab people. There are a couple of little jumps and scares. It was like making a trailer for a zombie movie.
As the commercial's production proceeded, how did you feel about it? Did you want to film more?
Absolutely! Oh yeah, we just got going. Just a little taste. I wish we could stay there for a couple of weeks.
Anything in the works now.
I have a project in the works at Fox called Moon Shadows. It's a horror, scary story for children. Then I have two small things I'm doing.
Is there any reason why you stick with the horror genre?
To be honest, it's what people want me to do. So it's the easiest job for me to get. I've tried to do other things, but it's difficult for me to get them done. I love horror. I grew up on horror. It's also a great way to get things off your chest and then underneath the horror you can put your opinion in.
Are there any projects involving Stephen King that you want to do?
I always want to do Gerald's Game, but no one wants to finance that. I still talk to Stephen often, but he's busy remaking his old movies. (Laughs) And he's become very close with a director named Mick Garris. I still talk to Steve and I'd love to remake 'Salem's Lot' because it was never theatrical, it was only TV.
What made you use a shopping mall as the main stage for Dawn of the Dead?
For a long time I had no idea how to do the second one. I wrote them originally as a short story. The first part of it was the longest part, which became Night of the Living Dead. Part two, the world was sort of unbalanced and you didn't know which way it was going to go. And in part three of the short story, it was just a couple of sentences and it looked like the zombies were going to take over. So that middle section, I never had an idea how to make a whole story out of it. And in the 80s we thought the money was never going to dry up. So I thought a shopping mall would be great.
What happened to the two characters that got away in Dawn of the Dead?
I don't know! (Laughs hard)
Why did you do a remake of Night of the Living Dead?
Well, it's a long story. Basically, the twenty six original investors who had gotten ripped off by the original Night of the Living Dead wanted to just lockdown the title and the copyright. I'm just one guy out of twenty six and I'm not going to say no to that. And these are all my old buddies and so we decided to do it. I wrote it and Tom (Savini) did a great job with it.
What kind of zombie would you be?
(Laughs) My zombie is asleep!
What is horror today?
The psychology is gone. It's the threat and the elimination of the threat is all there is. I don't think you'll find people reading Henry James and trying to figure out Turn of the Screw. Is it in the governess head? or what. We don't go into those things anymore, it seems. I'll show my kid an old film like The Haunting and it's not scary to him. He just can't get there. Even The Exorcist isn't scary by today's standard. Horror today, at the end of the film, is always restored to what you think is the natural order. The idea of horror is to upset the apple card. And yet everybody seems to set it up right again at the end. As though everything is fine the way it is. It's funny, because people use the medium to attack the mechanism of civilization, but then they always seem to restore it to where it was. It's not very satisfying.
Do you think that horror should change with the times?
I think it changes in pop culture because of advances in the medium. The medium itself takes over and so we get more spectacular effects. And unfortunately I think that's become the star. It's very external. I think one of the reasons that Scream was such a success was because it went back to a story about people and was not a pyrotechnical thing. It was an old fashioned… a flash back to films like Halloween. The new sixteen and seventeen year olds haven't seen a film like that before.
Why do your zombie films become more and more real with each one?
Some of that is by accident. When we made Night of the Living Dead I shot it myself. We had six lights, I think. So, some of it is that, the crudeness of Night. But I actually like that. I think that Night and Day are closer in texture. Dawn of the Dead is more like a comic book.
Your films depict people trying to survive. What are your feelings on that kind of existence; your feelings on suicide?
I've used suicide as a solution in couple of my movies, but I don't want to advocate it. The situation is extreme. But I try to maintain the idea that if people were able to communicate and keep a focus on where they were going they could get it done. I mean, these zombies are easy to beat. People create many of their own problems because they are so frantic. But I like the idea of up and down. The basement is salvation in the first film and in the second film it's the attic. Then the next time, they're way underground. Keep riding that elevator. Maybe it's better up there or…
What are your feelings on computer effects?
I think the technology is fabulous; it's a great tool. Unfortunately it gets used for the most obvious things like Godzilla. But when Zemeckis used it to take of Gary Sinise's legs, I thought that was the best use of it so far.