Dispensable arms, legs, heads – you name it, it can go.
In this genre, pre-title can be intense. You have to wonder what it
must have been like for the blond hair, blue eyed all-American actress
who plays the little girl who, holding a hand crafted white sheep-toy,
wakes to find her house in the throes of The Crazies. The inadvertent
spread of an experimental vaccine has become an overnight epidemic.
It’s highly contagious and if it infects you, you’ll either die or go
George A. Romero as director has a distinctive vision that exists
largely outside America’s dominant moral compass. This is firmly the
periphery commentating on the majority and in Romero’s apocalyptic
worldview there are few, if any, boundaries. Taboo is the order of the
Always low budget, Romero’s early films were made with a group of
friends who each contributed around $10K. Together they produced the
cult classic, Night of the Living Dead (1968). Ten years later, Dawn of
the Dead was made for $500,000.
The three post-Night films in this DVD collection should be contextualised with the dominant politics of the time. In the case of Dawn of the Dead it is the onset of capitalism and the end of the Vietnam War — a period of American history that in Dawn becomes the half-life between two extremes. In an original review, Richard Freedman for Newhouse Newspapers wrote, 'Each age gets the moment it deserves"¦ the suburban shopping mall will tell our future generations – if there are any – all they need to know about our Age of Capitalism. And anyone who has spent more than five minutes in such a mall has seen the worshippers of materialism shuffling about like The Unburied Dead in search of charge-account goodies."
The Universal Pictures remake, Dawn of the Dead (Zack Snyder, 2004) starring Sarah Polley as the competent and calm-under-pressure-newly widowed nurse, Ana barely echoes this element of Romero’s vision. The remake is edited to a new generation’s increased speed of choice with shots including numerous crane and aerial POVs that don’t exist in the low budget original. But in what you could see as a disadvantage of CGI and higher budget SFX you won’t find any blue-faced zombie Hare Krishna devotees in the remake. That remains the stuff of the legend.
Romero’s social commentaries / zombie apocalyptic terror theme continues to attract filmmakers and audiences. The Crazies remake has just been announced for 2010, to be directed by Breck Eisner (who is currently in pre-production for Creature from the Black Lagoon, with Flash Gordon also announced). Makes you wonder if that much has changed. Now that’s scary.
The George Romero Collection, a 3-disc set, with loads of special features including audio commentary with Romero, trailers, documentaries, stills and photo galleries, TV spots and other fun stuff is available from Umbrella Entertainment.