Film

Day 5: The Undead as a Life-changing Experience

On the last day of our week long celebration of Night of the Living Dead’s 40th anniversary, PopMatters offers six essays that delve on the subjective appreciation of Romero’s landmark film. In strong contrast to the previous installments of this collection, these articles offer a more personal perspective of the everlasting influence of Night of the Living Dead.

Few would disagree that the importance of Night of the Living Dead can be described in terms of its aesthetic qualities, as well as its political and ideological content. However, Night of the Living Dead is also a cultural product meant to be enjoyed and consumed by the public at large. Therefore, as important as it may be to provide an objective theoretical framework to understand Romero’s film, it is also valuable to appreciate its powerful subjective effect on the viewer.

On the last day of our week long celebration of Night of the Living Dead’s 40th anniversary, PopMatters offers six essays that delve on the subjective appreciation of Romero’s landmark film. In strong contrast to the previous installments of this collection, these articles offer a more personal perspective of the everlasting influence of Night of the Living Dead.

In “Life Amongst the Undead”, Prof. Barry Keith Grant recounts the first time he saw Night of the Living Dead, while he was a graduate student at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He explains, Night of the Living Dead was not just a movie, but it was an experience in the most profound sense of the word.

The influence of Night of the Living Dead on modern low budget horror filmmakers is explored by Drew Fortune in “Reanimating the Dead At the Fringe of Hollywood”. Fortune interviewed screenwriters Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton (Feast, Saw 4, and Saw 5), and director John Gulager (Feast). The three fear makers agree on the impact that Romero’s film had on their careers, and Melton explains that the legacy of Night of the Living Dead was the simplicity of its execution.

Bill Gibron in “Night of the Night of the Living Dead” relates the experience of watching Night of the Living Dead for the first time at the tender age of nine. As Gibron explains, Romero’s film was a powerful experience because it looked and felt as if it were a documentary.

In “The Kind of Murder-happy Characters We Have Here”, Stephen Graham Jones ponders the issue of surviving a zombie apocalypse. Jones explores the biological nature and political ideology of the undead. One of the many thought-provoking issues raised is how the zombies may just look at us as “those things that are always running away”. Talk about fast food.

Also considering the light side of the zombie apocalypse, Rodger Jacobs offers a witty piece of flash fiction in “Tender is the Night of the Living Dead”. Jacobs is equally inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald and George Romero by using zombies to explore institutionalized racism, juxtaposing the horrors in '40s Germany with the obvious anti-Irish sentiment on the part of the zombie hunters.

Finally, in “Zombies as Change” Christian Caliandro offers his take on how the zombies of Night of the Living Dead stand for “cultural change”, which could explain the powerful personal effect of Romero’s film on most viewers. Night of the Living Dead is the first representation of an exciting and gruesome “hate generation” substituting and burying the '60s live generation.

On this note, PopMatters concludes its week long celebration of the 40th Anniversary of Night of the Living Dead. It is perhaps ironic that even after 30 articles that incisively explored the origins, structure, and legacy of Romero’s film, we feel that much more remains to be said about this legendary horror film. In any event, the fact that a 40-year-old film continues to attract such a huge level of attention from fans, critics, and scholars, is the best testimony of Romero’s brilliance.

Thanks George for your hard work, which not only has been inspiring and revelatory, but also fun to watch. Thanks, also, for pointing out the social problems that haunt our modern world.

Let us just hope that by the time future generations celebrate the 80th anniversary of Night of the Living Dead, mankind will be more tolerant and less selfish.

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less
10

From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image