When George A. Romero died last year, he left behind four unfinished movie projects. One of them is a film called Road of the Dead, which he co-wrote with longtime friend and collaborator Matt Birman. Birman will be directing the film, which was the original plan even before Romero’s sudden passing last July.
According to Upcoming Horror Movies, the movie will feature zombies driving in drag racing contests as amusement for human survivors living on an island. Two of the movie’s main characters are a “despotic General” who controls the island and a genetic scientist who is “using the contests as a front to develop an antidote that will enable humans and zombies to live together.”
Although Road of the Dead will be a zombie movie, it will not really be a horror film. In one of his last interviews, Romero described it as “really almost a comedy, though it’s got scares and spooky moments and all that.” He also called it “The Fast and the Furious with zombies.”
What has happened to this project since Romero’s death? Some progress has been made in moving the film closer toward production, but the movie has not actually been made yet.
After Romero’s death, Birman and film and television producer Matt Manjourides sought funding for Road of the Dead at co-production market Frontières according to an Indie Wire article. Their marketing pitch for the movie worked.
On October 27, 2017, Screendaily reported that two production companies came “on board” for this project, JoBro Productions & Film Finance and EMAfilms. They were joined by Justin Martell and French sales and acquisition company Elle Driver. Both Martell and Elle Driver will serve as executive producers along with Birman and Manjourides.
Screendaily also announced that “the production features a number of other Romero collaborators, notably special make-up effects creator Greg Nicotero.” Currently, Nicotero is working as “co-executive producer, supervisor and occasional director on The Walking Dead.”
As of this writing, Road of the Dead is still in the pre-production phase according to Elle Driver’s website. No announcements have been made about who will star in the film, but Elle Driver’s website provides a few more new details about the crew members of the movie.
Greg Nicotero and Diary of the Dead costume designer Alex Kavanagh will serve as costume supervisors for the film, and Arvinder Grewal will be the film’s set designer. According to IMDB, Grewal was nominated for the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC) Craft Award for Outstanding Production Design – Feature Film for his work on Romero’s Land of the Dead (2005).
The only other new information listed on the Elle Driver website is the movie’s date of first release: September 1, 2019. This date concurs with Birman’s plan to “prep the movie in the spring of 2018, shoot next summer, and deliver the film in time for Halloween.”
In an interview with Dread Central just days after Romero’s death, Birman noted his “great responsibility” to the legacy of the legendary filmmaker. Although continuing Romero’s work is a “daunting” and “difficult” challenge, he also predicts that Road of the Dead is “gonna be terrific” and “awesome.”
We shall see if he is right.