George A. Romero once had plans to make zombie-themed musical Diamond Dead, but it was canceled by the studio; here’s the unmade movie, explained.
George A. Romero once had plans to make the zombie-themed musical Diamond Dead, but it was canceled by the studio; here’s the unmade movie, explained. Romero is the creator of the modern-day zombie mythos and first rose to prominence with 1968’s Night of the Living Dead. This kickstarted a long-running franchise for the director and he inspired a new wave of independent filmmakers with his guerilla shooting techniques.
The Living Dead series consists of six feature films, all written and directed by George A. Romero, with the original trilogy (consisting of Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead) regularly cited among the best zombie movies of all time. While George Romero’s films had an almost unprecedented impact on popular culture, he often struggled to operate within the studio system, leaving behind a wealth of abandoned screenplays and ideas after he passed from cancer in 2017. One such idea, a zombie-themed musical, had the makings of a cult classic – had a studio been willing to indulge Romero’s madcap sensibilities.
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According to Wicked Horror, Romero’s zombie-themed musical was called Diamond Dead and told the story of a female musician who joins a rock band, only to cause their untimely deaths. Coming face-to-face with Death (of the scythe-wielding variety), the musician strikes a deal – reanimating herself and the band as a group of undead rockers, hungry for flesh. Set to feature music by Rocky Horror Picture Show composer Richard Hartley and with Alien helmer Ridley Scott attached to produce, Diamond Dead was an attractive proposition and several big names circled it including Johnny Depp and David Bowie. Sadly, the film was ultimately abandoned as it was viewed as too risky by the moneymen involved.
While Diamond Dead never made it to cinema screens, the project was eventually revived as a stage musical by Dead Rock Productions and performed at various festivals across the United States, winning Best Musical Pick of the Capital Fringe Festival in 2008 (via Coming Soon). Additionally, 2017’s Anna and the Apocalypse – a lesser-known British film – combined Romero’s zombie musical concept with the teen comedy and Christmas movie genres to create a bizarre, yet critically well-received, genre mashup.
Though Romero passed away in 2017, his legacy lives on through another previously abandoned project, Twilight of the Dead, which is set to be produced in accordance with his widow Suzanne’s wishes. The movie is said to bring the Living Dead series to a more fitting end than 2009’s Survival of the Dead and will explore where the group of wandering zombies from Land of the Dead went after that movie ended. While Twilight of the Dead sounds like a lovely tribute to George A. Romero’s genre-defining work, Diamond Dead – a subversive take on the zombie tales the director loved and was loved for – regretfully remains in development hell.
Next: George A. Romero’s Zombie Movies Ranked, Worst to Best
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