There is one name that excites horror fans like no other: George A. Romero. Among genre royalty, Romero is one of the kings, respected and revered by legions. With his new DIARY OF THE DEAD so eagerly anticipated, news of his involvement with another film—one being shot in his old stamping grounds of Pittsburgh—was just the icing on the proverbial cake. “George A. Romero Presents…DEADTIME STORIES”—the title alone was intriguing: a new throwback to CREEPSHOW and TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE? The news spread across the web like a virus. Then came the skepticism: How would the maestro be involved? Was this a real project?
Well, Fango is pleased to announce that, yes, DEADTIME STORIES is indeed a real project, written by Romero’s longtime friend Jeff Monahan (whose credits include the director’s BRUISER and Tom Savini’s short project CHILL FACTOR), who is co-directing with Michael (DEATH SPA) Fischa and Matt Walsh. DEADTIME STORIES, an anthology consisting of three separate tales—no cheesy wraparound here—has already completed principal photography on the first two installments, with the third to be determined and filmed throughout February. Romero and his wife Christine (whose Sanibel II Films is producing in collaboration with Monahan’s 72nd St. Films and Fischa and Walsh’s 555 Films) are serving as executive producers, and it was with their blessing and guidance that the project commenced.
Pittsburghers have been closely following the progress of this movie, which promises to be classic local horror—new history for the Zombie Capital of the World. The first story, “Dust” (pictured below), about the cure for cancer found in a Martian element—and its terrible consequences—lensed under Fischa’s direction at Penn State Fayette and the Connellsville cemetery. In 20-degree weather, monsters walked (and shivered).
The second tale, “On Sabbath Hill,” about a college professor haunted by one of his students, marks Monahan’s debut as a director. Though he’d written the stories for DEADTIME—and almost 100 more to boot—and has appeared on screen in dozens of movies, he’d never called the shots before. So his own excitement mounted as the production set up at the hauntingly Gothic (and allegedly haunted) Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA. “ ’Sabbath’ was written for Seton Hill,” Monahan tells Fango on the set, in between checking his shot list and approving FX head Steve Tolin’s makeup for the tale’s comely ghost. “I’m thrilled that we’re shooting here. I love the atmosphere the school brings to the story.”
“Atmosphere” doesn’t begin to cover it. As the crew heads off to a new classroom location, this writer stays behind to shoot a couple of quick photographs. Suddenly, I’m swallowed by the quiet and the dim, wood-lined hallway. My boots echo as I hurry to catch up. I can feel the ghosts of the past all around me. It couldn’t be a more perfect location.
With the holidays looming, DEADTIME STORIES is wrapped for the moment; production will pick up again in January on the third tale, with Walsh at the helm. “We just made the decision which one to do,” Monahan says. “And, man, I can’t wait!”
Be sure to visit 72nd St. Films’ official website for more information.