by Jesse Marinoff Reyes ( Jesse Marinoff Reyes Design, Maplewood, N.J.)
Happy Birthday George Romero (b. 1940)! …
It’s not for nothing that a low budget horror film with little in the way of makeup or special effects could be made on a shoestring and become a horror icon and a model for independent filmmaking for decades to come. It may not have been the first Zombie movie, but it is the undisputed father of the genre and not merely to its six sequels (and two remakes). Romero was influenced by author Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend (1954), about a plague that ravages a futuristic Los Angeles. The infected in I Am Legend become vampire-like creatures and prey on the “uninfected.” Official film adaptations of Matheson’s novel appeared in The Last Man on Earth (1964), The Omega Man (1971), and the 2007 big budget Will Smith release, I Am Legend. Though Matheson was unimpressed with Romero’s take, labeling it “kind of… cornball.” Audiences disagreed, with the film grossing $12M domestic and $18M international at its release. It was made for only $114,000. Ahem!
Night of the Living Dead made Zombies a viable horror staple, and George Romero’s game plan still works today in all of its myriad permutations by dozens of filmmakers. Resident Evil anyone? The Walking Dead? Shaun of the Dead? Night of the Living Dead was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry as a film deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.” Take THAT Richard Matheson!
Hmmnnn… And I will be having dinner at a rural farmhouse..