‘Night of the Living Dead’ Director and Horror Legend George Romero Dead at 77

george romero dead

George A. Romero, the director of Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead, has passed away at the age of 77. The creator of the modern zombie movie, the often imitated but never matched filmmaker still looms large as one of the most important horror filmmakers of all time.

According to a statement released by his longtime producing partner, Peter Grunwald, Romero died in his sleep following a “brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer.” He was listening to the score for his favorite movie, John Ford’s The Quiet Man, and was with his wife, Suzanne Desrocher Romero, and his daughter, Tina Romero, at the time of his passing.

Born on February 4, 1940 in New York City, Romero’s first film as a director sent shockwaves through the genre movie world that are still being felt to this day. Shot in black and what and on a small budget, 1968’s Night of the Living Dead helped set the template for the modern independent horror movie – a young and hungry filmmaker pulls himself up his bootstraps and makes a scary, smart, and relevant experience. The film created an entire new subgenre of horror, inspiring blatant imitations and respectful odes to this day. The success of The Walking Dead on AMC began with Romero’s contributions to the mere concept of the cinematic zombie.

Romero remained outspoken about the horror staple he helped create, later saying of The Walking Dead: “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.”

Night of the Living Dead used a zombie apocalypse as a background for simmering chamber piece about racial tension and features one of the horror genre’s first great, black heroes, played by the fierce Duane Jones. His politically tinged zombie tales continued with 1978’s Dawn of the Dead, which took on America’s commercialism with the force of a crowbar to an undead skull, and 1985’s Day of the Dead, which drips with despair and paranoia as it explores the apocalypse from a military bunker.

Romero found it difficult to separate himself from the genre he popularized and his later zombie movies find him attempting to find something new to say while treading turf that even he admitted was familiar. 2005’s Land of the Dead, 2007’s Diary of the Dead, and 2009’s Survival of the Dead are more interesting than most zombie movies, sometimes feeling more like bold (and sometimes not successful) experiments.

Even when he wasn’t tackling the undead, Romero continued to build his career on horror. 1973’s The Crazies is a another politically charged horror tale and 1982’s Creepshow (the first and not the last time he would work in the world of author Stephen King) remain well-regarded One of his few non-horror films has earned a devoted cult following – 1981’s Knightriders, about a medieval reenactment troupe, has received acclaim in the decades since it came and went in theaters.

Even if George Romero just made the first modern zombie movies and created a formula that would be repeatedly borrowed and reinvented for 50 years, he’d be remembered as a horror icon. But George Romero did all of that while making thoughtful, funny, scary, and relevant movies that wielded shock factor like a fine blade. His work was pointed and political, even as it was inspiring generations of moviemakers, make-up artists, and monster fans. His thumbprint lurks on film and television, clear as day to anyone with access to a movie theater or a television. He will be missed.

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‘The Shallows’ Director Jaume Collet-Serra Might Direct ‘Suicide Squad 2’

Suicide Squad 2 director

After a lengthy search, executives at Warner Bros. and DC Films may have finally found their Suicide Squad 2 director. Deadline reports that Jaume Collet-Serra, the Spanish filmmaker behind movies like Orphan, The Shallows, and the Liam Neeson vehicles Unknown, Non-Stop, and Run All Night is now the frontrunner to helm the villain-centric comic book movie sequel.

The report stops short of confirming that Collet-Serra is officially in the driver’s seat, instead saying that the “studio is focused on” him to take over from David Ayer, who wrote and directed the original film last year. So while it doesn’t sound like the ink is dry on the contracts just yet, it wouldn’t surprise me if an official studio confirmation comes down the pike soon; WB distributed Orphan, Unknown, and Run All Night, and Collet-Serra has proven he can deliver profitable movies operating with mid-range budgets.

Will Smith and Margot Robbie are reprising their roles as Deadshot and Harley Quinn (respectively) in Suicide Squad 2, which has been a priority for the studio. The first film, which centered on a group of imprisoned supervillains forced by a shadowy government agency to team up and save the world, made over $ 745 million worldwide but was critically reviled – largely because it’s a sloppily-edited story that reeks of studio meddling. It famously had a laundry list of problems, including the fact that Ayer wrote the script in just six weeks and, most problematically of all, there were such powerful clashes behind the scenes about the movie’s tone that the studio enlisted a trailer editing company to create a separate edit of the final movie, which ultimately became the final cut that was shipped to theaters.

Warner Bros. previously met with Mel Gibson to potentially direct the sequel, but considering the way many of Collet-Serra’s previous films have fully embraced B-movie silliness while still showing a strong grasp of craft, he sounds like a better pick to direct Suicide Squad 2. And with the overwhelmingly positive response to Wonder Woman, we know Geoff Johns and Jon Berg are looking to ditch the dark and gritty vibe of the DC Extended Universe and make the movies fun. But I’m still worried about this movie because it’s being written by Adam Cozad, whose only produced credits thus far include the forgettable Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and last year’s The Legend of Tarzan.

The movie could begin filming as early as next year, but it doesn’t have an official release date staked out yet. Perhaps this time the studio will make sure the script is up to snuff and everyone is on the same page about what kind of movie it will be before they get in over their heads again.

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‘Fate of the Furious’ Director May Not Return, But Teases Outer Space Future for Franchise

Are We Getting a Fast and Furious Outer Space Future?

The fate of the Fast and Furious franchise is uncertain. While the once-scrappy street car racing films have turned into globe-trotting action movie phenomenons that rake in billions at the box office, the series may be facing some changes behind the scenes.

Director F. Gary Gray, who took the wheel for Fate of the Furious after Justin Lin and James Wan had ushered the series into blockbuster territory, has expressed reservations about returning to the franchise. This arrives on top of Michelle Rodriguez threatening to leave the series over the treatment of its female characters, casting a shadow over the films — even as stars Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson supposedly put aside their “candy ass” feud. But there’s one silver lining: Gray is not opposed to finally taking Fast and Furious to outer space.

The Fast and Furious films have gone through five directors since the The Fast and the Furious first sped into theaters in 2001. But under the oversight of Vin Diesel and screenwriter Chris Morgan, who wrote every Fast and Furious film since Tokyo Drift, the series has skyrocketed in both spectacle and box office returns. This was thanks in large part to director Justin Lin, who injected a high-octane energy into the films and introduced the extended family dynamic while transforming the plots into heists and spy thrillers rather than street racing stories.

The escalating bombast of the series was maintained by James Wan, who directed Furious 7, and finally Gray with Fate of the Furious. But the series may be changing hands again, after Gray expressed uncertainty over his return — first responding to Entertainment Weekly‘s queries about his return with a vague “Who knows?” then telling ScreenRant that his schedule is starting to look too packed to consider another Fast film:

“Right now I’m starting a company, so that is my focus for the last couple of months. I had a chance to take a week off, a vacation, and then jump into some prior stuff that I had to take care of. And in the midst of starting a company, so that’s what I’ve been dealing with.”

Perhaps this is a chance to bring a female voice to the franchise. After Rodriguez made her argument for better treatment of female characters — and supposedly pay equity for the actresses — Diesel gave his support to her, responding on Instagram, “we must try to reach higher each time.”

Hopefully whoever directs Fast and Furious 9 would be as open as Gray is to finally taking the series to new heights and bringing the franchise to outer space. Even as Gray was vague about his return to the director’s chair, he told ScreenRant he wouldn’t rule out a cosmic sequel to Fate of the Furious:

“Outer space? Listen, I wouldn’t rule anything with this franchise. When I read submarine I’m like ‘OK, anything’s possible’. [Laughs] You never know. I haven’t read “Dom on Mars” yet but again, you just never know.”

We’ve joked about how the Fast and Furious series becomes so increasingly over-the-top and expansive — the series so far has hopped from Miami, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, Abu Dhabi, London, New York City, and Cuba — that they may as well just boldly go beyond where humankind has gone: space. I mean, if we can have a movie where the Rock throws a torpedo, we can have Vin Diesel piloting a rocket into the sun and transcending this mortal coil.

The post ‘Fate of the Furious’ Director May Not Return, But Teases Outer Space Future for Franchise appeared first on /Film.


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Director Barry Jenkins’ 14 Favorite Films from the Criterion Collection

What kinds of films pique the interest of Oscar-winning filmmaker Barry Jenkins?

Have you ever dreamed of entering the Criterion closet and perusing their massive collection of historically and culturally important films? If you’re a cinephile, you probably have, but if you’re a celebrated filmmaker, like director Barry Jenkins, you actually get to do it. Back in November, while promoting what would become the future Oscar-winning film Moonlight, Jenkins visited Criterion and was invited to thumb through their library, and he not only got to live every cinephile’s dream, but he also had the exact response every cinephile would have once being enveloped in all of that cinematic goodness:

«This is a bit overwhelming. There’s too much good shit in here.»

Here are Jenkins’ top Criterion picks:

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No Film School

How to Make the Jump from Lowly PA to Almighty Director [PODCAST]

‘Tramps’ director Adam Leon makes a case for why everyone needs to do time on set as a production assistant.

Adam Leon made only one short before breaking onto the indie scene with his SXSW winning debut feature Gimme the Loot. With a budget around $ 60,000 the writer/director won the «Someone To Watch» award at the Film Independent Spirits and was able to get his film into almost every notable film festival on the market, including a run in the Un Certain Regard competition at Cannes.

How did he pull it off? Hard work and humble beginnings. Leon’s work ethic was noticed on set as a PA and as a result of his efforts, he found collaborators and producers that were eager to invest in his future.

His latest film, Tramps, debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival last summer and was quickly scooped up by Netflix. It follows a young man and woman as they are unwittingly thrown into the middle of a money drop off gone awry. But for Leon, the real challenge came in crafting a genuine romance without leaning on cliche.

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CS Video: Director Denise Di Novi and Her Unforgettable Cast

CS sits down with Denise Di Novi and her Unforgettable cast. Check out our Unforgettable cast and crew interviews.

CS sits down with director Denise Di Novi and her Unforgettable cast

This Friday, Warner Bros. Pictures brings to the big screen Unforgettable, a dramatic thriller that also represents the directorial debuts of Denise Di Novi. Di Novi, who has been working in Hollywood as a producer for more than three decades, is responsible for films like HeathersEdward Scissorhands, Batman Returns, The Nightmare Before Christmas and many more. CS recently had the chance to sit down with Di Novi and her Unforgettable cast (including stars Rosario Dawson, Katherine Heigl, Geoff Stults and Cheryl Ladd) to talk about what made her decide that Unforgettable was the right film to finally move into the director’s chair.

RELATED: It’s Rosario Dawson vs. Katherine Heigl in the Unforgettable Trailer

Unforgettable stars Heigl as Tessa Connover, who is barely coping with the end of her marriage when her ex-husband, David (Stults), becomes happily engaged to Julia Banks (Dawson)—not only bringing Julia into the home they once shared but also into the life of their daughter, Lilly (Isabella Rice). Trying to settle into her new role as a wife and a stepmother, Julia believes she has finally met the man of her dreams, the man who can help her put her own troubled past behind her. But Tessa’s jealousy soon takes a pathological turn until she will stop at nothing to turn Julia’s dream into her ultimate nightmare.

The Unforgettable cast also includes Simon Kassianides (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Whitney Cummings (The Wedding Ringer) and Robert Wisdom (Chicago PD).

The film is also being produced by Di Novi alongside Alison Greenspan (If I Stay) and Ravi D. Mehta (Grudge Match), from a screenplay by Christina Hodson. The behind-the-scenes creative team is led by multiple Oscar-nominated director of photography Caleb Deschanel (The Right Stuff, The Natural), production designer Nelson Coates (Flight), editor Frédéric Thoraval (Taken), and costume designer Marian Toy (Ballers).

The post CS Video: Director Denise Di Novi and Her Unforgettable Cast appeared first on ComingSoon.net.

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‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ director James Gunn has made up his mind about ‘Vol. 3’

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Your favorite bunch of a-holes will return, and so will their faithful captain.

Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 writer and director James Gunn has confirmed he’ll be back to write and direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which has not yet announced a release date. 

Gunn dropped the announcement on his Facebook page, explaining that he’d only come to the decision after a lot of thought. «I needed to know it was, in my heart, what I truly felt called to do,» he wrote. «I have never made choices in my career based on anything other than passion and love for the stories and characters, and I didn’t want to start now.» Read more…

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Official Trailer for Netflix Film ‘Tramps’ Made by Director Adam Leon

Tramps Trailer

«We gotta get that briefcase.» Netflix has debuted a trailer for indie romantic comedy Tramps, from writer & director Adam Leon, of the NYC film Gimme the Loot previously. The story follows an aspiring chef in NYC who gets caught up in a crazy adventure when he has to help his brother finish a drug deal. But when the briefcase exchange goes wrong, he ends up running all over the city trying to figure out how to get things back in order. Callum Turner stars, along with Grace Van Patten, Michal Vondel, Mike Birbiglia, Margaret Colin, Louis Cancelmi, and Rachel Zeiger-Haag. I guess the unique twist in this is that he falls for the driver girl, which is kind of nice to see. It definitely feels like an indie, but has lots of heart, too. ›››

Continue reading Official Trailer for Netflix Film ‘Tramps’ Made by Director Adam Leon


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‘Labyrinth’ Spinoff Will Be Directed By ‘Don’t Breathe’ Director Fede Alvarez…Uh, What?

labyrinth-1

Are you ready to return to the mystical world of Jim Henson’s 1986 film Labyrinth? TriStar Pictures sure hopes you are, because after years of stops and starts, they’ve hired director Fede Alvarez to helm a continuation. Yes, I assure you that you read that correctly: the guy who made Don’t Breathe and the Evil Dead remake is making a new Labyrinth movie.

Labyrinth wasn’t a hit upon initial release, but the movie has since become a cult classic and a cultural touchstone, especially for women who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s. I came to the film late – I only saw it for the first time a few years ago – but it has great characters led by a young Jennifer Connelly and an absolutely mesmerizing performance by David Bowie, and I can see why a generation holds it close to their hearts.

A sequel or continuation of has been in the works since at least 2014, and last year, it was reported that Guardians of the Galaxy writer Nicole Perlman was tapped to write the screenplay for a remake. She quickly took to Twitter to clarify the situation:

But now Deadline reports that TriStar has hired Alvarez to direct and co-write the screenplay with Jay Basu (Monsters: Dark Continent), and there’s no mention of Perlman’s name anywhere, so it seems like she’s off the project. She’s currently writing Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel with Inside Out writer Meg LeFauve.

But let’s take a step back and talk about how strange of a choice Alvarez is for this material. Deadline’s sources assure them that this Labyrinth movie will be a “new story within the universe created in the original movie,” it’s specifically “not a remake,” and David Bowie’s character – Jareth the Goblin King – won’t be involved. So even though we don’t know anything about its plot, it’s safe to assume The Henson Company and TriStar, who are co-producing this film, will attempt to recapture the original’s tone so they can aim at a similar age group. (Jim Henson directed the first film, and his daughter Lisa Henson will be a producer on the new installment.)

Alvarez has directed a violent Evil Dead remake, the disturbing and suspenseful Don’t Breathe, and he’s now working on The Girl in the Spider’s Web, Sony’s sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. None of those projects are anywhere near “family friendly,” so this strikes me as a peculiar choice. But when I was watching Don’t Breathe, I remember being incredibly impressed by his ability to stretch tension to its breaking point, so if he’s able to tackle a more lighthearted tone with that same level of control, he might actually do the impossible and make a Labyrinth movie that lives up to expectations of fans who adore the original.

What do you think? Is Alvarez the right guy to tackle a new Labyrinth movie?

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