The late George A. Romero didn’t receive the recognition he deserved in his lifetime. After creating the zombie movie as we know it with 1968’s Night of the Living Dead, a copyright snafu on the original negative meant he could never truly reap the benefits of such a creation. His second zombie movie, 1978’s Dawn of the Dead, upped every form of ante possible and cemented the lore of the shambolic ambulatory corpses. While most people argue over whether Night or Dawn is the bigger masterpiece, Romero offered perhaps his most intriguing take on the subject with 1985’s third installment, Day of the Dead.
Now, according to a report in Variety, Day of the Dead will see new undead life as a 10-episode series on Syfy.
Romero’s film was angry and resentful. It saw society fully collapsed following the zombie outbreak. In an underground bunker, a small team of scientists try to study the longterm effects of zombification on corpses; is it possible they could learn? Is there anything left of the humans they once were? Unfortunately, the scientists co-habitate with an increasingly hostile military squadron whose job it is to round up “specimens” for the experiments. Tensions continue to rise until inevitably the outside world breaks in once again.
United Film Distribution CompanyFrom the initial sound of the Syfy series, however, they’re going a much different route. From Variety, “The remake will tell the intense story of six strangers trying to survive the first 24 hours of an undead invasion.” That is, by any reading of Romero’s filmography, much more akin to the plot of Night of the Living Dead, in which strangers hole up in a country house as the dead rise. Seems strange they’d specifically cite Day as the inspiration when Night is in the public domain. “It is described as an ode to Romero’s famous flesh-eaters that reminds us that sometimes all it takes to bring people together is a horde of hungry zombies trying to rip them apart,” continues Variety. Definitely not the tone of Day.
The series has Jed Elinoff and Scott Thomas as showrunners. The pair have an eclectic resume of mostly Disney Channel shows and movies. Although they did write episodes of R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour, Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated, and the weird-ass 2019 The Banana Splits Movie. They also created the Disney series Raven’s Home and the Netflix teen sitcom Malibu Rescue.
United Film Distribution CompanyTwo major factors give me pause about the possibilities for this series. Number one, the resumes of the showrunners. They tend to focus on comedies, and specifically comedies for young people. Day of the Dead is relentlessly bleak, which is part of its… I’m gonna say “charm,” I suppose. Second, Day of the Dead‘s biggest asset is the character of Bub, the “smartest” of the zombies. Though a full zombie, dead for a good long while, Bub exhibits the ability to learn. At least, he recognizes kindness and hatred. Sherman Howard’s performance as Bub is one of horror’s finest.
Without Bub, without the idea that zombies can learn and are themselves a new form of admittedly primitive society, there’s kind of no reason for it to be Day of the Dead.
No word yet on when Syfy’s Day of the Dead will drop. We’ll keep you up to date on any news as it develops.
Featured Image: United Film Distribution Company
Kyle Anderson is the Senior Editor for Nerdist. You can find his film and TV reviews here. Follow him on Twitter!