Remember a couple of days ago, when I complained about the difficulty of writing reviews of popular/classic movies? Well, I've got to admit, I'm utterly blank at the prospect of writing about not only one of the greatest films of all time--notice I didn't say "zombie" films, or "horror" films--but a landmark of the genre as well; when one thinks of a cinematic zombie today, chances are it's Romero's version that springs to mind. What am I gonna do?
Because I'll level with you: I honestly don't know what I can say that would bring anything fresh and new to the table. (I can, however, recommend Kim Paffenroth's GOSPELS OF THE LIVING DEAD: GEORGE ROMERO'S VISIONS OF HELL ON EARTH, a Bram Stoker Award-winning look at the series.) I don't think any horror film released in the last forty years has generated the same amount of academic study as NIGHT has, and I'm not sure I'm the man for that particular task, anyway; what am I going to do, tell you Romero's choice to cast an African-American in the lead--a practical decision, incidentally, than an artistic one--gained potency following the assassination of Martin Luther King? Well, duh.
In times like this I tend to go the autobiographical route, maybe giving a little insight into how these films impacted my life. But despite the film's legendary status, and the fact that it was filmed roughly an hour and a half from where I grew up, I didn't see it until I was probably sixteen or so, a fact that I'm rather ashamed to admit. I believe it was at an all-night horror fest with Joe Sidor (see THE EVIL DEAD's entry), where I also saw THE EXORCIST and the first two TEXAS CHAINSAWs for the the first time (in case you're wondering, yes, I didn't get a late start on the horror genre; it's a long, ugly story I'll probably share eventually, but not today). Liked the film a lot then, learned to love in the ensuing years. I'm willing to bet my experience was no different from a lot of my readers'.
So, if you catch me at a con sometime, or swing by the Movies when I'm working, ask me and I'll happily discuss the movie's merits with you. I just think our time with this blog is better spent with lesser known works. But before I go to shit on somebody else's hard work, I want to mention three things:
1. The movie is great. I wouldn't call it flawless, but it holds up well and I don't think time has done anything to dampen its effectiveness.
2. This blog, and others like it, wouldn't be here without it.
3. I'd personally like to invite Matt Groening to kiss my ass for declaring this movie "lame" on the Season 4 TREEHOUSE OF HORROR DVD commentary. Groening, who's milked the dessicated carcass of THE SIMPSONS for nigh on fifteen years now with the dispassionate avarice of a millionaire's great-nephew, is certainly entitled to his opinion, but the arrogant and disrespectful way his dismissed NIGHT on that track REALLY pissed me off.
Romero's been in the press lately, thanks to the impending release of his latest zombie film, DIARY OF THE DEAD. If you want a little further insight into how the man ticks, I've included links below. There is a little overlap of information, but both are must-reads for zombie fans.
The New York Times article is here.
The AV Club article is here.