Archive for George A. Romero

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

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Posted in Debut Week, Horror Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 3, 2010 by Pass the Popcorn!

Director: George A. Romero

Writers: John A. Russo

George A. Romero

Tagline: Pits the dead against the living in a struggle for survival!

Plot: A group of people hide from bloodthirsty zombies in a farmhouse.

Cast: Duane Jones – Ben

Judith O’Dea – Barbra

Karl Hardman – Harry

Marilyn Eastman – Helen

Keith Wayne – Tom

Review:

Now that I am back, after being away for some time, we can finally start with our Debut Week. We start this event with Night of the Living Dead, the directing debut of THE granddaddy of zombie movies, George Andrew Romero. As you may or not know, this was the first movie that turned zombies into flesh eating, slow moving masses as we know them today. Because of this (and many more things) Night of the Living Dead easily became a cult movie in the horror genre over the years. As for myself, I would dare to say this is my favourite movie made by Romero and one of my favourite black and white movies.

Night of the Living Dead was also released in color although I haven’t seen that version yet but, honestly, I don’t think that I will. The black and white colors simply fit the movie’s atmosphere perfectly and I don’t see why change something like that. Besides the tingling and depressive black and white atmosphere based mainly on emotions like helplessness and frustration, the movie offers a simple but effective script writing. The plot resolves around a group of strangers stuck in a farmhouse which is being attacked by zombies (like we haven’t seen that before) but this time is different, it is actually well written. The characters are developed enough (and what I particularly liked is that neither one character is entirely good or entirely bad; all of them have their flaws and virtues which gives the movie a whole new “realistic” dimension – even our main hero, Ben, is capable of hitting a woman and shooting another man) and the dialogues are strong and believable. The movie is also full with strange social commentary, mainly on the topic of racism but according to imdb (and the filmmakers) that was never intended. The social commentary that I have seen was that the human race is its own worst enemy, as seen in many scenes.

Even over 40 years later, Night of the Living Dead still doesn’t fail to scare, disturb or shock its viewers. It is full of parts that jut won’t leave you disinterested or apathetic. Even the movie’s ending is extremely shocking but I won’t spoil it out in case you haven’t seen it yet. The zombie make up is also very good for it’s time and the movie offers one of the most memorable zombies ever, The Cemetery Zombie. And all of this is followed by a surprisingly good soundtrack. Actually, the only flaw in this movie could be the acting which is far from perfect but still more than watchable. All in all, Night of the Living Dead, Romero’s directing debut, is an extremely good, classic and most of all genre breaking horror movie which I highly recommend to everyone.

My Rating: 10/10… An instant favourite and classic! Romero had a pretty strong start in his carrier with this movie.

Btw, this is my 50th review! Thank you all for reading me out regulary! More reviews are coming soon. : )

Diary Of The Dead (2007)

Posted in Horror Review with tags , , , , , , , , on January 8, 2010 by Pass the Popcorn!

Director: George A. Romero

Writer: George A. Romero

Tagline: Shoot the dead.

Plot: A group of young film students run into real-life zombies while filming a horror movie of their own.

Cast: Michelle Morgan – Debra Moynihan

Joshua Close – Jason Creed

Shawn Roberts – Tony Ravello

Amy Ciupak Lalonde – Tracy Thurman

Joe Dinicol – Eliot Stone

Review (spoilers):

This movie is RETARDED.  This 4 words can simply sum up my whole review but I’m kinda bored right now so I’ll tell the whole world why is this movie retarded.  First thing is the tagline. One of the taglines for the movie ( as seen on the poster ) is “Where will you be when the end begins?”. When you have some combination of the words “end” and “beginning” on the movie poster you just know it’s going to suck. I also think that Romero knew that this movie is retarded while he was shooting it. ( oh yeah – we have another tagline which says : “shoot the dead”, it is almost as retarded as the end/beginning one ).

The other retarded thing in this movie are the characters. How so you ask? Because there are so god damn many of them! And none of them is important, none of them dies, they are all just walking piles of cliche shit.  I didn’t remember any of their names or their personal life, they are just so unimportant. So here are our characters:

1. The Geek – you always have to have a geek in sucky movies so he can solve trivial problems which other character can’t because they are retarded. The irony is that he didn’t solve any problem in this movie, he made me a problem because I had to watch him through the whole movie

2. The Old And Wise Man Who In One Point Of The Movie Shares A Little Of His Wisdom To Others – Oh yeah! He had an interesting story to tell us all which I can’t quite remember.  Honestly, who the fuck is this guy? Why is he hanging out with other characters all the time?

3.  A Likeable Main Character Who Is Actually A Dipshit – The name says it all. He is holding the camera all the time and just shooting everyone being killed by zombies and doesn’t help them at all. This ain’t a social satire as someone may think, it’s retarded.

4.  Stupid Sexy Blonde – You can’t have a movie without one, can you? Too bad this one doesn’t die in this movie but simply lefts the rest of the group in a dramatic scene. Retarded isn’t it?

5.  The Main Female Character Who Eventually Finds Her Inner Strength – Blargh.

6. The Badass – Oh yeah! He is only one holding the gun! Beware of the badass!

7. The Mummy – This character is dressed as a mummy and is only seen at the beginning and the end of the film. At the end he is still dressed as a mummy, just like in the beginning. Apparently Romero didn’t want him to change his clothes cuz in the end we couldn’t recognize that he is the mummy playing guy from the beginning.

8. Amish Guy – The best guy in the whole movie, too bad he’s total cameo is like 25 seconds.

There are much more characters which I don’t want to speak about. Mostly those who are here just for few seconds and they dramatically die so we should symphatize with them. Boohooohoooo, a stupid not needed characters who I knew nothing about just died. I’m feeling so sad.

I don’t want to go through the plot because there is no plot, just random wtf situations which don’t make any sense.

For an example:

The Main Female Character Who Eventually Finds Her Inner Strength gets attacked her by her zombified brother in her family house. She panics, shrieks, no one helps her, two guys just tape the whole thing we their cameras until The Old And Wise Man Who In One Point Of The Movie Shares A Little Of His Wisdom To Others shoots a bow into her brother’s head. She can’t stop screaming so she runs down the hallway, opens a door from one room, closes the door than return to the room where she got attacked. Wtf?

Oh yeah, we also have a boring part of the movie where they all group with some badass gangsters or something. In that part is nothing actually happening.

The most revolutionary thing in this movie was the camera taping and you see all the movie through the eyes of the camera. An effect that was also used in movies like Rec and Cloverfield. Too bad that the effect was so retarded in this movie.  There is also one more stupid scene I just have to write here:

The guy is taping with his camera, we see everything through his eyes. Ok.  In front of him there is a guy walking. Suddenly, from nowhere, comes a zombie and attacks the guy in the front. The camera guy is apparently disinterested and apathetic cuz he normally says: watch out.  Result: the guy in gets bitten.  The plot holes in this scene are just huge! Why didn’t the zombie attacked the camera guy first because he was closer to him, why didn’t the camera guy yell out something or why didn’t he helped his friend? Answer to this questions is simple: Because this movie is retarded.

My rating : 3/10… There is nothing more to say I guess.