George A Romero

July 17, 2017

George Romero……In Memorium

Every genre of film has their captain; Steven Spielberg invented the Hollywood Blockbuster, George Lucas crafted the most important science fiction film of all time, John Ford, and Sergio Leone, made some of the most important westerns of all time, and when you look back at the history of horror, of course you’ll always think of John Carpenter and Wes Craven, but it’s safe to say that George Romero will always been the man who brought horror to the masses and created an actual conversation about class warfare and racism all because of a movie about zombies walking the Earth in 1968’s “Night of the Living Dead.”

While many will always remember Romero for his work on “Night,” “Dawn of the Dead,” and “Day of the Dead,” I will always and forever go to “Creepshow” as my all time favorite. It combined my love of comics and horror and wrapped them into five nearly perfect stories. You had zombies, monsters, aliens, and bugs, not to mention a cast of actors you wouldn’t expect in a genre piece, but nonetheless gave it their all, and it creates the perfect horror anthology.

I’d say Rest in Peace in George, but we all know he wouldn’t want that.

October 23, 2012

31 Nights of Halloween, Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Dawn of the Dead (2004) – Run

The bane of the horror genre for the past decade has been the remake.  Hollywood has gotten so lazy and they’ve treated the horror genre like a dumping ground for bad updates on generally good horror fare.  I understand the point; horror is cheap for a studio to produce, they can introduce fresh new actors (namely females that will bring in the male audience) and generally, they will at least break even no matter how bad the film.  Not to say there aren’t exceptions to the rule, and 2004’s “Dawn of the Dead” remake is an example of a horror remake gone right.

Before I go into the actually movie I’m going to say this:  I do not like Zack Snyder.  I’m not really impressed by his body of work, and I think he bites off too much, thus, his work suffers.  That is the problem with “visionary” directors like Snyder.  Take “Dawn of the Dead” and compare it to something like “Sucker Punch.”  “Dawn” is great because the concept is simple, effective, and done very well (while I may not agree with everything in it, but I’ll get to that later).  “Punch” was for prepubescent boys, and it included girls in cosplay costumes, a paper-thin plot, and a severe case of style over substance.  I understand this is his style, but when big ideas are only half-realized its hard to take him serious as a director when I’m taking him as a one trick pony.

While I don’t really enjoy Snyder’s other films (see above), I did enjoy “Dawn of the Dead.”  While on the surface it’s a remake, there are things that are done well, and other things that tweak me.

The premise is the same as the George A Romero’s original; The zombie apocalypse is in full swing and a small group of survivors head to the mall to buy some Dockers and make their stand.  While the mall provides the group with everything they need, from food to recreation, they begin feeling trapped by the zombies outside the mall hungry for their flesh.  As its been told over and over, ad nauseam, the film’s setting, a mall, along with the zombie invasion, is an allegory for consumerism and how we, the “zombified” public, feel the need to endlessly consume and spend.  While Snyder’s remake does have a mall where survivors are holed up, the meaning behind the film is lost and is essentially a zombie action film.

What Snyder does right is pay homage, in part, to some of the original actors.  Both Ken Foree and Tom Savini have fun cameos as a preacher and a sheriff, respectively.  He also, as opposed to his other films, keeps the slow-motion to a minimum and tries to flesh out his characters with somewhat of a back story.  The actors look like they are having a good time, and while cheesy at times, the acting is solid for a horror film.  As a Troma fan, I also appreciate the fact that James Gunn wrote the original script of “Dead.”  An independent dude makes good.  Now, let me explain why run is the word of the day.

What I can’t get behind, and the problem I’ve always had was this……the running zombie.  Oy vey!  I’m a purist first of all, zombies are shamblers, walkers, they might have a little giddy-up, but they are not sprinters.  When you die you develop rigor mortis brain/body decay, which would have a major effect on the way that you move and react. 

I’ll also say this; I love “28 Days Later.”  There is an explanation why those “zombies” run.  They aren’t zombies!  They don’t die, re-animate, and come looking to eat your brains, this is because they are infected with a virus (a rage virus to be exact).  If you’re going to be the “living dead” you shouldn’t be able to run, its physiologically impossible.

For as much of a problem that I have with the running zombies, I enjoy “Dead” very much, it’s just the little quirks that stop me from saying this remake is better than the original.  It appeals to the ADD crowd with running zombies, slow-motion, quick cuts, and isolates the purists a bit, but overall, Snyder creates a neo-zombie film that gives the audiences everything they want; hardcore zombie gore, boobs (a little), and intense action.  Zack Snyder’s “Dawn of the Dead” is worthy of your time.

Fun Fact:  While the original “Dead” took place in the greater Philadelphia/Pittsburgh area, the remake takes place in Milwaukee, WI.

October 2, 2012

31 Nights of Halloween, Creepshow

Creepshow – Effective

*Let me preface before I get into the actual review.  The next 31 reviews will not be in any discernible order, they will simply be 31 horror/suspense/thriller movies that I enjoy and I think deserve to be reviewed.*

October is here and that means horror, horror, and more horror, and no Marlo Brando isn’t invited.  As a kid growing up I always looked forward to October for all the horror movie marathons and the “money shot(s)” at the end was Halloween, free candy, go home and sort the candy, eat some candy, and watch more horror movies.  One of the earliest horror movies I remember, and remember scaring the living shit out of me, was the Stephen King/George Romero collaboration from 1982, “Creepshow.”

Before “Creepshow” there were several horror anthologies including “Tales From the Crypt” (not that one, this one), “The House that Dripped Blood” in 1970 and “Trilogy of Terror” in 1975.  While these were all well and good, they lacked the blood-spilling, gut-wrenching horror that I desired, that is why “Creepshow” holds such a special place in my heart.

As with many anthologies, the premise is simple; there are anywhere from three to five stories with a wrap around that either begins and ends the film, and/or is used as a buffer in-between each story.  “Creepshow” features five stories ranging from zombies, plant growth that takes over the world, a monster in a crate, and of course, roaches.  There are highs and lows in the storytelling with the third story “Something to Tide You Over” being the weakest and the fourth story, “The Crate” being the standout, not just from a gore perspective, but also having the strongest characters/actors, including Adrienne Barbeau as a nagging drunk of a wife and Hal Holbrook as her long suffering husband.  The premise is simple, yet effective, just like the entire movie.

Other standouts include the creature effects, all done by Tom Savini.  You might know him from a few things, as well as the score by John Harrison, which is tits, the highlight being the main theme for “The Crate” segment.

I might be as bold as calling “Creepshow” one of my favorite horror movies of all time because it made such an impression on me as a kid, and its an old standby that I keep coming back to every Halloween season.

Fun Fact:  Billy, the son in the wrap-around story is actually Joe King, Stephen King’s son.

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