I drank with a zombie.


My partner Fiona and I were extremely lucky, a few weeks back, to have a pint with John Harrison, who was gearing up to direct an adaptation of Clive Barker’s THE BOOKS OF BLOOD (or one story from that collection, anyway) here in my native Edinburgh.

Putting aside all thoughts of “The SWINE! It should have been ME!” I settled down to my Guinness Extra Cold and found J.H. to be a very affable and interesting sort of chap indeed. I haven’t heard yet if his film has the final go-ahead, but I wish it the best.

Interesting stuff: John talked about his mentor, the literally towering George A. Romero, and how funding had been secured for G.A.R.’s latest zombiefest, DIARY OF THE DEAD, from an unusual source, the private fortunes of a sneaker heir. I think it was Reebok. The training shoe descendant asked how much a film would cost, they told him $20 million, he hemmed and hawed and said he didn’t think he could afford that, so they resourcefully suggested $2 million, and he consented. Fiona asked John if they’d had to product place sneakers on their zombie.

“We didn’t have to, but if we’d had to, WE WOULD HAVE.”

John, it turns out, in addition to scoring DAY OF THE DEAD and directing CREEPSHOW II, played the part of the zombie in DAWN OF who gets a screwdriver embedded in his lughole (censored in the U.K.). Fiona shook his hand. I texted my friend Sam Dale:

i just had a drink w the zombie who gets screwdrivered in dawn ot dead

He texted back:

r u at some kind of horror convention or r u just THE LUCKIEST MAN IN THE WORLD?

I guess it’s the latter.

John directed the TV miniseries of DUNE a few years back, and by strange chance I was at one point planning to work with both the stars of that. Alec Newman, a fellow Scot, who played Paul Atreides, had a nice story about working with Vittorio Storaro.

‘He asked me, “Can you walka downa thees corridor diagonal to the light,  so a-halfa you face ees een shadow, a-halfa een the light?”

‘I said, “I dunno, Vittorio, it doesn’t seem very natural.”

To which the great man replied:

‘”Koh! Alec! MOVIES ees no natural.

You said it, mister.

6 Responses to “I drank with a zombie.”

  1. That’s a MARVELOUS Storaro story. To my mind, the greatest cinematographer ever. And, of course, he’s right: movies create the ILLUSION of naturalness and therein lies the art. I find your brief bio intriguing–I too am “waiting”, anxiously scanning the horizon line for the faintest ray of hope. Ah, life in the arts…

  2. Always glad to hear there’s another Romero on the way. I always say that when I’m President, Romero’s the first guy getting a Medal of Freedom for his stellar work in anti-zombie preparedness. Before Romero, we would have been easy prey for zombies. After Romero, what person above age 10 doesn’t know the basics of the infection process and the proper methods of zombie killing? You can’t overpraise such great public health education efforts.

  3. Absolutely. “Every dead body that is not exterminated becomes one of them. It gets up and kills! The people it kills get up and kill!” Truer words were never spoken.

  4. Cliff! Welcome aboard. I’ve actually decided NOT to wait, and this blog is what I’m doing instead of waiting. We’ll see if it gets me anywhere.
    Storaro is great, and to my mind what’s often thrilling in his work is where he doesn’t bother with naturalism at all, where his lighting is just unreal and beautiful, but with an idea at work behind it. Mario Bava is maybe my favourite cinematographer, because he often ignores logical lighting sources and just makes dazzling images that make no sense, and we find that that works beautifully.

  5. […] by Romero himself, Romero associate John Harrison (read of my encounter with the delightful Mr. H. here) and audio contributions by Stephen King, Wes Craven, Simon Pegg, Quentin Tarantino and Guillermo […]

  6. […] to be) to Romero himself, if anybody can suggest a way to get it to him. Damn, wish I’d got John Harrison’s contact details when I met […]

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