Archive for the 'George Romero' Category

Movie Theater Marquees: Dawn of the Dead (1979)

 DOTD Marquee 1978

I don’t remember where I found the photo, unfortunately, but it’s the creepiest one I’ve got. It almost looks like a screenshot from a post-apocalyptic movie referencing another post-apocalyptic movie. What’s the figure doing? Where is everyone else? Who’s taking the photo? The only thing I can think of is that he wants to show off his DotD t-shirt under the DotD marquee.

The Hollywood Theatre was a classic. You can see a better shot of the beautiful marquee here. It closed in 1992, “doomed” by “the seedy, dilapidated state of Hollywood Boulevard.”

Also, there’s this:

DOTD 1979

Movie Theater Marquees: Night of the Living Dead (1968, 1986)

NOTLD Fulton 10-1-1968

Above: The Night of the Living Dead premiere at Pittsburgh’s Fulton Theater (now the Byham Theater) on October 1, 1968. The film was shot in rural Pittsburgh for a little over $100,000. It grossed $12 million domestically and $18 million internationally. The photo comes from The Complete Night of the Living Dead Filmbook (1985) by John Russo. I found it online at The Sweetest Psychopath.

Below: The Fulton again. According to Cinema Treasures, the photo is from 1981 or 1982, but Day of the Dead didn’t come out until 1985 (I was working in a video store at the time and remember eagerly awaiting the VHS release). You’ll see Sky Bandits on another marquee to the left. That movie came out on October 31, 1986.

The original Dead Trilogy in one sitting on Halloween in 1986? Mercy.

Dead Trilogy 1985

Board Games: Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Electronic Mall Madness (1989)

DOTD Game 1978

DOTD Game 1978-2

DOTD Game 1978-3

Mall Madness 1989

Mall Madness 1989-2

EMM 1989

EMM 1989-3

What a double feature.

The Dawn of the Dead game is a collector’s item, and it’s priced accordingly. Luckily, you can download the whole thing at Home Page of the Dead. From Board Game Geek:

Dawn of the Dead (based on the classic 1978 horror film) can be played as a two-player game (humans vs. zombies), as a solitaire game, or as a cooperative game with two to four players controlling the human heroes. The game map represents the shopping mall from the movie. Cardboard counters signify the human characters and zombies. To win, the zombie player must kill any three characters; the human player must secure the mall by closing all four entrances and eliminating all zombies within.

SPI (Simulations Publications, Inc.) was a leading publisher of board wargames throughout the ’70s. The company went bankrupt in 1982. Because SPI defaulted on a loan from TSR, Gygax and co. acquired its trademarks and copyrights in 1983.

Electronic Mall Madness precisely represents the degenerate vanity and vacuity satirized by Romero in DotD. I’m not sure where that leaves me, because I think it’s really pretty and I want to hear the mall talk.

Fantastic Films Collectors Edition #20 (December, 1980): Interview with Tom Savini

FF CE #20 pg. 48

FF CE #20 pg. 49

FF CE #20 pg. 50

FF CE #20 pg. 51

FF CE #20 pg. 52

FF CE #20 pg. 58

FF CE #20 pg. 59

Tom Savini’s first makeup effects job, at the recommendation of George Romero, was Deathdream (a.k.a. Dead of Night), a brilliant 1972 film about a G.I. in Vietnam who dies in the war but returns to life—and comes home—as a vampire. After that, Savini did makeup for 1974’s Deranged (written by Alan Ormsby, who also wrote Deathdream), loosely based on the grisly career of Ed Gein. Martin (1976), another outstanding vampire film (kind of) written and directed by Romero, was next. Savini, already a theater veteran, wanted to play the lead. He did makeup and stunts instead.

After Martin, Savini returned to the theater, taking the part of King Philip in a production of The Lion in Winter. When that wrapped, Romero called him in to do effects for Dawn of the Dead (1978), the greatest zombie movie ever made, and easily in the all-time horror top 10. On to Friday the 13th (1980), whose realistic effects sent the American slasher film into the mainstream. (Bob Clark, who directed Deathdream, also directed the first true American slasher: 1974’s underrated Black Christmas. Clark is best know today as the director of A Christmas Story.)

No one in the makeup effects business did more to define the modern horror genre than Savini, not even Rick Baker or Stan Winston. His experience as a combat photographer in Vietnam gave him a unique (and terrible, I would think) insight into death.

Not at all the grisly brooder or the “deranged butcher” people expect, Savini emanates an easygoing affability in interviews. It’s clear that he loves life, and he’s giddily dedicated to his craft. All of that comes through when FF asks him if he had fun on Friday the 13th:

Oh, it was one of the greatest times I’ve ever had. The weeks in the Poconos, riding around without a helmet, taking my time and doing really elaborate things, and having a fortune to spend. Toward the end, I received a Dear John phone call from my girlfriend, which at the time seemed to destroy the whole experience. But as I look back on it, it didn’t at all. I just had a terrific time.

Despite his genius for illusion, Savini saw himself as an actor first. Romero finally gave him his chance in Knightriders (1981), a misunderstood movie about a jousting motorcycle troupe that’s also an elegy on the decline of the ’60s counterculture. Savini plays one of the leads, opposite a 30-year-old Ed Harris, and more than holds his own.

(The first and second installments of Fantastic Films #20 are here and here, respectively.)




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