MASTER OF THE UNDEAD – GEORGE ROMERO
When I watch any horror movie depicting zombies, I immediately think of George Romero. Even if he is nowhere near the movie. He redefined the concept of zombies in his ultra-low budget first outing Night of the Living Dead (1968). But hidden behind the blood thirsty and flesh craving automatons from the dead, is a tale of survival amongst personalities intent on continuing on with existing societal divides (be it race – gender – or class) long after the fall of civilization by the endless invasion of the undead. Romero plays with these social conventions in each of his subsequent zombie horror flicks — including a deliberate commentary on consumerism, by having a group hold up and fortify in a locked shopping mall in order to ride out the growing threat outside in “Dawn of the Dead“. He also puts capitalism under the microscope and dissects it in “Land of the Dead“.
In The Crazies (1973), Romero opts to have the hordes of murderous people from a small town be infected by a plague, rather than being recently reanimated corpses. This movie also continues Romero’s career-spanning observation on how society will cling to the broken and flawed world they already know versus adapting to new ideologies in order to survive an ongoing, and potentially global, mega-threat.
Creepshow (1982) was a rare departure from Romero’s usual zombie-fare. The movie is a book-ended anthology picture, with various themes and tones, that successfully emulates the classic horror comics of the 1950s that George Romero grew up with. He truly is a Master of the Undead.