Thursday, May 10, 2018

Jason goes to the Castro for a George Romero tribute

It was a NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) / DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978) double feature. I don't need to recap either of those movies for you. They're classics, and if you haven't seen them, go fix that right now.

I've often said, in complete sincerity, that I understand the decades of American zeitgeist through George Romero's "Dead" series.

1960s - NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. This decade is about racial tensions.
1970s - DAWN OF THE DEAD. This decade is about mindless consumerism.
1980s - DAY OF THE DEAD. This decade is about out of control military buildup.
1990s - ...This is the decade I came of age. It should be the most important decade in my life. But I don't really understand what it was all about because George Romero didn't make a "...OF THE DEAD" movie.
2000s - Now things are getting complicated, with three movies.

In 2005, he makes LAND OF THE DEAD, possibly my favorite of the series. I know that's blasphemy (true cinephiles are supposed to prefer the classics!) but it's all about class warfare, plus Dennis Hopper being Dennis Hopper. And dammit, the 21st century has been all about class warfare so far.

Then two years later he follows it up with DIARY OF THE DEAD. Playing on the faux-documentary style that become so popular after THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, he adds another layer of media savviness by having his character point out how this "documentary" is edited and music is added to create tension. It's artificially trying to scare you, because you should be scared. And certainly audiences are much more savvy.

And finally in 2009 he releases SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD. I confess, I'm the least familiar with this one, and I really need to revisit it. At the time, I even admitted I didn't immediately get what it was about. In retrospect, I think it might be about hyper-partisanship. The "Us vs. Them" mentality that has become so ingrained we fight each other more than the common enemy that literally wants to kill us and eat our brains. It's a Hatfields vs. McCoys story. Or, in modern day, a Democrats vs. Republicans story.

Ya know what, I don't need to revisit SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD. I need to revisit them all. It was a joy to see the first two again, especially on the magnificent Castro screen. But that's only a third of story. I need to do a Marathon of the Dead--all six. Who's with me?

Total Running Time: 223 minutes
My Total Minutes: 477,754

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