It was somewhere around the mid-late nineteen seventies. Me and a few friends used to spend weekends at one guy's house. We'd stay up late, gorge on snacks, watch TV, and talk shit. I was barely in my teen years.
One night we watched Night of the Living Dead. It was on an off UHF (Ultra High Frequency, to those who don't remember) station. I guess the movie was always in public domain. Anyway, you know the story. Ghouls (a far better description than zombie, wouldn't you say?) had stormed an abandoned farmhouse, terrorizing bickering live people within.
The movie scared the hell out of us. None of us would admit it, but I know for damned sure it scared me. There hadn't really been anything like it at that time. The snowy reception of the channel only enhanced the newsreel feel of Night of the Living Dead, and helped its verité factor.
The director was George Romero, and he and his team managed to make a horror milestone. On a minuscule budget, no less. Romero followed it with two sequels, Dawn and Day, respectively. I love all three movies roughly the same. They all have their own subtext and flavor. Some were disappointed in Day of the Dead, but I always thought it was fantastic.
George Romero created the zombie movie genre, and I can't even allow myself to blame him for it. Until...
But wait, there's more. Romero made another horror masterpiece in Martin, a terrifying and brilliantly executed vampire movie. He created something truly special with Knightriders, a movie about a modern group of Arthurian motorcycle performers and the obsession of the group's leader. Romero hit all the right notes with Creepshow, a fun homage to the horror comics of days gone by.
I wasn't exactly nuts about Monkey Shines, Bruiser, or The Dark Half but none were out-and-out disasters.
Hey, I was on board with Land of the Dead, despite its shortcomings. I even saw it in the theater twice. Not only that, I didn't completely hate Diary of the Dead. Loyalty is a tenacious thing to some.
I drew the line with Survival of the Dead, which I absolutely hated. I found it to be tacky and an embarrassment to the legacy that came before it.
I kind of hoped Survival would be the end of the line with Romero and zombies. But no. Now we have learned that there will be a Road of the Dead, which will feature, yes Zombie Race Car drivers. George is co-writing it and allowing his collaborator to direct.
Maybe Road of the Dead will be a searing satire of the NASCAR set. One can hope. I'm afraid that I can't get my hopes very high with this one. It's literally one of the worst ideas I've ever heard.