Filmmaker George Romero celebrates his 77th birthday today, the director we have to thank for incredible films like Creepshow, Martin, The Crazies, and the TV show Tales from the Darkside. Despite those accomplishments in the horror world, there's no one film that has helped him earn his legacy more than Night of the Living Dead.
Prior to Romero's "zombie" film, in which the undead are merely referred to as "ghouls," zombies were typically seen as brainwashed drones in various states of living. Night of the Living Dead helped establish that zombies fiended for flesh/brains, and his films in the zombie subgenre have established many of the commonly used rules that zombies must live by, like their speed, vulnerabilities, and state of decay.
Despite their reputation in the horror community, Romero's Dead films have varying degrees of qualities, each with their strengths and weaknesses, so in honor of his birthday, we're looking back at all of Romero's zombie films!
Which of the filmmaker's zombie movies are your favorites? Let us know in the comments!
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6) Survival of the Dead
Originally conceptualized as "Island of the Living Dead," this film explores a single island in a zombie-infected world and how two dueling families handled the threat. One family chose to kill all the zombies, but the other attempted to merely neutralize the threat in case a cure was ever found for their loved ones. This film definitely has some interesting ideas, but unfortunately, suffers from bad acting and hokey dialogue, even if it did introduce the interesting concept of zombies potentially being able to survive on animal meat instead of human flesh.prevnext
5) Diary of the Dead
With Diary of the Dead, Romero was debuting a brand-new zombie universe that wasn't a sequel to his previous four films. Fans of his previous films had to rewire their brains to understand that this film wasn't a sequel within his legacy, but unfortunately, not really much in the film resonated as strongly as his previous four films. The characters themselves are somewhat idiotic and their dialogue sounded like it was written by someone's grandpa (because it was), so it was hard to believe this film came from the genre-defining legend.prevnext
4) Land of the Dead
Due to budgetary limitations on his previous film, Day of the Dead, the themes and sequences in Land of the Dead were all the leftover concepts from that film, but stretched into a feature. Sadly, the film mostly feels like it wasn't as well thought-out as his previous films, but watching it in a double feature with Day of the Dead is far more satisfying, as he definitely made some interesting choices. This film also drew out talents like Dennis Hopper and John Leguizamo, with all of his previous films featuring relative unknowns. There are interesting themes within the story, but ultimately, it felt like "too little, too late."
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3) Night of the Living Dead
There's no denying the impact that Night of the Living Dead left on the world of horror, causing hundreds of imitators and influencing countless filmmakers. The original film showed a brother and sister finding themselves in the middle of a series of strange attacks, causing a group of survivors to band together at a nearby farmhouse. The film shows the small group of people turning on one another as they try to cope with the bizarre and terrifying occurences happening outside their walls, which would become a thematic staple for many zombie films. Romero's skills as a writer and director were still burgeoning at the time and leave room for improvement, but the effectiveness of the original film cannot be understated.prevnext
2) Day of the Dead
Set many years after the original film, Day showed a group of survivors seeking refuge in an underground bunker. They're well-armed with weapons to make quick work of any threat they come across, but they know they're mostly just delaying the inevitable. Not being content to just survive, one doctor runs a series of experiments on zombies to try to see what he can learn about the creatures, in hopes of uncovering their secrets. Featuring some of the most gruesome effects seen in any of his films, Day explored themes of a collapsed society like no other and might be the most bleak of all the installments, helping prepare audiences for the eventuality of the dark world we live in.
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1) Dawn of the Dead0comments
Opening with a scene of a news station attempting to find reason in the zombie epidemic, only for the station to collapse and go off the air, Dawn of the Dead explores possibly the most interesting elements of zombie films: surviving. The characters haven't given up all hope, but they are also in no rush to find any answers. The survivors head to a mall where they feel they'll have the most resources and most structural safety from the slow-moving hordes, allowing them to just exist. If it wasn't for a film like Dawn of the Dead, we'd never have The Walking Dead, which has become one of the most successful TV shows of all time for exploring the exact things that Dawn explored 30 years earlier.prev