Mike Fleming

In greater and greater numbers, zombies continue to swarm not only movies and TV series–the Game of Thrones season finale the latest example–but have even been referenced in a number of actual recent gruesome crimes. Now, author and filmmaker Clive Barker is unleashing them on the Roman Empire. Amazon Studios has set the Hellraiser helmer to rewrite and direct Zombies vs. Gladiators. The studio, part of Amazon.com, is planning a film in which a shaman about to die in the Coliseum casts a spell that rouses history’s first wave of zombies. It’s up to a gladiator to stop the spread of the zombie horde and save Rome. Are you not entertained?

Zombies Vs. Gladiators becomes one of 16 film projects in development at Amazon since the division launched in November 2010 with a strategy that uses audience feedback and submissions to develop movie ideas. That led to the submission of 9000 film scripts and 1000 series pilot scripts. Hatching ideas with a pandering formula like that is risky, and so are movies that mash together genres. The last one to try was Cowboys & Aliens, and the real losers in that battle were DreamWorks (and backer Reliance), Universal and Relativity Media, all of which put money into a stiff. Still, an infusion of flesh eating zombies in ancient Rome certainly gives newfound vibrancy to Marc Antony’s famous line from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.”

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