John Carpenter is an icon in the world of horror. He mastered the slasher movie with Halloween and then created one of the best horror movie remakes in The Thing. That makes his recent comments seem a little strange, but Carpenter has always been one to speak openly on his feelings. Cinema Blend reported that, when talking about The Walking Dead, Carpenter admitted that he didn’t like it and said The Walking Dead was just a project milking George Romero’s zombie movies.
“[The Walking Dead] was a movie that George Romero made back in 1968. And they have milked that, and they are still milking it.”
Of course, Carpenter’s The Thing was a 1982 remake of a movie originally made in 1951 called The Thing From Another World. It was also based on the novella Who Goes There by John W. Campbell. As for Halloween, it was originally supposed to be the sequel to Black Christmas until the studio and John decided to make it a separate entity with much of the same premise. With Carpenter’s two biggest successful horror movies based on previous material, it seems strange to see him throwing stones at The Walking Dead.
The movies that John Carpenter referenced were definitely what Robert Kirkman was influenced by when he created The Walking Dead comics. Before Romero made Night of the Living Dead, zombies were a Haitian monster that was created by voodoo. However, George Romero, an independent filmmaker at the time, chose to change what zombies were all about.
Instead of being about people that were buried alive and turned into mindless slaves, as the original zombie movies portrayed them, Romero changed them into actual dead people who came back to life with a hunger for flesh. Night of the Living Dead focused on a small handful of people stuck in a farm house. Dawn of the Dead was the masterpiece, with the entire idea being a critique of consumerism in a post-apocalyptic world, and The Walking Dead has these movies to thank for its existence.
Probably where The Walking Dead got its biggest influence from George Romero, outside of the zombies that Romero honestly created, was the way they effect the real world. In Dawn of the Dead, the zombies were there as a backdrop to the humans as they tried to figure out their place in the world that no longer cared about money or luxury, a direct thought line from The Walking Dead. Even more a homage from The Walking Dead is the story from Day of the Dead, where the military got involved and humans were actually more dangerous than the zombies.
However, John Carpenter calling The Walking Dead a product that is just “milking” George Romero seems to be just sour apples. There have been a ton of zombie movies since Romero’s original movies, including some great ones in Shaun of the Dead, Return of the Living Dead, and numerous Italian zombie movies. Picking on The Walking Dead is just picking on the most successful of them all; as Screen Rant explained, there is little to compare the two products outside of the zombies.
Meanwhile, John Carpenter made his name by making a slasher movie that was more successful than Black Christmas, but at the end of the day, John was just milking the home alone horror movie that Bob Clark made by twisting some of the themes. It also doesn’t help that Friday the 13th followed this up with a more successful franchise a few years later.
John Carpenter has only made three movies since 1996, and none of them have been as successful as The Walking Dead. The first was Vampires in 1998, which milked the vampires that were created by classic Universal Monsters. After that, Ghosts of Mars debuted in 2001 followed by The Ward in 2010, neither of which were as memorable as the original. John Carpenter trashing The Walking Dead just comes across as a horror legend who isn’t in the game anymore.