Browsing Tag

george a. romero

Posted on August 11, 2021

George A. Romero’s The Amusement Park and the Decline of West View Park

Guest Post

The twenty-first century has seen a growing interest in geriatric horror, not just perpetuation of stigmas against the elderly as grotesque and horrifying but also exposure of the act of growing old as a horror in itself. Films like Drag Me to Hell (2009), The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014), The Visit (2015), Anything for Jackson (2020), and The Relic (2020) are just a few examples that depict the financial, familial, and mental distress and confusion that come with getting old in a society that neglects rather than nurtures its elders.

As in most things, however, George A. Romero was ahead of this trend with his short PSA film, The Amusement Park, produced in 1973 and first screened in 1975. Not a traditional feature film, it was commissioned by the Lutheran Service Society of Western Pennsylvania, who were troubled by the neglect of the elderly by the political, economic, and social structures they served all their lives. To encourage young people to help the elderly, the Church hired a young filmmaker who had done commercials, segments for Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, several short films, a romantic comedy, and a few horror films. But, as Scout Tafoya writes, Romero “was never interested in subtly critiquing anyone; he went for the jugular and told you he was doing it.”[i] Working with scriptwriter Walton Cook, he made the film so disturbing that some sources say the Lutherans refused to show it, and so it was buried until 2017. Adam Charles Hart, Visiting Researcher at the University of Pittsburgh (which recently acquired Romero’s archives) speculates that local churches may have shown it, however. He claims that the film was never lost but just too weird to be shown with any regularity.[ii] The film has gotten a lot of attention this summer since it landed on Shudder. Here, I offer a personal commentary on the history of the amusement park itself, West View Park. Read more

Posted on October 24, 2020

“Fucking Spic Bastard”: Zombies and the Latino Threat

Guest Post

Zombies have become ubiquitous globally in film and television. This undead ghoul keeps returning and finding new ways to infect our screens. Here, I look at Cholo (John Leguizamo) from George A Romero’s Land of the Dead (2005), one of the few Latinx zombies in film, delving into what this ghoul represents.

In 1968 the zombie film forever changed with the release of George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. This black-and-white low-budget horror flick now marks the before and after of zombie films. Before Night of the Living Dead, zombie films saw a transition from the fear-inducing film White Zombie (1932) to more comedic zombie films like 1945’s Zombies on Broadway. After Night of the Living Dead, zombies not only morphed from a voodoo creation into undead ghouls of unknown origins but also moved from exotic lands, outside of the U.S., to Pittsburgh. Thus, zombies were no longer ghouls that inhabited “uncivilized” spaces where tourists, the military, and corporations were at risk but were now an integral part of the American landscape.

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Posted on March 26, 2020

Night of the Living Dead in the Time of Confinement and the Coronavirus

Guest Post

George A. Romero’s classic zombie trilogy, Night of the Living Dead (1968), Dawn of the Dead (1978), and Day of the Dead (1985), is the ultimate example of the zombie as a social metaphor. Countless articles have been written about each film, especially the racial undertones of the first film. In the age of the Coronavirus and confinement, Night of the Living Dead suddenly warrants a re-watch. When survivors are trapped inside a farmhouse, the social equilibrium is reset–and the film mirrors some of the worst aspects of human nature during a societal breakdown and confinement. Even the (anti)hero, Ben (Duane Jones), commits heinous acts that he most likely would not have otherwise. Yet, the film also shows a few of humanity’s bright spots.

Though shot outside of Pittsburgh, Night of the Living Dead is a film that could take place anywhere, which, again, makes it all the more relevant during this global pandemic. As of the time of writing this, COVID-19 has impacted every state and nearly every country. Cities have been hit the worst, specifically New York City, but the virus knows no boundaries and has started to spread through rural pockets of the country, more evocative of Romero’s setting. The radio and television reports that speak of the growing outbreak in the film have an eerie parallel to our current moment, as each day brings more grim news. Read more

The Dark Half
Posted on October 30, 2019

In Two Minds: Stephen King, George A. Romero and The Dark Half

Guest Post

The 30th anniversary of Stephen King’s The Dark Half, published in 1989, seems to offer an opportune moment to take a look at the collaboration between King and George A. Romero that brought King’s novel about a writer’s alter ego to the screen.

It’s perhaps unsurprising that the late George A. Romero is so often associated with Stephen King. Having become firm friends in the 1970s – King even has a small cameo in Romero’s Knightriders (1981) – the two masters of horror first worked together on Creepshow (1982), a tribute to the colourful horror comics that they both loved in their youth. They collaborated again on its sequel Creepshow 2 (1987) and the cult anthology series Tales from the Darkside (1983–1988), which was designed to capitalise on Creepshow‘s modest commercial success (and was even intended to carry its title before Romero and his frequent producer, Richard P. Rubinstein, chose to rebrand the series for Tribune Broadcasting and avoid a potential rights dispute with Warner Brothers).

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Night of the Living Dead, Get Out
Posted on October 29, 2018

Get Out and the Subversion of the American Zombie

Guest Post

Much has already been said about the connections between George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1960) and Jordan Peele’s Get Out (2017). Critics have so far, however, missed a vitally important thread between the two: they’re both zombie films.

Jordan Peele is pretty open about the connections between these two films. In an interview with the New York Times, he describes Night of the Living Dead as one of the major inspirations for Get Out, and traces a number of links between Night of the Living Dead’s protagonist, Ben (Duane Jones), and Get Out’s Chris (Daniel Kaluuya).

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