When I was in sixth grade, my friend Michael explained to me that there were supposed to be more than just three Star Wars movies. His uncle worked at Industrial Lights and Magic, and was involved in the animation of the light sabers and blasters. He explained that the reason the original (and then, the only) trilogy had episode titles was that George Lucas had a master plan for trilogies to take place before and after the movies we knew.
Less than a decade later, the world had three new Star Wars films to enjoy. They weren’t worth the wait, but that didn’t stop fans from keeping up their appetites for more. When The Phantom Menace was released, everyone hoped the next one would be better, then they hoped the third one would be the prequel they had dreamed of. It didn’t happen that way.
Forty years after the revolution in low-budget nightmare splatter that was Night of the Living Dead, it’s worth remembering that that film’s garish power, apart from the sheer, outrageous, who will be the next to get chomped? insanity of its violence, arose out of the scary elusiveness of what it said about America. There was no exact correlation between the attack of flesh-hungry zombies—and the attack on them (”Kill the brain and you kill the ghoul!”)—and the horrors of Vietnam or the general late-60s breakdown. The metaphor was there, but it was ominously free-floating.
Contrast that with Diary of the Dead, in which Romero has the dead rising up for the umpteenth time, this time chowing down on a new generation of human meat. The opening sequence, in which a local news report gets turned into an eyewitness slaughterhouse on the street, is vintage Romero: explosive, funny, bristling with dementia. But the half-dozen college kids who scurry, by van, from one location to the next (abandoned hospital, Amish farm, rich kid’s mansion), fleeing the zombies at every turn, aren’t too much different from the Abercrombie & Fitch ciphers of Cloverfield. Here, as well, we track the characters through one kid’s shaky camcorder, a trendy device that has never worked as effortlessly as it did in The Blair Witch Project. There’s a great deal of babble about how images of the zombies are being taped, all over the world, on personal cameras and shown on the Internet. The film keeps telling us that we’ve become a society of passive voyeurs, hiding behind our technology. (We’re the real zombies, get it?) But the message is far from fresh, and you didn’t have to pretend Cloverfield was making a statement. Continue reading →
History teaches us all something very important: monsters are out there and they will kill you. Wait, wasn’t it history that said there were dragons flying around and sea monsters at the ends of the Earth?
Maybe it’s Hollywood. Yes, Hollywood teaches us that monsters are out there and they will kill you. Take Cloverfield for example, something attacks New York and you get to see it firsthand through a herky-jerky hand held camera. This is not just entertainment, this is a cautionary tale. You can trust Hollywood, when have they ever lied to you? All they have ever done is make you laugh, cry and become infatuated with organized crime. That’s not wrong, is it?
Because the threat of monsters is ever-present, The Guys bring you this survival guide in case the worst should happen, and by the worst, we mean something large, green and ugly stumbles into town asking about you.