Before his death in 2017, George A. Romero was still busy with a wide range of potential projects, including those tied to his Night of the Living Dead franchise. One of these ideas was Road of the Dead, an intriguing mix of Fast & Furious-style action and zombies, which would have been directed by collaborator Matt Birman. While the film appeared to be on permanent hold, Birman has recently explained that Romero’s script could still be made.
Speaking to Bloody Disgusting, he had this to say about the prospect of Road of the Dead becoming a reality:
“I had a bunch of support from a bunch of people, but it all sort of went to sh-t. Except for Greg! Greg Nicotero was still with me at the end. He was like, ‘You can use my name if it helps, Mattie!’ We’ll see what happens. It’s certainly not dead. I had a couple of really good meetings in December and January, but COVID shut everything down.”
While production plans are, like most other areas of the industry right now, on hold due to COVID-19, it does appear that Road of the Dead is one that we’ll eventually see, albeit with a new title due to ongoing legal issues. In fact, Birman had this to say about the latter:
“It’ll eventually get made, whether it’s a $4-million movie or a $1-million movie,” the director confessed. “Whether it has stars or no stars. But it’s always gonna be, for me, a continuation of his legacy. It just won’t be promoted as such. So I’m gonna just do it on my own, and you’ll see the dedication at the end. Finally, fans should know the title is now Wolfe Island, only because I had a blood and whiskey promise to G that I could and would never make an ‘…of the Dead’ without him. But I sure as f-ck will make this for him. I miss him terribly.”
Good news, then, for Night of the Living Dead fans, even if the final movie might not technically be part of the series. The story of Road of the Dead/Wolfe Island reportedly takes place after Romero’s Land of the Dead, and involves zombie prisoners racing cars on an island populated by rich humans. So far, so in keeping with the satirical tone of the original Living Dead films, then.
The rights issues that Birman describes explain the delays associated with making Road of the Dead, which was on the verge of being financed when Romero passed away, and even had an official poster drawn up. We’re glad, though, that Birman is likely now able to deliver on his tribute to Romero’s work, albeit with the possibility of him dealing with a lower budget than first anticipated.