When I met George Romero at the Studio 35 horror marathon a few years ago, I asked him what film he most enjoyed making. Someone had previously asked him what movie of his was his favorite, to which he responded “I don’t have a favorite”, so I thought that my question might be a little more insightful. Romero informed me that Bruiser was his favorite movie to make.
Knowing full well that what made a movie enjoyable for him to make might not translate into anything that would make that movie enjoyable for me to watch, I ordered Bruiser from Netflix and watched it the other day. I didn’t particularly enjoy the film, but I can imagine that filming it was probably a lot of fun.
When I think of Romero, I think of zombies. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed his zombie flicks to date: Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead are both entertaining and thought-provoking films (if a little dated now). While at Netflix I also ordered Land of the Dead, eager to continue to enjoy Romero’s zombie flicks. Alas, Land of the Dead was a real bore. I felt a twinge of discomfort when I saw Dennis Hopper’s name in the credits.
I’ve complained before that people do stupid stuff in these movies – even the trained military professionals whom you would expect to know better. For example, not a single person climbed a ladder or otherwise tried to get themselves into a location that the shambling zombies could not access. Indeed, oftentimes the army guys came down the ladders, only to be gobbled up by the ravenous zombies. I laughed out loud when the lone scout entered a darkened building, only to light a cigarette and then listen to music on headphones! I mean, come on! And not a single person exercised any real discipline with their ammunition, choosing instead to spray shots wildly everywhere as though ammo were in limitless supply. Short, controlled bursts, people!
What I’d like to see (or even help make) is a zombie flick that shows people using ingenuity and creativity to deal with the crisis in ways that make sense, not just ways that make it convenient for them to die so that the audience can watch the zombies chomp on them. I have a host of real-world questions about the long-term consequences of a zombie attack: how long would power generation facilities operate unmanned? how long would running water be available? how long would communications networks operate? (Land of the Dead included one scene with a GPS system: how long do you think the GPS network would remain in operation if a worldwide zombie outbreak were to occur?) how difficult would it be to continue to acquire fuel for vehicles assuming the normal distribution of gasoline (and other fuels) were interrupted?