Monday, July 17, 2017

Thanks For My Brain, Mr. Romero


All through the scorched-earth that was 2016, I was going, "Just not Romero, okay?" We made it to July 16th, 2017. And so it goes. "Another one for the fire."

Romero is what got me to finally log-on to teh internet back in 2000; he had a message board (georgearomero.com) that he'd drop by on occasion. And so after becoming a member, that's where I gradually picked up the basic rules for web etiquette. But then, he ended up shuttering it a few years later because of all the trolls and the constant flame wars...

NIGHT and DAWN shaped so much of my thinking that they're literally part of my psychological DNA. The satire shaped a lot of my political beliefs and my love of metaphor. I have no idea who I'd be if it wasn't for those two movies. 

The thing about George A. Romero's zombie films is that they are a metaphorical – literally – snapshot of the era they are filmed in. NIGHT captures 1968 in a way that no documentary ever will. DAWN was the dawn of American consumerism lurching out of control in disco colors. DAY was the Reagan-era down to its last squabbling military complex survivors. And ultimately the remake of NIGHT was a harbinger of Hollywood auto-cannibalism. 

Thing is, sometimes it takes a decade (or so) to see his satire in 2020 focus. So – seeing that every newly-dead artist gets legitimized in pop culture – the time has come to re-evaluate the frequently derided LAND, DIARY and SURVIVAL. 

LAND operates on an almost meta-level; Romero has way more money than he's used to playing with while his primary satirical target is the 1% holing up in the castle looking down at the peasants and the zombies with equal disdain. The wealth disparity wasn't so obvious in 2005, but little did we know that Dennis Hopper was playing Donald Trump.

Personally I've always loved DIARY. It was Romero letting his hair down and having some no-stress fun on a DIY budget; a Peter Watkins-style mockumentary approach in the found-footage era an obvious lark. The poster is one of the few that shares limited space on my wall.

SURVIVAL was fun but I've only seen it once; perhaps the metaphor too freshly-minted in the moment to be obvious... all I recall were the annoying Irish accents (I used to work in an Irish bar) and the over-the-top Looney Tunes-style riffs (if pop culture was gonna lock him down in the zombie house, he at least felt free to have fun with his mythos). Time to revist... we at least have that.

Thank you.