George Romero visits campus

Josh Centers

From Mr. Rogers to man-eating zombies, George Romero’s career in film has spanned the spectrum.

Romero delivered a brief lecture on the film industry and the creation of his most famous film, “Night of the Living Dead,” Monday night in DUC Theater.

After taking questions from the audience, Romero stayed outside Downing University Center and signed autographs while “Night of the Living Dead” was shown in the theater.

“That movie was awesome,” Corbin freshman Kelly Mackey said.

Though “Night” is 35 years old, the film continues to resonate with fans of the horror genre.

“George Romero has always been an idol of mine, and it was a dream to meet him in person,” Owensboro freshman Caitlin Sheeks said.

Romero said he was always interested in film, and he made his own 8 mm films while growing up in the Bronx.

Romero, a college dropout, got his start in the film business by bicycling newsreels around Pittsburgh. At the film labs, he learned the basics of filmmaking.

His first job as a shooter was, ironically enough, for Fred Rogers, the host of the longtime children’s television show “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood.”

“Probably the scariest movie I’ve ever done was ‘Mr. Rogers Gets a Tonsillectomy,'” he said.

Romero soon began his own commercial production company. After shooting thousands of feet of film, Romero said he felt ready to make a movie.

Romero and his friends pitched in $600 each to begin shooting what eventually became “Night of the Living Dead.”

The film, which cost around $70,000 to produce, returned $500,000 in its first year.

Romero also offered advice to young filmmakers and warned them about the greedy film industry.

“My strongest advice is to just go do it,” he said. “Even if no one wants it, you can at least get advice. It can be frustrating. You have to get used to rejection.

“Studio executives think they know more than you, but they’re often wrong.”

He told of his current frustrations with Hollywood in his negotiations with Fox Search-light. He said he is trying to get the fourth installment of the zombie series produced.

He said they want to make the movie, but only if it is titled “Night of the Living Dead.”

Romero described the fourth film, tentatively titled “Dead Reckoning” or “Land of the Dead,” as a kind of class conflict.

“Everyone is living in an enclosed city as everything’s cool, and the real heroes of the piece are the ones that have to go out into the real world to get champagne and cigars for the fatcats,” he said.

Romero’s other current projects include a television movie about Dracula for ABC and a project with Richard O’Brien, creator of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” that Romero describes as a crossover between “Night of the Living Dead” and “Rocky Horror.”

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