Friday This ‘n’ That – Zombie Rights! TCM! More!

Night of the Living Dead

It is an absolute shame that, due to a distributor error, Night of the Living Dead entered the public domain. Not just George Romero but the rest of the creative team received almost nothing for their groundbreaking work. There had been other zombie movies and certainly Night of the Living Dead owes a debt to The Last Man on Earth, another public domain film, but NotLD essentially started an incredibly profitable genre.

While there is no recourse to the lost copyright, Joe Sena of Fourth Castle Media went after the next best thing. He applied for and received the trademark on the name. Now there can be official NotLD merchandise. He has stated that this month he is turning over the trademark to the original makers of the film (Image Ten), so that (hopefully) they can finally profit off the fruits of their labor.

Athens Movie Palace

I am hoping to get back to the Athens Movie Palace this month and review it. Until then, if you are curious about how an independent movie house is set up and functions, try reading their blog here. I found it fascinating.


For those of you who are rich as Croesus, the TCM Classic Film Festival will be back in Hollywood April 28th – May 1st of next year. The official website is here. If-you-have-to-ask, you-can’t-afford-it passes go on sale in November. The theme is Moving Pictures. Last year the Spotlight Pass was $1649. Yes, that is just the pass and not lodging or meals.

Bruiser & George Romero

Bruiser is currently available on instant Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Bruiser (2000) – Rated R

“Henry Creedlow (Jason Flemyng) awakens to a nightmare world in which he has no face, features or identity. Stripped of everything he’s ever known, he sets out on a bloody rampage to destroy the people who’ve betrayed him, including his philandering wife (Nina Garbiras), his belittling boss (Peter Stormare) and his evil best friend (Andrew Tarbet). Fans of horror-punk rockers the Misfits will relish their role in the film’s gritty climax.”

George Romero gets a lot of credit for starting a horror subgenre with Night of the Living Dead and following it up with Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead, and Survival of the Dead. True there were clear precursors such as White Zombie (1932), The Last Man on Earth (1964), and Plague of the Zombies (1966) but Romero is certainly the man who popularized zombies.

His non-zombie films are not as well remembered but are fascinating. Knightriders (1981) is about an Arthurian troop of jousting motorcyclists. Martin (1976) is a realistic story about a man who thinks he is a vampire. The Crazies (1973) is about a government engineered virus that causes insanity and led directly to 28 Days Later and a remake.

Bruiser was Romero’s first film in seven years. He directed a video for the band, The Misfits in exchange for their appearance in Bruiser and some music for the film. Romero wrote and directed Bruiser.

Bruiser is a wonderful horror movie about identity, complacency, media and the callousness of society. It is very different. Other than some foreshadowing, it does not even seem like a horror movie until near the half hour mark.

Jason Flemyng, one of my favorite character actors, gets a rare leading role here as Henry Creedlow, a man who literally loses sight of who he is. No one respects him – in part because he does not respect himself. He lets everyone walk all over him – his wife, his boss, his co-workers, his acquaintances, even his dog. He contemplates committing suicide as an easier alternative to taking control of his life.

Peter Stormare does an excellent job of playing his disgusting boss, Milo Styles. A pre-24 Leslie Hope plays one of the few sympathetic characters, Rosemary Newley. Henry’s cheating wife Janine is played by Nina Garbiras. It is nice to see John Carpenter regular Tom Atkins (The Fog, Escape from New York) as Detective McCleary.

It is interesting to see a revenge tale retooled as a quest for identity. It has been said that all stories can be boiled down to the simple question, “Who am I?”. This one starts with that question and the answer is captivating.

People Watch: Peter Mensah, listed as ‘skinhead’, would go on to become the messenger who is so memorably killed by King Leonidas in 300 (“This is Sparta!”). Romero’s daughter Tina appears as Cleopatra.


Okay while normally I never miss cable, especially since I never run out of things to watch, this week I would have liked to have seen Mick Garris’ adaptation of Bag of Bones. Still it will be on Netflix eventually and Netflix does have plenty of Stephen King to go around.

Creepshow (1982) – Rated R

“Based on the E.C. comic books of the 1950s, this horror anthology includes radioactive meteorites, a creepy Father’s Day party, a monster in a crate and thousands of cockroaches. Venerable horror director George Romero (Night of the Living Dead) and screenwriter Stephen King are responsible for the creepfest, which features performances by Leslie Nielsen, Hal Holbrook, Ted Danson, Adrienne Barbeau, Ed Harris, E.G. Marshall and even King himself.”

“This is going to be extremely painful Mr. Verrill!”

I love portmanteau (anthology) films even if far too many of them have the same wraparound story (Omigosh they were all dead to begin with! I never would have guessed that!). Some of them are direct adaptations of EC Comics (Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror) but none of them captured the actual feel of those comics until Creepshow.

Obviously much of the credit has to go to the wonderful tongue-in-cheek screenplay from author Stephen King. He captures the spirit of the Tales from the Crypt comics much better than the Amicus films or the HBO TV series ever did. The stories are all fun with a good punchline that may have you groaning.

Unlike his brief cameos in other films, King actually carries one of the segments of the film (“The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill”). His acting is atrocious but fits in well with his segment. Joe Hill, Stephen King’s son, plays the young boy in the wraparound segments.

George Romero does an excellent job of directing here. He gets great over-the-top performances from a good cast of actors. Hal Holbrook and Leslie Nielsen are particularly good here. Much of the film is done as comic book panels with bright primary colors and backgrounds. Because of the nature of the portmanteau film, none of the stories overstays its welcome.

Romero regular Tom Savini handled the special makeup effects and this film features some of his best work. Savini also has a cameo as one of the garbagemen.

Two final notes: If you don’t enjoy tongue-in-cheek or campy material then you are unlikely to enjoy this film. If cockroaches bother you unduly then do not watch the last segment of this film – you have been warned! Even on repeat viewings, I often skip the last segment. It’s great but boy does it give me the heebie-jeebies.


Night of the Living Dead

What is Halloween without zombies? Netflix instant play has the movie that started this subgenre as well as the Tom Savini-helmed remake. If you can’t stand black & white films or just want better splatterĀ then watch the remake but the tension and atmosphere areĀ much higher in the original.

Night of the Living Dead

WATCH: Night of the Living Dead (1968) – Unrated (the remake is rated R)

“Director George Romero’s low-budget horror classic continues to inspire heebie-jeebies, in part because of the randomness of the zombies’ targets. As dead bodies return to life and feast on human flesh, young Barbara (Judith O’Dea) joins a group of survivors in a farmhouse hoping to protect themselves from the hordes of advancing zombies. But even with assistance in slowing down and killing zombies, soon only one person remains in the farmhouse.”

What can you say about a classic? This is the only horror movie to ever scare me on television – and that on a grainy UHF station with commercials. George Romero started an entire subgenre (and one of my favorites to boot) with this film. Sadly due to a copyright error, this movie is in the public domain so while Romero receives full props for his masterpiece, he does not receive money for it. This is a very intense, claustrophobic black and white thriller with a fair amount of social commentary (a trademark of Romero’s). Also please note that this was filmed during the civil rights era and features an African-American hero who has no problem ordering around others including an older white man. Performances are quite good for a first feature.