Ooooh we're getting so close arent' we?
Well, here I promise you the true gritty details: I give you the facts, list the breast counts and how much buckets of blood are gonna come spurting on out at ya. As told in Joe Bob Briggs fashion, I get right to business (after listing a lot of bullshit or useless tidbits of information) but I want you, the little people, to really get the gist of these films the way they were intended. So for god's sake: Join up with Netflix, cause every lil rinky dinky Blockbuster video has capitolized and smothered out the lil mom and pop video rental stores to ever carry any of this stuff ever again. Some of them are rare gems, and some are commercialized. And some yet have so many cuts, versions and even remakes - you'll never really know which ones to get. SO my suggestion to you guys is either be lucky enough to bump into these films on your digital cabel/satelite provider - or just go out and buy these films. Some of them I bought just on a whim or from info I've read from the great sites like www.imdb.com or www.houseofhorrors.com I put out the money for them and never live to regret it.
If you just happen to stumble upon my countdown, you can either read my previous listings OR just read the following messages of the recent reviews that you have missed: 10)A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3: The Dream Warriors 9)Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives 8)Return of the Living Dead 7)Dead Alive (aka Brain Dead) 6)Re-Animator 5)Demons (aka Demoni) 4)Evil Dead 3) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (original) and now for the next addition to my countdown.....
2)Night of the Living Dead
1968, Directed and written by George A. Romero, also written by John A. Russo
Being barricaded within a house so that people can't destroy you. This formula has been duplicated over and over again the night that Night started springing up all across the drive in theatres and late night showings of this new type of horror film that practically RE DID the genre and transcended it into what we now call as Modern Day Horror. Much like it re did the genre, you can think of Night as the NEW society taking over the old - yet RomeroGeroge A. Romero and Russo do it with zombies. Or more specificially your own loved ones have been turned against you, and your choices are to either kill them so that they don't spread they're almost rabies-esque disease to you - or barricade yourself into safe keeping.
This film is quite low budget, and it's startlign black and white cinematography just make it more frightening from the definition of shapes to the contrast of light and dark - live and dead. Some can possiably consider it one of the earliest independenent feature films (well not mentioning the likes of the old days of let's say American International Pictures) but Romero made his film much like a blown up student film, or in his case a very big commercial, since he was so used to make short advertisments and commercials in Pittsburgh at the time before his big ol' directorial debut in a feature film.
The story-It is believed that a NASA satellite was returning from a visit to Venus and the radiation on the satellite had an effect on the dead. It re-animated corpses to spring back to life and attack the living. Any one that it kills, bites or scratches comes alive (or dead alive, or undead, or walking dead?) and it kills. It kills for food, and they only eat that of the fresh human flesh. Back then they were only known as Ghouls, probably not wanting to confuse the more golden age stylization of a zombie: as someoen transfixed under a Voo Doo state that will do what their master wills them to do. But now their flesh devouring monsters, and the only way to stop them is to kill the brain - and the rest will follow.
Romero's classic has become a staple in pop culture and horror films for close to 40 years now. He created the Zombie genre, and the rules that other film makers like O'Bannon, Anderson, Yuzna, Wright, Snyder and even Boyle along with many, many others have been toying with Romero's ideas for years (and some mentioing of Russo as well). Okay, so the dead are back to life and it creates a small band of survivors to barricade themselves into a small farmhouse through out the night until help or even salvation arrives. To survive the day, they must first make it through - THE NIGHT. mwhwhhahah okay, I'm done with the macabre feel of this thing.
The macabre, the golden age of the Universal monster movies and EC comics were all heavy influences into George A Romero and he plugged it all into this film - not mention all of his other works. There have been books and films that just let alone talk about the camera work and how it terrorfies with light shadow and slow movement alone. It is quite possiably THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT HORROR FILM OF OUR DAY AND AGE. This one comes before Texas, cause TCM couldn't have come about if not for something like Night to pave the way for true in depth horror that kept making folks come back for more and why Night of the Living Dead (along with it's sequels) shall always remain an excellent tradition that plows into mankind's psyche.
So here we have oru small bunch of heroes, slowly becomign out numbered. If the zombies know the living are inside, they're gonna get at them no matter what it takes. We don't get much plot exploitation of WHY they're doing it, and WHY Romero is still expanding on such a premise to this day with his previous installment - Land of the Dead. All we do get from this film is that if you're previousily dead before the satellite landed you're now back from the dead. AND anyone else that dies (whether natural cause or via zombie) they too will be stricken with the so-called virus (or let's say maybe a trauma within their mind,body and psyche that causes them to desire the flesh of the living?)
The film Night of the Living Dead (also known as Night of Anubis or Night of the Flesh Eaters) tries to get everyone within this small lil farmhouse (setting racial,sexual and social differences aside) that they most work together despite greed or claiming who is wrong and who is right in order to survive the film. Everyone tries to work on a plan, whether it's to wait it out or escape. While others are stricken by a moment of irony, or down right they desreved it for being an idiot like Tom (cause he tried to blow a lock off a gas pump with a shot gun) or a self-righteous asshole like Cooper. This film is deliciosily written (much like the taste of the victims in the film) it's lit light a creepy take off of Bride of Frankenstein and it's a stark reality that hits on SO many levels. Whether you think it's the end of the world and God is punishing them through judgement day, a satelite sci-fi theory or just a coincidence of mass hysteria - Night of the Living Dead is what you make of it. Let yourself be terrorfied by this film and get lost in the imagery the ideas of being over run by the unburied dead and having even your own former loved ones strip the meat off your bones and they won't even reconcile your pain.
Of course, as we may have already known how far the Night has gone. It was followed up by the awesome international sequel Dawn of the Dead, and the lesser creepy but sometimes more gorey and thought provoking third part Day of the Dead. Romero fell of the face of the Earth for a while with his hatred of how the film business is run and eventually returned years later to create his fourth installment of the series Land of the Dead. THe film of Night of the Living Dead remake in 1990 was shot entirely in color and pretty much follows the core sample of the original. Except now we have horror makeup/sfx master Tom Savini in the director's chair and Tony Todd (Clive Barker's The Candyman) as the main hero. The remake was scripted by Romero - but doesn't fully capture the original's fright. Yet, watching Tony working his Black-Fu on the zombies is awesome lol. Night of the Living Dead 30th Anniversary was featured by shooting new scenes (which is pretty much an extended opening for someback ground on the first zomibe and perhaps a bit more exploitation on why this is happenign ot the world) and the new beginnig half of the film was directed by original Night co-writer: John A. Russo. But if you want the real deal effect, go for the cheapiest and grittiest copy you can find that has that low budgeted almost documentary like appeal to the film. Don't worry about the whole remastered look - seeing this film in it's worst condition almost makes it more frightening.
Things to look out for:
-Cooper is an asshole
-Dumb hillbillies blowing locks off of gas pumps with shotguns
-Shooting the wrong guy, (by mistake?)
-Redneck Militia to the rescue
Barbara: They oughta make the day the time changes the first day of summer.
Barbara: Well, it's eight o'clock, and it's still light!
Johnny: A lot of good the extra daylight does us. You know, we've still got a three-hour drive back; we're not gonna be home until after midnight.
Newscaster: All law enforcement agencies and the military have been organized to search out and destroy the marauding ghouls. The Survival Command Center at the Pentagon has disclosed that a ghoul can be killed by a shot in the head, or a heavy blow to the skull. Officials are quoted as explaining that since the brain of a ghoul has been activated by the radiation, the plan is kill the brain, and you kill the ghoul.
Field Reporter: Are they slow-moving, chief?
Sheriff McClelland: Yeah, they're dead. They're all messed up.
Field Reporter: Chief, if I were surrounded by eight or ten of these things, would I stand a chance with them?
Sheriff McClelland: Well, there's no problem. If you have a gun, shoot 'em in the head. That's a sure way to kill 'em. If you don't, get yourself a club or a torch. Beat 'em or burn 'em. They go up pretty easy.
Johnny: They're coming to get you, Barbara, there's one of them now!
Sheriff McClelland: All right, Vince, hit him in the head, right between the eyes.
Ben: Now get the hell down in the cellar. You can be the boss down there, but I'm boss up here!
Newscaster: Reports, incredible as they may seem, are not the results of mass hysteria.
Harry Cooper: "Mass hysteria?" What do they think, we're imagining all this?
Ben: Shut up!
[to Harry Cooper after having been locked outside]
Ben: I ought to drag you out there and FEED you to those things!
Ben: How long have guys you been down there? I could have used some help up here!
Harry Cooper: That's the cellar. It's the safest place.
Ben: You mean you didn't hear the racket I was making up here?
Harry Cooper: How were we supposed to know what was going on? Could have been those things for all we knew!
Ben: That girl was screaming. Surely you know what a girl screaming sounds like. Those things don't make any noise. Anybody would know somebody needed help!
Tom: Look, it's kind of hard to know what's going on from down there.
Harry Cooper: We thought we could hear screams, but for all we knew, that have meant those things were in the house after her.
Ben: And you wouldn't come up here and help?
Tom: Well, if there were more of them...
Harry Cooper: That racket sounded like the place was being ripped apart. How were we supposed to know what was going on?
Ben: Now wait a minute. You just got finished saying you couldn't hear anything down there. Now you say it sounded like the place was being ripped apart. It would be nice if you get your story straight, man.
Harry Cooper: All right, now you tell me! I'm not gonna take that kind of a chance when we've got a safe place! We lock into a safe place, and you're telling us we gotta risk our lives just because somebody might need help, huh?
Ben: Yeah, something like that.
Harry Cooper: Helen! I have to get that gun!
Helen Cooper: Haven't you had ENOUGH?
Harry Cooper: Look, two people are already dead on account of that guy! Take a look out that window!
Helen Cooper: We may not enjoy living together, but dying together isn't going to solve anything.
Newscaster: It has been established that persons who have recently died have been returning to life and committing acts of murder. A widespread investigation of funeral homes, morgues, and hospitals has concluded that the unburied dead have been returning to life and seeking human victims. It's hard for us here to be reporting this to you, but it does seem to be a fact.
Reverend John Hicks: This is like the flood that happened during Noah's time, or the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah! We ARE being punished for our sins! The dead are rising, and Judgment Day is upon us!
Sheriff McClelland: Good shot! OK, he's dead; let's go get 'im. That's another one for the fire.
Worthless tidbits of info:
In 1999, it was inducted into the National Film Preservation Board and recieved the award of National Film Registry.
Ranked in as Number 93 on the American Film Institutes 100 most frightening horror films. 100 being the bottom of the list, number 1 being Psycho and 2 was Jaws.
As stated earlier, the earlier title of the film was Night of Anubis, Anubis being the Ancient Egyptian God of the Dead.
Romero quickly rewrote the scene that gave Johnny and Barbara that huge dent on the side of their car. They make it look like they crashed into the tree, but the dent on the car door wouldn't have come the way they crashed intot he tree.
Legendary Make Up Master Tom Savini was originally hired to do Night, unfortunately he was called off to duty to serve as a combat photographer in Vietnam. The two were later re-united wehn Tom had his acting debut in Romero's Martin, and was def able to put his make up application skills to use when he made Dawn of the Dead.
Some people tend to consider George Romero also soo innovative for giving a black man the leading role of the film. It ends up create muching underlying racial issues at the time and a controversial ending if you look at it in a certain point of view. But it was in fact that George ended up hiring Duane Jones for the role, soley because he was the best actor in the whole group. ANd thusly beign the best actor, means he got the best role.
Also marks as being the first horror film with an African American as the lead role and pavign the way for many others. And it was also in such a tradition that Romero kept going with it as he did in The Crazies, Dawn of the Dead and even Land of the Dead.
Karl Hardman, who plays the asshole Cooper in the basement - also did the makeup, coproducing, sound effects engineer and even helped create the closing credits.
In true independent film fashion, the sound track was created from copywritten expired material. Sometimes known as also (S-Drop music) it's found a lot in Romero's early films such as The Crazies and parts of Dawn of the Dead that The Goblins didn't create. In fact, you're more than likely to catch this music on some of those old "NFL Greatest Superbowl Moments" television specials. Their music is also found in other films around just years before the release like Killer Shrews and Teenagers From OUter Space.
When originally intended as Night of the Flesh Eaters, the creators thought the killers would be extraterrestial in origin. Bringing the film to be much more cliche at the time as a cheesy sci-fi B movie. A good thing they went for the horror approach and transcended the whole genre instead.
Romero has admitted he was heavily influenced by the film Carnival of Souls. Also many people find that night has many social parallels of Hitchcock's THe Birds.
THe word "zombie" is never used but the creatures are called ghouls. Even in Dawn and Day they are either called things or creatures. It's not until Dennis Hopper mentions them in Land of the Dead as "zombies creep him out."
The Cooper family in the basement, is in real life the The Hardman family consisting of a mother, father and daughter.
It was booked in the movie theatres with a promise: "If Night of the Living Dead scares you to death, we're insured up to 50,000 dollars."insurance policy
Romero has also stated that above "visual" references came from other films - it was the initial idea that was found in the novel I am Legend by Richard Matheson.
Night is solely responsible for making the "midnight movie" the thing that movie goers wanted to check out for ages now.
In case you haven't noticed, the action packed shoot em up video game series of Resident Evil is directly influenced by the Romero films. When a Resident Evil movie was in the works, they hired Romero to write the script, they didn't like it so they fired him. SO now we have the two beautiful Resident Evil films out there because Capcom didn't like what Romero had for them - faq-u.
Night was such a huge success in Europe, Italian master of horror Dario Argento gar2.jpg (18228 bytes)SOOO wanted a sequel to the film. He approached George and the two helped create the driving force that would eventually become Dawn of the Dead.
On the night that Romero was driving the print to NY to seel the theatrical rights was the day that Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
The soundtrack to the 30th Anniversary edition to Night is totally new, it's written by Scott Vladiimir Licina - who also plays the role of the Priest of the new beginning scenes.
Final rudnwon of the film
Body count 8
Buckets of blood-5, not too much blood splattering - but this is probably the first time you'd see ghouls chomping on guts and human flesh (even though it's really leftovers from the producer who was really a Butcher).