When it comes to the gory genre of zombie horror, there is no one more revered than director George Romero. From 1968′s cult classic Night of the Living Dead, to his latest, Survival of the Dead, which opens in theaters today, his work has been delightfully grossing us out for decades. There’s no question: He’s a horror film pioneer with a thing for gallons of fake blood. And now, he’s taking his zombie influences digital.
App of the Dead is his latest zombie venture, a camera plug-in for your iPhone that will zombify any photo you take and will be available in the iTunes App Store soon. I got a chance to talk with George and Don Tyler of Additive, who designed the app’s zombie-ing capabilities.
Allie Townsend: We’ve seen a mini zombie renaissance in the past few years. Has it given you any new waves of inspiration?
George Romero: As a filmmaker, I love the medium. I have a great affection for it and I’ve been lucky enough to work for 40-some plus years now and do all different kinds of films. The greatest part of the success I’ve had comes from horror. I love the idea of mixing humor and horror and to me, it’s all a giggle. I grew up on DC comic books.
I’ve been able to use these zombie films as sociopolitical satires. That’s made it very gratifying. I don’t know, maybe I’m the Michael Moore of the genre. That’s the most fun for me.
Now as to why zombies are so popular, I don’t know. I attribute it mostly to video games than to movies and hopefully this app will be fun for people.
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Three-thousand people came out to Toronto for a zombie walk. I don’t know why, but for some reason people want to be zombies. Whenever we’re shooting a film, we have no problem at all recruiting extras. Everyone wants to be a zombie. Now that, I can’t answer. I cannot for the life of me figure out why 3,000 people would want to goop up their face and come out for a zombie walk. There’s some sort of perception of these characters, they’re sort of the blue-collar monsters. That, or maybe it’s just a cheap costume?
AT: When you were putting together this app, was there a certain aesthetic zombie look you were going for?
GR: It’s all versions of the makeup we’ve used in the films, so I’m happy.
Don Tyler: What we did was gave the ability of the user to make it as serious as they wanted to or make it as fun as they wanted to in keeping with the spirit of George’s movies. You have the ability to blend the scars and the eyes and the abrasions into the skin so it looks very photo real, but you also have the ability to slap it on there and turn a shampoo bottle into a zombie if you wanted to.
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GR: Shampoo of the Dead, a new product. Ooh, Mr. Potato Head.
DT: There you go.
AT: Mr. Potato Head should be a zombie.
GR: How do you know he’s not?
AT: Good point. Have you used the app on yourself yet?
GR: I have not, but Don has.
DT: I did turn George into a zombie.
GR: You never showed me that. He’s turned everybody into a zombie: his daughter, his wife, but he’s never showed me the one he did of me.
DT: Well, it’s an extremely addictive app.
AT: In the past few years, we’ve seen special effects advance in a big ways. Have you ever considered going back into your films and tampering with different scenes?
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