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HCFF: George Romero honored by Edgar Wright, Robert Kirkman, Zack Snyder and Simon Pegg

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Friday night was zombie night at the Hero Complex Film Festival. The two films (and one TV show sizzle reel) shown all showed very different takes on the zombie genre, but all four special guests present knew that they had one person to thank for making their work possible: George Romero.

“I think the only thing that me and Simon [Pegg] really feel is that George Romero should always be given proper respect for starting the whole thing, which I don’t think he always is,” Edgar Wright said about his passion for zombie films following a screening of “Shaun of the Dead.”

In addition to Wright and Pegg, Zack Snyder and Robert Kirkman were also present for “Dawn of the Dead” and “The Walking Dead,” respectively. Wright, Pegg and Snyder had the most to thank Romero for, as “Shaun of the Dead” was a comedic spin on Romero’s 1978 classic “Dawn of the Dead,” and Snyder’s film was a direct remake.

“Romero having created the genre and, in a weird way, a world that is kind of unique in that, no matter what, you kind of have to go yeah, we acknowledge that it’s a sort of Romero world, we’re just sort of passing through it. Which I think that’s cool,” Snyder said.

Kirkman also acknowledged that Romero was “a huge influence” on “The Walking Dead.” But according to Pegg, he is the only influence.

“[Zombies are] always seen like being vampires or werewolves. They’re not. George came up with this in 1968,” Pegg said. “Zombies existed in a sort of voodoo way, but he combined it with the cannibal and mixed in a little kind of communicability and you’ve got your modern zombie. That was all George’s idea, and it’s been picked up now and run with as if — and by us as well, although we did it actively by eyeing towards him — but like it’s a free for all, and really George needs to be canonized for what he did, I think.”

In fact, Wright and Pegg went as far as to mean for “Shaun of the Dead” to be a part of Romero’s universe. Since “Night of the Living Dead” took place on a farm, “Dawn of the Dead” in a mall and “Day of the Dead” in an army compound in Florida, the writing team said they considered “Shaun” to be taking place at the same time, except in London.

“What we tried to do, I guess similar to Rob’s show, is we tried to set it within George’s universe. That was one of the things that I always loved about the original Romero trilogy is, as far as I could thing, they were the only horror franchise, or only franchise, that took different stories within the same crisis. There were no returning characters,” Wright said. “That was part of the comedy/horror thing, is we tried not to make the zombies to funny. It’s the reactions of the characters that’s nearly all the jokes, and their reactions to the fact the world is ending.”

After they wrapped “Shaun of the Dead,” Wright had Universal reach out to Romero to see if he was interested in giving his blessing to the project. He agreed, and watched the movie in a Florida movie theater with no one but a Universal security guard keeping him company.

“George watched it and we got a call from him later than night and he couldn’t have been sweeter about it,” Wright said.

Wondering about that Universal security guard? Well, apparently he was there to make sure Romero didn’t bootleg the movie or steal the reels of film. “Like we didn’t owe him money for stealing the title,” Wright said with a laugh.

Though their appreciation of George Romero was universal, Snyder, Kirkman, Wright and Pegg had some differing opinions on the fast versus slow zombies debate. “The Walking Dead” features slow zombies (though Kirkman said that sometimes he gets complains that the TV show’s zombies are too fast, so he’s affectionately dubbed them “speedwalking zombies”), and “Shaun of the Dead” does as well. Snyder’s “Dawn of the Dead” had much faster zombies, as opposed to the Romero film that it is based on.

“I don’t have a preference,” Snyder said. “I don’t have a preference either,” added Kirkman.

He continued, “Well seriously, I know sometimes you get some flack for the running zombies, but the thing is there is room for all kinds of zombies, and the zombies in your movie are totally goddamn awesome.”

That’s a nice sentiment, but Wright was not so kind about Snyder’s decision to include fast zombies.

“Since Rob Kirkman’s gone and since Zack is gone, I’m firmly a slow zombies, man,” Wright said. “The original recipe.”

Pegg was even more passionate in his defense.

“I was having this conversation with Max Brooks, who was saying that they made the zombies in ‘World War Z’ fast, which he wasn’t entirely along with, but we were talking about it and how much we love slow zombies and he said it’s the difference between a bullet and a tumor,” Pegg said. “The tumor is far more sinister and scary than a bullet, and I think that’s key to the slow zombie. I think that’s what’s made them so beloved, is this weird eerie ineptness that they have, which makes them sad, it makes them tragic, it makes you feel sorry for them.”

Where do you fall on the fast versus slow zombie debate? Do you agree with all of these sentiments on Romero? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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