POSTING BY JB MADDAWG
*With Halloween just a few short days away, I thought I’d post up a classic piece that we ran just around two years ago. It still gets a fair amount of traffic and zombies are still all the rage. So, I submit to you my bit about what a flaming idiot George Romero seems to be. ‘Tis the season, after all. Happy Halloween from The ThrowDown.
George A. Romero is a hack. I don’t know how else to break it to the general movie going public, but there it is, in 35mm black and white. The guy set out to make a “film” that had Plan 9 From Outer Space written all over it, a butterfly flapped its wings in Beijing, and Night of the Living Dead became a golden egg. Sure, Romero has dressed the movie up over the years calling the film a social commentary on racism, but it’s still just a movie about dead people who want to eat living people trapped in a farmhouse. Romero on several occasions has pushed the issue that his brand of zombie films are a take on political topics, which is probably why he’s never been taken seriously outside of the horror business.
There is a time and place for commentary on social issues, but injecting ideals into horror films is pretty silly. It’s hard to take a movie denouncing the evils of consumerism seriously when some asshole in a Packers jersey has his undead head caught in the escalator. Maybe if Romero had directed Cloverfield, we could all be chatting about the need for a lizard leash law. Romero in his upper age has really started to pour on the message in the madness as of late, and his latest offerings of Diary of the Dead and Survival of the Dead are so terrible, I was expecting the Olson twins to pop up at some point. When Irish family feuds and how best to put zombies to work at menial labor become focal points in the horror genre, deal me out.
George…bubby. Zombies at a mall, funny. Zombies learning to ride horseback, tragic. Now, I know zombie fanboys all over the landscape have long professed Romero as “Mr. Zombie”, which is all just great. The problem has become in his old age, Romero is now transforming into nothing more than a bitter old coot angry at everyone for jumping his claim. The fact of the matter is, Romero forfeited his claim, and now, the director throws a fit about it like an old man when the senior center runs out of red Jell-O. In 1968, when Romero made his mark, his film was originally titled Night of the Flesh Eaters. When the title was changed to Night of the Living Dead, the distributor of the film forgot to put the notice on the new prints, and upon its release was placed into the public domain category. Romero had several options to stop this from happening, but chose no action. It took a huge slice of time in 1968 to compile $40 million dollars in box office revenue, and in that time, Romero seemed to never raise an eyebrow to the fact he wasn’t getting any checks.
This astonishing turn of events has pushed the “poor George” element to the forefront recently, and even some sources have claimed that it was never about the money for Romero. Bullshit. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. Kids, write this down somewhere. It is always about the money. Need proof? Fine, check and see if Romero had the good sense to copyright all his other material. The fact of the matter is Romero is just not good at making decisions, which is understandable. For Romero to constantly harrang everyone with references to “his” zombies is not. They aren’t yours anymore, George. Now, ordinarily a $40 million dollar mistake might make a person think about all the “what ifs”, but Romero came out all right due to better decisions later on.
In fact, it seems opportunity would pay one last visit to George A. Romero. Producers of AMC’s The Walking Dead recently reached out to Romero, to direct some episodes and generally give his input to what is now turning into THE zombie source of an entire generation. Fate, had finally smiled and lifted the velvet rope for Romero to join the elite in the industry. But, Romero is a gangly old crank and not only did he refuse, but went on to tell everyone he’s never even watched the show. Have fun at bingo, George. That silence you hear will be the millions legally downloading Night of the Living Dead on your dime.