Brad Pitt Killed the Zombies, According to Horror Master George Romero
Film may still be barely alive, but zombies are dead, according to resident undead authority George A. Romero. (That is, authority on the undead. Romero’s fine.) He singlehandedly brought the zombie genre back to life in 1968 with the now-classic Night of the Living Dead, whose rotting subjects have been a horror staple to this day. But the director doesn’t much care for how they’ve evolved, and claims they’re a lot less scarier than they used to be.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter ahead of the MoMA restoration of Night of the Living Dead, Romero talked a bit about what zombie movies and TV shows mean now vs. what they were like back then. Zombie media had a resurgence in the early 2010s which has since petered out, except for a few last bastions like AMC’s The Walking Dead. But, to Romero, zombies aren’t as good as they were.
The Dead are everywhere these days. I think really Brad Pitt killed it. The Walking Dead and Brad Pitt just sort of killed it all.
A bold statement, but, certainly, Pitt’s adaptation of Max Brooks’ found-document novel World War Z wasn’t very well-received, with many saying that the movie missed the entire point of the book in the first place, opting for more of an action-horror film than the cerebral social study Brooks had originally intended.
Max Brooks is a friend of mine, and I thought the film was not at all representative what the book was and the zombies were, I don't know, ants crawling over the wall in Israel. Army ants. You might as well make The Naked Jungle. As far as I'm concerned, I'm content to wait until sort of zombies die off. My films, I've tried to put a message into them. It's not about the gore, it's not about the horror element that are in them. It's more about the message, for me. That's what it is, and I'm using this platform to be able to show my feelings of what I think.
Zombies have evolved from the creepy, slow-walking fiends of the old days into the growling, scrabbling, running World War Z/I Am Legend/Resident Evil villains we have today, and, for Romero, that’s missing the point. The zombie genre is still alive and kicking, at least for a few more years, but for lovers of the classic sort of revenants, it’s been in the ground a long time.