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Day Of The Dead TV Series In The Works At SyFy

The dead will have their day if Syfy has anything to say about it. 

A small screen reworking of George A. Romero's zombie film Day of the Dead has earned a straight-to-series order from the network, Deadline reports. The 10-episode first season has Jed Elinoff and Scott Thomas (R.L. Stine's Haunting Hour) pulling double-duty as writers and showrunners. Set to premiere in 2021, the series is being produced by Cartel Entertainment, the same company behind the hit Shudder anthology series Creepshow — another Romero-directed '80s classic. 

The few details that have been released about the upcoming Syfy show point to a slightly different story than the 1985 film. Day of the Dead is set to follow six strangers as they struggle to survive the first 24 hours of an undead invasion. This may sound familiar to fans of Romero's work; it sounds quite a bit like the plot of the movie that gave birth to the zombie genre as we know it, 1968's Night of the Living Dead.

In Day of the Dead, the third cinematic chapter of Romero's iconic series, a small team of scientists and soldiers are trapped inside an underground bunker in the Everglades after zombies have overrun the world. As tensions rise between the scientists working to cure the pandemic and the soldiers protecting them, the bunker becomes as dangerous as the horde of deadly zombies gathering outside. 

All six movies in Romero's big-screen Living Dead universe focus on the same outbreak, but at different points in time and with different groups of people following the initial zombie takeover. So, while the original film's plot may not exactly match up with its TV counterpart based on the brief synopsis we have now, the small screen series' characters may end up connected in some way to the 1985 storyline.

Syfy's Day of the Dead may lean into the use of zombies as social metaphors

The upcoming series' description promises a show that will remind viewers "that sometimes all it takes to bring people together is a horde of hungry zombies trying to rip them apart." This signals that beyond reanimating the classic scares of Romero's movie zombies, the series may also be sticking closely to the director's exploration of social issues through his flesh-eaters. 

Romero's work in the horror genre, as well as the broader pop culture landscape, has always been about more than making the undead mainstream. The Night of the Living Dead director described the film as "tragedy about how a lack of human communication causes chaos and collapse," with future installments tackling a horde of other social issues, from racism to conformism to consumerism. Max Brooks, author of the New York Times bestseller World War Z and a man who knows a thing or two about Romero's filmograhy, told Rolling Stone"Dawn of the Dead is the single most searing indictment of [Romero's] generation ever."

"The films of George Romero... just [keep] drilling down into more and more cultural and historical awareness," Brooks said. "Dawn of the Dead is nothing less than the complete annihilation of the soul of the baby boomers. It deals with their complete surrender of anything idealistic and the embrace of materialism and consumerism."

Brooks pointed only to the late director's criticism of older Americans, but many of the same issues that plagued his generation can be translated to younger audiences. The continued success of the zombie genre on the big and small screen, coupled with the resurgence of social horror films like Get Out and The Invisible Man, prove that now may be the perfect time to let Romero's flesh-eaters loose once again.