Zombies

Night of the Living Dead

Year: 1968
Directed By: George A. Romero
Written By: John A. Russo and George A. Romero

RYAN’S REVIEW

Here is the last of our Halloween movies that we had planned to do last month during October. We chose 6 movies to review and watched all of them but never found the time to write down our thoughts on this one. We had planned to publish this review on the day of Halloween because it is so legendary but opted with Nightmare on Elm Street instead. After watching Freddy’s debut film we changed our mind because it just seemed to fit so well with the day. I think this movie is great for Halloween but in today’s society zombies are bigger than Halloween and seemingly welcome year round.

We live in a zombie society these days in a pulp tense but almost in a literal sense as well. America is an apathetic and sedated society. When you take a step back it almost seems like we are all the walking dead just going about our routines blindly without noticing the world around us. It’s probably why they have become so popular. Take away the gore and half of the fans might as well be looking in a mirror when they sit down to watch The Walking Dead or go to the theater to see the newest zombie film.

Regardless any reason there is no denying the simple fact that zombies are popular. They make for great media and Amber and I have been sucked in for a while. (We do have a zombie apocalypse bag packed in our closet and a plan of action should the dead start rising today). We are big fans of The Walking Dead comics by Robert Kirkman, as well as the show, and we also read the Empire of the Dead comic by George A. Romero that ties into this film. None of what we see today would have been possible without this film. This film is legendary for a number of reasons but most importantly it created the zombies that have become so popular today.

With this film George A. Romero created something new. Though in the movie the dead are only referred to as ghouls; they quickly took the title of zombie afterwards. Prior to this film zombies had been in films before but weren’t the flesh eating dead we know today. Romero created a new type of monster with his ghouls and did it without using masks or costumes. These zombies weren’t the living zombie under the spell of a voodoo witch doctor but recently deceased people who rose from their graves to eat human flesh and can only be killed by destroying their brains. The rest is history. Romero himself has made six films in this series but zombies have become so popular there is no end to the media they have invaded. Later this year we will even see a classic story invaded by zombies when Pride and Prejudice and Zombies hits theaters.

I love this film because it is so groundbreaking. Not only in its creation of modern day zombies but because it was so aggressive. This movie was graphic in a way people were unaccustomed to in 1968 in more ways than one. It was violent, bloody, and it starred a black man for crying out loud. Yes this movie, if I’m not mistaken, was the first to star an African American in the lead. Granted he doesn’t survive in an end that must have blown people’s minds in 1968, but he is the star of the film. He opened the doors for many actors to walk through and that can’t be taken for granted. This movie also opened the doors for the industry in general by raising the bar of what was deemed acceptable.

Let me take this opportunity: Thank you George A. Romero! As a fan of more graphic content, when it is necessary, in media I appreciate this movie all the more for what it did for films. It was so bold and inventive. Even today when I watch this movie I am shocked by its graphic nature, but that is what impresses me. Here I am, nearly 50 years later and it still has the potential to surprise me. That’s amazing and that’s exactly what makes this movie so significant. One of my favorite movies of all time is Romero’s sequel to this one, Dawn of the DeadHowever, it would have never been possible without this, and this was pretty damn good in its own right.

This movie is the only reason that we have read Empire of the Dead by Romero. A couple of years ago Amber got me half of the available volumes of The Walking Dead comics for Christmas. I think I was dancing around the door when the Barnes & Nobles finally opened following the holiday. I had already burned through something like 8 volumes immediately, unable to stop or put them down. Once I bought every other volume up until 17 I was going mad at the possibility of waiting six months for the continuation of the story. Suddenly one day I realized if I went to an actual comic book store I could probable get a couple issues of what had come out before the next volume was available. A volume is six issues of the comic. Typically an issue comes out once a month, so you can consider each volume usually six months of compiled material. I love the series and even though it is maddening to wait for the next issue now on a monthly basis it never fails to surprise me with where it goes.

Once we started visiting the comic book store once a month we naturally got interested in more that was available. We now read several comics on a regular basis as issues are released and George A. Romero’s Empire of the Dead is one of them. I was not initially interested in reading another comic about zombies as I was already so aggressively invested in The Walking Dead. Yet when Amber brought home the debut issue one day I found myself reading it that evening. Despite my lack of enthusiasm it was the fact that it was rooted in this movie that got me to keep reading it as it came out. In the story of Empire of the Dead people have been living with the dead for a long time and have rebuilt a different sort of society set in New York City. They catch and train qualified zombies for pit games, the zombies have a low level of thought and organization, the Government is actually run by vampires so on and so forth. One of the main characters in the comic is the daughter of Barbara from this film. She believes zombies are capable of higher thought because her mother was not actually killed by the zombie brother that pulled her through the window in the film but saved by it. It’s neither here nor there but this story has kept me invested specifically because it is rooted in this film.

This movie really doesn’t need any input from me, it speaks for itself. It is an incredible movie that will never be forgotten and it is simply the beginning of an ongoing story that that is still going strong 46 years later. If you have seen this movie then it is never a bad idea to check it out again when Halloween rolls around. If you haven’t seen it then what are you waiting for? You have missed out on something that is awesome.

 

Advertisements

The Walking Dead

I have hated on this show, I have been bored with it, and I have found it to be too dramatic for most of the series. However, tonight I must eat crow. This has quite possibly been one of the greatest episodes of any show I have ever seen. If nothing else, all the drama and the agonizing boredom has been worth it for this. I take back everything bad I ever said about the show because this episode alone has made it all worth wild. I suddenly have hope in this show again. That may not be a good thing though; one great episode can still lead to more of the same. Nevertheless I am back on board and will continue to stick with it no matter what now. This one episode has been good enough to validate all the time I have invested in the show.
Check that, is this woman seriously going to pine over the death of the other guy (Shane)? No matter the circumstance why would she have any reason to worry? I do hate the fact that this show will get so soap-operaish about its drama. I know from researching the comic that it is strongly implied that the baby is Shane’s. Nevertheless her behavior about his death at this point only makes things more dramatic when it is totally unnecessary. Also, why does Rick confess what happened with Shane to the group? Give me a break dude and drop the drama. He could have just as easily not told anybody what really happened and the show could have given us something else really exciting. Obviously the show will continue to deliver on pointless drama but with the potential to give us all this excitement again.
I like the lead-in into season 3 and now have hope for the show. This was a truly outstanding episode and I look forward to what else the show has to offer. Obviously the group is going to set up camp at the prison and they will run into a new enemy when we see them again.

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Year: 2004
Directed By: Zack Snyder
Written By: George A. Romero

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a different Dawn of the Dead, an upgraded version so to speak.  I don’t mean “upgraded” in the sense that the movie was improved upon, simply rewritten to correlate with the twenty-first century. We live in faster times now and each succeeding generation is looking for more action, more excitement, and more thrills. In 1978 the idea of slow-moving dead people coming in masses fused with great writing was enough to scare people, but in 2004 they felt the need to turn up the volume. This movie lacks the substance of the original, but it makes up for it with pure adrenaline. That isn’t a bad thing though.  This movie by far fails in comparison to the original but I don’t think it is really fair to compare the two.  They are two completely different movies, and this one is good in its own way.

It’s been a while since I have seen this movie and I am remembering now how much I liked it.  This movie is scary, these zombies aren’t like the ones we are used to.  These zombies aren’t slowly coming toward you to attack they are sprinting at full speed and moving with full force at all times.  They instantly come back from the dead and they immediately come after you, that is terrifying.  There is also the fact that there have been significant advances in the fields of Hollywood make-up and special effects since 1978.  The zombies in this film do look very real because of that, and that advantage works in favor for The Walking Dead as well. See our last post for my thoughts on the AMC series.

Zack Snyder directed this film and while I like what he did with it, it is like most of his other movies. Lots of excitement, little substance. He has great vision and I really like his style but his movies are usually only good and not great.  He has the big responsibility of getting the Superman franchise back on track for Warner Brothers. There is a lot of hype surrounding the film and Christopher Nolan is involved so there is hope and Snyder might become much more renowned.  With this film he took very few elements from the original and made his own movie. The characters are overly irrational and ignorant for most of the film and that annoys the hell out of me but the thrills make up for those flaws. I think Sarah Polley is great in the lead role.  Ving Rhames   does little to impress in this role but I am a fan of his. Like most of the rest of the cast I think Ty Burrell does a good job of playing a douche bag.  Ken Foree and Tom Savini from the original both pop up in the film in cameo roles.

This movie starts off great but starts to lose a little steam in the middle and then a series of ridiculous decisions lead to the inevitable. That’s what really makes it fail in comparison to the original, these people are idiots for the most part.  Shaun of the Dead figured things out quicker than these people did.  I do like this film but I find some parts of it really annoying.  Why does Mekhi Phifer go crazy and kill to protect his obviously dead wife and child? Why do they willfully wheel an obvious zombie into their base and try to treat her? Things like that get on my nerves, but I suppose there are bound to be plenty of idiots who survive the apocalypse by accident. This movie isn’t bad and I would say that it is worth your time to see it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

If I thought you should see the original Dawn of the Dead, this one is an absolute must. It is set in modern day and we can easily relate to it. I love this film so much. In this one, compared to the previous one and others in its genre, the zombies in this film dart after you. They are like zombies on crack and will come after you with a vengeance. In my opinion, it sets the stage for a much scarier zombie flick compared to the clumsy, lifeless zombies that are found in most films. I love the whole premise of this movie and we regularly watch it at halloween, although, really it can be a good movie to watch any time of the year.

If you haven’t seen this movie, see it now.

NEXT MOVIE: The Day Reagan Was Shot (2001)

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Year: 1978
Directed By: George A. Romero
Written By: George A. Romero

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is easily my favorite horror film of all time.  It is a film that really was ahead of its time and even in the zombie fanatic society we live in now it still ranks among the best. There were certain things I liked about the attempt to remake this film but everything that made this film so remarkable was gone.  This wasn’t a movie made simply to scare people and make money. This movie tells a story, it sends a strong message about human nature, and above all it both scared and entertained us.  George A. Romero started something with his zombie films that I personally can’t even begin to understand.  I don’t know why, but zombies are everywhere these days and it all began with Romero. If anybody out there could explain to me our society’s fascination and obsession with zombies I would really appreciate it.

Romero does a fantastic job of capturing the fear and chaos that has over taken society with this film.  It begins amid the chaos and you can see how all types of people deal with the situation at hand.  The apocalypse has already started, some people run, some just keep on working, some arm themselves to fight, and many fall prey to the undead killers that come by the tens and hundreds.  If you let yourself get sucked into this one you can really feel the weight of what is going on.  When Peter shoots the room full of zombies one at a time in the beginning of the movie you can almost feel what he is going through. When the four main characters sit in the helicopter and all tell the cop they don’t have any cigarettes and then immediately light up after take off you can feel the desperation of the dog-eat-dog world society has turned into.  It’s each man for himself and life has become too dangerous to risk helping others.  So much of the film is more about what it does to the living to go on living in this world.  It isn’t easy to keep surviving and you can feel how hopeless their existence has become.  In the end Peter doesn’t even know if he wants to get away at all and ponders ending his life right then and there.  This movie is intense and effective throughout, that’s what makes it such a great film.

What I especially like about this film is that it was so bold and honest. This movie isn’t overly dramatic becuase these people don’t have time to deal with drama.  The movie is always intense because they are always in danger, from zombies and other survivors alike.  What I really hate about AMC’s The Walking Dead is that there is so much pointless drama in the show.  I like to call it “The Walking Cry Babies Who Sometimes See Zombies” because all the people do is bitch and moan like they don’t realize death is around every corner. The Laurie Holden character is the worse, always bitching about needing a gun.  Why the hell would they want guns when guns draw the zombies? It’s stupid, they literally find a stockpile of melee weapons at one point but continue to be preoccupied with guns.  Laurie Holden actually shoots another character at one point but not only is she allowed to continue carrying a gun she gets defensive about it all the time. In the final moments of the last episode in December the show literally switches roles and you actually find yourself feeling sorry for the zombies. This is a stupid show people and I implore you to put it aside and watch this film. See a good zombie movie and compare it, and if you would like a seasonal tv show I would suggest American Horror Story on FX.  It was both scary and very creative, and Jessica Lange was incredible.

You shouldn’t see this movie because I am telling you to watch it, you should see this movie because it is a classic. I would not call myself a zombie fan but it just so happens a lot of great media involves zombies.  I may not like The Walking Dead but I can see the merits of the show and understand why people like it.  Shaun of the Dead is one of my favorite comedies of all time, I can literally watch it over and over again and still love it.  I really enjoyed Stephen King’s Cell, that was actually dedicated to George A. Romero.  I don’t understand what makes zombies so marketable, but I can tell you one thing…I’ve learned a things or two.  Should the dead rise from the grave I know exactly what to do.

UPDATE: I’d just like to note that since writing this review I have been won over by The Walking Dead and will take back some of the things I have said.  I stand by what I said in regards to season 2 but changed my tune after seeing this.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Who can say that they don’t like this movie? Unless, of course, you don’t like zombies and WHO doesn’t like zombie movies? This movie is a classic in every way. If you think The Walking Dead is great, then you definitely need to see this film that helped pave the way for all other movies in its genre. I am in no way endorsing The Walking Dead. I think it is drama-filled bullshit by, you know just by the way.

I don’t really have anything else to say about this movie except that you should see it. Ryan lays out all of the details for you, so I pretty much get to tell you whether or not I think it’s worth watching or not. Well this one is, it’s a classic and is well worth your time.

NEXT MOVIE: Dawn of the Dead (2004)