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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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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

E.coli-class-

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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