Cinema, Month of Madness

Night of the Living Dread

October, please don’t go.

I mean, I know we need November (D’s birthday, and all that big old turkey feed) and December and everything, but my gosh, I love you and I want you to stay.  I’ve spent each of your days watching fabulous (or fabulously awful) movies and doing those little things that only seem, well, social appropriate in this one month a year: eating mini Reese’s cups by the bucketful, using the term “spooktacular,” and screaming at men in the dark.

Case in point?  A couple of Saturdays ago, we went to a pumpkin farm (only in October) which boasted a haunted house or two (screaming), a haunted hayride (more screaming), and fair food (funnel cakes!).  It was pretty darn fun, despite a completely lack of farm-grown fall favorites (the cider was from Michigan?!), a lot of mud, and cold funnel cakes.

I just love hayrides, I do, and I’m not (too) ashamed.  This one was a lot of fun, twice as long as I thought it would be, and not completely infested with chainsaw guys.  There were a few incongruous items, though, like a cutesy ghost thing, probably bought at Walgreens, stapled to a tree and with a big HAPPY HALLOWEEN speech bubble above his cutesy head (oooo, scary kids!).  Oh, and like three of those mirrored light things Spock had in his quarters in Star Trek: The Movie.  It was gone by The Wrath of Khan.  I guess even Spock can spot when a trend is over.

Of course, this wonderful – dare I say SPOOKTACULAR – farm was in a suburb way, way south, so we had a long muddy ride home, punctuated by a stop a Portillo’s (the onion rings married well with the stomachache I’d later get from the cold funnel cake) and a missed exit which almost made me miss my 11:59pm deadline except that I can u-turn like nobody’s business. We got home around 11:30pm – plenty of time for my movie: Night of The Living Dead (1968).

night-of-the-living-dead-postersOkay.  I’m going to say something here that might upset those in the audience who are sensitive: this iconic, trendsetting, most influential zombie film of them all is, well, sort of boring.

I mean, yes, there’s a whole lot of groundbreaking flesh-eating going on here, but, my gosh, there is a whole lot more shouting in this movie than I remembered.  Shouting, and people nailing boards over windows.  Admittedly, part of the problem for me might have been the crappy colorization in the Legend Films DVD release I watched; another barrier to terror may have been the fact that I watched it with a commentary by Michael J. Nelson, of MST3K and Rifftrax fame.  So, while I wasn’t as scared as I wanted to be, I did get recipes for three different kinds of zombie cocktails.

Still, it is a classic.  I love how we’re just thrown into this living dead outbreak with little explanation, and no need for characterization.  Our protagonists are nearly anonymous and about as likable as anyone would be under horrific circumstances.  And I have to give it up for the dreadfully depressing ending.  I knew it was coming and I still felt awful.  It shaped a million movies to come and remains an important part of horror movie history.

Plus, it has one of the best lines in any movie, ever (at about 1:39):