At Comic-Con@Home, SYFY debuted the first trailer of their new zombie series, Day of the Dead. And to celebrate, showrunners Jed Elinoff and Scott Thomas, director Steven Kostanski, and cast members Keenan Tracey and Natalie Malaika also spilled a few details about what fans could expect from the upcoming series.
Check out the trailer for Day of the Dead below, and keep reading for a recap of the panel.
Taking Inspiration from Romero’s Films…
Day of the Dead isn’t a direct adaptation of George A. Romero’s classic film of the same name, but it does take plenty of inspiration from it. Some characters that appeared in Romero’s films make appearances in the series, as well as plenty of other little easter eggs. During the panel, Scott Thomas elaborated on how Romero’s films inspired the series, saying:
“We looked at characters from the movie, and we went ‘what’s a different way of presenting that character? Who would that person be today?’ And we really wanted to expand it, get the story out of the bunker and expand it to this town, this entire town. And sort of let the first season of the show be what leads to everyone having to be down in the bunker… In doing that, it was really fun to drop in little scenes inspired by the movie, and little nods, little easter eggs, fun little things. And obviously, we have Rhodes, who’s as big and a jerk as he was in the movie. McDermott is a character from the movie, and he’s not a detective. Still drinks too much.”
…While Telling a New Story
While the series does take inspiration from Romero’s films, Scott Thomas and Jed Elinoff also wanted to tell their own story filled with new characters and a whole lot of fun. Thomas elaborated on their approach, saying:
“So, what we did was we really tried to take inspiration from Day of the Dead, and go ‘what’s a modern story that we can tell that feels like it lives in the world of Romero?'”
Additionally, they decided to lean into the show’s title – Day of the Dead – by having all ten episodes take place within the same 24-hour timespan. Thomas explained:
“It all happens in one day… Every character has a big day planned, it’s a big day for everybody. There’s an election for town mary. Natalie’s character, Lauren works at a funeral home. And she’s given the opportunity to do her first solo funeral, without the boss there… There’s a party, senior skip day is that day… Everybody has a big day, not knowing the dead also are planning a big day, and they’re gonna ruin everyone else’s day.”
Romero’s zombie films are as known for their social commentary as they are for their zombies. And the Day of the Dead series will be no exception. For Thomas and Elinoff, it was very important to focus on how the zombies might unite a heavily divided town. In explaining this, Thomas said:
“We tried to work a little bit of social commentary into this. There’s fracking that’s going on in the small town, that’s divided the whole town. The political environment of this town… It’s very split down the middle, it’s very volatile… So, we really tried to sort show this town is divided, all these things. There’s a lot of sordid history to this town, and people who haven’t been treated very well. But then, the big thing we wanted to do was really go ‘how do we take those people who are all at odds, who are all from different walks of life, who have all different points of view, and then let the zombies be the enemy?'”
How do the zombies in Day of the Dead differ from other shows?
One thing Scott Thomas and Jed Elinoff wanted to ensure was that these zombies didn’t feel like zombies from any other show. So, to differentiate them, Thomas and Elinoff decided to make the zombies slower and to focus on the idea of the dead coming back to life. Thomas elaborated, saying:
“We made the decision to go with slow zombies. They are slow zombies… This is not necessarily an outbreak that just turns everyone into zombies. This is the dead coming back to life. So, what is happening here is the dead crawling out graves… In a morgue, the dead coming back. In a funeral home, the dead coming back. Someone who’s died in an accident on the street, they come back. This is really is the dead rising up, on their feet, and then coming to eat everyone.”
Additionally, the duo decided to focus less on what happens when a zombie bites you, and more on their inherent threat. One way they did this was by making the zombies harder to kill. Thomas explained how they did this, saying:
“We took away headshots. Headshots don’t kill them… You’ve gotta pretty much just destroy the entire body if you want these things to stop coming after you. And we kind of didn’t worry about what bites do… It’s a little bit of a gray area with us with zombie bites, if they turn you or if they don’t… The thing you have to worry about is these are animals that want to murder you.”
Day of the Dead premieres this October on SYFY. To hear even more about the show, you can watch the entire Comic-Con@Home panel below.
Part-time writer, part-time theatre nerd, full-time dork.