Bob Clark, Dead Things and the Savini/Romero Connection




I’m not one to post other people’s “news” and call it my own.  It’s a sin of the internet that literally thousands of sites feed off established sites, reposting their items and rebranding the information a “scoop;”  often, these predatory vultures don’t even credit the original source.


I am, however, one to write about what interests me, and what I gather will interest you, Death Ensemble’s audience.  I won’t ever regurgitate stories, but in your interest, I will comment on them when I see fit.


Enter Bob Clark, dead things, and the long dormant Tom Savini/ George Romero connection.








After I completed the Savini Retrospective the other night, I found myself on Tom’s website.  It not the all-inclusive site legions of fans may have hoped for, but it’s got a page full of video content.  There’s his appearance on Letterman, an interview in his shop conducted by fellow Romero alum John Russo, a trailer for some movie called THE SADIST.


And then there’s his 2010 interview from Sitges, Spain.


Interviewing isn’t an easy job, when you’re basically asking the same questions your subject has been asked 10,000 times.  For instance, when I interviewed Lori Cardille recently, I had to adjust my questions on the fly, because the guy before asked everything I was going to ask, down to the final question mark.  Not to his fault, but Spanish guy wasn’t asking Savini anything the makeup artist didn’t have a pat answer to for the last quarter century or so.


And then, in minute # 9, Savini actually went off the script.  While discussing how to make up zombies, he mentioned that he and Romero were scheming to work together again, for the first time in a long time.  Their project:  a remake of Bob Clark’s CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS.


Now, before you jump at me, I’m not claiming this is news.  Savini gave this interview back in October, 2010, when I was still officially editor-in-chief of the soon-to-be defunct Icons of Fright.  Several horror sites did what they always did:  steal, and post it as their own “news.”  But I’ll be damned if this isn’t worth discussing.











Take the historical view.  Long before he first worked for Romero on MARTIN and became a king of gore with DAWN OF THE DEAD, Savini worked his very first gig as makeup assistant for Alan Ormsby.  As Savini mentions, the picture was DEATHDREAM. Its director was Bob Clark.  It was Clark and Ormsby’s follow-up to CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS.  If Savini were to do effects on a new version, his career would come about as close to full circle as it can, barring him working on a remake of DEATHDREAM.  As someone who appreciates the history of horror, I would dig that.  Today, it’s impossible to imagine Savini having a career without attaching it to Romero.  For him to go back to his pre-George roots, with all the knowledge he has of makeup after 30+ years, offers a certain intrigue.






DEATHDREAM movie poster




How would he handle the effects now?  Would he try to be even more realistic than he was with his zombies in DAY OF THE DEAD, or might he even go retro and slap on some blue facepaint for old times’ sake?  Would he go all-out on the gore as in DAWN, or dial it back, as the original was rated PG and wasn’t really so gory?  He makes mention in the video that these zombies are rising from the grave, so they would be disintegrated and skeletal, which would offer a whole new world of possibilities for the makeup guru.  And he’s forward thinking in that he would mix CGI with the practical effects.


Now consider the Romero side of the equation.  How cool would it be to see what Romero would do with zombies outside the Romero-verse?  He’s done it before, in both CREEPSHOW and TWO EVIL EYES.  But those were the takes of Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe, respectively.  Here, he would have to re-imagine and interpret another director’s zombies.  CHILDREN’s zombies were inspired by the living dead of Romero’s own NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, but much goofier.  The key difference is the people they bite and kill don’t reanimate.  I’m guessing that Romero would change them into strictly Romero zombies;  if he did, would it be fair to rechristen the film CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH LIVING DEAD THINGS?  Wow, is that really clunky.  Let’s hope they stick with the already wordy original moniker.




Gratuitous Alan Ormsby and ascot



Even the plot possibilities get me going.  In NIGHT, Romero introduces the living dead early.  Clark takes forever to introduce his, focusing the first hour + on bitchy, longwinded diatribes that never seem to end.  It’s only the last 20 minutes or so that things pick up.  And will there be a corollary to the Alan character, masterfully played by Ormsby?  His ascot steals the show, and his absurd dialogue and fey histrionics are the only things that keep me engaged.  If Romero writes the script—and I think that has to be a given –I’d love to see his take on Alan.  I also wonder what social commentary Romero would include in his script, as Clark’s take on the hippie generation is long outdated.


Honestly, it’s likely this project will never get off the ground.  Directors are attached to projects all the time, and most of them don’t ever come to fruition.  Looking to the imdb is a waste of time, as it’s got Romero listed to direct a remake of his pal Argento’s DEEP RED.  But I’ve heard him openly state this was never set in stone.  Remember when he was attached to King’s FROM A BUICK 8, or the bizarre zombie rock flick DIAMOND DEAD?  I do, and none of them got made.  In fact, last I heard from Romero himself, he was working on two more tie-ins with minor characters from DIARY OF THE DEAD.  And he freely admits those might never get made, as he’s 73 now.  He may never make a movie again.





Romero gives Savini the business





But damn, just the idea of him and Savini, collaborating again after all these years, on a remake of Bob Clark’s drive-in zombie flick.  It gives me butterflies in the stomach.  Two legends of the genre, and one ascot, and this could be the most interesting project that zombies have seen in years.


-Phil Fasso



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One Response to Bob Clark, Dead Things and the Savini/Romero Connection

  1. Hoagy says:

    Awesome article. Without wanting to sound like an uber-nerd, one of the characters in CSPWDT did in fact ‘reanimate’ after being bitten, it was either Roy or Emmerson, whichever was the one that was buried in the coffin and provided Alan’s original ‘gag’. You see him stagger past later in the film after all the zombies have arrived and have been terrorizing the group. Toward the very end of the movie I believe. Probably another shot at irony as the live guy playing the dead guy is now a dead guy walking around, mirroring Orvilles ‘dead guy is now ‘alive’.

    Keep up the good work!

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