Archive for Dawn of the Dead

What Happened to Mr. Romero?

Posted in Horror Articles with tags , , , , , , , on June 28, 2010 by Pass the Popcorn!

Few days ago I’ve seen Romero’s latest zombie flick, Survival of the Dead, and I must say it was awful. It was maybe the worst zombie movie he ever made (and I thought he couldn’t go lower than Diary of the Dead). After the movie ended, I had to ask myself one question: “What happened to Mr. Romero?”.

First of all, let’s take a trip through his life, biography and, of course, zombie movies (which will be the only one I will mention in this article):

“George A. Romero never set out to become a Hollywood figure; however, by all indications, he was very successful. The director of the groundbreaking “Dead” pentalogy was born February 4, 1940, in New York City. He grew up there until attending the renowned Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

After graduation, he began shooting mostly short films and commercials. He and his friends formed “Image Ten Productions” in the late 1960s and they all chipped in roughly US$10,000 a piece to produce what became one of the most celebrated American horror films of all time: Night of the Living Dead (1968). Shot in black-and-white on a budget of just over US$100,000, Romero’s vision, combined with a solid script written by him and his “Image” co-founder John A. Russo (along with what was then considered an excess of gore) enabled the film to earn back far more than what it cost…”

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

There isn’t much to say about this movie anymore, I already mentioned it in few occasions. First I wrote a full review of it and then I stated it as one of the best zombie movies ever made in my Top 15 Zombie Movies list. All in all, it was a perfect horror movie and a perfect way to start your carrier. A genre breaking classic. The movie also spawned 2 remakes, the first one in 1990. directed by Tom Savini and the second one in 2006. directed by Jeff Broadstreet.

Trivia:

  • Bosco chocolate syrup was used to simulate the blood in the film.
  • The word “zombie” is never used. The most common euphemism used to describe the living dead is “those things,” mostly by Cooper.
  • George A. Romero was the one operating the camera when S. William Hinzman (the cemetery zombie) attacks Barbara in her car by smashing the window with a rock. When Hinzman shattered the window, the rock barely missed Romero.
  • Screenwriter John A. Russo appears as the ghoul who gets his forehead smashed by Ben with a tire iron. He also allowed himself to be set on fire for real when nobody else wanted to do the stunt.
  • The filmmakers were accused of being “Satanically-inspired” by Christian fundamentalist groups for their portrayal of the undead feeding on flesh and of the Coopers’ zombie child (Kyra Schon) attacking her mother (Marilyn Eastman).

“At first I didn’t think of them as zombies, I thought of them as flesh-eaters or ghouls and never called them zombies in the first film. Then people started to write about them, calling them zombies, and all of a sudden that’s what they were: the new zombies. I guess I invented a few rules, like kill the brain and you kill the ghoul, and eventually I surrendered to the idea and called them zombies in Dawn of the Dead (1978), but it was never that important to me what they were. Just that they existed.” – George A. Romero

My Rating: 10/10

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

10 years after his directing debut, Romero made another cult horror movie, Dawn of the Dead which gained even more attention than it’s predecessor, it was a big success all around the world (especially in Italy). This movie was also included in my Top 15 Zombie Movies list. Al though Dawn wasn’t as creepy/scary as Night, it still offered an excellent atmosphere, great action sequences, awesome acting and social commentary. Despite the fact that ten years have passed since he delivered Night of the Living Dead, Romero still knew how to create an effective and gripping atmosphere. Everything in Dawn of the Dead was on a high level, including the zombie makeups and gory scenes. The movie was remaked in 2004 by director Zack Snyder.

Trivia:

  • The voice of Christine Forrest (George A. Romero’s wife) can be heard on a pre-recorded announcement in the mall (“Attention all shoppers…”).
  • Much of the fake blood used in the blood packets was a mixture of food coloring, peanut butter and cane sugar syrup.
  • Many effects were thought of on the spot. Tom Savini created many effects (such as the arm in the blood pressure tester) with no preparations whatsoever.
  • Some of the zombies (notably one in the tenement scene) were actual amputees.
  • Extras who appeared in this film were reportedly given $20 in cash, a box lunch, and a Dawn of the Dead T-shirt.

“I don’t try to answer any questions or preach. My personality and my opinions come through in the satire of the films, but I think of them as a snapshot of the time. I have this device, or conceit, where something happens in the world and I can say, ‘Ooo, I’ll talk about that, and I can throw zombies in it! And get it made!’ You know, it’s kind of my ticket to ride.” – George A. Romero

My Rating: 10/10

Day of the Dead (1985)

In his third zombie movie, Romero decided to experiment a little with this zombies. He gave them the ability to learn. In this experimenting he managed to make the most recognizable zombie ever, Bub. Al though Bub’s character was perfectly made, the rest of the movie seemed pretty shallow and dull. There was none of that truly creepy atmosphere like in Romero’s earlier works. I find Day of the Dead to be a pretty “average” horror movie, nothing revolutionary, I’m even considering it as a slight disappointment after Dawn of the Dead. Al though the zombie make ups and gory scenes were nice, that doesn’t change the fact that the movie could have easily been better. The scriptwriting seemed a little odd, some actors overreacted their scenes (especially Joseph Pilato who played Capt. Rhodes – he seemed unbelievable in that role) and character’s relationships are also awkward. However, if you are a zombie fan, this movie is a must see one. Day of the Dead also has a 2008 remake made by director Steve Miner.

Trivia:

  • All the extras who portrayed zombies in the climax received for their services: a cap that said “I Played A Zombie In ‘Day of the Dead'”, a copy of the newspaper from the beginning of the film (the one that says THE DEAD WALK!), and one dollar.
  • The only movie in George A. Romero’s “Dead” series where a zombie has a line of dialog (Bub says, “Hello Aunt Alicia.”).
  • The first film in George A. Romero’s “Dead” series to begin a tradition of having a clown zombie, as also seen in Land of the Dead (2005) and Diary of the Dead (2007).
  • The book Dr. Logan gives to Bub is Stephen King’s “Salem’s Lot.” Romero and King have been friends for many years.
  • The lowest grossing film in George A. Romero’s “Dead” trilogy. Nonetheless, it’s gained a cult following over the last two decades, and the director himself has stated that he considers it his best film.

“I always thought of the zombies as being about revolution, one generation consuming the next.” – George A. Romero

My Rating: 6, 5/10 I have this movie rated on imdb with 6 but I think that’s a too low grade for this movie, on the other hand I think grade 7 is too high for it so my final rating is 6,5.

Land of the Dead (2005)

Romero waited 20 years after Day of the Dead to release another zombie movie. This time he went one step further with his experimenting and gave the zombies in Land of the Dead the ability to carry/fire guns and other weapons like blades, which I consider to be a blasphemy. In Land of the Dead we also have a view of post apocalyptic cities and societies which were very interesting to watch. Too bad they didn’t receive much of  a screen time because those were the best parts in the whole movie. Another thing worth mentioning is the acting of, now passed away, actor Denis Hopper who played the “leader” of the town. Besides him, other actors were either very average or awful. Despite the movie’s nice post apocalyptic atmosphere, the script writing is very bad and full of plot holes. The main storyline in Land of the Dead is rather focusing on a giant tank named Dead Reckoning than on surviving of the human race against zombies. The movie’s ending was just horrible because the whole point of Land of the Dead (I will spoil it but don’t worry, you won’t miss anything) was that humans and zombies should live in peace. That was pure crap, I was so disappointed by everything. Briefly, although this movie is very bad, it is also the last watchable Romero’s zombie flick (everything after this one was simply horrible).

Trivia:

  • This is the first film of George A. Romero’s “Living Dead” series which uses digital effects.
  • There were four titles before “Land of the Dead” was chosen: “Dead City,” “Dead Reckoning,” “Twilight of the Dead,” and “Night of the Living Dead: Dead Reckoning.”
  • The zombie of Tom Savini’s biker character, who is killed in Dawn of the Dead (1978), can be seen in one of the scenes.
  • Partly based on the original, much longer script for Day of the Dead (1985).
  • A non-union zombie would make CDN$9 per hour, while a union zombie, for a minimum of 8 hours, would make CDN$158.

“The idea of living with terrorism – I’ve tried to make it more applicable to the concerns Americans are going through now”. – George A. Romero

My Rating: 5/10

Diary of the Dead (2007)

It seems that Romero haven’t had enough of his weird experimenting so he filmed Diary of the Dead through the “eyes of the camera” (the technic most notably used in the Blair Witch Project). I, personally, liked this idea but its movie performance was awful due to the script writing which was completely awful. Romero somehow managed to create a bunch of dull, static and uninteresting characters with loads of cliches. Diary of the Dead doesn’t have a real plot, it is more of a road trip movie filled with random, “strange” and stupid situations (which are full of plot holes). When making a movie like this one, you should pay special attention to the characters because they are the ones who hold your movie and its plot. If you make your characters retarded, there is a big chance that the whole movie will be retarded too. And that’s just what Romero did, he made retarded characters. My full review of this movie (in which I even analyzed most of the characters) can be found here.

Trivia:

  • Shot over a period of only 23 days.
  • In the scene with the zombie doctors, a voice can be heard on the radio inviting people to aim for the head. This is the voice of Tom Savini, a longtime friend of George A. Romero. In fact, this audio is lifted directly from the bonus features of the remake of Dawn of the Dead.
  • The documentary-within-the-film is called “The Death of Death.” This is also the name of George Romero’s four-part miniseries for the DC Comics zombie title “Toe Tags.”
  • Begins on the same day as Night of the Living Dead (1968), although the setting has been updated to the present day. The concept for the film evolved from an idea that director George A. Romero had earlier for a “Living Dead” TV series, which also would have begun on the same day as “Night of the Living Dead.”
  • George A. Romero has a cameo in the film as a police officer presenting a cover-up for the zombie outbreak at a press conference.

“My zombie films have been so far apart that I’ve been able to reflect the socio-political climates of the different decades. I have this conceit that they’re a little bit of a chronicle, a cinematic diary of what’s going on.” – George A. Romero

My Rating: 3/10

Survival of the Dead (2009)

And we finally came to Romero’s latest zombie movie, Survival of the Dead. The movie, itself, was so horrible that I find it to be even worse than Diary of the Dead. The plot is about two families who are living on a remote island and who are “in war” with one another. I found this storyline to be utterly stupid and very weak. The characters, their personalities and relationships were too much undeveloped, even for a zombie movie. Some “twists” in the plot were so awful that I either facepalmed from time to time or unintentionally giggled. The pure stupidity of Survival of the Dead can’t be easily explained, you’ll just have to see it for yourself. Because of the main storyline the zombies were put in the second plan. Through all the movie they were nothing more than free kills, a material for “cool scenes”. In addition to all that poor scriptwriting, we have some very bad CGI effects. I mean, some parts were simply horrible to watch. How is that possible to happen in a Romero flick? I won’t waste any more of my time on this garbage. Just.. don’t watch this movie because if you do, you’ll be asking yourself one question:  “What happened to Mr. Romero?”

Trivia:

  • This marks George A. Romero’s second time using the SCOPE format (2.35:1, 2.39:1, 2.4:1) for his Living Dead films. The first time was Land of the Dead (2005). The other Dead films were either shot in 1.33:1 (Night of the Living Dead (1968)) or 1.85:1 (Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985)).

“I’m like my zombies. I won’t stay dead!”

“I’ll never get sick of zombies. I just get sick of producers.”

“If one horror film hits, everyone says, “Let’s go make a horror film!” It’s the genre that never dies.” – George A. Romero

My Rating: 3/10

Soooo…what happened to Mr. Romero?

My first (and only) guess would be that he grow old and due to that he simply lost his touch over the years. He has no more originality or whatsoever. He doesn’t make movies with any kind of passion, he doesn’t create “art” anymore. He simply started to “create movies”, nothing more. This is perfectly seen in Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead and Survival of the Dead because they are “just movies” lacking any kind of soul or spirit his earlier works had. Furthermore, he managed to make his zombies plain boring during his long carrier. Now Romero is just a shadow of his former self. It’s a shame to see him, the grandaddy of all zombies, like that (the funny part is that he, literally, became the “zombie grandaddy” – he made his last 3 zombie flicks in his sixties)…just boring and unoriginal.

Dear George A. Romero, I believe we all appreciate your early works and consider them to be all time classic. However, it would be best for you to go to retirement now before you make another horrible mistake like Survival of the Dead. You really deserve it after all these years.

All additional information, trivia and quotes quotes were take from IMDB.

Drugs Bunny

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Top 15 Zombie Movies pt. 3

Posted in Top 15 Zombie Movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2010 by Pass the Popcorn!

Here is the third and final part of my list of top 15 zombie movies ever.

5. Planet Terror (2007)

In this movie the main female character (played by Rose McGowan) has a machine gun instead of her leg. Need more reasons to watch Planet Terror? : ) Anyways, this is a fantastic movie directed by Robert Rodriguez in which we have a “military” bio-weapon experiment gone wrong that turns people into zombie-like creatures. Planet Terror offers more than pure fun, it clearly is a masterpiece that will easily be appreciated by both horror and non horror fans.

My Rating: 9/10


4. Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Many people consider this to be one of the best zombie movies ever made, I couldn’t agree more. In his second zombie movie, Romero decided to put a group of survivors in a mall overrun by the living dead. That was a very effective idea due to the fact that both scriptwriting and directing in Dawn of the Dead are perfect. In the second part of the movie a biker group (lead by Tom Savini !) breaks into the mall and then all hell breaks loose. Dawn of the Dead is a really great movie!

My Rating : 10/10


3. Night of the Living Dead

It seems George A. Romero made another movie which deserves to be in the top 5 best Zombie Movies ever (and which I find even slightly better than Dawn of the Dead). His directing debut, Night of the Living Dead was a genre breaking movie at its time (and still is) and the first movie that featured zombies as flesh eating masses as we know them today. Needless to say that the movie was very controversial when it came out. Anyways, my full review about this movie can be read here.

My Rating: 10/10

2. Dawn of the Dead (2004)

The remake of  the ’78 classic left me completely astonished. I didn’t expect it to be such a good remake.. a remake that is even better than the original. The remake had much more action and even some comedy elements while the horror elements (and the interesting atmosphere)were left “untouched”. It was a perfect fusion of many different genres. I’d even dare to say that the characters from the remake are much more interesting than the ones from the original. All in all, best remake ever and second best zombie movie ever.

My Rating: 10/10


1. Braindead aka Dead Alive (1992)

And we finally came to my best zombie movie ever which is Peter Jackson’s Braindead! Braindead is one sick, gory, funny, silly, wonderful experience which may even be one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. The movie follows a likeable man named Lionel Cosgrove whose mother gets bitten by a “rat monkey” and turns into a zombie. Now he has to deal with her and all other zombies that she made. In conclusion, this movie is absolutely perfect. If you are interested, you can read my full review here.

My Rating: 10/10

That would be all from my top 15 Zombie Movies ever list.

Still there are many more very good zombie movies who, unfortunately, haven’t made it to the list but are definitely worth mentioning:

Return of the Living Dead serial (1985, 1988, 1993, 2005, 2005) – the first one is awesome, can’t say that about the rest though

Fulci’s other zombie movies like The Beyond (1981) and City of the Living Dead (1980) – stupid, gory, funny

Fido (2006) – A very original modern zombie movie, check it out!

Day of the Dead (1985) – The worst one from the original “of the Dead” trilogy but still good

That’s all I can think of right now. More reviews coming soon. Cya till then!