In the interest of full disclosure, author Mike Watt is a friend and respected colleague who sent us a PDF of his latest book for review. This is nonetheless an objective review of his book “Fervid Filmmaking.”
You have to give it to author Mike Watt. His book isn’t built around 66 great films, or even 66 of his favorite films, but 66 films of importance and relevance that really say something about the genre they’re representing. Take for example the entry in to “Survival of the Dead” by director George Romero. While I’m often a Romero apologist, author Watt really does manage to break down the specifics of the film, and cite past interviews with director Romero to paint “Survival” as a film made by a man perpetually chained to the sub-genre that made him a horror icon.
It’s obscene how underrated “KnightRiders” is. For a Romero movie, it’s such a departure from the norm that his fans are accustomed to, but it’s also very much a George Romero film. Not only does “KnightRider” garner much of the tropes that Romero is fond of, including the biker aesthetic, journeymen characters anti-heroes, commentaries on the monotony of domestic life, and a meshing of various races, but you can also make a great game out of spotting cast members that have been in Romero films, or will eventually be in one. Hey, there’s Joe Pilato! Look! Scott Reiniger! Patricia Tallman!
It’s no easy feat to create a new dedication to “Night of the Living Dead” that doesn’t feel rehashed or regurgitated from other documentaries. Rob Kuhn’s documentary had every chance to be just a summary of “Document of the Dead,” but thankfully is a fresh and very entertaining look at the horror film that changed the world. Director Kuhns doesn’t just explore how “Night of the Living Dead” changed horror films, but how it changed the pop culture and American landscape for fifty years after its release.
For a while I kept 2013’s “Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection” on candidates for the worst movies of the year top ten for many months. I actually intended to brand it the worst movie at one point. But while it is the worst movie of the year, there’s simply no point in putting it in the top ten at all. It’s not because at its core it is a stupid independent film with a low budget, but because complaining about “Night of the Living Dead” wannabes is pointless at this period of film.
“I’ll set us down. But I won’t leave my seat and I’ll keep the engine running. Now the first sign of trouble, I’m going up. If you ain’t on board when that happens, you’re likely to have a lousy afternoon.”
A deserted metropolitan lingers in the tropics, signs of turmoil and carnage still linger. Garbage is strewn about, shadows wash past walls, and piles of money brush in to the air like hurricanes, unclaimed, and now merely just paper. After calling out to the city with a bullhorn looking for survivors, there is an answer, but not the answer Sarah and Miguel were looking for. From the corners of the city, the walking dead begin seeping in. The air is no longer filled with sounds of the ocean, but of the horrific moans and shrieks of the dead. The darkness is now filled with the motion of dozens of shambling corpses, and for miles all the pair could see are the cold, pale, snarling faces of defeat slowly creeping in on the couple, hungry for their flesh.
It’s shocking how tough it was to find cinematic heroes that are minorities. If I wanted to make a list about minority gang members, or thugs in movies, I’d have a list a mile long, but heroes? It’s tough. In the end I tried to compile a list of ten great minority heroes of the movies that wasn’t too obvious, but it’s slim pickings out there.
In either case, if we missed anyone, let us know in the comments!
Every three to four years, a new indie filmmaker thinks they can rise up and give a new flavor or angle to “Night of the Living Dead” and provide audiences with a new look at Romero’s classic horror film. “Night of the Living Dead” remakes are cyclical and the last time we had a remotely fresh take on the film was in 1990, and that’s due to the fact that Tom Savini had help from friend George Romero. Every other rehash since has been piss poor, embarrassing, and just damn unnecessary. How many times can we keep watching the same old story? How many new perspectives can you add? It’s impossible to make the 1968 film feel new and original when the first film mastered it, in the first place. “Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection” only has the illusion of presenting itself as a new version of the Romero tale because the entire rehash is now set in the UK. See? It’s not the same old indie filmmakers trying to upstage Romero, it’s new! In truth thiscan’t stand on two legs since it’s anything but a remake.
With the “Definitive Document of the Dead” you have to take the good with the bad. It completely glosses over Romero’s production of “Day of the Dead” to where it’s almost an irrelevant foot note in the legacy of the Dead films. Yet, the documentary does go back to Romero years after “Day” to where he’s directing “Land,” “Diary,” and “Survival” implying that they’re all valid and relevant projects of Romero’s career. Difficulties in Hollywood and the studio system are side stepped, and often times the documentary can never decide if it wants to be a Hollywood inside look or a fandom tribute, so it tries to be both.