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10.22.2017
Birth Of The Living Dead (2013)
Movie Review by The Mortician
09.27.14

Birth Of The Living Dead (2013) And yet another documentary on the making of George A. Romero's classic 1968 horror film, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Having read multiple books on the making of the film, viewed the extras on various DVD releases, and absorbed numerous other documentaries on the movie, I'm not sure I learned anything new on the subject matter this round, but it's always fun seeing and hearing George A. Romero reflect back on the making of the film and the unexpected success it had. Also touched upon is how the movie became "public domain" due to a simple copyright error that was made when the distributor changed the title of the picture, which was interesting. I guess the big thing this doc does is give credit where it's due---to Romero and company for pretty much creating the zombie genre we know today and inspiring generations of filmmakers and storytellers to follow in their gory footsteps. Even the producers of THE WALKING DEAD pretty much cop up to plagiarism in interviews and freely admit they should be sending Romero and company weekly royalty checks... Still, you can't copyright a CONCEPT, as we know, dammit, and it's fun to hear all the various commentators, filmmakers, historians, and teachers relish in their memories of seeing NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD for the first time. The film's social implications, casting, reviews, and every other aspect of it are covered once again. The oddest part of the doc is seeing an elementary school teacher make NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD part of his curriculum and watching the reactions and dissertations of his pre-teen students. Even as a die-hard horror fan, I question whether this is a good idea and beneficial in any way for kids that young. Certainly very bizarre, and the children had interesting takes on the movie after they watched it, dissected it, and re-enacted (!) it in various ways for the teacher. Only in New York, as they say! Sadly, most of the original NIGHT cast and crew has passed away, so Romero aside, there's no one else interviewed that was "in the trenches" at the time. Investor and Opening Graveyard Zombie Bill Hinzman is represented with awesome postmortem archival footage (he was always an enthusiastic supporter of the film and went on to direct his own quasi-sequel to it!) but most strangely, co-writer and collaborator John Russo is noticeably absent from the proceedings, and he's not only still alive and kicking, but active in the biz! Strange that Russo is largely ignored in this doc, other than a quick cursory five sentence mention by Romero when the genesis of the film is being discussed. This says to me that there's still some serious rifts between Romero and Russo (which are well documented in other NIGHT source material) that still haven't been rectified. Kind of sad, some forty-five plus years after the film was made! Overall, though, this is a fun documentary to watch with all the people in different walks of life waxing nostalgia over NIGHT and their enthusiasm is infectious to the viewer. Highly recommended if you're a NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD fan or a zombie fan who wants to dig into the true roots of today's zombie movies.

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