I attended the premiere of Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume 2 at the Museum of Moving Image this weekend. I was a teacher/extra somewhere in that film. Twas a great time! Being a part of any film directed by Lloyd Kaufman is a real honor. I really loved going to the premiere because it made me feel like I had a connection to the film industry and to the films I grew up with. Lloyd Kaufman, George Romero and Ridley Scott are some of my favorite directors of all time which is why when I heard the news that Romero had passed it knocked the wind out of me. George was truly an Independent filmmaker who’s films were more subversive than most remember.
I recorded my Filmmaker Diary #3 before the news of George Romero came in. Not two weeks ago I sent a package out to George Romero. It was a fan letter from me stating how much his films have effected my life. Dawn of the Dead is the greatest horror film ever made and I just wanted to thank him for making it. I was hoping to get his autograph and I included a few of my films Mark of the Beast and VHS Massacre. I thought to myself even if he just looks at the covers of the films it would be meaningful to me. The thing is, Dawn of the Dead is a lot like Blade Runner to me (Blade Runner being the best Sci-fi movie ever made). They came out with a director’s cut of both films during the VHS era. Everyone knows that cool art work with the gas mask on the side of DOD director’s cut.
I bought both films it and started watching them. I’m not sure I loved Dawn of the Dead right away but much like Blade Runner I kept coming back to both films over and over. I think that even though my knowledge of filmmaking with limited as a teenager I could detect the quality and profoundness in both films. Dawn of the Dead was an apocalyptic future and Blade Runner was dystopian. The relationship between Peter and Roger in Dead was a wonderful thing and I found it touching somehow. Whether it was when Peter had to kill Roger in DOD or when Deckard watched Roy Batty die on the roof in Blade Runner they both effected me deeply. In Dawn the zombies roaming the mall represented consumerism out of control, where as in Blade Runner the companies controlled so much of society that people or replicants actually became a product.
Romero always pushed boundaries right from the beginning by having a strong African American lead in Night of the Living Dead in 1968 but he didn’t sugar coat things and when the main character is shot in the end, it ends up being a commentary on injustice of American society toward a minority population. This happens again in Dawn of the Dead when innocent people are killed in the projects in the beginning of the film with no accountability. He was pushing boundaries under the guise of a horror film but much like Blade Runner we know they were both great dramas of about the nature of life, equality of life and how people are sometimes worse than monsters or machines. Thanks for everything George!