Barbara, they’re coming to get you … again.
Fifty years after Night of the Living Dead first terrified audiences and broke new ground for both Hollywood and the horror genre, a direct sequel to director George A. Romero’s 1968 film is now in the works based on a script penned by Romero and franchise co-creator John Russo.
According to horror movie news site Bloody Disgusting, Night of the Living Dead Romero and Russo wrote a script for a film that would be a direct follow-up to the events of Night of the Living Dead, but it was never brought to the screen. Instead, Night of the Living Dead was followed by Dawn of the Dead 10 years later, which Romero wrote and directed without Russo.
The original sequel’s script will now reportedly find its way to the screen in 2019 as Night of the Living Dead, Part II.
“Unknown to most is that in the 1970s, the original writers and producers of Night of the Living Dead penned a sequel to their masterpiece. A sequel that inexplicably has gone unproduced for over 40 years — until now,” states the announcement of the sequel on NightOfTheLivingDead.com. “Living Dead Media has brushed away the dirt from this amazing follow-up to a classic and brought together a great team to produce the new film.”
While the quick turnaround for the sequel might seem a little questionable, it certainly echoes the indie-filmmaking environment that brought the original Night of the Living Dead to the screen. Romero shot the 1968 film outside Pittsburgh on a $114,000 budget — extremely low by Hollywood standards at any time, let alone in the late ’60s.
Night of the Living Dead followed a group of strangers who seek refuge in a remote farmhouse after flesh-hungry zombies begin rising from the grave and terrorizing humanity. The film was particularly noteworthy for casting a Black actor, Duane Jones, as the film’s male lead. According to Romero, Jones simply had the best audition of all the potential actors.
The film earned nearly $30 million worldwide and despite early criticism for its gore — tame by today’s standards — it eventually received critical acclaim for its clever blend of horror elements and social commentary and was later selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry. Romero and Russo parted ways after the film’s success due to creative differences on where the story should be headed, with Romero going on to write and direct five more Living Dead films in subsequent years. Two remakes of Night of the Living Dead were also produced.
Romero died in July 2017 and reportedly left behind a significant amount of unproduced scripts, literary works, and other projects. There’s no word on which, if any, additional direct connections the sequel will have to Night of the Living Dead.