The Night of the Living Dead was the
first movie that scared me as an adult. When it came out in 1968, I suppose I
wasn't using my new driver's license to go to the drive-in much,
because I didn't see it until about three years later. It was one
night at the long-gone, and much lamented Gemini Drive-In on Central
Expressway and Forest Lane. We – meaning whatever group of bored
and almost certainly chemically altered sophomores had abandoned the
SMU dorm that night — had already sat through two other horror
films, or maybe they were women's prison films or cheerleader films
or student nurse films. In any case, we were preparing to leave when
without benefit of an intermission or previews or exhortations to
visit the snack snack bar, a grainy black-and-white print lurched
onto the screen. It was Night of the Living Dead, and we had all
heard it was was gross, but none of us had seen it and so we decided
to stay. From the first “They're coming to get you, Barbara,” we
became a carload of terrified twenty-year olds.
I love Romero's film, and I both
cherish and lament so much of what it has given rise to. I even came
to grips with the fact several years ago that it has become, for
Halloween, what Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life is for Christmas
– a beloved standard to be recycled endlessly on television when
'tis the season Given today's lax standards (shocking, aren't they)
it is no doubt shown uncut on even general broadcast stations.
But now things have gone too far. I see
that a live stage version is currently packing them in at the Dallas
Children's Theater. Yes, the Dallas Children's Theater, where
Romero's gut-chomping gorefest is part of a season that includes
adaptations of a Judy Blume novel and of Good Night Moon.
American family entertainment just
isn't what it used to be.
I did notice, however, that the DCT's
website recommends the production for ages thirteen and up, which I
guess by their standards is the equivalent of an “R” rating..
Also a treat on Halloween or for the day after here is a spine-chilling video by Matt Marello. When you go to the site, click on media project to view the video.
P.S. Christopher Lee's performance in this film led to my decision to become an art critic.