I could, if I were being uncharitable, have titled this one “Romero’s bastards” and perhaps been more accurate. Either “grandchild” or “bastard” implies that there is a familial connection, that the offspring are a part, however indirect, of the bloodline. This is a different thing to something like THE WALKING DEAD, which is simply a ripoff, and a blatant one. To an extent we could say that all zombie movies are ripping off Romero, but the parallels with movies like WORLD WAR Z aren’t nearly so obvious or direct as they are with THE WALKING DEAD. Gotta be fair, people. Gotta call a ripoff a ripoff, no matter how well you think the ripoff did it.
No, I’m talking about movies like THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. John Russo worked on NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD with George Romero. Romero agreed to share the right to the film with him. Russo wrote a book entitled RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, a straight sequel to the film. Russo wrote a screenplay for his novel to be turned into a movie, but the script was rewritten by Dan O’Bannon, the film’s director, to the point that it bore little resemblance to the novel. Most notably, O’Bannon made it a dark comedy. THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD spawned its own franchise, four sequels that may, along with the progenitor, be properly described as grandchildren—or bastards—of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.
Fast-forward to 1998. John Russo released his own version of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD entitled NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION. There was a sequel to that one, entitled CHILDREN OF THE DEAD. That film was so bad that Russo, who only served as producer, has gone on record saying that it’s the worst movie he’s ever done. An ugly little bastard, then. Some of those THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD sequels are pretty terrible, too. Also ugly bastards.
WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS, specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced, and directed (and occasionally acted in) over two dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and True Crime genres. He obtained a doctorate in Occult Studies from Miskatonic University and is an active paranormal investigator. Is frequently told he resembles Anton Lavey. And Ming the Merciless.
Denn die totden reiten schnell!