Screenwriter. Director. Author. Dirty-joke teller. The man who helped bring Night of the Living Dead to life has pretty much done it all, and he’s not finished scaring up new thrills and chills.
John Russo is a legendary Renaissance man of the horror community. Since he first made the scene as George Romero’s co-writer on Night of the Living Dead (1968), he has continued to write, produce and direct horror films. Russo has also written several influential books on filmmaking; published the sexy magazine Scream Queens Illustrated; written fiction novels; and recently published John Russo’s Night of the Living Dead 1990 Illustrated History as well as his first book of adult humor, John Russo’s Dirty Jokes.
Before flying from his home in Pennsylvania to Florida to direct a new horror film called The Red Tide Massacre, Russo took a few minutes to speak with HUSTLERMagazine.com to discuss his history as a joke teller, his days working with Romero on Night of the Living Dead, publishing an adult-oriented magazine and his upcoming film.
HUSTLERMagazine.com: In the intro of John Russo’s Dirty Jokes, you mention that you had a reputation as “the joke guy” among your friends. How did you get that reputation?
John Russo: My parents were big joke-tellers. They were the “life of the party” types, and then they would get into fights over who was the life of the party. And then the cops would be in the house and the phone would be yanked out of the wall. And my mother ran away and threatened to commit suicide. That’s how that went. But I got the joke-telling part. So did my brother, and I’ve been a joke teller all my life.
How did you and George Romero divide the writing of probably the most classic cult horror film of all time, Night of the Living Dead?