In memory of George A. Romero

romeroGeorge A. Romero is no longer with us. We read the news tonight and it felt like a punch in the gut. Romero was the director who became famous thanks to his debut Night of the Living Dead, a movie whose reputation hung over Romero’s later career – especially if you forward a couple of decades. Once his zombie trilogy was released in full, it seemed like people seemed to think Romero was no longer able to make another masterpiece. And when the zombie movies boomed again in the noughties, Romero decided that would’ve been a shame if everyone was making money with zombie movies apart from him (as there was no copyright on Night, companies didn’t have to pay him to put another edition of the film out on dvd), so he returned to the world of the undead for three more movies.

But it would be wrong to see Romero just as a director of zombie films. Especially, earlier in his career he wrote and directed several other films which are worth watching. Even though Knightriders is often forgotten in many lists, it has its fair share of fans and not knightriderswithout reason: it’s a nice movie where a group of bikers re-enact the world of medieval knights and, no matter how unlikely that sounds, it does work (and starts a.o. Ed Harris and Tom Savini). It’s not in our Top 3, but we thought we’d give it a mention, rather than spend a lot of time on that quintessential Romero movie: Night of the Living Dead. Yes, it’s in our top 3 because it’s the start of a zombie genre that leads up to now when zombies are even on TV (we’re not talking about political leaders, but about shows like The Walking Dead – and yes, the fact we said “shows”, so plural – is making our point for us. And it’s a start of a trilogy where all three movies have a message and are a sign of the times. So there, Night of the Living Dead is in our top three, but if you want to avoid zombies at any cost: feel free to pick Knightriders as an alternative.

Night would have been our number two, which is – you don’t have to tell us how charts work – higher than number three. That’s our spot for The Crazies, which – like Night – has also been remade. Romero’s original was released in 1973 and rather than reviewing it now, we’ll refer you to our previous review – which you can find here.

Number one is Martin. It’s a wonderful film about a young man who thinks he’s a vampire and the entire film Romero makes you guess whether he’s delusional or really a vampire). It’s nowhere as known as his zombie movies, which is a terrible shame you can do something about… by watching it. Apparently, it was also Romero’s most loved film, so if you like it, you’re in good company.

Martin-RomeroP.S. Because of this article, the scheduled review will now be posted on Thursday. At this point, Avenue Kurtodrome releases (at least) one entry a week, so if you check in once every seven days you should always be able to read something new.

2 thoughts on “In memory of George A. Romero

  1. deeopey July 18, 2017 / 14:23

    Martin is indeed fantastic. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see more of that side of Romero.

    That said the original zombie trilogy is timeless, as much as zombies have been spoiled as a subject in things like the Walking Dead, that original trilogy was really eye opening to a younger me. Night might be the most important film he made. On a practical level it set most of the “rules” for zombie films but it’s skill with metaphor is what made it more interesting and indeed that is why people still talk about the Romero films even as other bigger budget gorier efforts pass by.

    His skill with “message” zombie films are his biggest gift to the films that came after and it’s also provides an easy critical bat for all the weaker efforts.

    On a personal level Dawn is a favourite. The trapped in a mall scenario just captured my teenage mind and it became a strange way of connecting to likeminded souls as we realised we’d all sought out and enjoyed it separately.

    Romero will be missed, I wish he’d had a chance to do more outside the zombie sphere but I’m sure glad he made the films he did!

    • kurtodrome July 23, 2017 / 15:43

      True, this article wasn’t meant as a negative view on Romero’s zombie trilogy (and I guess, “Diary” too if you want to take into account the second trilogy), but I did find it annoying that most obituaries only mentioned the Dead movies, so I wanted to talk about two or three alternatives.

      As for “Dawn”, it’s confusing because there are more versions (with/without Argento, length, …), which I found too distracting for the incidental reader who was curious about this Romero so many articles were suddenly being devoted to. The social criticism is much more evident in “Dawn” and “Day” and I hold fond memories of “Night” as well as “Dawn”, but without “Night”, there wouldn’t have been “Dawn” or a zombie movie boom, so in the light of film history I thought “Night” deserved more of a plug.

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