Hey guys! Brian here real quick. We’re teaming up with our friends at DailyDead.com to bring you even more content related to The Walking Dead and zombies! We asked Jonathan to check in with TWD director/EP/make up god Greg Nicotero and he came back with the goods!
One of the best things about the popularity of The Walking Dead TV series is that it introduced a whole new audience to the world of zombies and put a spotlight on the movies that inspired it. I always love hearing when The Walking Dead inspired someone to check out George A. Romero’s original ‘Dead’ trilogy for the first time, as there are so many great zombie films for new fans to catch up on.
You may be familiar with Greg Nicotero from his work on The Walking Dead, but he’s been working on zombies since 1985. For those who are unaware, he got his big start working with George A. Romero and Tom Savini in Day of the Dead, not only assisting with the special effects, but having a role in the movie as well.
Since then, Greg Nicotero has worked on special effects makeup on over 100 movie and TV projects, including Evil Dead II, Misery, Army of Darkness, From Dusk Till Dawn, Sin City, Breaking Bad, Django Unchained, and many more. If you’ve ever seen Greg Nicotero interviewed, caught him on a panel at a convention, or met him in person, you know how much love he has for the horror genre and the projects he works on.
Zombie fans with a keen eye may have spotted a zombie Easter egg or two in The Walking Dead, and with Greg Nicotero having directed the latest episode of The Walking Dead Season 4, I thought it would be a great time to share a portion of an interview session I took part in during the third season. Here’s what Greg Nicotero had to say about adding special zombie cameos into episode of The Walking Dead:
“The creative freedom I have on the show is unparalleled in regards to the prosthetics and the makeup effects work. Because I am a director and an executive producer on the show, there’s not a lot of approval process that I have to go through with the other producers.
Gale literally said, “You’ve been in this world for almost 30 years. You know it.” Robert Kirkman and the other producers trust my input and my visual direction in terms of the walkers. So it really gives me the ultimate creative freedom to design whatever kind of walkers and whatever walker kills we want to do.
Being a fan of the genre that I am, every once in a while, I’ll throw in little in-jokes. So, for one of the walkers in the [Season 3] gladiator sequence we did an homage to the original Dawn of the Dead. There’s a walker when the lights come on that is Flyboy from Dawn of the Dead. We had the guy with the white shirt and the torn out throat in brown corduroy slacks. So if you see it real quick you’re like, “Oh my God… it’s a celebrity cameo walker character.”
When you watch Episode 303 and you see all the heads in tanks in The Governor’s room, I’ve re-created Ben Gardner’s head from Jaws. So the head that pops out of the boat in Jaws is in The Governor’s tank. I’m throwing little nods in there to movies like Dawn of the Dead and Jaws — all my favorite movies that really nobody else knows.
You’ll spot them as you watch the show or if I talk about it and those little fun things geek me out. In Episode 315, I did another little in-joke. The camera operator Mike Satrazemis came up and said, “There’s some significance to this walker isn’t there?” I asked him how he knew it, and he said because I’ve done three set ups on it and I’ve shot it three times, so clearly I’m loving it for some reason.”
If you missed the special walker cameo in Episode 315 (the walker mentioned in the last paragraph), it’s the airport zombie from Dawn of the Dead. There’s also a gore scene in Episode 402 that pays homage to Day of the Dead, so make sure to check that out if you missed it. Take a look at the photos below and let us know if you’ve spotted anything else in the past episodes or catch anything in The Walking Dead Season 4’s latest episode, directed by Greg Nicotero.
And for those of you who just started getting into zombies because of The Walking Dead, definitely give the classics a try to see where it all began. I’d suggest getting started with the original Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead. You can always follow that up with Zombie, The Return of the Living Dead, Dead Alive, and 28 Days Later to see zombies that look or act a little differently from your standard walker.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
After spending more than 10 years as a consultant in the entertainment and tech industry, Jonathan James launched Daily Dead in 2010 to share his interest in horror and sci-fi. Since then, it has grown into an online magazine with a staff of writers that provide daily news, reviews, interviews, and special features.
As the Editor-in-Chief of Daily Dead, Jonathan is responsible for bringing the latest horror news to millions of readers from around the world. He is also consulted with as an expert on zombies in entertainment and pop culture, providing analyses of the zombie sub-genre to newspapers, radio stations, and convention attendees.
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“Flyboy 2013″ Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Feat Photo Credit: Scott Garfield/AMC