Archive for George A. Romero

Dawn of the Dead (1978) Review

Posted in Dawn of the Dead (1978) with tags , , , , , on July 30, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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DAWN OF THE DEAD

***** Out of 5

Tagline- When There’s No More Room in Hell, the Dead Will Walk the Earth

Release Date- September 2nd, 1978

Running Time- 127-Minutes

Rating- NR

Writer/Director- George A. Romero

Starring- David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger, Gaylen Ross

Released in 1978 (but hit the States in 79) George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead is considered by many as the best film of his career and the holy grail of the zombie film and if that isn’t enough Dawn of the Dead also gets classic status among the mainstream critics. The film was produced on about a 1-million dollar budget and what Romero pulled off is nothing short of amazing. This film is very much an epic and changed the way zombie films were made and I also love Night of the Living Dead and its impossible for me to pick between the two films, but it sure isnt difficult to see why many people prefer this. In some ways I also prefer Dawn of the Dead and both films were a huge impact on me and I kind of like them about the same for different reasons.

1978 was a fantastic year for the horror genre with 3 films being in my top 10 (a case can be made for top 3). Obviously Dawn of the Dead is one and also John Carpenter’s Halloween and the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Also that year while not top 10, but films I thought were very good; Toolbox Murders, I Spit on Your Grave, Grapes of Death and the TV films Are You Alone in the House and Carpenter’s Someone’s Watching Me. So as you can see 1978 was one of those landmark years with some truly great films and with some very good films. Of the three films I rate so highly it’s impossible for me to pick one over the other since they are all so different and each have something I love more than the other. Dawn of the Dead is one of those rare films (even more in the horror genre) where everything falls perfectly into place and we get a true masterpiece of cinema.

In past reviews I have written on about the films by George Romero I always mention that while he’s an amazing director he’s also a fantastic writer who creates complex characters that are deep in development. Dawn of the Dead is prime example of that. As far as the writing goes this was by far Romero’s best screenplay in regards to plotting and more so characters. Dawn of the Dead in my opinion has the best set of characters in any film I have seen. Some know each other and others don’t and their forced to work together in the mass confusion. All the characters have their own identity and fully developed and I couldn’t really pick any of the main 4 as my favorite. Dawn of the Dead is one of those films where you get attached to the characters and when in any sort of danger the tension is high. That’s a credit to 3 things; first Romero for creating these characters, his direction and cast. Overall Dawn of the Dead features a truly brilliant script with a smart plot, smart social commentary and brilliant characters.

As amazing as the script was without the proper director this is a film that could have been boring despite how well written it was. Thankfully George Romero is as good a director as he is writer. From the very opening of the scene, Romero establishes a dark and bleak tone to go with the mass confusion all the characters are going through. The film is well paced and despite running a little over 2-hours each scene adds to the film in terms of story, characters or suspense and tension. Romero always keeps the film going strong through the entire running time. Due to the characters being as strong as they are, Dawn of the Dead is filled with some of the very best suspense and tension of any film I have seen. Romero doesn’t really have many jump scares for the most part, which filmmakers use as a cheap gimmick, but by establishing an eerie and bleak tone to go with these great characters, there is always a feel of suspense and even more so when any of the 4 characters are in any danger. However in with a dark tone there is also a light and fun tone, which some people didn’t like. I didn’t mind the lighter parts and I think most complaints stem from some of the comedy like the pie in the face scenes to the zombies. Though some of the lighter scenes with the characters I thought were great and adds a lot of depth to Dawn of the Dead.

The mall setting helps us feel comfortable since its something we know. You’ll always feel safer when in an environment that you know and we’ve all been to a mall and despite the dangers that lurk around we the viewer can still feel comfortable since we’re in a place we all can relate to and I think that’s part of why for the longest time Day of the Dead wasn’t as highly regarded since it takes us away from our comfort zone. But being set in a mall is something we can all relate to and Romero uses this place we’ve been to a million times and makes it something eerie. But I do think setting the film in a mall was brilliant as again its something we can relate to.

The acting was terrific and in my opinion Dawn of the Dead features some of the best acting in any horror movie. As I mentioned I feel as if this movie has the best set of characters and the cast is a big part of that. Like I said I really can’t pick a favorite since everyone of the main characters were likable.

Overall there is a reason why Dawn of the Dead is so highly regarded not just as a horror film, but as a film in general. The writing and directing is great as is the acting. The production values are amazing and for a film shot for about 1-million it not only looks far bigger in budget, but looks more expensive than a good portion of big budget Hollywood releases. There really isn’t much more I can say that others haven’t, but Dawn of the Dead truly is a masterpiece of filmmaking.

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Not Quite Zombies. My Top 10 Infected Movies

Posted in Not Quite Zombies. Top 10 Infected Movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

A lot of times the films on my list are linked with zombie films and while they follow the same basic formula there is a difference even if its very minor in some cases. I prefer zombie films, but what I like about infected movies is it really out of the realm of possibility? From various type of flus, chemical and biological warfare to stuff being created by scientist. Now I don’t expect something like in these films to happen, but hey who knows…….

So here is my top 10 infected films, every film listed in my opinion is a quality film on some level.

10. Nightmare City

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This is one of those films you can debate. At times its more zombie than infected so it really can go either way. Fun film by Umberto Lenzi with some pacing issues, but fans of Euro cinema should enjoy.

9. The Omega Man

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Solid film based off the Richard Matheson novel I Am Legend. Charlton Heston, while good perhaps miscast. Fun film that had potential to be more, but still a solid film.

8. The Last Man on Earth

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Also based on the Matheson novel and this was the best adaption. While pacing can be an issue it also captures this great feel of being alone. Price was great and is what makes the film what it is.

7. I Drink Your Blood

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Rabid infected satanic hippies. Need I say more? This is just a fun film from a great era. While sluggish in some spots it always has a charm about it.

6. Quarantine

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Remake of Rec and while its pretty much a rehash it does have an eerie feel and Jennifer Carpenter delivers a truly great performance.

5. Rec

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One of the few modern horror flicks I find to be really creepy. This was a great and tense film and none of the sequels or the remake for that matter were able to match this on the scare factor.

4. Grapes of Death

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I enjoy what I have seen from Jean Rollin, but I never expected this to be as good as it was. The film is loaded with suspense and is quite eerie. Rollin mad a truly great and scary film.

3. 28 Days Later

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Is it a zombie movie or not? I say no obviously since its on this list. Great film and quite eerie. The deserted streets of London was quite terrifying.

2. 28 Weeks Later

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Once it gets going it never lets up. To me this like the original is prime horror filmmaking.

1. The Crazies

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One of Romero’s best films that doesn’t quite get the respect it deserves. Scary and suspenseful with great characters.

Day of the Dead (1985) Review

Posted in Day of the Dead with tags , , , , , on March 4, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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DAY OF THE DEAD

**** Out of 5

Tagline- The Darkest Day the Horror World Has Ever Known

Release Date- July 19th, 1985

Running Time- 102-Minutes

Rating- NR

Writer/Director- George A. Romero

Starring- Lori Cardille, Joseph Pilato, Terry Alexander, Anthony Dileo, Jr, Gary Howard Klar, Ralph Marrero with Richard Liberty as Dr. Logan and Sherman Howard as Bub

Released in 1985 George Romero’s Day of the Dead was seen as the weakest of the trilogy (when it was still a trilogy that is) and it’s not really hard to grasp why. Upon first viewing of Day of the Dead it isn’t as eerie and creepy as Night of the Living Dead and isn’t quite the epic that Dawn of the Dead was; also released the same year was The Return of the Living Dead, which was a fun take on a tired sub-genre and Romero’s Day of the Dead was mostly forgotten about and cast aside and the only things that really kept the movie known was the name George A. Romero, Tom Savini and that it was a sequel to Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead.

I’ll admit I was one of the people that casted this movie to the side as a nice try, but ultimately a failure on the record of George Romero and about the only real positive thing I could say about the movie was the brilliant gore F/X by Tom Savini. But over the years many people were revisiting Day of the Dead and suddenly the feedback was becoming and more positive where some have even hailed it better than both Night of the Living Dead and Day of the Dead. For the longest time the movie sat on my shelf and the only reason I even bought a copy was simply to complete the trilogy, but after collecting dust on my shelf I wiped it away and decided to give the movie another chance and even I had my opinion on the film totally changed; personally I don’t rate this higher than the first 2 films in the series, but it comes close however.

I think the writing in not just Romero’s zombie flicks, but his films in general is often over-looked and fact of the matter George Romero is an excellent writer. Everyone talks about George Romero the director and for good reason, but I really think more attention needs to be put on his scripts; the characters in Night of the Living Dead were interesting and Ben made for a great hero and Mr. Cooper made for a great jerk, but overall the characters may not be the best developed, but due to the plot it doesn’t matter. Even with the dead coming back to life we are still in a comfort zone since the primary setting is a house and all these characters are brought together and we feel the mass confusion with them and therefore we can relate to them and with Dawn of the Dead in my opinion Romero created the best characters as a unit in a horror film or any film for that matter. We the audience get attached to these characters and the mall setting is something that we can all relate to.

I think however this is part of the reason Day of the Dead was dismissed for the longest time since now we are in an underground bunker out of our comfort zone and stuck with characters that aren’t the most likable and the other characters are so close to going over the edge or borderline insane it’s kinda hard to find someone we the audience can root for and relate to. But when you really break things down George Romero creates some of his most complex characters if not his most complex; Day of the Dead relies more on the characters than any of the other Dead flicks. Night of the Living Dead isn’t action packed or anything, but what works is the mass confusion the characters feel and Dawn of the Dead while character driven also has a lot of action in the film whereas Day of the Dead has a little action through the movie, but it’s mostly saved for the final act and seeing as the characters are so different than the first two Dead flicks I can understand why I and so many others originally dismissed Day of the Dead.

Of all the Dead movies I think Day of the Dead just might be the best written and just might be George Romero’s best screenplay in his career. Like I said the characters here may not be as likable as the characters in the past two, but they are again very complex and interesting and Day of the Dead also starts to evolve the zombies as well, which is something a lot of filmmakers have attempted, but it almost always fails, but Romero on the other hand makes it work, which adds a lot of depth to the movie.

When rating the series Day of the Dead would be my 3rd favorite of the series, but there are many aspects I like more about Day of the Dead than Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. Many people now rate this as the best of the series so it’s quite a drastic change in opinion on the movie.

As director George A. Romero crafts a movie a movie loaded with tension and a very bleak tone. Of all the Dead movies I’d say this one was probably the darkest. From the very opening scene, Romero establishes a bleak and dark tone with humanity at its final stand. As I stated before the action is mostly confined until the final act, but Romero is still able to keep the movie very interesting; again I think due to the characters and setting so different than the previous two it might be a little harder to get into, which is partly the reason for the longest time this was seen as the weakest. But when all is said and done George Romero creates a dark and ugly world where almost all hope for a normal life is lost. Once again if I’d rate this installment my 3rd favorite I think the writing is possibly the best of the series as well as the directing.

Possibly the highlight of the movie are the gore F/X by Tom Savini, which are nothing short of amazing; if I were to rate Savini’s work Friday the 13th might take my top spot simply due to the simplicity of the death scenes they simple, but effective, and of course the Prowler is nothing short of brilliant, but at the same time Day of the Dead might take my top spot due to how realistic they look for the most part. Not only are the gore F/X top notch, but the zombie make-up is amazing as well. Regardless of how you feel about the movie itself I think we can all agree Savini’s make-up F/X are brilliant.

Overall Day of the Dead is an excellent movie that has finally gotten its respect; the movie may not be perfect, but it’s very much on par with the first two Dead flicks.

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Dawn of the Dead Poster Gallery

Posted in Dawn of the Dead Posters and Lobby Cards with tags , , , , , , on February 25, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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Night of the Living Dead Photo Gallery

Posted in Night of the Living Dead Photo Gallery with tags , , , on February 4, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

With today being the 73rd birthday for George A. Romero I figured this was the ideal time to post this.

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10 Movies to watch for Halloween Night

Posted in 10 Movies to Watch for Halloween Night with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

This isn’t a top 10 all-time favorite list. It’s only a list for films I feel would make great Halloween night viewing. Also this isn’t in order either.

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Zombie Series AKA Confused Yet?

Posted in Zombie Series AKA Confused Yet? with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

Is there anymore of a confusion set of films than those titled Zombie? I’m gonna try and keep it as simple as possible without confusing anybody. But most people don’t realize most of the so called sequels aren’t sequels at all, but were marketed as sequels in certain places.

It all started in 1978 with the release of Dawn of the Dead; when released in Italy Dawn of the Dead was called Zombi. There are movies that actually predate Romero’s Dawn of the Dead AKA Zombi that are billed as a sequel, but those movies used the Zombi title during a re-release, but it still creates a confusing mess for most people.

So we set up Romero’s Dawn of the Dead going under the title Zombi in Italy and the movie was a big success and Lucio Fulci’s Zombie Flesh Eaters was already shot and the producers changed the title to Zombi 2 and was released in 1979 so now people thought it was a sequel. The sad part is due to the Zombi 2 title, Fulci’s film is called a ripoff, which does make me laugh since if you’ve seen both movies they couldn’t be anymore different besides having Zombies. And again Fulci’s film was already shot.

In 1988 Lucio Fulci would release Zombie Flesh Eaters 2 and in Italy it would go under the title Zombi 3. By right Zombi 3 is actually the 2nd part since Zombi 2 isn’t really a sequel to Romero’s film.

I might have missed a few movies, but its not easy to find every movie under the title Zombi also I have no idea when any of these movies used the alternate title Zombi. In most cases the distributors changed the title for theatrical or video releases and most likely re-releases.

So in Italy the series would go like this.

Zombi (Dawn of the Dead)
Zombi 2 ( Fulci AKA Zombie, Zombie Flesh Eaters)
Zombi 3 (Fulci’s movie AKA Zombie Flesh Eaters 2)

In the UK the series is slightly different and different titles well sort of. Zombi 2 is called Zombie Flesh Eaters, which of course is the original title. Zombi 3 would be called Zombie Flesh Eaters 2 so thus far the UK releases are the correct ones until we get to Zombie Flesh Eaters 3. The 3rd part is called After Death, but in the UK it carries the Zombie Flesh Eaters name even if it isn’t part of the series.

So the UK series goes like this.

Zombie Flesh Eaters (Zombi 2)
Zombie Flesh Eaters 2 (Zombi 3)
Zombie Flesh Eaters 3 (After Death)

Upon their release in Germany they would be slightly different. Once again Romero’s Dawn of the Dead would be called Zombi, but in Germany, Fulci’s Zombi 2 isn’t considered part of the series. Instead Zombi 2 is actually Day of the Dead, which is the actual follow up to Dawn of the Dead and Zombi 3 would be well the 1988 film by Fulci Zombi 3, which is Zombie Flesh Eaters 2 since once again Fulci’s Zombi 2 (Zombie Flesh Eaters) and Zombi 3 (Zombie Flesh Eaters 2) are the only official parts.

Are we confused yet? Kind of odd how Fulci’s Zombi 2 isn’t seen as part of the series.

So in Germany the series goes like this.

Zombie (Dawn of the Dead)
Zombie 2: Das Letzte Kapitel (Day of the Dead)
Zombie III (Zombi 3)

I find the Germam series the most interesting since its correct on the first 2 movies, but weird how they would include Fulci’s Zombi 3 rather than Fulci’s Zombi 2.

Over in Thailand like the UK they are almost correct. The first film is Zombie Flesh Eaters (Zombi 2) then comes Zombie Flesh Eaters 2 (Zombi 3), but than they have 2 more films. Zombie Flesh Eaters 3 (After Death) and Zombie Flesh Eaters 4 (Killing Birds).

The interesting thing here is After Death was released in 1990 and Killing Birds in 1988 yet in Thailand After Death is part 4 of the Zombie Flesh Eaters series. But different parts of the world gets these films at different times so I guess they got After Death before Killing Birds or the distributors for whatever reason could have just changed up the order.

So in Thailand the series goes like this.

Zombie Flesh Eaters (Zombi 2)
Zombie Flesh Eaters 2 (Zombi 3)
Zombie Flesh Eaters 3 (After Death)
Zombie Flesh Eaters 4 ( Killing Birds)

Over here in the US the series is the same as it is in Thailand only with different titles and perhaps more confusing. So we’ve already established this all started with Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, which in some places is called Zombi. But here in the US it only goes under Dawn of the Dead.

Some releases of Lucio Fulci’s film goes under Zombi 2 and other releases Zombie. I can’t tell you how many times I have read people buying Zombi 2 then seeing Zombie unaware they are the same film under a slightly different title. Or how many people have asked I have Zombi 2 is Zombi 1 out?

So the series in the US is Zombie with some releases as Zombi 2. Then comes Zombi 3, which like Thailand is correct until we get to parts 3 and 4. Like Thailand the series goes in the same order with different titles. After Death is now called Zombie 4: After Death and Killing Birds is now Zombie 5: Killing Birds and remember Killing Birds came before After Death, but like Thailand After Death gets the 4 and Killing Birds 5.

So the US series is the same as Thai only different titles.

Zombie (sometimes Zombi 2)
Zombie 3
Zombie 4: After Death
Zombie 5: Killing Birds

Are we confused now? Well I’m not done yet. By the end of this you’re head will probably be spinning much like mine was trying to write this.

The film by Joe D’Amato called Antropophagus sometimes goes under the title the Grim Reaper or Antropophagus: The Grim Reaper. There was also a sequel of sorts released, which is called Absurd. Yet some video releases link these movies in with the Zombie series and screw up the order.

Now remember folks, Antropophagus comes first than Absurd yet some release Absurd is billed as Zombie 6: Monster Hunter and Antropophagus is called Zombie 7: The Grim Reaper.

None of these films are even zombie movies they are slasher flicks. Also despite the order being wrong when called Zombie it doesn’t matter since there is no connection between the 2 films. If anything look at them as their own movies and not sequels, but they follow a similar plot and that’s why Absurd is called a sequel even if it has no real connection.

You didn’t think I was done yet right? Well in 1974 Let Sleeping Corpses Lie was released, which also goes under the title Living Dead at Manchester Morgue and for some reason Don’t Open the Window and the poster and trailer make it look like a slasher flick, but its a zombie movie. Here in the US it went under all 3 of those titles. I believe the theatrical release was Don’t Open the Window and Anchor Bay released it in DVD as Let Sleeping Corpses Lie and when Blu-Underground released it they also released it under Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, but then re-released it on DVD and blu-ray as Living Dead at Manchester Morgue.

Why am I bringing this up you ask? Well it has also gone under the title Zombi 3. It actually predates both Dawn of the Dead (Zombi) and Fulci’s Zombie Flesh Eaters (Zombi 2).

Then we have Zombie Holocaust, which also goes under the title Dr. Butcher, MD and also Zombi 3

Burial Ground has also been called Zombi 3.

Still not done yet.

Nightmare City also called City of the Walking Dead also has been called Zombi 3

Wow so many movies called Zombi 3 lol. There are posters for Let Sleeping Corpses Lie as Zombi 3 as well as obviously Fulci’s Zombi 3 and Burial Ground. I will include those posters at the end of the post.

As for the others I assume there are posters somewhere. But can’t find them. Odds are the other movies called Zombi 3, were called that during video releases or re-titled for a theatrical release as I stated earlier. It’s very common for Italian horror movies to go under a number of different titles, Let Sleeping Corpses Lie I believe was from a production company in Spain, but had a few Italian crew members same for City of the Walking Dead, but while a Spain production was directed by Italian filmmaker Umberto Lenzi.

And lastly we have Hell of the Living Dead, which is also called Virus, Night of the Zombies and Zombie 4 lol

Well I hope I didn’t confuse anybody here lol if I did sorry lol. Writing this I got confused lol

Dawn of the Dead posters

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Fulci’s Zombie 3 AKA Zombie Flesh Eaters 2

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Fulci’s Zombie AKA Zombi 2 AKA Zombie Flesh Eaters

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Day of the Dead AKA Zombi 2

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Don’t Open the Window AKA Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, AKA Living Dead at Manchester Morgue AKA Zombi 3

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Burial Ground AKA Zombi 3

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After Death AKA Zombie 4: After Death AKA Zombie Flesh Eaters 3

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Killing Birds AKA Zombie 5: Killing Birds AKA Zombie Flesh Eaters 4

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