Night of the Living Dead
25th Anniversary Tribute Magazine Editorial
May 5, 1993
I was between four and five the first time I saw NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. It was on Creature Features with Bob Wilkins. I still can recall being coiled up in front of the television in the den with my brother, only to be sent to our room to watch it when our parents found out it was in black and white.
My brother had told me a little about it (he had seen it before), but the only thing that stuck with me was that it had scared him, and he had seen it during the day. This mere fact amazed me. I was mesmerized for the entire duration of the movie, and I still remember when it ended, as the screen was filled with a blazing bonfire, looking over at my brother. He was asleep. Surely I couldn't be expected to walk all the way over to the TV, turn it off, and then make it back to my bed - in the dark! Not after what I had just seen! I wasn't even five years old!
Years later, when the first wave of sell-through 'public domain' videos started turning up in grocery stores, I convinced my dad to shell out $14.95 for a copy of NIGHT. The copy was pretty bad - jump cuts and partial sequences missing - but I watched it. Again and again I watched that tape. No doubt I got my money's worth.
You can imagine my disappointment when, in 1978, I found out I was too young to go see DAWN OF THE DEAD in the theater. For years I had to be appeased by the brief commercial I remembered seeing on a local station (Yes- a TV commercial- although the only scene that I really remember is the zombie sitting in the change fountain scooping up pennies!), and an interview with Scott Reiniger on Creature Features (this time with John Stanley), where they showed a scene in the apartment building with the one line that will always remind me of DAWN, "Shoot it, man. Shoot it in the head."
DAWN came out on tape just in time to be one of the first movies I ever rented. The minute my dad and I got home from the store, it was in the VCR. The next morning, before school, I watched it again. That afternoon, before it had to be returned, I watched it one more time. Needless to say, it too blew me away. I reluctantly returned it to the store that evening, vowing to someday own my own copy.
Jump ahead a few years to the release of DAY OF THE DEAD. I recall seeing the film reviewed on Siskel & Ebert, expecting it to arrive at the neighborhood theater any day. Thanks to its spotty distributor, It didn't see a local theater until almost four months later. Although I was still technically too young to get in, my brother bought tickets and we were able to get in without being detained (as if this problem still exists). I loved it. The characters, the special effects - everything. Again, George Romero added to the mythical framework I had found so intriguing twice before.
I've thought a lot about these memories while working on this tribute. I hope it will bring back fond memories for you, too. We've managed to gather together quite an array of articles from some very talented writers, not to mention some fantastic art and original fiction! No matter what you like, I'm sure you'll find it represented here. Films, books, comics, soundtracks - we've pulled out all the stops for this one. We hope you'll agree that it's worth it.
As you can imagine, I am very proud to have had the chance to put together a tribute to what I feel is the greatest horror film ever made. This is a dream come true for me, and it would not have been possible without the help of several people. First off, my co-editors, Peter and Bob, whose encouragement changed this from being a few page insert in The Scream Factory, to a full blown issue; Bob Michelucci at Imagine, Inc., for his encouraging support; all of our fine contributors - from Roger Ebert and Joe Bob Briggs to Doug Winter and Steve Bissette, not to mention all of the regular Scream Factory writers; my brother Joe, who was with me at age four, and who was here to help me quite a few years later; and finally to the man to whom we're all indebted, George A. Romero.
My sincerest thanks!
Santa Clara, CA
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