LIVING WITH THE DEAD: THE FILMS OF GEORGE A. ROMERO Comes to BAM
From Friday, February 22 through Sunday, March 3, BAM presents Living with the Dead: The Films of George A. Romero, a career-spanning retrospective-the first since his death-exploring independent trailblazer Romero (1940-2017) and his use of the horror genre to explore the darkness and paranoia of contemporary America. After ushering in a new era in independent and horror filmmaking with 1968's groundbreaking Night of the Living Dead, Romero embarked on a singular, influential four-decade career, imbuing his all-American nightmares with satiric and deadly serious commentaries on issues like race, capitalism, militarism, and government mistrust. In Romero's films, the monsters are not the other-they are us.
The series begins with Romero's iconic debut feature, Night of the Living Dead (1968), a film that not only created the modern zombie movie, but roiled with the horror of Vietnam and broke ground with the casting of African American lead Duane Jones, whose fate in the film still remains disturbingly timely. The Dead series continues with the gory, shopping-mall-set critique of consumerism Dawn of the Dead (1978), including a closing night screening of the film in 3-D, with special appearance by producer Richard P. Rubinstein; the stripped-down finale to the original Dead trilogy, Day of the Dead (1985), a nihilistic portrait of brutal militarism; Romero's 20-years-later return to the series, Land of the Dead (2005), a blistering Bush-era indictment of wealth inequality; the prescient commentary on omnipresent media Diary of the Dead (2007); and the deceptively-light, satirical zombie western finale Survival of the Dead (2009).
Prior to his career-making feature, Romero, surprisingly, filmed segments for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and regularly made industrial shorts, here compiled in Early Work, Industrial Films, and Documentaries, a program comprising industrial shorts, political spots, commercials, and even a short documentary profiling O.J. Simpson. Following the success of Night, Romero continued to create independent films in Pittsburgh, including his next, the romantic comedy (really) There's Always Vanilla (1971); Romero's self-described "feminist film," Season of the Witch (1972), a tale of Satanism and suburban ennui; the anti-military chemical plague nightmare The Crazies (1973); and the vampire film Martin (1978), a bloody, deeply disturbing cult classic of post-industrial decline.
Throughout the later years of his career, Romero continued with the appealingly offbeat Knightriders (1981), in which Ed Harris leads a band of modern day, motorcycle-riding Knights of the Round Table; pulp-horror throwback omnibus Creepshow (1982), a Stephen King adaptation that includes a performance by the writer himself; his first studio film, the monkey-monster thriller Monkey Shines (1988); Two Evil Eyes (1990), a Poe-inspired double-hander with Dario Argento; the stylishly Hitchcockian King adaptation The Dark Half (1993), starring Timothy Hutton as an author-cum-serial killer; and, after a seven-year filmmaking hiatus, the Jekyll and Hyde-esque Bruiser (2000), in which a put-up corporate suit wakes up with a blank mask for a face and anonymously exacts brutal revenge.
The series concludes with a special screening of a 3-D version of Dawn of the Dead, made under the supervision of producer Richard P. Rubinstein. Rubinstein and George A. Romero founded Laurel Entertainment in the mid-70s and together made some of the most distinctive and beloved films of the 70s and 80s, including Dawn of the Dead. Rubinstein will appear for the closing weekend of the series to talk about collaborating on these iconic films with Romero.