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Horror Bites - Going Underground

DAY OF THE DEAD (1985)

With the market flooded with zombie movies following Dawn of the Dead, it's surprising that George A. Romero didn't decide to hold off and wait a full ten years before revitalizing the genre one more time. Perhaps it would have been more warmly received if it wasn't competing with tongue-in-cheek fare like Demons and Return of the Living Dead. Maybe it was just the wrong year to release something like this, which is easy to say in retrospect. Times had changed and fun was back in vogue. Films from Amblin and John Hughes were now all the rage. But refusing to read the room like any true pioneer, George went into darker territory and refused to include any glib nonsense. It's still another horror classic in its own way.

Horror Bites - For Dummies

DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978)

George A. Romero's second, and most popular, zombie flesh-eater story is something that really shouldn't work. The pacing is odd, the video and sound quality is sometimes poor, and the library music is weird and often feels twenty years older than the movie itself. The living dead make-up just seems to be grey or blue paint for a large proportion of the shambling extras. And the blood is, at best, a watery orange mixture. Yet in spite all of these weird problems and oddities it endures, continuing on like its rotten antagonists. It was re-cut in Italy on release, and of course remade in the 2000s, but the original version remains a cult classic whichever edition you see. Let's begin the dissection and take a look at what makes this strangely fresh cadaver tick; all the little things that make it so influential.

Horror Bites - Under Seige

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)

This has never been my favourite instalment in George A. Romero's original walking dead trilogy. It was slow, the picture quality was always second rate, and the special effects were limited. But that's why I need to revisit it every so often. Despite these short comings, or at least my memory of them, it's a movie that can never be forgotten. It does more with less and the results are a more nightmarish story than its sequels offer. Plus the home video release restored by the Criterion Collection looks way sharper than ever before. The grittiness of the film is now crystal clear, its long dark shadows are darker than ever, and the rotten flesh and dripping blood is more pungent.

Scorecard

MARCH


FILM OF THE MONTH The Italian Job ☆☆☆☆

Horror Bites - Back in Black

THE RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE (1943)

Nobody does a vampire like Bela Lugosi. The evil glint in his eye, the Hungarian accent, and the deliberate body language. It's a definitive piece of cinema history, forever type-cast but forever legendary. But what is the definitive vampire film from his years in the cloak? It's not Dracula, since despite his mesmerising performance there's a stilted and censored third act to deal with. It's not Mark of the Vampire because despite the stylish undead sequences it's a meandering affair, with a nonsensical final twist. So this might just be it, a film in which the all the pieces fit together. But this is a bold claim, so let's take a trip into the tombs of old and see what's scurrying about inside.