The Making of George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead
By Lee Karr
Foreword by Gregory Nicotero
Plexus Publishing – 2014
288 pages, $24.95
I really appreciate Lee Karr’s approach on this extensive chronicle of how George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead was made. He uncovers literally everything about the production, good and bad. Usually if there is something you revere as much as Karr feels about this film, you’d figure he’d just talk about the positive things. Thankfully he doesn’t by digging deeper, much further down into the guts of making a movie on a limited budget with a director that had to cut down his vision, a cinematographer that didn’t want to work with the director and a wild loose cannon special make-up effects leader within a dank, cavernous mine.
Gregory Nicotero, who got his start on Day and has gone onto great heights as the co-founder of KNB EFX Group and now an executive producer of AMC’s hit series The Walking Dead writes the foreword.
George A. Romero had a grand vision for his third installment of the Living Dead trilogy. His first draft of the screenplay ran over 200 pages. When Romero wouldn’t agree on guaranteeing an R-Rated movie, it left Executive Producer Salah M. Hassanein no choice but to trim down the budget, since the movie wouldn’t be able to play everywhere and get all advertising. This led to a lot of back forth between both sides before they could be of the same opinion on a draft of the script that would be acceptable to fit the money allotted.
Around this same time Romero got tired of Pittsburgh and decided to move down to Florida and in the process alienate some of his longtime co-workers & crew. One of these people was his Director of Photography since Martin, Michael Gornick. Apparently there were a couple reasons for this internal strife, which mostly came from Romero not properly saying goodbye to Gornick when he left Laurel Entertainment office in Pittsburgh and because Romero was pissed that Gornick continued to work on Laurel Productions outside of Romero. This is the first time I’m ever hearing of these particular struggles, which makes this book even more worth reading.
Then there’s Tom Savini. The celebrated, lauded special make-up effects artist, who became a star on Dawn of the Dead, is described as an uncontrolled person that likes to play around performing practical jokes or screwing any willing lady that comes his way. Some of his crew members paint a very different person than you might expect, which mostly comes from his inflated ego and belief that he was someone special. When bored, Savini’s crew, his team of make-up effects artists, at the encouragement of Savini himself would get in trouble by causing all kinds of mischief.
Karr goes into great detail about every single shooting day, including “the quote of the day” and commentary from every possible cast & crew member that worked on the film.
To go along with this you get a massive scale of never before seen photos (both color and black & white), drawing illustrations (including the infamous min-comic book about Tom Savini’s conceded behavior) and more.
You don’t have to be a fan of the living dead or even horror to enjoy this fantastic book.