What Might Have Been: The Unmade Works Of George A. Romero, Horrific Hungry Hippos, A HOCUS POCUS Featurette And More!
In this Issue:
- Horror History: What Might Have Been: The Unmade Works Of George A. Romero
- Image of the Week: Board Games, But Make Them Horror
- Tiny Bites – This Week’s Best Horror Headlines
- Things We Love: It’s Just A Bunch Of Hocus Pocus
- Hey, That’s Us! – Shudder in the News
What Might Have Been: The Unmade Works Of George A. Romero
By Daniel Kraus
After George A. Romero’s estate asked me to complete his unfinished epic zombie novel, The Living Dead, I spent some time cycling through a series of emotions. Ninety percent of them were variations of disbelief that I would be a part of finishing Romero’s fifty-year zombie saga — the same zombie saga that was my own origin story, having seen Night of the Living Dead at the impressionable age of 5 or 6.
The best way to shake it off was to get to work. That began with months of research, not only into Romero’s work but into the man himself, learning what made him tick, interviewing his wife to understand his motivations, and studying the art that he loved so that I might be inspired by the films and books that inspired him.
Eventually, my research led me to the nascent George A. Romero Archival Collection, recently acquired by the University Library System at the University of Pittsburgh (who have since acquired my own archives). I got permission to sift through endless boxes of Romero ephemera, production documents, correspondence, treatments, and, yes, unproduced screenplays — seemingly hundreds.
Soon all of these items will be publicly accessible to read. This is exciting, as the world is about to get a much fuller idea of the kind of artist Romero was and, more poignantly, the kind of artist he wanted to be. Namely, one allowed to work in a variety of genres.
Though that didn’t happen, the archive allows us film geeks to, well, geek out at the Romero films that might have been. My Co-Author’s Note at the end of The Living Dead includes a long list of unproduced Romero projects. Now that it’s October (and the official George A. Romero Day is just behind us), here’s a peek at just a few of the might-have-beens.
Whine Of The Fawn
This was intended to be Romero’s directorial debut: a Bergman-esque tale following the travails of a 15th-century traveler in England. It’s a great read and includes an ending every bit as unexpectedly brutal as Night of the Living Dead.
The Bell Witch
Based on the Tennessee legend, this was a project that Romero worked on for decades in different iterations. The idea of seeing him work in an early 1800s setting is tantalizing.
Romero’s interest in the Bell Witch is bested only by his obsession with making a Bigfoot film. The archives are stuffed with his repeated efforts (including some wonderful sketches). He came close twice: once in the 70s with a script called The Footage and again in the 2000s with one titled Cryptid.
Though awkwardly titled, this is one of my favorite unrealized Romero projects: a western populated entirely with women. Seeing as Romero was a die-hard western fan, it’s interesting that his only real stab at getting one made took this angle.
One of the most commercially attractive properties in the archives is this big-budget TV pilot, which has the feel of The Godfather set in a world of vampires. If I had to bet on one of these unmade scripts getting a future greenlight, it’d be this one.
War of the Worlds: The Night They Came
Romero does H.G. Wells. Need I say more? Well, I will: it centers on a UFO crashing into a skyscraper and unleashing aliens into the building.
One of the older projects in the archive, this is a campy sendup of 1950s monster flicks intended to star the Pittsburgh Steelers. You read that right.
Macbeth with robots.
No, we didn’t get these projects. But George A. Romero changed the face of horror. We can hardly complain about that, can we? Stay scared.
Daniel Kraus is the co-author with George A. Romero of The Living Dead, as well as the author of many other novels.
IMAGE OF THE WEEK
Board Games, But Make Them Horror
Graphic designer Justin Bryant decided to try something out while in lockdown, so he made a series of posters for hypothetical horror adaptations of kids board games including this deeply terrifying one for Hungry Hippos we are not eager to play with.
SCHITT’S CREEK, HISTORICAL INFLUENCE AND MORE
Alice Cooper is doing his best to make this the best Halloween yet by hosting a kid-friendly spooky story hour on October 21st — full costumes highly encouraged.
If you’re looking to do 31 days of horror this month, Complex’s 31 movies to die for may be the perfect guide.
Rotten Tomatoes’ guide of the 90 best horror movies from the 70s will definitely help fill your Halloween watchlist with classics and obscure gems alike.
Film School Rejects adds more fun to the film recommendations with this truly killer list of Canadian horror gems.
Gamespot put together a list of 23 horror video games perfect for this Halloween to play solo or safely with friends. We highly recommend Until Dawn into the wee hours.
TIME reflects on the impact of profound historical moments like the Great Depression on art and how the pandemic will influence horror movies in the future.
This list we didn’t know we desperately needed ranks Schitt’s Creek characters from least to most likely to survive a horror movie.
IndieWire looks at Todd Browning’s Freaks and his empathetic and destigmatizing portrayal of disability.
This recap of NYCC’s panel on The State of Black Horror Post-Get Out highlights some of the deeper issues plaguing Black filmmakers in the genre.
These eight iconic horror movie props sold at auction for some scary high prices.
Elle got nostalgic and a little decadent with these 13 vintage red carpet photos from classic movie premieres.
Follow that up with Bustle’s list of horror novels to cozy up with during Halloween lockdown.
More into comics? Never fear, Marvel is here with their top 10 horror title recommendations from Marvel Unlimited.
Enjoy the fabulousness that is drag star Sasha Velour’s campy horror photoshoot and new zine, Creature From The Vinyl Lagoon, from Vogue.
THINGS WE LOVE
It’s Just A Bunch Of Hocus Pocus
‘Tis the season for rewatching Halloween classic Hocus Pocus, and we found this ultra-fun making-of featurette from 1993 that we thought you’d love as much as we do.