George Romeros Trilogy of the Dead Review

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Zombies, man. They creep me out. Yes, as a little preview of my Land of the Dead review coming out later, here's my take on the Trilogy of the Dead by George A. Romero, the man that created the Zombies in movies genre around 40 years ago with the movie that started it all, Night of the Living Dead. It was 1968 and it was a horror movie, so it's forgivable that is pure crap. Sure, at that time, it must've been terrifying, as there hadn't been anything like it, but as a movie it was pretty bad. The acting sucked, but mostly because the character's were a disaster, doing one stupid things after the other and always behaving the wrong way. Also, there were only a handful of characters but they weren't developed at all.

The gore is what surprised me, because it was very minimal, and when they had the good chances to have gore, like when the good guys had to shot the zombies in the head, the camera would just show the terrified faces of the people and not the exploding heads. Another low point, probably because of the budget, was the sound. Whenever the actors were talking, there was no music, and when the creepy tune was on, there was no sound effects at all nor actors talking.

In 1998, and to celebrate its 30th Anniversary, the movie was recut by John A. Russo, who also added a subplot about a young reverend trying to explain the phenomenon of the zombies and the whole idea that "When there's no more room in hell, the dead shall walk the Earth". The extra scenes are unnecessary, the reverend character sucks, and the actor playing him looks like an amateur porn actor. But back to the original, it was a long time ago and very cheap, but it's fine, because the movie allowed Romero to make a sequel, the masterpiece of the trilogy, and just one of the best horror movies ever made.

Dawn of the Dead is perfect in almost every aspect, with better acting, characters, the addition of a soundtrack, and the real MVP of the trilogy, Tom Savini in charge of the makeup and special effects. With only 4 main characters, Romero got time to concentrate on them, and we get the first good characters of the trilogy, Ken Foree as Peter (a SWAT team member) and Gwyneth Paltrow look alike Gaylen Ross as Francine, who is some kind of TV producer and the girlfriend of Scott H. Reiniger's Roger, a traffic reporter, and the only stupid character of the movie. Dawn's remake leading lady Sarah Polley also resembles Ross a lot.

But what's great about the movie is that is fun, with the characters getting to an empty (of other people) mall full of stuff to eat, use and things to do. With a great score by Dario Argento and his Goblin band, Romero lets his imagination run wild as he gives us 2 very fun sequences of mall madness, first with our heroes running rampant in the stores, and then the zombies get to relive their shopping days at the mall too. This is also a great advancement in the zombie mythology, as we learn that zombies behave by instinct, always emulating stuff did in the past.

And finally Savini, whose exaggerated gore is perfect and really groundbreaking, giving us scenes of terror and also great, amazing scenes to cheer and laugh.

Something interesting happens in the movie, as after the first hour or so, we get the first (and I think only) mention ever of the word "zombie" when referring to the creatures. The movie is excellent and a classic, and it shouldn't have been remade, but it was, and comparing them now, I have to say that the 2004 remake by Zack Snyder (directing) and James Gunn (writing) is a better and more enjoyable movie.

Day of the Dead came in 1985, the weakest part of the trilogy and pretty bad movie overall. Romero changes the whole idea of the previous movies, which was to have the characters survive the attack of the zombies using whatever resources they can find in the first safe place they find. But now everything changes, and the movie deals much less with the zombies, concentrating in a group of scientist playing doctor with the zombies. There's also a group of military guys who are supposed to be there protecting them but they get too impatient and want to take of the scientist who are the good guys of the story. What's really bad is that there's very little zombie action, though we get a massive zombie attack in the last half an hour with amazing work by Savini again.
And after Dawn's amazing score, I don't know what they tried to do here as the movie has no songs at all, only a boring eerie melody that is played during the entire running time.

A couple of more interesting little things from the trilogy, like that all 3 movies are lead by a black guy and a blonde woman. And then the zombies, who in the first movie look like normal people all bruised, weak and tired looking. But for the sequel, the zombies' skin is blue, and by Day they are green.

Overall, the Trilogy of the Dead represents the Zombie genre in the horror world, and that alone makes it excellent. The terror of Night and the greatness of Dawn makes me forgive the very bad Day, and give the original master of horror George A. Romero a very warm welcome to the genre he created. And as a little preview, Land of the Dead rocks!.

Review by Hakeem
Look for Hakeems Exclusive Early review of Land of the Dead here later today!

 

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