Another Romero scares up a movie | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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Another Romero scares up a movie | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

To the rest of the world, George A. Romero is the godfather of the ghouls.To G. Cameron Romero, he’s also his dad. So, when he showed him a finished copy of his second movie, “Staunton Hill,” he admittedly was nervous but the elder Romero said, “That’s as scary as it gets.”The younger Romero recalls, “He looked at me, there was a long silence after it was over and I was kind of looking, waiting because let’s face it, a.) he’s my dad and b.) even if he wasn’t, I’m an independent filmmaker about to show a movie to a legend.”The legend, of course, helped invent the zombie genre with “Night of the Living Dead,” its sequels and imitators. George A. Romero’s stamp of approval turns up on the back of the DVD of “Staunton Hill” (Anchor Bay Entertainment, $19.97), which became available for sale and rental earlier this month.The horror movie is set in Virginia in fall 1969 when young people hitchhiking to peace rallies in Washington, D.C., stumble across the depraved, diabolical Stauntons.In a sly nod to the Dead dynasty, one of the characters picks up a movie camera and asks, “Have you seen ‘Night of the Living Dead’? And do you believe in zombies? Are you afraid, young lady?”She will be once she meets the crazies living on a farm where hogs aren’t the only creatures being butchered. The movie is not rated but is R in nature for grisly violence.Made for less than $1 million, “Staunton Hill” was filmed in Fombell, Beaver County, as well as Harmony and other locations mainly in Butler County.It stars Sherry Weston, Kathy Lamkin and BJ Hendricks as three generations of Stauntons; Kiko Ellsworth, Cristen Coppen, David Rountree, Paula Rhodes and Christine Carlo as the travelers; and Cooper Huckabee and Charlie Bodin as strangers they encounter along the way.It’s Romero’s second feature but the first to make it to DVD. “I feel like it’s a major milestone for me,” said Romero, 37, who splits his time between Cranberry and Los Angeles.”I feel like this is something that I, along with pretty much every other independent filmmaker, works for and when you get it out there and it’s out there in the world, all you can do is just hope that it’s received.”And I don’t actually care if it’s received poorly or if it’s received well, because at least it’s being received.”Romero wanted to pay homage to the genre of 1970s horror and the films that influenced him when he was younger. This script, written by actor Rountree, allowed him to do that.”I didn’t want to be one of these people saying, ‘Oh my God, I want to do the next $100 million movie where everything blows up.’ I wanted to make a good movie, I wanted to make a disturbing movie and I wanted to make a movie that I knew we could make on a shoestring.”The budget affects everything from casting to catering to shooting days, which here totaled 18 days (during which time Romero suffered respiratory failure from inhaling fumes from a diesel generator). “If there’s a little ripple on a smaller production, it goes out huge.”He still remembers the ripples, or goosebumps, from the movies of his youth. “I wanted to make a film that, when I watched it, made me remember how I felt when I watched those movies. That’s not any one in particular movie.” Still, he recalls being on the uneasy edge of his seat watching “Cannibal Holocaust” and “Suspiria.””I started watching horror movies when I was very young, so I saw a lot of stuff in my ‘formative years,’ ” such as “Evil Dead” and “Army of Darkness.”The 1969 setting of “Staunton Hill” means no technological tethers. “In today’s world, it’s not a feasible story because somebody’s going to have a cell phone.”In the ’60s, someone might use the N-word, as happens here. But hitchhikers would climb into a stranger’s truck or crash in an unfamiliar barn. “You didn’t look at people back then and think, ‘Wow, if I have lunch with this person, he may kill me.’ “When Cameron was making “Staunton Hill,” his father was busy with “Diary of the Dead.” He passed along the same lesson the second-generation director learned on his first movie: Know what you want, know what you want to accomplish, and be as prepared as possible.Cameron thanks his dad in the credits but he also pays tribute to his mother with a dedication at the end: “I love you Mom, Nancy Jane McKim, 1933-2008.”As box office figures show, the horror genre is as robust as ever. “I think horror has become almost like a safe place.”Horror is a study in the absurd, and I think with the way everything’s going, the way the world is going, the way people are getting, with all this connectivity making us actually withdraw even more, it seems, people like to escape into the absurd and that’s horror and that’s comedy.”They’re two sides of almost the same coin, I think. It’s about timing, it’s

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By | 2017-11-10T02:31:33+00:00 October 26th, 2009|Projects, Romero the Younger|Comments Off on Another Romero scares up a movie | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette