The zombie movie paradox: A look back at George A. Romero passing away

When I first started writing this blog I was still in college. During that time I was still in my phase where I had to be different just to be different. Part of that was I made it a point not to be talking about the same topics the rest of the media or internet world was talking about. I either didn’t want to be seen as needing to hurry up and get my thoughts out there first, like so many outlets appeared to be doing. At the same time, I didn’t really want to be seen as jumping on the bandwagon. So I determined my stance would typically be to take a wait and see approach to any breaking news to give myself a chance to process it, distance myself from the immediacy of it all before I made an effort to put my thoughts down. Since completing my education and leaving college to begin my career in the world of writing for the media I discovered that weather it is the local TV station or the Twitterverse, whatever is the big headline is what people are talking about. When I started working at a local newspaper that serves a small community I discovered that the words I wrote, the stories I chose to cover, the photos I took, those shaped the conversation, at least for a day, and I discovered that was part of the responsibility of the media.

Things are different with a blog. I can choose to be less formal, as I often do. Today I read the news about George A. Romero passing away. I had to do a double take to make sure it was the guy I thought t was and sure enough the grandfather of the zombie horror genre was dead. At first I also had to double check the date to make sure I wasn’t reading an old article. I hadn’t heard of him passing away previously, but there have been a few times where I was out of the loop enough I didn’t learn of a celebrity dying until months, or in a couple of cases years later. I chalk this up to not really following celebrity gossip and news that much. Once I confirmed that he did in fact die, it was the man I thought it was, and I had the correct date he wasn’t already gone and I just found out, I decided to write down on a pad that I would talk about my thoughts on the next podcast. Considering I aim to do one a week and the next one isn’t for another week, I decided to just go ahead and write down my thoughts as of right now, then if I decide to dig deeper next week, I shall do so.

The first thing I am going to say is it is rare for me to have a favorite writer, director, songwriter, band, etc., I tend not to pick favorites and honestly I don’t follow directors or even writers that closely. That being said, I will say that his original trilogy, if you can call it that, are some of my favorite zombie movies of all time. Of course, I need to get this out there, I am not the biggest fan of the zombie movie genre to begin with. I don’t hate zombie movies, I actually enjoy them quite a bit, however, I feel we just have too many out there and I have seen too many to really get excited. I was burned out on zombie movies long before I began getting fatigue keeping up with superhero flicks.

One thing you might discover about this blog is I rarely make my articles about the thing or topic I am writing about, as it is a personal blog I tend to make it about my personal experiences instead. So I am going to share some of my own memories of the Living Dead series of films. This is my best method to pay tribute to a man whose works I do revere without repeating the same life recap the other 50,000+ blogs on the internet are going to say.

My earliest experiences are when I was about seven or eight years old. I was watching the Tim Burton comedy classic Beetlejuice and there is a scene where one of the main characters says “are you like night of the living dead underthere” or something to that extent. I didn’t exactly know what she was referring to for a while. A couple of years later I was sitting in my room, I had this old black and white UHF/VHF dial TV with rabbit ears in my bedroom, and I used to stay up late at night on weekends watching the horror movies that came on. One night they were playing Return of the Living Dead. I instantly fell in love with this movie. It also referenced Night of the Living Dead so now I had two films reference a movie really increasing my interest. A about two years later I rented a copy of the Thriller music video cassette from our local video store and watched the Michael Jackson classic music video for the first time and now I was rally curious, I just had to see this zombie movie everyone kept talking about.

My first viewing. It was not on the black and white tv from my youth. It was not a VHS or even DVD rental from a store. It was one random night I was watching my then favorite TV channel G4, which is long gone now. They were showing Night of the Living Dead. I had already seen the Dawn of the Dead remake by this point but I hadn’t read up on them to learn they were connected yet. So I decided why not, I sat there and watched the whole movie, commercials and all. I was really amazed and for the first time I really regretted not seeing it earlier in my life.

A couple of years later I finally got a chance to watch Day of the Dead on good old Netflix. Again I was impressed and thought man I need to see more of these Romero zombie movies. So about a year ago I set out to add them all to my DVD collection. Unfortunately that is where the direct connections end. See I made it a point not to watch any of them until I had them all. I do currently own the three originals, but I still want to get all of his later zombie movies to see how they all stack up. That being said, I have the original Dawn of the Dead on DVD but haven’t gotten around to watching it at this time. I suppose I could just make a case that since I have already seen the other two in that “trilogy” I could go a head and just get it over with. I could also make a case that it doesn’t connect to the remakes or modern films in the series anyways, which I have all but two, I think. So maybe sometime in the near future I might try to make it a point to go back and actually watch the original Dawn of the Dead.

I am probably going to anger some die hard fans, should they stumble upon this, by stating this, I like the movies, but I prefer the Return of the Living Dead franchise more. I guess you could say I like horror comedy more than straight horror, but I don’t think that is it. I just think I liked the campy 80’s tone mixed with the imminent doom they presented verses the world he created where it was the end of the world, but somehow it just didn’t quite end.

When Wes Craven died I didn’t go back and revisit Last House on the Left, People Under the Stairs or any of his other movies that didn’t have Elm Street in the title. However with the passing of Romero in a way it just makes me wish I had seen more of his works when it would have mattered to him. I can’t say I will miss him, or his works, I can say instead that I appreciate what he did for the horror genre, and zombies in particular, and will say that I look forward to reading, hopefully, well-written articles looking back on his life, and career. I also am now thinking I have run out of excuses to keep putting off watching the 1970’s Dawn of the Dead, which I do have on DVD.

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