Ohio native and former Chill comic relief Roger Conners has rolled camera and officially moved into principal photography on his directorial debut ‘Night of the Living Dead: Rebirth’. Roger has appeared in over a dozen independent productions with half of them being horror titles. Hhis love for the genre was first kickstarted after his initial viewing of the original George Romero zombie classic ‘Night of the Living Dead’ (1968). Come on inside and read what he has to say about his inspiration and his forthcoming project.
“The original Night [of the Living Dead] is considered a groundbreaking piece of cinema not only for the impact it had on the modern day horror film, but because of its amazing depiction of the prevalent issues that the American public were faced with at that time,” Roger explains. “Topics such as racism, government involvement and cover ups, the exposure of violence through television and media, these are all undertones that are touched on in the original film.”
In the last decade ‘Night of the Living Dead’ has been the recipient (or should we say victim) of four remakes. Two of the original sequels, ‘Dawn of the Dead’ and ‘Day of the Dead’, have even received the remake treatment. In an age where horror plots are recycled and slapped together with the cheapest of glues, it’s important for zombie fans to know that, yes, ‘Night of the Living Dead: Rebirth’ is another re-envisionment, or remake, but Director Roger Conners aims to take the original narrative style of the Romero franchise and give it a more socio-political twist. Taking ‘Rebirth’ just a step further than other re-installments promises to set it apart from the pack. Roger mentions his film’s distinguishing qualities as such: “I feel that many of the current depictions of ‘Night’ have overlooked the fact that, at the time it was released, the piece was so much more than an avant-garde horror film. Our goal is to acknowledge all of the elements that made it so pivotal, and that is what I feel will set us apart from the rest.”
Roger Conners is known throughout the independent horror film industry for his frequent portrayal of homosexual characters, an archetype that is often ignored in the genre seemingly dominated with blood, boobs, and guts. His cheeky and often flamboyant characters have earned him the affectionately dubbed title The Scream Queer as an actor. In this regard, and as an aspiring director, he will swap certain stereotypes for others to give the movie what he calls a more modern feel. “Our goal with ‘Rebirth’ is not so much to remake a classic zombie film, but to honor the masterpiece as a truly important portrayal of our culture at that time. The topics addressed within the original film are still acknowledged along with more relevant concerns such as homosexuality and religious irrationality and violence,” Roger finishes before heading back to his production notes.
“What begins as an annual visit to their family gravesite quickly becomes a night of sheer terror as two brothers are unexpectedly forced to fight back against a sudden onslaught of violent assailants. Soon, eight complete strangers find themselves barricaded inside a rural farmhouse in an attempt to survive against the ever-growing army of murderous creatures outside.”
‘Night of the Living Dead: Rebirth’ is filming around Ohio, based on a script by Roger Conners. Noelle Bye, another former Chill crew member, will work as cinematographer and Ron George, Cassaundra Holloway and GD Effects will be handling the special effects. Confirmed cast members include Roger Conners as Adam, Aswan Harris as Ben, Alvin Hudson as Reverend Harold Cooper, Rachel Anderson as Helen Cooper, RJ Messenger as Johnny, Robbie Barnes as Sarah Chambers, Brad Arner as Tom, Dan Peters as Vince, Benny Benzino as Russo, John Chiara as Ricci, Taylor Nelms as Judy, and Rick Montgomery as George.
‘Night of the Living Dead: Rebirth’ aims for a release in late 2015.