Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Big Romero Dead Series Review.

Or, "Adding To My Collection Part 13.5".

(See here for part 13)

So, this'll be easy, I'll just shoot the shit about the Romero Dead Sextilogy until I tucker myself out, and then hit "publish".

Night Of The Living Dead (1968)

See here, and here.

The classic, it's the most imitated movie ever, created a whole sub-genre, and it still gets TV play, especially every Halloween.

Simple story, radiation from space makes everyone who dies for any reason come back as a zombie.
If they bite you, you become a zombie that much faster.
But, really, they wanna eat your guts.
Only thing that stops them is to destroy their brain, usually with a bullet to the head.
Our protagonists hole up in a house, and the fight for survival begins.

Put this simple idea in the hands of seemingly anyone else but Romero and his gang, and you get schlock.
Ditto Evil Dead and Raimi.
Talent fucking matters.

And y'know, this is really the only scary one of the bunch.
The rest are just varying levels of fun.
Well...I guess they're all scary if you can't stand the gore, but...horror junkies like me just giggle with delight.

Dawn Of The Dead (1978)

See here.

I nailed it back then, the Star Wars of horror.

And, y'know what?
Nostalgia brushed aside, lately I enjoy the Dead sextilogy better than the Star Wars sextilogy.

Star Wars, you got two great ones, and one okay one, Dead, you got 4 great ones, one pretty great one, one okay one.
As a series, it's more fun to watch, less speedbumps.

So, anyway, here, the infestation is in full swing, and we get to see a bit of the bigger scope of it all, and it's not going well for the humans.
Long story short, this is the one where our heroes hole up in a shopping mall.

It's fucking epic.
I could watch it a million times, and not get sick of it.
Everyone loves it, it's most people's favorite, it's been remade, it's the inspiration for several video games, "The Walking Dead", borrows heavily from this and "Day", and I swear, I have an old back issue of Hulk from 1981, that has an order form on the inside cover for a paper/dice RPG where you're in the zombie apocalypse.
So, fandom of this sub-genre took off right from "Dawn".
It ain't new.
Just the size of it is.
Hell, I had no internet to check, but it may even be the same size, and we just know about it now.
I heard in one of the commentaries that there was even an officially sanctioned board-game.
Damn, how sweet would it have been if there'd been figures, vehicles, and a playset of the mall?
Come on, you know you want it. *Smirk*

Day Of The Dead (1985)

See here.

So talked about this one last time, and in the first review for "Survival".

People were originally disappointed with this one after "Dawn", and that's understandable, you can't top that one, but, this one has better writing, acting, and effects, and the darker tone really makes this one cooler.

Budget constraints forced this one to scale down, but George chose the smaller budget to have complete creative control.

I love it.
I really fucking love it.

The characters are all fucking great, even the bad guys.
The best ones are no doubt Dr. Logan, and Bub.
Yes, a zombie is a character in this one.
And he should have gotten an Oscar.
I'm dead serious.

Anyway, this one is well into year two of the infestation ("Dawn", having spread out over year one), and humanity is all but wiped out, and an increasingly shrinking handful of survivors is living in an underground military bunker converted from an abandoned salt mine.

As can be expected, they're way more stir crazy, and at each other's throats than the heroes of "Night".
Meanwhile, Dr. Logan is trying to find a method of training zombies to be docile, and his star pupil is Bub.
The soldiers, who risk their lives to get test subjects, have no patience for this at all.
It's a pressure cooker.
A glorious magnificent pressure cooker.

Did I mention I love it?

Fun fact: the heroine of this one is the daughter of the guy who played the TV interviewer in "Night".

Land Of The Dead (2005)

See here.

Well, I reiterate what I said there about people having to warm up to this one.
I dunno what it is, but even Romero himself has observed it.
"Day", took awhile, this one did, "Diary", did, and "Survival", still hasn't clicked.
Well, the hardcore fans took right to "Survival", I'm still struggling.

But, I took right to this one.
I think its fucking great.
This is essentially what George wanted "Day", to be before he had to scale it back.
Which drives me crazy why some people hated it.
When it was just "Dawn", and "Day", it's like "oh, if only George didn't have to scale back! Imagine what he could do with a big budget!".
He finally gets the big fucking budget "oh, it's too slick! Waah!".
Please, just shoot yourselves.
In the head, so you don't come back.

Anyhoo, this one, it's year three of the infestation, we're left to assume humanity is all but gobbled up, and the last outpost is a small city renamed Fiddler's Green, run by Dennis Hopper.
The scale is as big as these are ever likely to get, and the look and tone is as dark, if not darker, than "Day".
It's kind of "Road Warrior", meets zombies at this point.

Simon Pegg (from, of course "Shaun Of The Dead") cameos as a zombie, and the heroine in this one is the daughter of Dario Argento, who funded "Dawn".
And she's a little fox.

Also, Tom Savini pops up as his character from "Dawn".
...but no one involved is allowed to say so, cuz of legal ownership issues.
Go figure.

The biggest controversy in this one, is here, the zombies evolve, and start to get smart.
*Shrug* I dunno why this upset people, it was totally set up in "Day", with Bub, and there's even little hints of it in "Night", and "Dawn".
It's the natural progression to me.

I think "zombie culture", has been tainted by all these knockoffs.
They forget what the Romero-verse is really about.

So, anyway, George has said that he'll never make one that happens any farther after this one, because after this, the zombies win, and he wants his dead movies to be about the humans.
He wrote a comic series about warring zombie tribes, but that's semi-canonical.
But yeah, no all-zombie films. "Land", is the (chronological) end.

Which brings us right to....

Diary Of The Dead (2007)

See here.

Like I said there, I took right to this one.
In fact, they had me right at the premise.

It goes all the way back to the first night of the infestation, during "Night", (but in modern times, so the chronology of this world is a bit wonky) and a bunch of film students who are out making a horror movie end up documenting the zombie outbreak.

And, as I said last time, it kicks "Blair Witch", and its whole sub-genre in the dick.
With a steel toed workboot.

You're dead, "found footage", sub-genre.
The master done pwned you.
It's over.

Fun fact: Simon Pegg, Wes Craven, Stephen King, Quentin Tarantino, Tom Savini, and Guillermo del Toro all cameo as radio voices.

Survival Of The Dead (2009)

See here, and here.

Said most of it there.

Said last time I'd watch it again, and I have.
Mmm....still not a fave.
Still the least good.

I stand by, that at worst, it's as good as an episode of "The Walking Dead".
At best, a little better than that.

Compare it to other knockoff zombie flicks out there, and this still stomps those into the ground though.
So, as an overall horror flick, no way does it "suck".
I've seen it compared to a SyFy channel movie.

Still, even seeing the political allegory stuff better the third time around, it only went up half a star.

This one, takes the soldier character from "Diary", and spins him off.
Where "Diary", was on the grid, this one's off the grid.
The heroes end up on an island off the coast of Delaware, and once there, two rival families are going at each other like Hatfields and McCoys, and the tone is of a western.
Yep, a zombie western.
Well, George likes to make every one different...

So, house, mall, bunker, city, Winnebago, island.
What's left? Submarine?

The idea is good, the cinematography is gorgeous, the landscapes are lush, the acting is decent, the characters are likable, probably even the best since "Day", the practical effects are decent, the CGI is passable, if not great....
Just...something's missing.

And...what (I think) it is, is a subliminal thing, and I think George would cop to it.
They didn't get to shoot enough coverage, which means, George didn't get to work his editing magic.
You get to see a really good technical breakdown of this in the commentary for "The Crazies".

Without that dynamic editing, the pace is slowed down.
That's the big handicap in this one.

And that all came down to time.
They had a bigger budget than "Diary", but it had a short schedule to begin with, and they lost a lot of time to horrible weather.

It's a testament to George's talent that it's as good as it is.
That's why I said before that the documentary is actually more interesting than the flick.

I'm sure though, that hindsight over the 00's, and what they stood for, will age this one into another classic.

Anyway, a couple new zombie rules are added here.
The smart zombies start to creep back in, and one of them can ride a horse, and another starts a car.
And, zombies can eat other things besides humans.

The latter "The Walking Dead", already played with, but it's new to Romero-verse.
Although, that one chick-zombie ate a bug way back in "Night", so...

Okay, that's that one, now we look to the future.

Right now, it's two trilogies...

...but George says he's has two left in him, and intends it to be two quadrilogies.

He's worried about living long enough to finish the series, so, he wants the last ones to be back-to-back like "Kill Bill", or "Deathly Hallows".

All we know for sure about them is this...
  • He wants to lay out "the zombie rules", once and for all, and in detail.
  • He wants to continue what he's got going with spinning off characters from "Diary".
  • And that, because he regrets he didn't get to do the continuity thing with the first four, because different studios own them, but now he can with these ones, cuz he's got his own little Canadian studio behind him.
  • The aforementioned thing about they'll never go beyond the time frame of "Land".
  • They'll probably won't get up to the time-frame of "Land", either.
  • Whatever the first of these new ones will be, will be the first one to comment on the decade of the 10's, so, that'll be a moment in horror history. The post-Obama-election Romero, what'll that look like?
  • There will be zombies, gore, and misanthropic cynicism.
  • I can't wait.

Aaand, I think that's everything I wanted to say.

Okay, "The End", then.


Diacanu said...

Y'know, now that I stop to think about it, Asia Argento's character from "Land", is so obviously the inspiration for Cassie Hack from Hack/Slash.

Diacanu said...

Also forgot the mention, Greg Nicotero, who did the makeup for "Land", is the makeup head-honcho on "The Walking Dead".

Diacanu said...

Hmm, no, "Survival", is definitely better than an episode of "The Walking Dead", because TWD doesn't have sexy horse-riding zombie, or masturbating lesbian solider.

Blog Archive