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Posts tagged “1978

Creature Features in Review: Piranha (1978)

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I remember back in the late eighties, a school friend of mine let me borrow a pirate VHS tape he had.  He wanted to borrow my copy of Robocop and so was offering his tape in exchange.  I loved horror as a kid (no shocker there) and back in the days before people really paid attention to the certification in shops etc., I used to frequent my local newsagent to rent videos (for a whopping 50p a go!) which going by the often gory and bloody cover art I was far too young to be watching. Nonetheless, I rented video nasties without issue and so at that point I had seen a lot of films already, but the two on this tape were new to me, even if initially I thought it was a single film.

Piranha slugs? Never heard of it,’ I said, looking at the handwritten scrawl on the label.  Continue Reading

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An Extraordinaryly Close Encounter w/ Duncan P. Bradshaw

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Many of you may have heard his name whispered in certain circles. Down dark alleyways. Flickering pubs. The smoke stacks of places sunlight dare not tread. Rumors written on bathroom stales right next to an elaborate image of Lobstercock and bible verses and call-for-a-good-time and that strange looking oval shaped hole cut out in the wood. You dare not recant his name three times whilst standing in front of a mirror, for fear he may just show up, hidden if not for the odor of fresh tobacco and the wool of a fashionable newsboy hat. But the worst is when he laughs. A chuckle belonging to the creatures only children believe in, whistling sunny songs before being dragged down between the sewer drain. Shuffling into your house late at night, his shadow is cast by the yellow porch light, and in his hands he offers you a sampling of tea and biscuits. You may have heard the name before, the name of Duncan P. Bradshaw. If you have, then you’re one step already in the door, if not, well…you’re in for a treat. Newcomers and everyone in-between, I invite you to sit back, for you are about to behold something truly wicked, a one-on-one interview with the real urban myth.

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Machine Mean: Let’s get some basic introductions out of the way, shall we? Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves? What got you into writing? What brought you into the genre of horror?

Duncan P. Bradshaw: Why hello there! Tis I, Duncan P. Bradshaw, from the land of tea and crumpets. I reside in the majestic county of Wiltshire, in Southern England, with my amazing wife Debbie, and our two cats, Rafa and Pepe. I started writing a few years back now, finally managing to get my love of zombies down into words. I think if it wasn’t for my penchant for the undead, I doubt I would’ve been drawn to the horror world.

MM: What’s your favorite book and why?

DPB: It has to be World War Z by Max Brooks. I just love the style of how it’s done, instead of taking a normal narrative, it’s this after-action series of interviews. Just love how this big huge earth changing event has been and gone, and now you have people trying to go out and record what happened, by speaking to those who survived through it. I rarely read the same book twice these days, as my TBR pile is in danger of taking out a satellite or two, but WWZ gets re-read every few years.

MM: Here’s a hard one… What is your favorite zombie movie? Should zombies be fast or Romero-esk slow?

DPB: Hands down, without a doubt, the original Dawn of the Dead. Yes, if you watch it now, it is a little dated, the zombies are a touch too much blue, especially the Blu-Ray version, but that is all part of the charm. It’s just become the archetypal zombie film, you have video games based on the setting, an entire sub-genre is undead and kicking thanks to it. Really does showcase the human condition extremely well. How they take the mall back, and slip into that kind of nonchalant aloofness, that is only challenged when they are under attack by the biker gang.

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Personal choice here, I prefer the Romero shambling dead, to me, they pose a more terrifying threat than the ones from the remake. It’s that slowly moving wall of dead, which just loom down on you, building up dread. Over-confidence is the worst thing, as you assume they are easy to evade, but then BOOM, you round a corner and one is nibbling on your jugular, they’re my favourite ‘monster’.

MM: Duncan, you seem to have a wide arsenal of genres and sub-genres within the horror/dark fiction umbrella that you write in, from horror-comedy to science-fiction, to mystery, and even a bit of extreme. Is there one particular sub-genre you prefer to write?

DPB: I like to try different things out, mainly just from the weird and wonderful thoughts that I have going on. My aim is to get to the end of 2017, have a look back at what I’ve done, and try and focus down onto what I enjoyed doing, and try to specialise a little more. I’d say, here and now, the book I loved writing the most, was Class Three. It is equal parts horror and comedy, and I think it’s safe to assume that I’ll be trying to go down the comedy route in time. Whether that also includes horror, maybe? I think there will be elements in there, I like a bit of blood and guts, but I doubt it’ll be chilling psychological drama that I’ll be releasing.

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MM: You are keeping busy, by my count you’ve had Celebrity Culture, Prime Directive, Easter Eggs and Bunny Boilers: A Horror Anthology, The Black Room Manuscripts Vol. 2, and now you’re releasing your newest book, Hexagram. Do you have a writing method that you like to keep to? A schedule of sorts? Do you have a special place you like to do your writing?

DPB: Cheers man, had quite a productive end to 2015, which meant that I had a number of titles ready to go at the beginning of this year. Definitely more luck than design I’d say. I don’t have a method at all, most of my books start from a line of dialogue or one event, I’ll have a few days to think about it in general, then just start writing and see where it takes me. Like most writers, I try to get something down every day, but that’s not always possible with a full-time job and other commitments. Still, I miss it when I don’t do it.

I’m lucky that I have a room upstairs which is now converted into my office, which has all my junk in it. Got a desk there which I work from, with a speaker dock for my tunes. Though if I’m editing or doing a short story, I’m more than likely just to sit downstairs on the sofa, with some random sport on in the background.

MM: According to the all-knowing and all-powerful Amazon, you’re last publication was Prime Directive, which is a science-fiction story, something a little out of what you’ve normally published in the past, correct? Can you tell us a little bit about Prime Directive and what compelled you dabble in this sub-genre? Are there any future (no pun intended) works in store for us in the Bradshaw science-fiction realm?

DPB: Yeah, I think Prime Directive was a bit of a head scratcher for some people. It came about when I was writing the first draft of a novel called Deadlock. I had these five words of dialogue repeating in my head, over and over again. Then that little spark fused with a number of other ideas I’d had in the ol’ brain, and BOOM, I had a story. Deadlock was getting to a bogged down part, so I took a few weeks off, and wrote Prime Directive.

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I’ve always loved space exploration, find it enthralling and terrifying in equal measure. There’s just so much that we have no idea about, it’s inevitable that there are things out there which are even worse, morally speaking, than us humans. It provides such a wealth of opportunity. So, using an old story idea about the first set of Mars explorers, I was able to get it done. I’ve got no immediate plans for another one, but you never know…

MM: You are one of three of the founding members of Sinister Horror Company, alongside that vile cat-loving Daniel Marc Chant and the locks-people-in-basements Justin Park. What’s it like working with your partners and with Sinister Horror? How do you like working with other horror authors? Do you guys have any big plans down the road?

DPB: Honestly? It can be tricky, you’ve got three people, who have very different ideas on how they do things, and how best to approach growing the small press. It does cause friction, anyone who says otherwise is lying. But…at the end of the day we are all friends, and we find a way to make it work. It’s like a relationship, in that you have to work at it, and whereas before, when we just used to hang out, drink, play video games etc, now we are all responsible for this fledgling company.

I personally have not had much of a working relationship with the other people that have been published to date, or in the pipeline, as they are being dealt with by Justin or Dan. The one obvious exception is Kit Power, when we put GodBomb! out. As soon as I read that premise, I wanted us to be the ones to publish it, and am so glad I managed to speak to Kit and get it sorted.

We’ve got a really packed end of the year coming up, there will be new releases out every few weeks, but I’m quite lucky in one sense, as none of them are mine or I’m connected to. Sounds selfish, but I’ve been non-stop up until now, and I’m looking forward to watching Dan and Justin get some of their work out there. My plan is to try and clear a number of projects I’ve got on the go.

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MM: Okay…let’s talk a little bit about your new book coming out, Hexagram. The cover looks wicked. Can you tell us a little bit about the story? What sub-genre in horror would you label it?

DPB: Cheers fella, appreciate it. The idea for HEXAGRAM, came about from the adage, ‘We are all made of stars’. I wondered what would happen if stardust could be extracted from people, could it be used in some way to create something? From there, I started to write what I thought would be a novella. Typically, as soon as I started it, I thought about the origins of the ritual, and settled on the Inca. Then…my stupid brain suggested that I start with the Inca, and work a set of stories through history, to the modern day, and the story I had started on.

After a bit of going through a number of historical events, I managed to find a path through which I could do it. It became six stories, based on stardust. BOOM, a six pointed star, each point one step closer to the completion of the ritual, starting five hundred years before the climax. For each story, including the Inca tale, I used an actual event as either the foundation, or inspiration. So we have a survivor from the 1715 Spanish Treasure Fleet, a Confederate soldier at the Battle of Kolbs Farm, a detective with information on one of history’s most notorious serial killers, and the Jonestown Massacre.

In many ways, it is almost a collection, rather than a novel. For people who don’t like reading novels, as they’re ‘too long’, this is essentially five short stories and a novella at the end. As for which sub-genre, I don’t think it really has one. Some of the stories, I’d argue, aren’t particularly horrific. I don’t like aiming to fit my books into pigeonholes, I think it’s just a slightly weird concept, with horror elements. Best thing really, is to go and pick it up yourself. (SHAMELESS PLUG TIME).

MM: In the description, it looks like the book deals with some Inca rituals and shipwrecks, and suicide cults. What kind of research did you have to do with Hexagram?

DPB: When I was working out the chronology, I discarded a number of possible historical events, as I wanted ones which gave me the room to do my own thing in. So, when I did the story based on the Treasure Fleet, I used one of the ships that was never found. Likewise with the American Civil War story, I settled on a relatively small engagement, but which had some cool features in. I checked out some maps on the layout of the town, and in particular, the church.

One thing I get asked about, is the penultimate story, which is based on the Jonestown Massacre. They asked why I didn’t just use the event itself, why make up something? I just felt that using something so recent, which has been pored over by a multitude of journalists, would not enable me to do my own thing. I want people to enjoy the story, not picking holes in it, saying that so and so didn’t do this, or nitpicking the details. This is a work of fiction, so even the other stories use the events as a background, not a slide rule.

MM: The book cover for Hexagram looks freaking sweet. Can you tell us a little bit about that? Who designed it? Did you both get any say in the creative process?

DPB: I love the cover to HEXAGRAM, it’s done by a chap called Mike McGee, who runs Big Foot Studios with his mate, up in Liverpool. I found him when I was after the CLASS THREE cover, and wanted to use him again for the right project. When I finally settled on the book name, I had the idea of having each main character as a point of the star, with a little picture of something within their story. As it’s borne from the Inca, I wanted that golden coin in the middle.

I’m quite a particular person, and covers are no exception. I fully understand that when I write a brief for an artist, that what I will get back will not match it exactly, but it must incorporate a number of the key elements. When I got the black and white drawing back from Mike, I was blown away, he could not have gotten it more perfect. Once I had it, I then made the galaxy background, and it was all done.

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MM: Before we go, can you drop a little hint on future projects you may have cooking?

DPB: I’m working on a horror novel called DEADLOCK, about a retired jewel thief lured out of retirement for one more job. He ends up in Hell, and has to go through a number of trials to try and get what was promised to him. There is a comedy horror book called SUMMONED, about an apocalyptic monster that gets accidentally summoned. This is a multiple narrative book, with a mini comic, and a choose your own adventure, hoping this will be ready early next year.

I also have to finish up the CLASS FOUR trilogy, book two, VERSUS, is next on my list, so looking forward to getting that all done. Typically though, I already have two more books bubbling in my head, one is called AFTERTHOUGHT, and the other unnamed one, is a comedy horror post-apocalyptic book, set during the Brit-Pop years.

This concludes our interview with Duncan P. Bradshaw. We here at Machine Mean wish Duncan the best during his launch of Hexagram, now available on Amazon in both eBook and paperback editions for the mere price of $2.99 and $12.48 respectively.

Purchase Links

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Sinister Horror Company Website

 

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Duncan P. Bradshaw lives in the county of Wiltshire, nestled around the belly button of southern England, with his wife Debbie, and their two cats, Rafa and Pepe. During the day, he is a mild mannered office goon, doing things which would bore you, if he was forced to tell you. At night, he becomes one with a keyboard, and transforms his weird and wonderful thoughts into words, which people, like you, and me, can read. Why not pop over to his website, http://duncanpbradshaw.co.uk/ or give him a like over on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/duncanpbradshaw or read his ravings on his blog, http://duncanpbradshaw.blogspot.co.uk/

 

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Follow along the tour with these hashtags:  #Hexagram #IncanRituals #HookofaBook

Hexagram, Synopsis

  • File Size:3282 KB
  • Print Length:232 pages
  • Publisher:EyeCue Productions (July 25, 2016)
  • Publication Date:July 25, 2016

Their lands plagued by invaders, the Inca resort to an ancient ritual. By harvesting star dust from people, they hope to accumulate enough to raise the sun god, Inti, and reclaim their lands.

Yet when the collection is interrupted, it sets in motion events which will rattle human history.

Six stories. Six different time periods. One outcome.

We are all made of stars.

When an ancient Inca ritual is interrupted, it sets in motion a series of events that will echo through five hundred years of human history. Many seek to use the arcane knowledge for their own ends, from a survivor of a shipwreck, through to a suicide cult.

Yet…the most unlikeliest of them all will succeed.

Praise for Hexagram

“Hexagram is a visceral journey through the dark nooks and crannies of human history. Lovecraftian terror merges with blood sacrifices, suicide cults and body horror as Bradshaw weaves an intricate plot into an epic tale of apocalyptic dread.” – Rich Hawkins, author of The Last Plague trilogy

“A rip-roaring boy’s own adventure yarn. This novel contains multitudes, and the sheer scale and breadth of the story is exhilarating. A glorious, unhinged thrill ride.” – Kit Power, author of GodBomb!

Praise for Bradshaw’s Writing

“Duncan Bradshaw has a fantastic writing style. He gets you engrossed in the characters from the very outset. His mix of comedy and horror and real life are superb.” – Confessions of a Reviewer

“The true genius of Duncan P. Bradshaw is the rollercoaster ride of words and expressions.  I have never seen an author go from the depths of dark and gore to laugh out loud all within the same paragraph.” – 2 Book Lovers Reviews

“Remember, you’ve now willingly plunged yourself into the mind of Duncan Bradshaw. You’re completely at the mercy of his strange imagination and all the eccentric oddities that his curious mind can conjure up.” – DLS Reviews

“Bradshaw is able to weight the horror set pieces with a dry humour and plenty of laugh out loud moments.” – UK Horror Scene

“One of the first things that I did after reading The Black Room Manuscripts, was to go out and buy Class Three by Duncan Bradshaw. I just found his writing in Time for Tea to have this gleeful kind of undertow to the carnage he wrought on his tea drinkers and wanted to see what his writing was like in a longer format.” – Ginger Nuts of Horror

Purchase Links

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Sinister Horror Company Website

Want to Feature Duncan Bradshaw?

If you’re a member of the media or a blogger and you’d like to feature Duncan Bradshaw or Hexagram, then please contact Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com


Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978): Movie in Review

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Read the following quote: “They’re already here! Help! You’re next! They’re coming! They’re coming!” Disturbed? Bothered? Maybe a little scared? Well, you should be. This quote is meant to knock you off kilter. In this 1978 remake of the classic 1956 “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” there are no pulled punches. With a surprised PG rating, the fear is turned up high, not with over-the-top gore or practical effects (though there are some really haunting scenes) or naughty language, but with an idea, a very real idea of not knowing the people around you. Who are they? We don’t know. You don’t know. But they’re odd. They talk without speaking. They look cold and calculated. The city is as it always has been, but slowly and surly those unknown faces are being replaced with even stranger ones. Stoic. Everywhere. And always watching.

Before we delve into this review, here’s a quick fire synopsis to jog your memory:

“This ‘remake’ of the classic horror film is set in San Francisco. Matthew Bennell (Donald Sutherland) assumes that when a friend (Brooke Adams) complains of her husband’s strange mood, it’s a marital issue. However, he begins to worry as more people report similar observations. His concern is confirmed when writer Jack Bellicec (Jeff Goldblum) and his wife (Veronica Cartwright) discover a mutated corpse. Besieged by an invisible enemy, Bennell must work quickly before the city is consumed” -Wiki
Due to the paranoia built incredibly with shots filmed directly on the streets of San Fran, director Philip Kaufman was heralded as an iconoclast, breaking the walls of normalcy and showing us a world we no longer recognize, our own non-fictionalized world. Kaufman didn’t take us into a small California town where everyone knows your name, as in the original Don Siegel film, no, he took us into a sprawling city where recognition is hard to come by. In San Francisco, people are too busy to stop and listen to Harry “Jerry Garcia” play the banjo or to pet his bulldog and drop of few cents into his jar. A man can get run down in the street and people crowd with looks of disinterest. Vandalism can occur and witnesses simply pull the blinds close. Bizarre folds of webbed dust, as if something had been shredded, molted, or decayed, are being collected throughout the city in truck fulls, yet no one seems the wiser. Kaufman is brilliant in the way he adds his brand of creeping horror throughout the movie, building tension until we cannot help but run with the band of friends as they do whatever it takes to survive, to remain who they are, to not fall asleep. Another brilliant aspect of the film that needs to be mentioned (as it plays on our fears), the systematization of the camera, the shaky cam, putting us, the audience, right smack inside the movie, was wonderfully done. This is a remake worthy as a successor to the 1956 black and white commie-fearing original. But if we stop and ponder a moment, is Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers really a true remake or even a reboot as we know them today, or is this movie more of a continuation of the first?
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Let me back up.

Remember the quote at the beginning of our discussion? That quote comes from a very odd character, one you may recognize, if you’ve got a good eye. At the end of the 1956 film, producers felt on edge to leave the movie with the writer’s original script as Doctor Bennell walks down the freeway, shouting, “They’re here already! You’re next!” Instead, they added the scene which implied the FBI rescuing America, rushing in and destroying the invaders. The quote at the beginning is from the 1978 version, with notions of 1956, where we find the leading cast members driving in the city and theorizing. Matthew Bennell is attempting to calm his love interest, Elizabeth, who is convinced something is terribly wrong with her live-in boyfriend, Geoffrey. “He’s just…different,” she says. All of a sudden, a man dashes out and lands on the hood of Matthew’s car. He’s grey haired with wide bloodshot eyes and looks eerily like Dr. Miles Bennell from that small town in California. Panicked, he begs for help. Realizing, no help will be given, he warns Matthew and Elizabeth…”They’re here,” he shouts. “They’re coming!” And he dashes off, only to be run down in the middle of the street. This little scene is the most genius one in the film. Not saying there aren’t other more jarring scenes, because there are, but this one is superb because it ties together the past to the present.

The scene also implies that the events of 1956 did not end with the salvation from the hands of the FBI, but the invasion has continued to grow, slowly, and now, those “pods” have set sights on the budding metropolis of San Francisco, and as we see during the dockside events in the 1978 Invasion movie, as the “pods” are being loaded into the ships docked at port, the world seems to be their game. While in 1956, the invasion event was isolated to the small town… that’s simply not the case anymore.

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There are so few remakes nowadays that are as brilliant as this one, if we can even call Invasion of the Body Snatchers a remake, just as it is difficult to call John Carpenter’s The Thing a remake as well, though he has testified, calling his work as such. One would think, given the way remakes and reboots are the norm today, someone within the echelons of Hollywood would remember the key elements from classic remakes of original films. To make a remake great, or even attempt to create something even more grandiose than the original, as we’ve seen in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, there must be a balance between disassembling what made the original great, understanding those themes and nuances, and then reassembling the components into something new. And of course we would hope the remake was thoroughly thought-out and warranted as well.  If the balance is done right, the remake shouldn’t feel like a remake at all, but another “title” movie. Personally, I don’t even like using the term “remake” for films like these. If the balance is done right, I’d rather call them “continuations.” But I know I am in the minority with such notions.

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Originality, of course, is the name of the game, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers has it in spades. The relationships are what sold me. Donald Sutherland as the hardnosed Health Inspector, who is as sharp as a razor with snobby overpriced restaurant owners, always with a keen eye for rat turds, but is soft as rose petals and somewhat blinded with his love interest, and unavailable by the way, Elisabeth Driscoll, played by the fantastic Brooke Adams. Watching them on screen is mesmerizing. How he loves her, yet understands he cannot have her, but still wants to protect her. And how can we forget the dynamic between pop-psychologist Dr. David Kibner, played by late-great Leonard Nimoy and Jack Bellcec, a not-so-popular (or even published writer for that matter) philosopher who scoffs at how easily Kibner pumps outs books; also one of Jeff Goldblum’s earlier roles by the way. I found it very interesting how the first of the friends to put the mystery together, though perhaps she went a bit far in her “Worlds in Collision” and “Flowers in Space” paranoia, was Nancy Bellcec (played by Alien star Veronica Cartwright), Jake’s wife, who at the end (SPOILERS!) is the sole survivor of the small party of friends. And it gives me even more pause in how she survived. Every time she is swallowed up by the crowd and separated from Matthew and Elizabeth, we assume she was “taken.” However, there she is, she turns up unscathed because she has learned to “act” like one of the “pods.” Though how much of that is really an act, I wonder. When Matthew and Elizabeth are discovered, unable to hid their humanity and doing a poor job “blending in,” Nancy quietly disappears into the mob as they turn on her friends only to turn up again at the end. What does her character tell us? What questions does she raise? Perhaps, that to survive a world in which individuality has faded into a common core one must assimilate similar behavior of the so-called “hive mind…” It certainly begs the question of what the original writers were thinking (be it fear of Communism or fear of Conservatism), and of course what was Kaufman thinking as well.

To all of these questions, I imagine, we must answer for ourselves.

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With a face only a mother could love, Thomas S. Flowers hides away to create character-driven stories of dark fiction. Residing in the swamps of Houston, Texas, with his wife and daughter, his debut novel, Reinheit, was soon published with Shadow Work Publishing, along with The Incredible Zilch Von Whitstein, Apocalypse Meow, Lanmò, The Hobbsburg Horror, and FEAST. His military/paranormal thriller series, The Subdue Series, including Dwelling, Emerging, Conceiving, and Converging, are published with Limitless Publishing, LLC. In 2008, he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army where he served for seven years, with three tours serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2014, Thomas graduated from University of Houston-Clear Lake with a Bachelors in History. He blogs at machinemean[dot]org, where he reviews movies and books on a wide range of strange yet oddly related topics. You can hide from Thomas by joining his author newsletter at http://goo.gl/2CozdE.

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Dawn of the Dead (1978) and me..

Let me just say, that I have been a Romero fan for a very long time. Longer than when I started considering myself a “horror guy.” I’ve been a fan, considering my age, since the release of Savini’s directorial foray with Night of the Living Dead. Even after finally watching the original (of which I love more now that I’m older), I still consider the remake as a Romero flick. Why? Simple enough. He wrote it. Savini directed. End of story.

The feel I had watching one of Romero’s “dead” flicks is a very fond and pleasant memory. Friday night. Popcorn. Pizza. Junk food. The life, right? I still get that feel watching movies, but especially horror movies, and even more especially when watching any one of Romero’s trilogy: Night, Dawn, Day.

When I finally sat down to watch Dawn of the Dead, the movie became an instant favorite. I wouldn’t dare say Dawn is better than Night, but Day…well..

So, why am I a Romero fan? Good question. In all of film, horror is the most honest. Horror will show you the ugly mess society often turns things. Film makers normally are not intentionally making a movies with social commentary in mind; social commentary is usually a byproduct of the times the movie was made. However, with horror, more often than not, social commentary is intentional. Or at least most of the time! And Dawn of the Dead, all of Romero’s original trilogy, even Diary of the Dead, are chocked full of subversive commentary!!

This is part of the reason why I’m turned on to horror. You can tell a fun and exciting story, filled with interesting characters and creatures, whilst also turning over the apple cart, as Romero has said during an interview with Nightmares in the Red, White, and Blue. With horror, you can be as brutally honest as you want, just so long as it makes sense politically, and in the context of the story.

Dawn of the Dead was released in 1978, yet amazingly and tragically (in a way) its bit on consumerism is still so very relevant. The things that fill the void, so to speak. Stuff can only make us happy for a little while..and then.. “What the hell are they?” And so on!

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