A sequel to Night of the Living Dead is currently being developed, with a screenwriter and director already attached. The original film, which was directed by master of horror George A. Romero, came out in 1968 and became an instant classic. It follows a young woman who is visiting her mother’s grave with her brother, where they are attacked by an undead revenant, resulting in her brother’s death. She hightails it to a nearby farmhouse, where various survivors have gathered and attempt to fend off the horde of zombies bent on devouring their flesh, all while vehemently disagreeing on the exact details of how exactly to do that.
Night of the Living Dead is an iconic film that changed the horror genre forever. Before it came out, the only zombies present in horror films were the undead servants of the Haitian vodou tradition, as seen in entries like 1943’s I Walked with a Zombie. The idea that the undead have an insatiable hunger for human flesh and can pass along their zombieism was invented in Night of the Living Dead, a film that notably doesn’t even use the word zombie, instead opting to describe its titular living dead as « ghouls. »
Now, per Deadline, Village Roadshow Pictures, Chris Romero, George’s company Sanibel Films, Origin Story, Vertigo, and Westbrook Studios are all partnering on a brand-new Night of the Living Dead sequel with an eye on expanding it further into a new franchise. They have attached Nikyatu Jusu, whose film Nanny won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year, to direct. For the screenplay, they have tapped LaToya Morgan, who counts episodes of The Walking Dead among her many television credits.
The legacy and continuity of Night of the Living Dead is somewhat complicated. Romero kept returning to the well of zombie films throughout his career, first in 1978 with Dawn of the Dead. He followed up that project, which is also a well-regarded classic, with 1985’s Day of the Dead, 2005’s Land of the Dead, 2007’s Diary of the Dead, and 2009’s Survival of the Dead. Although each film is linked by their sociopolitical themes and the « Dead » title, there is no real sense of continuity between individual entries, each of which tells a self-contained zombie apocalypse story.
It seems likely that this would not be the case with this new Night of the Living Dead project. Because the film is in the public domain, it has received many sequels, reimaginings, and remakes over the years, including Romero’s own 1990 Living Dead remake, which was directed by Dawn of the Dead makeup artist Tom Savini. However, this film, which is being given an air of legitimacy by the presence of Romero’s own company, could potentially be the first film of that number to offer a true feeling of consistency and continuity with the original classic.