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Ranking George A. Romero’s Movie From Best To Worst (#8 -5)

March 30, 2022 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Creepshow Image Credit: Warner Bros.

The George A. Romero Movie Countdown: #8-#5

Okay, so there seemed to be some confusion with the rankings on this list in relation to where Night of the Living Dead places compared to some of Romero’s other movies, mainly stuff like Season of the Witch and The Crazies. The list segment featuring Night of the Living Dead is the second part of a four part list. The one you’re currently reading (or, well, about to read) is the third part. If you don’t want to go back and look at the first two parts of the list, here is the ranking so far according to me:

17. There’s Always Vanilla
16. Season of the Witch
15. The Crazies
14. Bruiser
13. Two Evil Eyes
12. Survival of the Dead
11. Diary of the Dead
10. Monkey Shines
9. Night of the Living Dead

And here are the links to the first two parts:

The George A. Romero Movie Countdown: #17-#13

The George A. Romero Movie Countdown: #12-#9

I hope that clears up some of the confusion.

And now, the George A. Romero Movie Countdown list continues. What appears in spots #8 through #5?

The George A. Romero Movie Countdown: #8-#5

Image Credit: Scream Factory

8- The Dark Half: Based on a novel by Stephen King, The Dark Half is a weird thriller about an author and college professor that writes pulpy murder mysteries under a pseudonym, George Stark. The author, Thad Beaumont, played by Timothy Hutton, would like to stop writing those murder mysteries and instead focus on literary fiction. So Beaumont decides to stop being George Stark. It’s at that moment that a man named George Stark, who looks very much like Beaumont, shows up and starts killing people affiliated with Beaumont. What the hell is going on here? The movie never really answers what, exactly, Stark is. We know, to a degree, that he’s some sort of supernatural being, but is he actually the grown version of the vestigial twin that Beaumont’s parents had removed from Beaumont when he was a child, or is Stark a man somehow manifested by the nastiness around the Stark novels and the coming end of the novel series? Hutton gives a brilliant performance as both Beaumont and Stark (Stark is definitely one nasty sonofabitch) and Romero creates a steady sense of dread throughout the movie’s two hour running time that will unsettle you. I know that the movie wasn’t finished to Romero’s liking because of the financial difficulties that studio Orion Pictures was going through at the time (the movie was completed in 1991 but wasn’t released until 1993), but I think it works more than it doesn’t and is quite scary (Hutton, again, is so damn good as Stark). It’s a shame that Romero didn’t get to do more King adaptations, like The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, which seemed to be rumored or “just around the corner” for years. It’s also a shame that Romero, after The Dark Half, didn’t get to make another movie until Bruiser in 2000. He made tons of money writing scripts and working as a script doctor during that time, but he lost nearly a decade of prime movie making time. In retrospect, that stinks. It really does.

Image Credit: Shudder

7-The Amusement Park: An industrial/educational movie that Romero made for the Lutheran Service Society of Western Pennsylvania back in 1973, The Amusement Park never received any sort of release after it was shown at a few film festivals in 1975 (it also isn’t clear if the Lutherans actually used the movie in any real capacity after it was made). Presumed lost, a print of the movie was found in 2017 and, after restoration, was again shown at a few film festivals before being shown exclusively on the horror streaming service Shudder in the summer of 2021. A commentary on ageism and getting old, the short film (it runs about 54 minutes) stars Lincoln Maazel as an old man who spends a day at an amusement park and experiences multiple instances of abuse. Unsettling and surreal, it doesn’t take long for Maazel’s experiences to get under your skin and freak you out. Romero’s editing scheme is also on full display here, with lots of quick cuts (I’d suspect that most Romero fans would immediately recognize Romero’s editing style and guess that he was involved in the movie without knowing that it’s something he did ahead of time). The movie is also a wonderful time capsule of the early 1970’s, both in terms of the fashion and technology on display. Be on the lookout for a hilarious cameo by Romero in a scene involving bumper cars. I believe this is still available to watch on Shudder as I write this (I’m not sure if the movie will ever get a home video release. I’m sure Scream Factory would do a great job with a potential Blu-ray).

Image Credit: WBHE

6-Creepshow: Romero’s first collaboration with Stephen King, Creepshow is a horror anthology inspired by the E.C. horror comics of the 1950’s. Featuring five stories and a wraparound about a young boy, his asshole father, and a horror comic book called “Creepshow,” the five stories involve a super dysfunctional family (“Father’s Day”), a weird alien encounter (“The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill, with Stephen King as the hapless bumpkin Jordy), a vengeful rich guy out to kill his cheating wife and her lover with disastrous results (“Something to Tide You Over”), a full on monster (“The Crate”), and a paranoid clean freak rich guy, a building, and a bunch of cockroaches (“They’re Creeping Up on You!”). Using an all-star cast of old pros and up and comers (Leslie Nielson, E.G. Marshall, Adrienne Barbeau, Hal Holbrook, Fritz Weaver, Tom Atkins, Ed Harris, Ted Danson, Tom Savini, and Dawn of the Dead star Gaylen Ross), each segment is violent and nasty but also goofy fun. Romero makes the movie looks and feel like a comic book, both in terms of on screen captions and animations as well as lighting. Rightfully considered a classic of early 1980’s horror cinema, Creepshow spawned a sequel in 1987 (King provided the stories, Romero write the screenplay, and frequent Romero collaborator Michael Gornick directed), a sequel in name only in 2006 (Creepshow III isn’t terrible on its own merits, but it doesn’t belong being called Creepshow III), and a mega successful TV show that is currently airing on Shudder and AMC. Creepshow is the horror anthology that almost all modern horror anthologies try to ape and are usually compared to. It’s that important.

Image Credit: Scream Factory

5-Land of the Dead: Romero’s fourth zombie movie, made for Universal Pictures in the wake of the success of the Zack Snyder directed remake of Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, is the director’s biggest and most ambitious movie. Made for around $17 million in Canada, Land of the Dead shows the world neck deep in the zombie apocalypse and focusses on human survivors living in a walled off American city (it’s meant to be Pittsburgh but it’s never explicitly said that it is Pittsburgh). The city, run by a rich asshole named Kaufman (Dennis Hopper), is divided into the rich, who all live in a skyscraper called Fiddler’s Green, and the poor, who all live on the streets. Riley Denbo (Simon Baker) is the lead scavenger who operates the Dead Reckoning, a super truck chock full of weaponry. Cholo DeMora (John Leguizamo) works with Riley, finding supplies out in the growing wastelands. Cholo desperately wants to live in Fiddler’s Green, and when Kaufman rejects Cholo’s attempts at living in the building, Cholo steals the Dead Reckoning and threatens to use the truck’s weapons to destroy Fiddler’s Green. Riley, along with friend Charlie (a terrific Robert Joy) and badass newbie Slack (Asia Argento), try to get the truck back. While all of this is going on, zombie leader Big Daddy (Eugene Clark) gathers his zombie army and marches to the walled off city to infiltrate it. At a breezy 93 minutes, Land of the Dead is Romero’s chance to make a big action movie in the middle of a horror flick and it rocks. The Dead Reckoning vehicle is exactly what you would want to have at your disposal in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. The movie is also chock full of the social commentary that Romero is known for (the movie touches on the battle between the rich and the poor, militarization, terrorism, and the “ignoring the problem” idea that seems to be in the middle of all of Romero’s zombie movies). The movie also has a terrific soundtrack by Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek (the closing titles theme is awesome). I saw this twice in the theater and wish I had found a way to see it a third time. I also wish that Romero had found a way to make a direct sequel to this, with Riley and the Dead Reckoning crew on the road to Canada (remember when that was the rumored story for Road of the Dead?). The unrated version of the movie is definitely gorier than the theatrical cut, but it isn’t all that different from the theatrical cut. The Tom Savini as the zombie Blades from Dawn of the Dead is a true blue nerd moment, not to mention the Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright cameos once you know where to look. The Scream Factory Blu-ray is a must own (it has the great half hour documentary by Roy Frumkes, Dream of the Dead, that focusses on how the Savini sequence happened).


Next time: the George A. Romero Movie Countdown concludes! # 4-#1!

Honor! More zombies! Decay!


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