by George A. Romero
Romero, like Wes Craven is about as subtle as the proverbial elephant in the room when it comes to putting anti-conservative messages in their films. The military quarantining a town and killing at random stating marshal law as their reason is not even a metaphor; it just is what it is. The fact that nothing is ever given away and that more and more people are just killed makes this movie and its people hard to sympathize with and hard to watch, especially when they become so crazy that they engage in incest. This surprised me when it came time to feel sad. Watching the mental deterioration of the film's central characters was a lot more effective than it should have been in a film with absolutely no character development. We see a lot of characters with little to no compassion who don’t change, some who are compassionate in very loud and obvious ways, and some who just have their small personalities taken away by ‘Trixie’. It comes as no surprise that in the end Lloyd Hollar’s Colonel Peckem still agrees to supervise the transformation of hamlets into necropolises and David doesn’t seem all that bummed out when he is turned into a military lab rat. He and Peckem exchange knowing glances and the film goes out on a bleak but ineffective note.
The colours and setting are fun to watch, the wilderness of Pennsylvania has always possessed a strange charm that I’ve loved since I was a kid; parts of Doylestown look just like Evans City. Also look for a lot of Romero regulars: Scott H. Reiniger from Dawn of the Dead as a policeman in the first act, A.C. McDonald from Night of the Living Dead’s ending posse is in there somewhere, Richard Liberty who would go on to play Logan in Day of the Dead also present. Richard France, the eye-patched scientist on TV in Dawn plays a sort of precursor to his character here. Most of these people gave much better performances in the other films but who can blame Romero for making a hysteria film where both sides put up an equal fight. Maybe the knowing glance that David and the Colonel give each other is because they knew that Dawn was only a few years away and Romero would end his post-Night slump and show the Europeans how it’s done.
*I was wrong