Based on the acclaimed series of graphic novels by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard, the AMC smash hit action horror drama, “The Walking Dead”, returns on Sunday February 10th to begin its highly anticipated set of new episodes.
Developed for television by screenwriter/director Frank Darabont, “The Walking Dead” premiered in the fall of 2010 to critical raves and immediately developed a rabid following who became swept up by the show’s cinematic storytelling, riveting suspense sequences, and of course, the outstanding zombie makeup work by Greg Nicotero and his KNB EFX team.
As was the case with now classic “Battlestar Galactica” re-imaging on the SyFy Channel, “The Walking Dead” takes a fantastical premise and treats it with respect by presenting a world full of gritty realism, angst, and fully developed, flawed and fascinating characters.
There is no denying the show’s enormous visceral impact. The character death scenes are some of the most upsetting you will ever see on a screen big or small. The action sequences are beautifully staged and executed with the shocking gory delight of something one would find in a 1970s Italian horror film by a master such as Lucio Fulci or Dario Argento. But it is the zombie films of Pittsburgh based filmmaker George Romero where “The Walking Dead” draws most of its inspiration.
Romero always packed his movies with social and cultural subtext, especially his two masterpieces, “Night of the Living Dead” (1968) and “Dawn of the Dead” (1978). “The Walking Dead” has continued this tradition by showing the human race reverting back to its prehistoric roots of extended family tribalism, a social behavior can be seen in other great apes today and is part of our evolutionary history.
Visually, it is “Dawn of the Dead” that has the greatest influence on “The Walking Dead”. The decision of the producers to shoot the series on 16 mm film is no accident. Even though both “Night of the Living Dead” and “Dawn of the Dead” were shot on 35mm, using the Super 16 mm format is an effective way to give “The Walking Dead” a retro, 1970s stylized look and make the zombies appear even more like something out of realistic nightmare.
“Dawn of the Dead’s” other enormous influence on the show is of course the zombies themselves and Tom Savini’s landmark make-up work that serves as inspiration for the KNB EFX team.