By Adam Roche
It’s hard to believe that George A. Romero has been making zombie movies since 1968, and yet when you look at the movies of that year, it’s clear that there was a definite shift occurring in terms of studio output. People were happy to be challenged, to open their minds to new ideas and experiences. Kubrick released ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, Polanski’s mind gave birth to ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, and Franklin J. Shaffner’s ‘Planet of The Apes’ had popularized the social comment and twist ending.
When ‘The Night Of The Living Dead’ was released, it was strongly denounced as a gore-fest, and yet in 1999 it was placed on the National Film Registry as a film deemed “historically, culturally or aesthetically important”. What changed people’s minds?
Perhaps it’s because if you strip away the horror veneer, there is a frightening amount of subtext underneath. Echoing not only the racial tensions of the time, especially with it’s tragic twist ending and final shot, but the Vietnamese conflict, which saw middle America at war with itself as furious debate and anger at the conflict raged across the country, ‘The Night Of The Living Dead’ was rightly tagged as one of the most subversive horror movies ever made. Oh, and the fact that it’s bloody frightening.
It was followed by a classic sequel in the shape of ‘Dawn Of The Dead’, itself a stark and terrifying film allied with a brutal commentary on our consumerist society. Unfortunately it was then saddled with a forgettable third part, ‘Day of The Dead’, featuring Bub, the nice zombie. Recently, Romero has taken to urinating on his legacy further by releasing ever-shoddier entries in the series, but if you want to know why he’s still allowed, why he’s still funded, and why he’s so admired, you can click here to find out.
Past Film Club choices: