Why 'The Walking Dead' Trumps George A. Romero

Sorry, George, but your zombies have been served by a little ol’ TV show.

Zombies have been shuffling across movie screens for decades in films like ‘I Walked with a Zombie’ and ‘The Last Man on Earth.’ But director George A. Romero gave the genre new, er, life with his 1968 classic ‘Night of the Living Dead.’

Romero is still making zombie movies, but they lack the bite of his best shockers like ‘Dawn of the Dead.’ His ‘Diary of the Dead’ was a well intentioned but clumsy attempt to fuse the genre with ‘Blair Witch’ style found footage. And ‘Survival of the Dead,’ with its laughable Hatfield-McCoy feud, should have been put out of its misery before reaching movie theaters.

A great zombie story demands more than masticated human flesh. And that’s where AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’ comes in.

The surprise hit’s second season begins at 9 p.m. EST Oct. 16. Based on the popular graphic novel, ‘Dead’ boasts some serious cinematic pedigree – including producers Frank Darabont (‘The Shawshank Redemption’) and Gale Anne Hurd (‘The Terminator’). But it’s the all too human cast that made people tune in week after week, led by the strong-willed Rick Grimes (British actor Andrew Lincoln).

The show doesn’t just revel in the genre’s gore factor, although a few sequences from last season made ‘Dead’ an ideal choice for struggling dieters. It makes us root for the survivors of the zombie outbreak, something that happens all too infrequently in zombie films where it’s all about the gruesome head shots.

Can ‘Dead’s new season equal last year’s six-episode arc? Darabont is no longer the ‘Dead’ showrunner after being unceremoniously canned during the production of season 2, and this season promises seven additional episodes which could put a strain on the show’s writing team.

We can only hope Romero will be watching as season two unfolds and taking notes on how to pump fresh blood into his own zombie films.

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