Posts Tagged ‘George Romero’


Hey Monster Scifi Show fans or fan, I have another Scifi News podcast for this week. As always, what are the “BIG” 3 topics for this week:

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Siblings Barbra (Judith O’Dea) and Johnny (Russell Streiner) drive to a rural Pennsylvania cemetery to visit their father’s grave. Barbra is afraid at the cemetery; Johnny frightens her repeating, “They’re coming to get you, Barbra!” A pale skinned man (Bill Hinzman) grabs Barbra. Johnny wrestles with the man but is killed when he falls and his head hits a tombstone. Barbra flees while being pursued by the man. She reaches an empty farmhouse. Ben (Duane Jones) arrives at the house and boards up the doors and windows. Barbra is catatonic, then frantically insists they must rescue Johnny, then collapses in shock.

Hiding in the cellar are Harry and Helen Cooper (Karl Hardman and Marilyn Eastman), their daughter Karen (Kyra Schon), and young couple Tom and Judy (Keith Wayne and Judith Ridley). Ben activates a radio while Barbra awakens. She is frightened by Tom and Harry emerging from the cellar. Harry and Ben argue. Ben thinks they should have left the cellar to help board the doors. Harry espouses hiding in the cellar but Ben deems it a “death trap” and remains upstairs. Tom agrees with Ben and asks Judy upstairs.

Harry returns to the cellar to Helen and Karen, who is ill after being bitten by a zombie. Radio reports explain that an epidemic of mass murder is sweeping across the eastern seaboard. Ben discovers a television; the emergency broadcaster reveals that the creatures are consuming the flesh of their victims and that the murders are being perpetrated by the recently deceased who have returned to life. Experts, scientists, and the military do not know the cause; one scientist believes it is caused by radioactive contamination from a space probe that exploded in the Earth’s atmosphere. A final report reveals that a gunshot or heavy blow to the head will stop the “ghouls” and that posses of armed men are patrolling the countryside to restore order.

Ben devises a plan to escape using the truck he drove to the house, but it needs fuel. Ben and Tom drive the short distance to an outside gas pump while Harry hurls Molotov cocktails from an upper window to restrain the ghouls. Judy fears for Tom’s safety and runs after him. They arrive at the pump but Tom spills fuel, setting the truck alight. Tom and Judy drive the truck from the pump to avoid further damage but it explodes, killing them. Ben returns to the house to find Harry boarding up the front door. Ben kicks the door down and furiously beats Harry. Ghouls approach the truck and feed on Tom and Judy’s flesh.

After the ghouls attempt to break into the house, Harry spots Ben’s rifle and threatens to shoot him. Ben wrestles the gun from Harry and shoots him. The ghouls begin to tug Helen and Barbra through the windows. Harry stumbles into the cellar to find Karen’s dead body, and dies. Helen frees herself of the ghouls and proceeds to the cellar to find Karen reanimated and consuming Harry’s flesh. Karen repeatedly stabs Helen with a cement trowel, killing her.

Barbra spots Johnny in the group of ghouls; distracted, she is carried away and killed. Karen tries to attack Ben. He pushes her away and seals himself in the cellar. Ben shoots the reanimated Harry and Helen. He survives the night and falls asleep. In the morning a posse arrives. Ben hears the posse and proceeds to the window. A member of the posse mistakes him for a ghoul and shoots him in the head from a distance, killing him. Ben’s body is placed onto a burning pyre.

For this classic horror film that started my love for zombies, I have never seen this on the big screen. The only big screen was on my 19″ tv and seating really close enough to ruin my eyes. First off, this movie came out in 1968 and two, my first watching of this movie to due in part because of my friend Michele. If you have read my horror from the beginning of this month will know how much of an influence she was on me. In fact, she bought my own copy of Night of the Living Dead on VHS which I still have even though I don’t have a player. Never the less, the advent of Netflix and the internet, I can watch this at my leisure. In fact, I’ve included this movie on this entry for your viewing pleasure.

Another thing that strikes me about this movie is how the zombies reacted. The first zombie that attacked Barbara in the car, he picks up a brick and tries to smash the car window and succeeds. Later, we see other zombies attack the house to clubs to break down the boarded windows. Unlike some other zombie productions we see the typical dumb zombies but the with the original Night we see zombies are problem solvers which makes them really unique.

The subtext of this movie is really interesting to watch for many reasons. Like with the Walking Dead graphic novel series, both works examines how people behavior under extraordinary situations. First, we have an African-American, Ben,  in the lead role which does not sit will with Harry. We also see how subservient the women are their male counterparts. They are either docile like Helen and Judy and neurotic like Barbara. Also, the last survivor Ben gets short by a white posse that “mistakes” him as a zombie, I disagree.

What also makes this film standout is the intended black and white footage. Yes, I agree that color make the gore look great but like the Walking Dead, there is a different feel about the gore that I can’t put my finger on it but the horror factor still comes through. However back in the day, the fade to color b&w movies all the rage including the original King Kong. While I did not include the colorized version you can check out the colorized trailer.

Now there is a new treatment called Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated. Basically, 150 artists worked on their favorite part of the movie using art to capture or reinterpret the images from the movies. Some look pure awesome while some went for quickly laughs but regardless, it is worth a look. Think of watching this movie like watching the first A-ha video Take on Me on acid. Not that I know about acid but the warped perceptions is a better description. Better yet, think of the Ani-Matrix for a horror movie. Check out the trailer plus some of my favorite scenes


This is one of the most classic horror movies that treats this film like a living comic book. thanks to Romero’s directing talents. There are interesting shots  framed for moments of pending doom and lavish lighting schemes that enhance the fun of watching this movie. On the flipside, during a recent watching of The Warriors director’s cut, Walter Hill claimed his film was always as a comic book. Sadly, his updated treatment failed to convey a tenth of Creepshow does so well and almost ruined his own film. (More on this next month blog.)

Like with most Horror movies, there is one or two elements which the premise of the story works off from. With this anthology, we get three different elements: fear, disgust, and horror itself.

Prologue

A young boy named Billy (Joe King) gets yelled at and slapped by his father, Stan (Tom Atkins), for reading a horror comic titled Creepshow. His father tosses the comic in the garbage to teach Billy a lesson, but not before threatening to spank him should Billy ever get caught reading Creepshow comic books again. Later after he tosses the comic book away, Stan reminds his wife (Iva Jean Saraceni) that he had to be hard on Billy because he cannot believe all the “crap” that’s in the book. He closes out the discussion with the reason why God made fathers: to protect their ways of life and their children. As Billy sits upstairs hating his father, he hears a sound at the window, which turns out to be a ghostly apparition, beckoning him to come closer.

The element here would be fear. Billy does have an abuse father figure in his life. For me, the scene reminded me of my own uneasy relationship with my biological father. While he never hit me, I was in fear of him and seeing this scene just serve to remind me. And no, I did not see any apparitions outside my window.

“Father’s Day”

(First story, written by King specifically for the film)

Seven years ago, an elderly patriarch named Nathan Grantham (Jon Lormer) was killed on Father’s Day by his daughter Bedelia (Viveca Lindfors), gone mad from the murder of her husband which Nathan orchestrated. Bedelia bashed her father in the head with a marble ashtray as he screamed for his cake. Third Sunday of June, seven years later, his ungrateful, money-grubbing relatives, including Aunt Bedelia (now taken to drinking), get together for their annual dinner on Father’s Day. Nathan Grantham comes back as a revenant to get the cake he never got, and kills off his relatives one by one. The end scene shows an undead Nathan (John Amplas) carrying Aunt Sylvia’s frosting-covered head on a platter, rattling “It is Father’s Day, and I got my cake.”

The element here would be horror and fear. Having your own father come back to life from out of the grave is enough but killing your relatives because you want to have your cake is just too creepy. Little cameo of Ed Harris was cool to see again but I forgot how much white people can’t dance – Ooh the horror.

The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill

(Second story, originally titled “Weeds”, adapted from a previously published short story written by King)

A dimwitted backwoods hick (Stephen King) thinks a newly discovered meteorite will provide enough money from the local college to pay off his $200 bank loan. Instead, he finds himself being overcome by a rapidly spreading plant-like organism that comes off the meteorite and begins growing on him after he touches a glowing green substance within (resulting in the sketch’s famous quote: “Meteor shit!”).

Unfortunately, while the story was too schlocky with King’s own performance, there wasn’t much of any horror aspect. Still, there was a bright spot which is due to an uncredited cameo by John Colicos. Those who know there scifi history will remember this name as original Baltar in Battlestar Galactica. And to boot, he was Kor, the Klingon that appeared in the Original Star Trek series and later replayed the same character in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

“Something to Tide You Over”

(Third story, written by King expressly for the film)

Richard Vickers (Leslie Nielsen), a coldblooded, wealthy husband, stages a terrible fate for his unfaithful wife, Becky (Gaylen Ross) and her lover, Harry Wentworth (Ted Danson) by burying them up to their necks on the beach, below the high tide line. He sets up closed-circut TV cameras so the lovers can watch each other die. Richard is in for a surprise of his own when the people he murdered return as waterlogged, seaweed-covered zombies intent on getting revenge of their own.

This story has the most fear out of all the stories. My fear is being so deep underwater, then looking up and the seeing a massive creature looming above me. Hell, I couldn’t go on the Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas ride without a panic attack. Granted this story had nothing to do with my fear except of being trapped underwater. Having re-watched this, I felt the anxiety of Harry (Ted) trying to conserve his air intake. The fear worked for me on this level.

The Crate

(Fourth story, adapted from a previously published short story)

A mysterious, extremely lethal creature is unwittingly released from its crate in this suspenseful and gory monster story. Hal Holbrook stars as mild-mannered college professor Henry Northrup, who sees the creature as a way to rid himself of his drunk, uncouth, and emotionally abusive wife, Wilma (Adrienne Barbeau). (The monster in the crate was nicknamed “Fluffy” by the film’s director, George A. Romero)

The obvious element is horror. This is one of the best stories from this movie and a wonderful performance by Adrienne Barbeau-bot as “Just call me, Billy”. While the beast looks a bit hokey towards the end, the little bits we see throughout this piece plays into the horror of what is in the crate.

“They’re Creeping Up On You!”

(Fifth and final story, written by King expressly for the film)

Upson Pratt (E.G. Marshall) is a cruel, ruthless businessman whose mysophobia has him living in a hermetically sealed apartment, but finds himself helpless when his apartment becomes overrun by endless hordes of cockroaches.

The final element is pure disgust. Having lived in NY for ½ my life, I detest those cockroach bastard as much as Prat but  thank god, I did not end up like him. What is more scary is how much these insects outnumbers us will how much longer they will last long after we’re all gone. You can’t fight nature because it will always find a way to win.

Epilogue

The following morning, two garbage collectors (Tom Savini and Marty Schiff) find the Creepshow comic in the trash. They look at the ads in the book for X-ray specs, a Charles Atlasbodybuilding course. They also see an advertisement for a voodoo doll, but lament that the order form has already been redeemed. Inside the house, Stan complains of neck pain, which escalates as Billy repeatedly jabs the voodoo doll while Stan screams in agony.

As for the theater, Loews American which is now known as The American, was my favorite places to go throughout my childhood in Parkchester. During the summers, they would run Disney movie marathon which was way before the advent of videotapes. What also made this theater special was size of it all. Back in my day, there was only one theater and one theater screen with a balcony to boot. So as time went on, I had watch the remake of King Kong in the 70’s, Popeye, The Howling, and sadly, Superman III.

There was this one time, not in band camp, but rather I received a call from a girl. Apparently, she knew who I was but I could not recognize the girl over the phone. She never gave me her name but was interested in seeing me. So, I picked this theater to meet and I remembered standing there under the marquee with freezing cold rain. She never showed up and she never called again. Ah, junior high memories.

So me being a dork, it was a friday night where I was on my way out to see Creepshow with my friends including Michelle. Just as I was turning off my tv, the trailer for Creepshow appeared. I was so excited that I called up Michelle what I just saw because she of all people would get me. To boot, on the other side of this shot, she lived very close to this theater.


George A. Romero Speaks

Horror legend shares the 10 lessons he’s learned over 40 years behind the camera

by George A. Romero | Published May 26, 2010

A legend of the horror genre, George A. Romero has been scaring audiences for more than 40 years with his unique brand of socially-conscious fright films. His latest, the zombie epic Survival of the Dead (the sixth feature in Romero’s “Dead” series), was released by Magnolia Pictures via video on demand on April 30th, before hitting theaters on May 28th. Here, Romero shares 10 lessons he’s learned during his career.

1. Show, don’t tell. First drafts of my earliest screenplays always came in at 300-plus pages. I used to think that a thought unwritten was a thought lost. I learned that new and better thoughts come once you’ve had a chance to think about what you’ve written and then—rewrite. My producing partner, a wonderful editor, taught me that thoughts on the page should be precise and well-contemplated, or they wind up wasting time and money.

2. Time is money. So be prepared when you walk on to the set.

3. Know as much as you can about every crew member’s specialty. You will better appreciate a good job, and you won’t be ripped off by a DP who requisitions an outrageously expensive equipment package.

4. Computer graphics should be thought of as tools. Use them to save time and money, rather than just because you can.

via George A. Romero Speaks / Horror legend shares the 10 lessons he’s learned over 40 years behind the camera | MovieMaker Magazine.