While George A. Romero is world renowned as the grandfather of zombie horror, what is not as well known is that he was often asked to help adapt some popular franchises to the big screen. While it may be hard to comprehend, the reason that this is not common knowledge is that many of the projects never progressed beyond an initial script or treatment.
One such project was the first Resident Evil movie, which had a script written by Romero that was tossed out in favor of the Paul W.S. Anderson version we were given. Yes, that's right - the master of zombie horror wrote a script based on the greatest zombie video game and someone decided not to bother going with it. What has emerged recently is news that Romero also adapted R.L. Stine's Goosebumps when the book series was in its prime.
While the Goosebumps franchise had a so-so TV series in the 90s, it wasn't until the 2015 Jack Black movie that R.L. Stine's creepy collection made it to the big screen. The latest movie, and its sequel, were not however the first attempt to bring Stine's spooky works to a cinema audience. Tim Burton was once linked to direct a movie based on one of the Goosebumps series, and we have now learned that Romero also once had a go at scripting the very first book published in the series, Welcome To Dead House, which as you would expect was a zombie story.
The script was unearthed in the George Romero Archive by the University of Pittsburgh Library System's Horror Studies branch who then shared details about the project that would surely have delivered an amazing movie had it been developed further.
The team revealed, "The Stine book is set in a town called Dark Falls whose inhabitants are, secretly, the living dead. When the Benson family moves in, young Josh and Amanda discover that a flashlight beam is sufficient to crumble the town's residents into dust. Every year, the town must feed on the blood of a new family to sustain their undead existence."
"Romero retains the basic scenario and all of the major character names but tweaks the story in revealing ways. In the Stine book, the zombification comes, a la Return of the Living Dead, because of a mysterious gas that escapes from a local factory. Romero makes the capitalistic origins more emphatic: the town patriarch, the wealthy Foster Devries, has in death possessed the town. The state of living death experienced by the residents stemmed from a supernatural power that Devries has now shared with/imposed on the town."
The explanation continued to describe how the house in the story is "undead, as it is possessed by Devries' spirit. Devries/the house feeds off its inhabitants, sucking out their energy until they die, after which they are revived to join the rest of the undead in the town."
More details about Romero's script can be found at the University of Pittsburgh Library System's Horror Studies website. The University of Pittsburgh acquired the George A Romero Archival Collection in 2019 and a team have been working to preserve some of the lost masterpieces that could have been from the archive, having discovered the likes of this Goosebumps script and more such as an abandoned adaptation of War of The Worlds, just going to prove that even the work of the best in the business don't always make it to screen. We were first made aware of this story via Bloody Disgusting.