Archive for george romero

Goregirl’s Dungeon on YouTube: Goblin – Zaratozom

Posted in movies, USA with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2013 by goregirl

More music and images from George A. Romero’s 1978 film Dawn of the Dead featuing Goblin – Zaratozom.

Goregirl’s Dungeon on YouTube: Goblin – Ai margini della follia

Posted in movies, USA with tags , , , , , on July 16, 2013 by goregirl

Music and images from George A. Romero’s 1978 film Dawn of the Dead featuring Goblin – Ai margini della follia. To read my review for Dawn of the Dead click here.

DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, movies, USA with tags , , , , , , on August 16, 2012 by goregirl

In 3 years of blogging I have failed to include reviews for a good chunk of my favourite horror films! They have appeared in slideshows and top ten lists but for some insane reason have never been given the full review treatment. Well I think it is high time I rectified that! Since it is zombie month and all I thought I would start with the film I named as my number one favourite of the sub-genre; George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. Some minor spoilers ahead!!

I really loved post-apocalyptic films when I was younger. Not specifically zombie apocalypse; I loved them all! Escape from New York, Mad Max, Dead-End Drive In, The Warriors, and 2019: After the Fall of New York to name a few. I used to categorize Dawn of the Dead with these films because as far as I knew there weren’t a whole lot of other zombie films. Also, I have always enjoyed saying the word apocalypse. Ah yes, back in the day when I was seeing these films for the first time there were a hell of a lot less zombie films. I know! But it is true! In any case, zombie films are definitely horror but they do also tuck nicely into the apocalypse sub-genre. As a grown up I realize an apocalyptic event would not be a good thing. When I was younger however I used to dream up personas for myself. I envisioned myself as a sort of female Harmonica; Charles Bronson’s character in Once Upon A Time in the West. The idea of that has always stayed with me. In fact, I recently took up the harmonica! All these films have plenty of violence but none are as graphic or as terrifying as Dawn of the Dead. Dawn of the Dead was one of my first apocalyptic films, first zombie films and my first experience with serious gore. I also got to see this at the drive-in when I was just a kid! No bloody wonder Dawn of the Dead rocked (and continues to rock) my world!

Dawn of the Dead begins with a chaotic scene inside a T.V. Station. This is where we meet two of our four central characters; station employees Francine and Steve. Romero does a nice job of creating a tense atmosphere right from the get go. An interview with a scientist lets us know the reason for the chaos. The scientist explains that we are dealing with the living dead. He advises the only way to put down one of the living dead is by severe trauma to the head (aim for the head!!). From one chaotic scene to another, we move to a SWAT team closing in on a building where they believe a bad ass by the name of Martinez is holed up. Inside the building we get our first glance at the zombies. The zombies in Dawn of the Dead vary in quality. Some of the undead are quite elaborate and gory and others are just slightly discolored. I guess this could be looked at as a flaw, but I prefer to look at it as different stages of death. I assure you, Romero certainly does not skimp on the blood and gore; but more on that later. This is where we meet our other two central characters; SWAT team dudes Peter and Roger. Roger tells Peter that he is meeting a friend who will be leaving the city by helicopter that night. This is how our epic apocalyptic tale begins.

Romero gives us an efficient and effective setup. Our quartet are on their way but not before a brief encounter with some local cops also looking to split town quick. They fly for hours over cities and towns infested with the undead. Eventually they have to stop for fuel and we get a nice zombie sampling including two children that Peter has to shoot in the head. The balance of the film takes place in Suburbia’s great hell mouth; the mall. Its roof provides a nice landing pad for the helicopter. This will be their home for the next several months. There are a significant number of zombies milling about so every task they attempt is an exercise in intensity. They do manage to get inside the stores and bulk up on supplies. Hallelujah! This mall has got a gun shop! We are taken along on this journey into hell with these four people. We sit back in the comfort of our living rooms and watch their struggle for survival. What makes it work so well for me is the fact that I could actually identify with these characters. They never do anything extraordinary or superhuman; they simply deal with what they are confronted with in the most reasonable manner possible. The four actors have great chemistry which helps make the interaction between them more natural and easier to relate to. I must say here that it couldn’t hurt to have two SWAT guys with good dispositions with you during a zombie apocalypse! Peter and Roger are obviously pretty handy with a gun; weatherman Steve, not so much. When Steve attempts a few shots early in the film, Roger steps in front of him and takes the shot for him. In fairness, Steve shoots carelessly, but Roger’s neccessary intrusion could not be good for Steve’s ego. Steve and Francine will need to learn how to shoot with confidence and accuracy, and they’ll have lots of opportunity to practice. Francine is the lone female of the group who proves to be every bit as useful and productive as the rest of the quartet. Good call on Romero’s part not making Francine a helpless, wishy-washy useless whiner! Francine acts as an indicator of time passed. She marks an “X” on the days of the calendar, but it is her pregnant belly that is really telling. That is a wee spoiler but Romero really doesn’t dwell much on Francines’s pregnancy. It is just another bit of reality that they will need to deal with sooner or later.

There are so many zombies! They keep coming and coming! They manage to eliminate  all of the zombies inside the mall but they continue to gather outside. Every day more of the undead appear outside the malls glass doors desperate to get in. I really do prefer these slow-moving zombies to the new super fast variety. I have come to terms with the fast zombies at this point, and they certainly are intimidating coming at you with speed and foaming at the mouth! That said, the slower type respond in a manner I would expect from a reanimated corpse; and in a solid film like Dawn of the Dead they are certainly no less effective! There is a ton of action in Dawn of the Dead! The action scenes are evenly distributed throughout the entire film. There is one particularly nasty blood bath towards the finale when a gang of bikers bust their way into the mall after spying the helicopter on the roof. Contending with zombies apparently wasn’t enough, now they get to deal with a bloody bike gang! This is the films goriest section and Romero also adds some humour to the mix. One of the gang members just can not resist putting his arm inside the “check your heart rate” machine and gets swarmed by zombies who drag him off leaving his arm behind! There is even a slapsticky bit with the gang throwing pies in the zombie’s faces. You know those bikers are going to have to pay for that stunt! Amoung the copious amounts of gore on display, there is a lingering scene of a group of zombies energetically pulling the entrails from a victim and greedily munching on them. Buckets of blood spilled, limbs torn off, flesh bitten, ripped, shredded and eaten and a coo-coo amount of zombie head trauma! It is not for the faint of heart! When I was a kid I would watch this section through the cracks of my fingers! Tom Savini who was responsible for the film’s makeup effects also makes an appearance as one of the bikers! The entire segment is a weird mix of humour and intensity that works beautifully!

I’ve probably spoiled enough of Dawn of the Dead for those who have not seen the film. Don’t worry, I’ve kept a few surprises for you to discover! I have cited Dawn of the Dead numerous times on this blog. On my fifty wishes: the horror film edition I wished there were more zombie films as good as Dawn of the Dead, I named it as one of the ten films that made me a horror fan for life, it received the #1 spot on my top ten favourite horror films from 1978, has long held a position in my top one hundred horror films of all time and George A. Romero was my #10 director in my dungeon director project: my fifty favourite directors. My love of Dawn of the Dead is probably teetering on the edge of obsessive. Dawn of the Dead is the perfect horror film in my opinion. Dawn of the Dead has a fascinating premise, likable characters you hope will survive, intensity, scares, gore and a few laughs and it is all wrapped up in this perfectly paced, perfectly staged package. Oh yeah, and it also has zombies, lots and lots and lots and lots of zombies!

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: George A. Romero

Starring: David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger, Gaylen Ross, David Crawford, David Early, Richard France, Howard Smith, Tom Savini

DUNGEON DIRECTOR PROJECT: My 50 Favourite Directors #10 – #6

Posted in movies with tags , , , , on August 7, 2012 by goregirl

My 50 Favourite Directors #10 – #6

The final list will be posted on Friday, August 10!

*NOTE: I did not include any made for TV movies in the numbers I used for each director’s full-length feature films.*

#10. George A. Romero

What I’ve Seen: Survival of the Dead (2009), Diary of the Dead (2007), Land of the Dead (2005), Bruiser (2000), The Dark Half (1993), Monkey Shines (1988), Day of the Living Dead (1985), Creepshow (1982), Knightriders (1981), Dawn of the Dead (1978), Martin (1976), The Crazies (1973), Hungry Wives (1972), Night of the Living Dead (1968)

I have seen 14 of George A. Romero’s 15 full length feature films (I have not seen There’s Always Vanilla from 1971). Although I have seen Two Evil Eyes, I did not include it in George Romero or Dario Argento’s list. Two Evil Eyes is a collaboration between Dario Argento and George Romero featuring two horror tales based on short stories by Edgar Allan Poe. Romero contributed “The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar” and Argento “The Black Cat“. The films are not quite short films but are not full length features either. Just wasn’t really sure what to do with Two Evil Eyes. While it is not the perfect representation of either man’s work, it is still a bit of fun and it is certainly one of the more entertaining flicks to come out in the 90s! Romero has fewer films I gave a perfect rating to than other directors I ranked. It isn’t all about quantity; it is also about quality and passion. And I am passionate about my zombies!! Besides the original Godzilla, Dawn of the Dead is probably my most watched film of all time. I am well past counting on my fingers and toes how many times I have seen Dawn of the Dead. I have also seen Night of the Living Dead and Day of the Dead multiple times. Romero’s dead trilogy is epic. Romero basically wrote the zombie playbook. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead came out in 1968 and 100s of zombie films later, very few can top it! Really, I would say only Romero himself has ever topped his own masterpiece with my aforementioned favourite Dawn of the Dead. And “top” would be strong language as I think these two films are equally perfect. Beside Romero’s trio of undead perfection I loved The Crazies, Martin, Creepshow and Knightriders! Romero’s intense, scary and gory visions have made the world a better place to live! George A. Romero is the undisputed King of the Zombies!

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#9. Ingmar Bergman

What I’ve Seen: Fanny and Alexander (1982), Autumn Sonata (1978), The Serpent’s Egg (1977), Cries & Whispers (1972), The Passion of Anna (1969), Shame (1968), Hour of the Wolf (1968), Persona (1966), The Silence (1963), Winter Light (1963), Through a Glass Darkly (1961), The Devil’s Eye (1960), The Virgin Spring (1960), The Magician (1958), Wild Strawberries (1957), The Seventh Seal (1957), Sawdust and Tinsel (1953), Summer with Monika (1953), Summer Interlude (1951)

I have seen 19 of Ingmar Bergman’s 36 full length feature films and have dug every last one. Reviewing Ingmar Bergman’s IMDB page it appears he has written the screenplays for the majority (if not all) of the films he has directed. The immensely talented Swedish director generally uses his home country for his backdrops. A cast of regulars that include Liv Ullmann, Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin, Max von Sydow, Gunnar Björnstrand and Erland Josephson helped make Bergman look good with their talent and easy chemistry. Their characters question faith, morality and death whilst confronting, isolation, sexual desire, illness, duplicity and loss. Bergman’s camera gets up close and personal with long lingering close-ups of his performers. Bergman takes advantage of shadows and uses them to their full effectiveness. I am probably the only one who thinks it is a shame Bergman didn’t do horror! Bergman’s only real foray into horror was Hour of the Wolf about a man’s descent into madness; which is one of my favourite films from the director. Bergman’s crime-drama The Virgin Spring was remade by Wes Craven as a horror film and re-titled Last House on the Left. My personal favourites are the aforementioned Hour of the Wolf and The Virgin Spring, along with Shame, Persona, Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal and Through a Glass Darkly. Bergman’s films can drain me emotionally but always captivate me. Ingmar Bergman films are poetry in motion and his library is one of the finest collections I have ever had the pleasure to behold.

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#8. Dario Argento

What I’ve Seen: Giallo (2009), Mother of Tears (2007), The Card Player (2004), Sleepless (2001), The Phantom of the Opera (1998), The Stendhal Syndrome (1996), Trauma (1993), Opera (1987), Phenomena (1985), Tenebre (1982), Inferno (1980), Suspiria (1977), Deep Red (1975), The Five Days (1973), Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971), The Cat o’ Nine Tails (1971), The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)

I have seen 17 of Dario Argento’s 18 full length feature films. I have not yet seen Argento’s newest film Dracula 3D. It is more difficult these days getting excited about Argento’s new projects. His work over the last several years has been a disappointment. It is unlikely Dracula 3D will get a theatrical run here, or perhaps anywhere outside of Italy. So far 116 users on IMDB rated the film giving it an average 4.3/10. Now that we got that bit of unpleasantness out of the way, let me add that I never miss seeing an Argento film. I find a way to see every last one even if that means having to purchase it. Dario Argento is the director of three of my all-time favourite horror films; Deep Red, Tenebre and Suspiria. I have seen this trio of Argento films many times over the years and I love them as much now as I did when I discovered them in the 80s! In fact, all of Argento’s pre-90s films are superb; I would recommend any of them without hesitation. Dario Argento’s visuals are nothing short of spectacular. His wandering camera travelling along walls and windows, the way he uses color to its utmost potential, his use of light and shadow and most importantly his elaborately staged death scenes all come together to create wonderful horror masterpieces! Let us not forget the soundtracks! I have several tracks from Argento films posted on my YouTube channel and I absolutely love all his collaborations with Goblin! A good piece of music can add so much to the mood and overall feel of a film; particularly a horror film. Dario Argento is one of horrors most influential directors and is one of the prime reasons I am the huge horror fan I am today.

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#7. David Lynch

What I’ve Seen: Inland Empire (2006), Rabbits (2002), Mulholland Dr. (2001), The Straight Story (1999), Lost Highway (1997), Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), Wild at Heart (1990), Blue Velvet (1986), Dune (1984), The Elephant Man (1980), Eraserhead (1977)

I have seen all 11 of David Lynch’s full length feature films. Lynch’s twisted, trippy, violent, dark and beautiful visions are truly one of a kind. Lynch’s hugely popular TV show Twin Peaks helped bring him to the masses. Evidently, I am a humongous fan of his television series Twin Peaks and think it is one of the best TV shows to grace the airwaves. A goddamn shame it was so short lived! I am still perplexed by the fact that David Lynch has actually had any commercial success; his stuff is pretty freaking bizarre. I am always torn on which Lynch is my ultimate favourite; Blue Velvet or Wild at Heart. Blue Velvet’s violent psychopath character Frank played by the great Dennis Hopper is one of the most memorable bastards in the history of cinema. And I think Wild at Heart is the greatest love story ever told! I also gave Lynch’s The Elephant Man, Eraserhead and The Straight Story perfect marks. The Straight Story is shockingly sentimental and accessible for Lynch but I found it positively charming! I enjoy everything Lynch has directed in varying degrees (okay Dune is iffy, but I did enjoy the visuals). Lynch has never directed a film that could be called straight-up horror but he certainly is not shy about including violent and macabre images. My biggest complaint about David Lynch is he just hasn’t directed enough films. I implore Mr. Lynch to direct at least one more great film! Lynch, like everyone in my top 10 has long been a favourite. No one but no one is quite like David Lynch; I will enjoy repeat visits to his dark paradise for the rest of my days.

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#6. Alfred Hitchcock

What I’ve Seen: Family Plot (1976), Frenzy (1972), Topaz (1969), Torn Curtain (1966), Marnie (1964), The Birds (1963), Psycho (1960), North by Northwest (1959), Vertigo (1958), The Wrong Man (1956), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), The Trouble with Harry (1955), To Catch a Thief (1955), Rear Window (1954), Dial M for Murder (1954), I Confess (1953), Strangers on a Train (1951), Stage Fright (1950), Under Capricorn (1949), Rope (1948), The Paradine Case (1947), Notorious (1946), Spellbound (1945), Lifeboat (1944), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Saboteur (1942), Suspicion (1941), Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941), Foreign Correspondent (1940), Rebecca (1940), Jamaica Inn (1939), The Lady Vanishes (1938), Young and Innocent (1937), Sabotage (1936), Secret Agent (1936), The 39 Steps (1935), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), Waltzes from Vienna (1934)

I posted a couple of pieces of music from Psycho and Vertigo on my YouTube channel early April and commented that I had not seen any of Alfred Hitchcock’s pre-1934 films; unfortunately I still haven’t. I have seen 38 of Alfred Hitchcock’s 54 full length feature films. That is the most films I have seen from any director on this list. Of course, I have a lifetime of watching Hitchcock films as both my parents were fans. Seriously, how can you not like Hitchcock? Funny, moody, thrilling, quirky, mysterious, frightening and of course, suspenseful; Hitchcock can do it all. Not only can he do it all, but he does it all so very well! Although it has been quite a few years since I watched a few of these titles, I don’t believe I have disliked a single one of the 38 titles I have seen! That is quite the amazing feat! There are definitely a few I feel particularly cozy with like Psycho, Vertigo, The Trouble With Harry, Notorious, The Wrong Man, Rope, Frenzy and The Birds. Hitchcock films are inventively filmed, they have superb stories and outstanding character development and primo performances from some of the best actors and actresses who ever lived. Alfred Hitchcock makes it okay to be voyeuristic! Hitchcock is an innovator of the highest order and is probably the most influential director on this list. Hitchcock is indeed the master of suspense and in my opinion is one of the greatest filmmakers of all time!

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NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, movies, USA with tags , , , , , on October 26, 2009 by goregirl

night of the living dead“They keep coming back in a bloodthirsty lust for HUMAN FLESH!”

When I started this blog, one of my goals was to check out more horror titles from the 1960’s and previous. A seriously neglected part of the genre for me are those filmed in black and white. Having watched several classic films this year I thought it was about time I revisited one of my all-time favourite’s, Romero’s ‘Night of The Living Dead’.

The action starts immediately, as we watch a car pull into a deserted graveyard. Barbara and Johnny have come to visit their father’s grave and are assaulted by a man. When Johnny is knocked out, Barbara makes a run for it, and eventually comes to an isolated house where she seeks shelter. Barbara meets Ben who has stopped in hopes of finding fuel, but has found the pump locked. As a swarm of zombies gather, Ben decides the best course of action is to fortify their shelter. After several hours they discover there is a small group of five survivors holed up in the basement. The group are Harry and Helen Cooper, daughter Karen and young couple Tom and Judy. Harry’s confrontational and ego-driven fits enrage Ben, so the two butt heads instantly. The tension between the two really adds to the precarious nature of their situation. Barbara is in shock and has suffered a complete mental breakdown and Karen; the Cooper’s daughter is laying barely conscious. With plenty working against them they attempt to construct the best plan of action. An interesting group of characters dealing with an unthinkable circumstance. Duane Jones is outstanding as Ben and delivers an emotional but grounded performance. The acting by all the cast is quite decent. The one and only minor complaint I have is that the women in the film are all pretty useless. The two female leads, O’Dea and Ridley unintentionally battle it out as to who has the better “deer caught in the head lights” look.

still from night of the living dead 2

I loved the radio broadcasts and televised news footage segments. Early broadcasts warned people to “Get off the streets” and “We don’t know what kind of murder-happy characters we have here”. Later broadcasts confirm that people are coming back from the dead. At one point a commentator announces in horror that victims are being eaten. Every new piece of information learned makes the situation more harrowing.

There are two types of zombies in ‘Night of The Living Dead’. There are the freshly dead who were reanimated by the radiation and then the people who were bitten and have become zombies. The reanimated freshly dead look relatively normal but dazed. Those who were bitten are in various stages of decay and are considerably gorier. The zombies are shown gnawing away on organs and body parts, ripping and tearing away at the human flesh. In one scene there is an impromptu human barbecue where several zombies converge to grab themselves a chunk of the delicious meat. The effects makeup and action scenes really are outstanding. Certainly by modern standards or even Romero’s own, in later films, it may seem tame, but it is considerably more graphic than others I’ve seen from the decade. There is an intense sense of dread that builds slowly through the entire film.

still from night of the living dead

It oozes atmosphere out of every pore. The cinematography is extremely effective. The numerous shots of the living dead ambling among the fields and trees on the surrounding land are a visceral treat. The number of zombies multiplies with every glance outside, and suddenly a shelter begins feeling like a coffin. The feeling of hopelessness is overwhelming and Romero does not reward with a happy ending. It is bleak, cynical and horrifying. Concentrating on the human reaction to the zombie outbreak instead of the creatures themselves allowed Romero to make some interesting and thought-provoking commentary. It is the manner in which he handles his subject that results is a truly eerie and memorable experience. A classic in every sense of the word. In my opinion, ‘Night of The Living Dead’ is one of the best horror films ever made, period. Romero is King. My highest of recommendations!

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: George A. Romero

Starring: Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea, Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman, Keith Wayne, Judith Ridley, Kyra Schon