People usually laugh when I tell them I have a mortal fear of zombies, but for many years I did. I had a mortal fear of the walking dead, for reasons I can’t really explain. Fears are meant to be irrational. I can however pinpoint to where it may have all started, and it was with George Romero. One of my earliest memories as a kid was when my dad took a four year old moi to visit a friend of his, who watching this horror documentary on VHS. Mid-way through the footage there was the epic finale of “Day of the Dead” where the humongous horde of zombies is slowly descending in to the military bunker with light cast upon them.
While “Creepshow 2” has always been taken as one of pair of horror movies that pay tribute to the golden age of EC Comics, over the years the horror community has learned to appreciate “Creepshow 2” as its own entity. Surely, its cut from the same cloth as the original classic, but it also carves out its own identity and doesn’t repeat the same beats as the original film. The Michael Gornick directed sequel is a darker, grittier, and more vicious follow up to what was kind of a raucous and darkly comic celebration, and it works. As a nostalgic memento, and as a sequel carved by Stephen King and George Romero, “Creepshow 2” is a classic in its own right.
I should preface this rant by saying that I avoided making this article for a few days if only because I am a big Romero fan. I think Night, Dawn and Day of the Dead are brilliant masterpieces that should be analyzed by film students everywhere, while films like “Knight Riders” and “Creepshow” are pretty fantastic in their own right. Hell I’ve even ardently defended Romero at every turn, cheering on his efforts to make a “Resident Evil” movie, “Dead Reckoning,” and I’ve even defended “Land,” “Diary,” and “Survival of the Dead” despite being his lesser movies. But lately I’ve managed to come across an interview with George Romero who has decided to bring the whole house down with him despite someone who has offered films with diminishing returns. And what’s worse is some media outlets are pretty much enabling him.
At the moment there are almost five remakes of “Night of the Living Dead” in the works, as well as another attempt to remake “Day of the Dead.” One of the “Night” remakes is being tackled by Romero’s
opportunist son, who wants to give us an origin of some kind. And there is just no stopping indie filmmakers from digging in to Romero’s masterwork and fiddling around with it to mold their own film out of it. There are many more indie filmmakers right now who think they can do better than Romero ever could, and we’ll just keep seeing more “Night” remakes. Especially now that making movies is so easy and accessible. What was once a tough task that required immense resources is now something that can be accomplished on a fucking cell phone. A cell phone!
Here is the list of “Night” remakes ranked from “Inspired” to “What Were They Thinking?” We’re not counting sequels, remakes of sequels, unofficial sequels, or loose sequels. We’re talking about movies that attempted to completely redo the 1968 “Night of the Living Dead.”
What is your least favorite “Night” remake?
I honestly don’t want to dislike anything with an association with George Romero, but when sub-par independent filmmakers unleash a sub-par remake of Romero’s 1968 “Night of the Living Dead,” you just have to call a spade a spade. It’s irritating that there are still filmmakers that think they can perfect the formula better than Romero did. The rush of “Night” remakes doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon, either. Which is unfortunate, because time can be better spent on films that aren’t glorified fan fiction. “Darkest Dawn” is essentially “Night of the Living Dead” all over again. Except this time, “Night” is set in modern times, and in a city.
We cap off Halloween Horror Month 2014 by celebrating Day of the Dead with “The Top 10 Greatest Zombies” Part Two. Felix Vasquez Jr. offers his top five Zombie Slayers to take on the nasty horde of the sometimes evil, sometimes misunderstood walkers.
Whether you love or hate George Romero and his films, there’s no denying that without his zombie movies there wouldn’t be the zombie culture we know today. Surely we might have two or three zombie movies concerning the sleepy servants of voodoo masters, but we wouldn’t have the flesh eating hordes that are currently consuming pop culture and the world as we know it. There’s also a very good interview where filmmaker Alex Cox notes that were it not for “Night of the Living Dead” becoming public domain, there likely would not have been inspiration for filmmakers to offer their own zombie entertainment for horror fans.
Okay, so I know not everyone enjoyed “Land of the Dead.”
Many people I spoke to during the time of its release seemed to hate it, though I persisted in my thoughts that it would eventually gain appreciation, much like “Day of the Dead” eventually did. I fondly remember many people telling me that “Day of the Dead” was a terrible film back in the early nineties, and now it’s considered a classic. Even director George Romero considers it his favorite.