The Daves would like to welcome Brandon Engel to our website with his wonderful entry on George Romero!
In the periphery of mainstream filmmaking, George Romero has been churning out controversial movies for nearly 50 years, starting with his pioneering film, Night of the Living Dead, in 1968.
And even though it was shot in black and white and on a meager budget, Night knocked the socks off the viewing public. It received mixed reviews (with notable critics like Roger Ebert publicly expressing their distaste for the film, however effective it was) and it wound up essentially establishing the framework for the zombie film as we know it today. The film vividly depicted cannibalistic zombie feasts, and not only did Romero have the audacity to have his lead character played by a black actor (Duane Jones), but he also had the nerve to kill him off in the film’s screen. Not bad for a guy who launched his show-biz career on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
Shout! Factory has done it again with their latest blu-ray offering, the 1985 George Romero classic DAY OF THE DEAD. I have always been a fan of Romero’s Dead Trilogy, and to be honest, this is my favorite of the three and I was very excited to hear that it was finally getting its long-overdue blu-ray release. Of the three films this one, in my opinion, is the darkest and why it works so well.
Most of the film takes place underground in an abandoned missile silo where a group of military personnel and scientists have gathered together to try and figure out what is going on above. The characters are perfectly cast and this film is interesting to watch as the group breaks down and collapses; much like the world on the outside did. You really get a sense of how bad things are in this movie whereas, in the two previous films, there seems to be actual hope. This is evident right from the beginning when a visit is made to Florida in search of survivors. The streets are empty and it’s obvious it has been this way for quite some time. The only signs of life are animals such as alligators and tarantulas who have now moved into the once-populated areas.
I have always been a fan of George Romero…ever since I was old enough to see his zombie masterpiece, DAWN OF THE DEAD (1979). After viewing both NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) and DAWN on videocassette I actively sought out other movies by the master of horror. Films like MARTIN (1976), THE CRAZIES (1975) and of course CREEPSHOW (1982) and DAY OF THE DEAD (1985) were always a lot of fun to me.