The death of horror legend George A. Romero was very much on the minds of the producers of AMC’s “Fear the Walking Dead” during the show’s Hall H panel Friday morning — especially effects artist and series executive producer Greg Nicotero, who worked with Romero on 1985’s “Dawn of the Dead.”
“I’d probably be taking out real kidneys instead of fake kidneys,” Nicotero said about meeting Romero, who gave him his big break on the zombie film. Nicotero explained that he originally studied to become a doctor before finding his calling as a makeup effects artist.
Nicotero said that the success of shows like “Fear the Walking Dead” and “The Walking Dead” stands as a tribute to Romero’s lasting impact. “[It’s wonderful] that something he developed and thought of that still goes so strong. It is such a nice tribute.”
“He really broke down the boundaries in the late ’60s. When… ‘Living Dead’ came out, he had social commentary,” Nicotero said, noting that it was uncommon in horror of the era. “We’re doing the same thing.”
Nicotero also expressed gratitude for the impact Romero had on the craft of makeup effects: “[Tom] Savini and George really opened the door for hundreds of makeup artists,” he said.
Nicotero ended his tribute with a story from the production of Romero’s “Land of the Dead,” on which Nicotero served as special makeup effects supervisor. One actress’ performance was so frenzied, at one point her arm went up in the air as she flailed around, blocking the special effects in the shot. Nicotero was frustrated by what he saw as an error. But Romero was delighted.
“He told me ‘You know what? That was real. I love the imperfections.’ He said those imperfections make things real,” Nicotero continued.
“I learned [that] you embrace everything unexpected.”