31 in 31: Birth of the Living Dead

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birth of the living deadStory: These kids head into the woods thinking they’ll have a little fun and make a horror movie.  But then…they do!  And Night of the Living Dead becomes a worldwide sensation and genre classic!  How’d they do that?  Well, let them tell you.

Scares: That depends. What do you think of the spooky in NotLD? Because you’re going to see just about all those scenes here.

Splat Factor: That depends. What do you think of the gore in NotLD? Because you’re going to see just about all those scenes here.  You haven’t seen NotLD?  Then get ready for a ton of low-budget, real-entrails FX.

Closing scene “shocker”:Documentary.  So, no.

Remake, Sequel or OG (Original Ghoul): It’s original, though it’s not the only NotLD doc out there.

Trick or Treat: I love learnin’ me some new stuff.  And honestly?  I thought I’d learned just about everything there was to know about how Night of the Living Dead got made and distributed.  I was wrong.  Who knew that George Romero worked with Mr. Rodgers/Pittsburgh’s Latent Image? Mr. Rodgers gets a tonsillectomy — George did that! “Which remains one of the scariest movies I’ve ever done”, says George.

In fact, George has quite a bit to say in Birth of the Living Dead, and as always, he’s a hoot.  From beer commercials 4 Iron City & Duke beer, filming “The Calgon Story” ad as a homage to Fantastic Voyage, and his opinions about the 60s in general — “Mostly the 60s didn’t work… I think there was a bit of rage…. ” — Birth of the Living Dead is something all Romero, zombie and all-around horror fans should queue up right now.  Oh, and RTVF majors?  You’ll want to watch too, even if you never want to make a horror movie.  All the nitty-gritty about exactly what went on to get the movie made, and how everybody pitched in may be common knowledge, but Birth breaks it down almost to a person.  It’s a great how-to for anyone who’s looking to shoot their own film and doesn’t know how to go about doing that with a limited budget.

Narrators/Interviews with: TWD producer Gale Anne Hurd, Sam Pollard from NYU film school, Bill Hinzman (aka “the cemetery zombie”), and many others keep things fresh and the doc feeling more like a party than the info dump so many docs devolve into.  Particularly cool is the section on how kids who saw the film during kiddie “Chiller” matinees, complete with interviews with adults who had been kids in those theaters for those viewings (and had for the most part freaked the hell out.)  Getting these folks to open up on camera provides a look at the film from perspectives I’d never known before.  And that’s pretty amazing, seeing as how this film has been over-analyzed  over the years.

A great film to revisit what you already know, learn a thing or two, or sit with zombie fan newbies so you can discuss all the points afterwards.

Score: wpid-pumpkin9.jpgwpid-pumpkin9.jpg wpid-pumpkin9.jpgwpid-pumpkin9.jpgwpid-pumpkin9.jpg

5 out of 5 pumpkins, for teaching me a few new things about a beloved horror classic, and for letting Romero just ramble and be awesome.

 

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