Greg Nicotero seemingly does everything on set of The Walking Dead. He and his team come up with all those disgusting zombies. He directs. He produces. He has even starred several times as various walkers over the years. The man does it all. And now he will be doing even more for AMC with his new horror/sci-fi anthology series Shock Theater, which he is executive producing along with Matt Lambert, Gail Berman, and Joe Earley.
But what exactly is Shock Theatre? EW chatted with Nicotero — whose career in the genre goes all the way back to 1985’s Day of the Dead — to get the inside scoop on what to expect from this new series, which has yet to go into production or be scheduled by the network.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So what can you tell us about Shock Theatre?
GREG NICOTERO: We’re writing now, and it’s an anthology so every episode will have a different story and a different cast and a different vibe and a different feel. So I think that that allows us a tremendous amount of freedom and a tremendous opportunity to do a lot of different things.
How did you get involved in this?
Gail Berman, who produced Buffy the Vampire Slayer, came to me with this project and she’s like “Listen, dude, I don’t know anybody else that I would want to talk to you about this but you.” So we’re really excited about it and we’re hoping to shoot in the [Walking Dead] hiatus.
Are you going be directing some of the episodes?
So what’s the connective tissue between the different installments in the series?
Shock Theatre is my homage to ‘50s horror movies. I’ve always loved that genre, the idea that people would take things that they were terrified of in society at that time and turn them into some sort of fantastic outrageous sci-fi monster movie. Back then it was the Cold War, it was going to outer space, it was radiation. Everything that people were afraid of, they’re like, “Well, listen, if this is something we’re afraid of, we’re going to figure out a way to deal with it psychologically, so we’re going to do a little movie about it and try to clear our conscience, so to speak.”
I always loved that. I thought that there was something so fun about it. And that’s what Shock Theatre is. Shock Theatre is taking relevant themes today and putting that kind of fun Shaun of the Dead twist on them. I think Shaun of the Dead is probably the closest in tone that I can ever think about for Shock Theatre because it was funny and thrilling, and you love the characters, and it was scary, and had great moments in it, and was all-around completely entertaining. That’s the goal.
So there are going to be some definite humor elements in this. I didn’t realize that.
Oh, for sure. I mean, it’s like going back to American Werewolf in London and all these movies. I want the characters to be real and I want them to be funny and I want them to be relatable. And a lot of horror movies, you know, it’s not quite the same emotion than if you start with something where you have characters that have some humor to them because it’s always a great balance between the humor and the horror, and that’s something that we’re looking forward to doing.