Horror on the Lens: Night of the Living Dead (dir by George Romero)


Happy Halloween everyone!

Well, as another horrorthon draws to a close, it’s time for another Shattered Lens tradition!  Every Halloween, we share one of the greatest and most iconic horror films ever made.  For your Halloween enjoyment, here is George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead!

(Be sure to read Arleigh’s equally iconic review!)

ENJOY!

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4 Shots From 4 Films: Special George Romero Edition


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films is all about letting the visuals do the talking.

This October, I am going to be using our 4 Shots From 4 Films feature to pay tribute to some of my favorite horror directors, in alphabetical order!  That’s right, we’re going from Argento to Zombie in one month!

Today’s director is one of the most important names in the history of American horror cinema, George Romero!

4 Shots From 4 Films

Night of the Living Dead (1968, dir by George Romero)

Dawn of the Dead (1978, dir by George Romero)

Day of the Dead (1985, dir by George Romero)

Land of the Dead (2005, dir by George Romeo)

TV Review: The Walking Dead 8.1 “Mercy” (dir by Greg Nicotero)


Before I say anything about the 100 episode and 8th season premiere of The Walking Dead, I want to say thank you to the show’s producers for including a dedication to George Romero at the end of the episode.

Even in his later years, Romero never quite got his due from either Hollywood or the critical establishment.  He struggled to raise the money to make movies that would stay true to his vision.  The critics who praised him often only did so grudgingly, often acknowledging his influence while still making snide remarks about his films.  Too many critics are still unwilling to give unqualified praise to anything related to the horror genre.  Despite all of that, George Romero is one of the most important and influential filmmakers of all time.  It can be argued that without Romero and his Dead films, modern horror would look very different.  If there’s one thing that we can be sure of, it’s that without Night of the Living Dead, there would be no Walking Dead.

As for tonight’s episode…

Well, it was certainly different from what we had to deal with for the majority of season 7.  I mean, Rick actually did something other than sitting around in a catatonic state.  While Negan was featured in this episode, he was used sparingly.  He didn’t hijack the show, like he did for most of season 7.  We didn’t have to sit through any fifteen minute Negan monologues.  When this episode started with the various groups preparing for war, I figured that — following the usual pace of The Walking Dead — we would have 6 episodes of everyone getting ready, 6 episodes of everyone talking about being ready, and then 1 episode of actual fighting.  Instead, for once, the show got right to it.

Does this mean that the show’s producers actually learned something from the less than positive reaction that some fans and critics had to the sluggish pace of season 7?  We can only hope so.

I was happy to see Rick finally acting like the Rick that we once knew and loved.  Gone was wimpy Rick.  Instead, this Rick went straight to Negan, shouted out some threats, and then launched an attack on the Sanctuary.  All of a sudden, Rick became a badass again and it’s about time!

At the same time, I think it can be argued that the attack was a waste of bullets.  Sure, Rick and his people wanted to make a statement.  They wanted to show the Saviors that they weren’t going to allow themselves to be pushed around anymore.  But, as I watched round after round being fired at the Sanctuary, I remembered all of the times that we were shown Darryl pulling his arrows out of the head of a dead walker.  Why?  Because resources are limited in the world of The Walking Dead and anything wasted — like thousands of bullets — will never be replaced.  Rick and his allies have a lot of guns but what good are they going to be if they run out of bullets?

That said, during the show, I was willing to set aside those concerns.  Negan has been such a hateful and, if we’re going to be honest, annoying character that it was impossible not to feel a visceral thrill at the sight of someone finally fighting back.

As for the rest of tonight’s episode:

  1. Is Carl growing disillusioned with his dad?  To be honest, I’m just surprised that Carl’s still alive.  Someday, Carl is going to have to shoot his father in the head, in order to keep Rick from turning into a walker.  I have a feeling that’ll be the last scene of the last episode of The Walking Dead.
  2. Why is Gregory still alive!?  God, what a dumbfug toadsucker that guy has turned out to be.
  3. So, now, Father Gabriel has been captured by Negan.  I hope this doesn’t mean that we’re going to have to listen to Negan give a lecture on his opinion of organized religion.
  4. Throughout tonight’s episode, we were given scenes of an older and happier Rick.  He was living with Michonne and Judith.  Carl was nowhere to be seen.  There was a lot of talk of an upcoming festival.  Were these legitimate flash forwards or were they just Rick’s fantasy of what life is going to be like if he defeats Negan?  I’m leaning towards thinking they’re Rick’s fantasy.  Rick always thinks that life can somehow get back to being normal and happy.  All he has to do is find Sophia or defeat the Governor or make a new life as a pig farmer or kill Negan. It never works out like Rick thinks that it’s going to.  However, it’s Rick’s refusal to give up his faith that makes him both a compelling and a tragic figure.
  5. Rick was proud of himself after his battle with Negan but, as I watched Rick celebrate, it occurred to me that Rick always ends up thinking that, just because he’s won a battle, he’s won the war.  Again, it just never seems to work out for him.
  6. The Walking Dead is back!  I thought this was a good episode and I’m cautiously optimistic about the rest of the season.

How does everyone else feel?  What do you think?  Is season 8 going to be a return to form for The Walking Dead or are we looking at another season 7?  Regardless of whether you agree with me or not, I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

Horror Scenes That I Love: Life and Death in Dawn of the Dead


Today’s horror scene that I love is from George Romero’s 1978 zombie masterpiece, Dawn of the Dead.

The first time I saw this film, I was so upset when Roger died.  Not only was Roger my favorite character but I also knew that if Roger — who was so funny and so charismatic and so competent — couldn’t survive then that meant that no one was going to survive.

Horror Scenes That I Love: Karma Get Revenge On Johnny In Night of the Living Dead


Today’s horror scene that I love comes from 1968’s Night of Living Dead.  (Read Arleigh’s review here and Gary’s review here.)

“They’re coming to get you, Barbara…”

“Stop it!  You’re ignorant!”

Okay, this may not be a popular opinion but I’m just going to say it: Johnny was a jerk and he kinda got what he deserved.  Nice gloves, though.

Run, Barbara, run!

Music Video of the Day: Scream! by Misfits (1999, dir. George Romero)


Depending on where you go, this was either directed solely by Romero, or by both him and Richard Donner. Considering I can’t find any credits for the two of them working together elsewhere, and Donner appears to have only directed two unrelated music-videos, I am going with just Romero. There is also an explanation on Wikipedia about how this video came into existence that seals the deal for me:

The music video was directed by George A. Romero, famous for his Living Dead film series. Bassist Jerry Only has expressed admiration for Romero, calling Night of the Living Dead “still to this day one of the scariest movies ever made.” At the time Romero was in Toronto filming Bruiser and needed a band to perform during the film’s final murder scene. The Misfits agreed to perform in the film and to record two songs for the soundtrack in exchange for Romero directing their “Scream” video. According to Only, “It was an even trade, we shook hands and the deal was done. Business complications soon followed and I became very unhappy with my record label and my publishing company.” No soundtrack was issued for Bruiser. The Misfits’ two songs, “Fiend Without a Face” and “Bruiser”, along with the demo version of “Scream”, were released in 2001 on the compilation album Cuts from the Crypt.

The “Scream” music video consists of black-and-white footage of the band members as zombies terrorizing a hospital along with a number of Misfits fans, interspersed with color footage of the band performing live. A promotional VHS version of the video was included for free with the purchase of a set of Misfits action figures from 21st Century toys in 1999 and 2000. The video was also included in an enhanced CD-ROM portion of Cuts from the Crypt in 2001.

With Romero’s passing yesterday, I thought I’d see if he ever did a music video. He apparently did for the legendary punk rock band, Misfits. With a little search, I can see why they would ultimately end up doing a video with Romero. They did a song called Night Of The Living Dead in 1979 and are a horror based punk rock band. They would later do songs called Land Of The Dead and Twilight Of The Dead. Their history as a horror band is chronicled over on Wikipedia.

From what I can tell, this was rather late in the game for The Misfits in the sense that they were having band overhauls including not having original lead-singer Glenn Danzig. That’s as far as I’ll go talking about the band because my knowledge about them until I did some reading right now consistened of the following:

Oh, yeah. I know of the Misfits. Much like Meat Puppets, Mudhoney, Green River and others, their names always come up when they talk about bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden. The bands that didn’t get enough attention, but if you want to know where the grunge explosion came from, then these are groups you are supposed to look at.

So, with no joke intended, rest in peace Romero. Enjoy the music video.

I didn’t find out that Martin Landau also passed away yesterday till after having written this post. Amazingly, this connects to him as well. The Misfits used to have their own record label called Blank Records. Then Mercury Records wanted the trademark to it, and exchanged studio time with the band for it. The band renamed the label, Plan 9 Records, after Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959). Rest in peace, Martin Landau.

Rest in Peace, George Romero


George Romero has died, at the age of 77.

I wrote this in 2015:

When I say “George Romero,” you probably immediately think of zombies.  And why not?  Night of the Living Dead is perhaps the best known zombie film ever made and Dawn of the Dead is perhaps the second best known.  Day of the Dead and Land of the Dead both have their fervent admirers.  Without the work of George Romero, there would be no Walking Dead.  Without the zombie films of George Romero, countless children would have never grown up to become horror filmmakers.  Without George Romero, there would have been no Italian zombie films, which means that I would never have fallen in love with Italian horror and I wouldn’t have been tweeting about it that day in 2010 when Arleigh asked me if I wanted to be a contributor to this website.

Though he had directed commercials and a few industrial films, 1968’s Night of the Living Dead was George Romero’s first feature film.  His first!  I cannot even imagine what it must feel like to totally change the face and history of cinema with your very first feature film.  All modern horror films owe a debt not only to Night of the Living Dead but to all of Romero’s subsequent films as well.

Romero, himself, didn’t necessarily set out to be a horror film director.  As he himself often said, the main reason that he and his associates made Night of the Living Dead was because they knew there was a market for cheap horror films.  He followed up Night of the Living Dead with Touch of Vanilla, a hippie love story that few people saw.  And while Romero eventually did accept that he would be forever known as a horror filmmaker, his films were always concerned with more than just scaring people.  Whether intentional or not, Night of the Living Dead is a powerful allegory about prejudice and mankind’s inability to work together.  (For all the zombies, the film’s scariest scene comes at the end when the African-American Ben is shot by a redneck deputy and casually tossed onto a pile of bodies.)  The Dario Argento-produced Dawn of the Dead was a satire of consumerism while The Crazies suggested that people were already so crazy that it was hardly necessary for a chemical spill to bring out the worst in us.  In Martin, Romero cast a weary eye on organized religion while Land of the Dead was perhaps Romero’s angriest film, taking on the state of post-911 America.  With films like Creepshow and The Dark Half, Romero showed that he was one of the few directors who could successfully adapt the sometimes unwieldy prose of Stephen King to the screen.  It’s a shame that his long-rumored adaptations of The Stand and The Dark Tower turned out to be just that, rumors.

Yes, George Romero was a great horror filmmaker but more than that, he was a great director period.  He never sacrificed his independence, choosing to make some of his best-regarded movies in Philadelphia.  He never compromised his message, offering up visions of the world that continued to grow bleaker and bleaker.  Though he never received the awards that he deserved or, to be honest, the critical acclaim that he was owed, George Romero will be remembered as one of the most important American filmmakers of all time.

George Romero died, of lung cancer, surrounded by his loved ones.  Reportedly, he died listening to The Quiet Man soundtrack.

Rest in peace, George.