PDA

View Full Version : Horror History Question



WMcQuaig
08-14-2010, 09:54 AM
So I was watching the recent remake of "The Crazies" and it got me thinking. I know the remake was based on an old George A. Romero movie of the same name. Well, I got to watching one of the special features about Romero and I was wondering...

What is it about Romero and the original "Night of the living Dead" that made it stand out so much?

I mean I know that for the time it was something that no one had really done. He also created a sub-genre but that's beside the point. What I'm really trying to figure out is: why is it so special?

Is it only because of these reasons which I said are beside the point? or is it something else?

I understand that any fan of the genre will have their own reasons for liking it but that's not really what I'm trying to understand. I trying to understand how it became an icon.

Celia Cyanide
08-14-2010, 10:01 PM
I think you have to watch it until it hits you. It's one of those movies that you don't always get right away. Roger Ebert hated it when he first saw it but later retracted his review.

One thing I think that is very significant about it, at least for the time, is that a black man is the lead. And you can tell that Romero is just like "Yeah, why the hell not?" Thet guy only made one other movie, and become a college professor. A student would suddently blurt out in class, "Oh my GOD, you're the guy from NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD!" and he would say, "Yes. I am," and continue lecturing.. :)

As far as Romero, I think that what really made him a big deal among zombie enthusiasts is not NIGHT, but DAWN. DAWN OF THE DEAD is considered by many to be to quintessential zombie movie.

Plot Device
08-15-2010, 04:07 AM
The following link is to an old post of mine that's just plain long .... long ...... LONG!!!!

(Go to the bathroom before reading it.)

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=3404411&#post3404411

But one the key thoughts I tried to put forth in that post is summarized like this: George Romero is usually given the honor of being "The Father of All Zombie Films." Yet the novel I AM Legend -- made into a Vincent Price B-film film called The Last Man on Earth -- is the true "Grandfather of All Zombie Films."

Romero was but a young adult when he saw the Vincent Price movie called The Last Man on Earth and was so inspired by the rich potential of its underlying premise that he quickly created the concept for Night of the Living Dead.

And for anyone here who has never taken the time to read ALL of the cinematic thou-shalt-not's in the long no-no list published by the Legion of Decency back in te 1930's, one of those thou-shant-not's was any sort of an attempt to do a graphic cinematic depiction "the undead." Romero had no concern for (and probably no knowledge of) the Legion of Decency's madates, so he just made his movie about "the undead" the way he wanted to. And it remains a classic from whch all other zombie films take their cues -- but still, full credence must always be given to the foundational and semial book I Am Legend.


Celia is correct about the black guy being another major aspect of the film's enduring success. And hand-i-hand with the fact that it was a black actor, it needs to be said that the gut-punch of an ending with its explosive social commentary is something you just don't forget.

nmstevens
08-15-2010, 09:31 AM
So I was watching the recent remake of "The Crazies" and it got me thinking. I know the remake was based on an old George A. Romero movie of the same name. Well, I got to watching one of the special features about Romero and I was wondering...

What is it about Romero and the original "Night of the living Dead" that made it stand out so much?

I mean I know that for the time it was something that no one had really done. He also created a sub-genre but that's beside the point. What I'm really trying to figure out is: why is it so special?

Is it only because of these reasons which I said are beside the point? or is it something else?

I understand that any fan of the genre will have their own reasons for liking it but that's not really what I'm trying to understand. I trying to understand how it became an icon.


I think that the solution comes in three parts.

First, audiences instantly identify with all of these "what-if" survival scenarios.

That is -- what if you were stuck in a car and it was sinking in a river. What if -- the city was on fire and you had to figure out how to get out. What if the country was taken over by communists and you had to lead your family to safety in Canada.

Whatever it is -- any time you formulate one of those "what-if" scenarios where you place your heroes in some sort of incredibly dangerous situation -- especially one where it's an "something terrible happens to average people" sort of scenario -- and the audiences are going to be right with you, imagining what they would do in that situation.

Especially because they always like to imagine how much smarter and more capable and more competent they would be than the people in the movies.

Second, the nature of the threat itself is particularly horrifying. What defines really horror (as distinct from thrills) is a sense of dread. Mere danger is scary -- if you find yourself hanging off the edge of a buildings -- that's scary and that can be the subject of a thriller. But finding a worm crawling under your skin -- that is horrifying.

It invokes not merely fear, in the sense of fear of physical harm -- but of dread.

And dread is that sense that arises when what we consider to be normally impenetrable barriers are abruptly and unaccountably penetrated.

When the places and the realms that we consider to be safe and inviolate and abruptly violated -- that invokes the sense of dread. That's why we have all those scenes where people are menaced in showers and in bathtubs -- because we feel so vulnerable in those places. They are places where we expect to be safe, and to be private. And when our private places are intruded upon - it invokes that deep sense of unease.

And that is what NOTLD hits at the heart of. Because it isn't simply "them" attacking us. "They" are us. Our own dead. Our own loved ones. One minute they are us. The next minute that are at our throats.

And third - it is one of the few enduring fully-formed top-to-bottom completely comprehensible whole-cloth mythologies.

You can talk about I Am Legend and other zombie myths and all the rest.

The fact is, Romero and Russo cooked up an entire mythology -- all of the rules having to do with the "dead" in NOTLD. The recently dead come back to life. They feed on the living. Those they kill come back and kill. The only way to destroy them is to destroy their brains (or by burning them). They're sort of slow and not-very-smart and can't talk and can barely use tools. If you get bit by one, you get sick, die -- and turn into one.

Or if you just die from anything -- you turn into one.

And the more people die, the more zombies there are -- and the more zombies there are -- the more people die.

The rules of the mythology, which barely changed at all over the course of all of the various movies that use it (obviously, some played around with the rules, just as various movies played around with the vampire "rules") -- are so simple and so elegant and so compelling.

It's like one of those fractal equations -- a handful of terms -- you plug them in -- and the next thing you know it inevitably unfolds into this incredibly consequential result.

So those three things taken together, I think, is at the heart of what made the original movie so compelling (and, of course, there were other things that made it good a movie in itself-- the way it was shot, the specific scares and structure and all the rest) and that made it a foundational movie -- the basis for an entire genre.

NMS

Paradis
08-17-2010, 10:34 PM
^ he pretty much hit it on the head. There were some social undertones and such that hit home with alot of viewers.


I'm abhore what Hollywood has done to many of my classics in the last decade, but if ever there was a Romero film that would be done well today and would probably see the market for it is "Martin"