Makin’ Lethal Gases…and Even More Lethal
Sequels: Tom Fox, Producer
note, these answers are by myself…Tom doesn’t do interviews unless there's
financial gain involved. I know, I know, he’s been in what, three
interviews you know of? Well, I respect Tom’s wishes but I actually do have
some answers from prior correspondence.
is he a horror buff-if so, what kinds of films?
I do know Tom is not into horror.
What led him to want to acquire the Return of
the Living Dead title and property - was
it due to the success of Romero's Dawn of the Dead (it grossed $50
million worldwide even though it was filmed for $1 million)?
I do know part of the reason was. He wanted to get into making movies and it
seemed like a sure bet for a hit at the time. He had a meeting with Jack A(ss)
Russo who wanted to direct. Russo's script was too similar to NOTLD so there was
no interest in the script - it was the title Tom wanted. The co-writers didn't
want Russo to make it, so Tom made an offer they didn't refuse.
Romero was asked to direct, produce, take part in the film. What happened and
does Fox ever run into him?
Actually George never replied back to the offers. Tom Fox ran into him at an
Anchor Bay party in 2000. George didn’t really
remember who Tom was - but had never met him either.
What did Fox think of John Russo’s original
novel or script?
The script Fox wanted to change as
everyone agreed it basically read like a remake of the original Night. Never
read the novel.
After reading it, how long was it before you knew
for sure you wanted to use Dan O'Bannon’s script?
Immediately. Tobe Hooper originally was
to write it but gave it over to Dan. Tom definitely didn’t want to step on George’s
territory and had the name recognition in Dan he sought (the guy who brought you
ALIEN, the guy who brought you TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE).
Was there anything he suggested or changed in
the script or during filming?
Insight why his name was
replaced by "Antony Ginnane" as producer on the Hemdale Video of ROTLD?
Tom was not aware of this until I showed
him one day. In fact he was not aware who Ginnane was/is. [He was a producer and
director, worked on Razorback I know] He wondered if John Daly and Derek Gibson
had Ginnane – who had nothing to do with the film – supervise the Hemdale
Video project. Daly/Gibson obviously slighted Fox on purpose.
What is the most impressive thing about ROTLD to
Tom has noted the usual: its pacing, its
sense of humor, the cast chemistry with the three leads (and Mathews and Karen),
the fact that it came out alright even with setbacks, and the twist on a tired
What he thinks of Romero’s "Dead"
films or of the Italian Fulci pictures in comparison to ROTLD?
They were all pretty good to him.
Although he has trouble remembering them for which one was which. He was not
even aware that only NOTLD had a graveyard sequence.
Would he work with Dan again?
Fox wanted to but nothing materialized.
What did he think of Part 3 (which you had
nothing to do with)?
Wasn’t happy with it. Then again, if
his name had been attached, one has to wonder whether his feelings would be
colored differently. Part 3 while very low budget, attempted to be serious.
Maybe he didn't like that.
What are some merchandising ideas you would do
when the ROTLD rights revert to you?
Originally I had proposed action figures, shirts, anything really
as long as people still care or show fan support but the popularity of
this film has not drastically increased the way, say, Evil Dead films have. The
figure companies (Sideshow, SOTA, McFarlane) have not jumped to grab the rights
to the characters. At this time, it is doubtful anything of greatness will be
created for this 20-something year old cult movie.
What are the negative things (if any) he's
heard about ROTLD particularly when it first came out?
Doesn’t recall anything memorable...
Opinions on Parts 1 and 2 and why
do you think the first is so popular?
Most originals are more popular, but the
blend of comedy and horror worked best on part one.
Did ROTLD 1 or 2’s box office surprise him?
Two was a surprise (it was not as
successful). We’ve discussed the
timing, production and handling of the sequel a few times but Tom is still happy
with the way it turned out. Remember, he doesn’t take zombies as seriously as
say, we fans, do! I still remind him, Part Two was a spoof of a spoof.
What does he own as far as ROTLD relics,
Posters, soundtrack LPs, the movie prints, storyboards, promo items, etc.
(all American material).
Who’s the biggest freak of these films he's ever
I’ll let you guess. Now it is not
recommended that you send him anything to sign. Word is he has "lost"
items before. If you do want to chance it, send something that is not rare or
valuable. AND DO NOT SEND A SCRIPT by any means!! A) You will never get it back
B) You will probably find parts of it on the small screen if they sequelize it
again. This has happened to not only fans but cast members from part one. Expect
to hear that he either didn't receive it or didn't read it. Don't believe either
excuse and definitely copyright or register your work, and try to get some proof
of correspondence (a phonebill, letter, email, etc).