October 25, 2010

Day 21- Thursday, October 21st

#62-#66- George Romero's Dead Films (1968-2009)- One of the legends of the horror genre gave us many great films, but none as important as his all time classic (some of them) "dead" series. they weren't all magnum zombie opus's, but love them or not, you can't ignore their relevance or genre impact.
 Night of the Living Dead (1968)

What George Romero did on such a small budget, and during such a huge time of crisis in America, changed the Horror genre, and movies in general, forever. Called subversive, and viewed by many as a harsh critique of 1960's America, NOTLD struck a nerve and shocked a nation, and rightly so. In the late 60's, our country was losing it's innocence; whether it was Civil Rights or Vietnam, the Sexual Revolution or the realization that the Government wasn't as pious as we had always believed, America was changing, and George Romero wanted to say something about it. He also wanted to make a bloody Horror flick, so he ended up doing both. He was thrifty like that. His Zombie opus spoke volumes, both compelling and repulsing moviegoers, and changing what Horror movies were, forever. Brutal, shockingly graphic, and terrifying, Romero kicked the status quo n the nuts, and then spat in its eye. Hell, his hero was a black guy, which was unheard of in 1968, unless you were talking about Sidney Poitier. Our black hero persevered too, surviving the Zombie onslaught only to be gunned down by a posse of clueless rednecks. It doesn't get more subversive than that. A great movie, an important movie, and an awesome horror flick, NOTLD still holds up today, and deserves a look at Halloween time. I would advise against eating roast beef while watching though. Yuck.

A+, and deservedly so. Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Considered his greatest film by some, Dawn was Romero's tongue-in-cheek jab at the consumerism happy American public of the 1970's. It also allowed him to push the envelope even further than he had 10 years earlier, and give us more gut-munching, more flesh tearing, and a really awesome exploding head gag. A score by instrumental rock gods, Goblin, didn't hurt either. Of course, that was only in the European cut of Dawn (there were 4 cuts: Theatrical, Euro, Director's, and Extended.) Dario Argento cut the European version of the movie. Ken Foree played yet another,strong, black , non-stereotypical hero. Tom Savini got to play a blood thirsty biker as well as do the FX. Blood flowed. Zombies ate. Pants were shat. Romero made fun of Mall culture, and we ate it up... like braindead consumers!. A good time was had by all.

 A Day of the Dead (1985)

The first of the "Dead" movies that I ever saw, Day holds a special place in my heart. Whether it's because Bub was so sympathetic and lovable, or because the gore in the third reel was so insane and awesome, this was the movie that made me hunger for all things undead. I remember ads for this movie saying it was Rated-X, which in the 80's was a HUGE thing for a movie.These days, NC-17 is the naughty kiss of death rating handed out by the MPAA, and it's really not a big deal at all. Hell, every other movie has an unrated DVD when they hit video now, which is the same damned thing. 20+ years ago though, and X or NC-17 rating screamed perversion, meant good luck finding solid distribution, and riled parents groups and the religious right up to no end. Romero did push the boundaries with the gore on this one, making it more... wet? Messy? Dirty, sloppy and rough? All of those and more really. Combined with the vacant feel of the now mostly human devoid earth, and some interesting and unique characters, this was one hell of a good zombie flick.

 A Land of the Dead (2005) 
***DISCLAIMER*** Dear Romero purists: Please don't hurt me. Thank you. ***DISCLAIMER***

This may be my favorite movie in the series. It is not the best film of them, but for some reason I can watch this one over and over again, and it makes me happy. Then again, I'm easily pleased. Maybe it was the late, great Dennis Hopper, or the always interesting John Leguizamo, I don't know. Maybe it was the Dead Reckoning. It all just felt very Post-Apocalyptic to me, and brings a smile to my face every time I watch it. Sometimes, I really love the more "Hollywood" Horror movies, which this definitely felt like.

For me, A. As a movie, and in all reality, it's probably a B range movie.
 Diary and Survival of the Dead- (FULL SURVIVAL REVIEW HERE)

The last two installments of this great series leave me cold. Diary felt like a shaky mess to me, filled with characters who just did blatantly nonsensical things at the most inopportune times. Survival was a better film, but it was mired in an uneventful and logic defying plot. As we said in our very brief review of Diary: "Enough with the hand held crap already. Do you really expect anyone to accept that people who are besieged by hordes of the undead are going to take the time to film it all? Really? I'm not sure what happened with this one, but this is nowhere near George Romero's finest hour. The hand held camera craze was used to poor effect here, and coupled with lame characters and poor acting, the end result was an annoying Zombie mess from the master of the undead. I love you George, but you're better than this." Survival was entertaining enough, if a bit slow and plodding, but the premise of the whole thing just frustrated me and took me out of the experience for the most part. Oh well. Can't win 'em all, can we? Let's just skip grading these two shall we? Good. Me too.

That's 66/100 movies watched so far, so we had better get back to it... will we make 100 movies?!? Got a lot to catch up on and still watch...

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