Saturday, January 22, 2011

The "Never Got Made" Files #43 - #47: Night of the Living Dead Romero projects

Horror legend George Romero has made a lot of great films.  What is surprising is he has probably been attached to more unmade films than any other horror director I can think of (Guillermo Del Toro will surely take the crown before his career is over).  I could go on and on about the various projects he toiled on to no avail, but that would probably kill the internet.  Instead, I will only focus on the projects that actually got so far as to have visual representation in the form of pre-production advertising.


This project was announced as a potential film property by Laurel Entertainment in the early 1980s.  However, the genesis actually stems from a pre-NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD period when Romero was at Carnegie Mellon University. According the to the essential Romero biography (well, up to 1985 at least) The Zombies That Ate Pittsburgh, Romero did a radio program with friends Rudy Ricci and Diane Lang called “Attack of the Zilches.”  Ricci described it as “a take off on those 1950s science-fiction movies, where teenagers are attacked in cars.”  According to Zomibe’s author Paul Gagne:
Ricci later wrote an as-yet-unproduced script for Romero and Richard Rubenstein based on the same essential idea, INVASION OF THE SPAGHETTI MONSTERS (originally SHOOBEE DOOBEE MOON).
Laurel took out a huge, two-page ad for the flick which looked like GREASE crossed with MAD magazine.  Surprisingly, the idea of bloodsucking aliens looking to impregnate earth chicks didn’t catch on (I blame the next year's E.T.).

Two more ads for the film that appeared in Variety circa 1980:


A few years later, Laurel teased film fans with a mystery film that promised “the creation of the hero of the century” and that it was “coming soon to theaters and wherever magazines are sold.”  Hmmmm, what could this possible be. Well, it turns out Laurel partners Romero and Rubenstein had tried to look into the film rights of various comic book characters, but found the licensing rights too expensive.  Their solution?  Why we will create our own comic book character and make a movie about him while we’re at it.  Laurel teamed with Marvel Comics to create this new superhero and here is what Romero said to the New York Times about it:
“The superhero character is the sheriff of Philadelphia in the not-too-distant future.  According to Romero, the script “will be a typical introduction of a superhero – how he came into his powers – and will take him through his first series of adventures.  It will have some solid social values and a little social satire and there will be a lot of weaponry and vehicles.”
Well, unfortunately for fans of weaponry and vehicles, the project never got off the ground.

Interestingly, comic artist Bob Layton put up artwork from the proposed comic on his site and details his involvement during 1984-85 on this unrealized project.  You can check it out here:

The sci-fi bible STARLOG also ran this tiny blurb about the then unnamed project in 1983:


Do I really need to say anything about this one?  Long rumored to be Romero’s dream project, the adaptation of Stephen King’s epic 800-page virus novel is what initially brought the two horror-meisters together.  When funding couldn’t be realized (they wanted at least $20 million), the duo opted to do CREEPSHOW instead.  After that film’s success, Laurel continued to push the title with Romero attached (even going so far as to propose it as a two film series).  In the end, George and Laurel parted ways in the late 80s and THE STAND was eventually made as a sanitized and bland TV mini-series by Mick Garris.  *shakes head*


This project popped up post-MONKEY SHINES as one of three films Romero was attached to (the other two being Laurel’s long-gestating PET SEMATARY and a remake of THE TURN OF THE SCREW; neither got made by Romero).  While discussing his monkey mayhem thriller in Fangoria #76, Romero said the following about the project:
Fang: What picture’s next on the agenda after MONKEY SHINES?
Romero: Theoretically, I’m supposed to start working on something called APARTMENT LIVING.
Fang: Is it a feature-length DARKSIDE remake, as rumors suggest?
Romero: No, it’s not a remake.  It’s about an apartment that eats people.  The building is alive, and it eats people.
Fang: What do you mean by “theoretically” you’re supposed to start working on it?
Romero: I don’t know for sure about it.  There’s no picture right now that’s ready to start shooting.  I don’t mean to sound evasive, I just literally don’t know what’s going on with APARTMENT LIVING, though it tentatively has probably the best shot – as far as financing – to be the next picture ready to go.
Cinevest ran several ads in Variety for the film during 1988-89, but the film never got before the cameras and Romero went on to make THE DARK HALF.


Not much is know about this project but I include it just for the interesting pic.  Following the nightmare post-production period on THE DARK HALF, Romero came under contract to New Line Cinema to develop new horror films. One title was THE BLACK MARIAH, an adaptation of the debut novel of author Jay R. Bonansinga.  Sounding like horror combination of DUEL and SPEED, the novel tell the story of a black truck driver who comes to the assistance of a guy on his CB radio who says he can’t stop his car because it is cursed and if he does he will die.  The publisher was so sure that this film deal would go through that they sent out the original paperbacks with a line on the cover reading “soon to be a major motion picture directed by George Romero.”  D’oh!  It never got made.

6 Reactions:

  1. Heya, Schtoffer from the Spasmo Mixtape blog, just wanted to say a big thank you for being the "nut" to scan & upload these fantastic images (hopefully more to come?). As you noticed, I posted some highlights over at my blog, hope that is cool..? I wasn't even aware of your blog - you can be sure I'll be adding a link you now! Again, big thanks for those scans - I'm still trembling at the thought of Charles Bronson in a Cannon produced Golem remake..? Amazing...

  2. Hi, this is for William S. Wilson. I am a writer and would like to get hold of you for a small interview if possible? You can reach me at


  3. Great post. Lost of cool archaeology to dig up all this.

  4. There were also paperback versions of THE STAND released that touted it as a major motion picture coming soon from Stephen King and George A. Romero. If I can find my copy I'll send you a pic.

  5. Thanks for that info. Will have to find a pic of it if you can't find yours.

  6. Apologies to Eric Hoffman as his comment got deleted by mistake. Here is what he said. Thanks for that link!

    Eric Hoffman

    Here's that image


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