Wednesday, July 19, 2017

R.I.P. Zombie King

On Sunday 16 July 2017 Movie producer, director, writer George A. Romero passed away he was 77. He is best remembered for being the creator (writing and directing) of the cult horror classic Night of the Living Dead. He continued with zombie horror for several other films.

Hearing/reading about his passing reminds me of one of the first times I watched Night of the Living Dead all the way through. It was late on a Saturday night (maybe a Friday) late 1970s I was either in late elementary school or early junior high. My older brother was in High School. On one of the local independent television stations they were showing NotLD on their Creature Feature type show. I'm not sure if I had watched the movie before, I think this was my first time. I was really getting into the movie. It had my full attention. Now days I don't like Zombie movies much and get turned off of them very quickly. I think it was because of the Craze for Zombie movies in the 1980s through 1990s. Plus the gore still tends to gross me out.

Oh so I'm watching this film in all it's glorious Black and White glory, in the family room in the basement of my childhood home. For most of it I'm lying on the floor probably with one of the couch cushions or a pillow under me so my torso doesn't hurt from the pressure of lying on the cold early 1960s tiled floor. There is a large area rug there as well but it is old and doesn't add any comfort. I might even have a blanket wrapped around me. Actually it might be Summer time so it might not have been that cold.

Near the end of the movie as the Zombies have surrounded the house and are breaking in. I'm not sure if the token black guy has gotten killed at this point or is about to be killed. The Zombies are starting to break in and.... Commercial break... at that exact moment...

...there is a knocking on one of the front basement windows. I got super freaked out and must have jumped in shock about 10 feet, OK maybe not that high as I would have hit the ceiling I think it was a little over 10 feet high. I'm not sure if I screamed or yelled but I was super startled. Turns out it was one of my brother's friends who came over and knocked on the window to get my brother's attention. Since it was late night he didn't want to disturb our parents who I think were already in their bedroom sleeping.

At the time my brother used one of the basement rooms as his den/alternate bedroom, he had a bedroom upstairs but used the basement room most of the time and was his "den of inequity". He did all his socializing in there (and entertaining the ladies). In later years I used that room as a den but not as a bedroom. His friends when they would come over late night, they were teenagers after all, they would knock on one of the windows to my brother's den then he would let them in the front door. Actually our house was designed in such a way you could hear the front door opening most of the time, or people clomping down or up the wooden stairs so it wasn't a perfect system.

At the time of the window knocking my brother was in the family room with me. I think he was also watching the movie until his friends came over.

Man was I super freaked as I said. It was perfect timing and the perfect set up for the scare. It was totally unplanned on any one's part. I don't think I had originally been planning on watching the movie but decided to anyway.

There are very few moments of the film that I remember in detail. Sure there was a lot of scenes of zombies walking around the cemetery and them trying to get into the house. I even have memories of the people in the house sitting around wondering what to do and jumping at every little sound. But there is very little of the plot I remember. I don't even remember if they explain "HOW" the zombies start stirring. I don't even remember the ending exactly. The only thing that really sticks in my mind is getting such a damn big startle from knocking on the basement window.

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