Monday, July 17, 2017

The Men Who Started It All

Night Of The Living Dead (1968) was a low budget film shot in Pennsylvania that became a huge hit.  It was considered outrageous at the time, but has held up quite nicely.

Also, it spawned not one, but two revolutions--the low-budget horror film becoming a big deal, and a spate of zombie movies and TV shows, which are as big as ever almost fifty years later.

The film was written and directed by George Romero, who just died.  He would go on to make other films, generally horror (including the fine sequel to NOTLD, Dawn Of The Dead), but none would equal the impact of his first big hit.

So here's to George.  I'm sure there are many in Hollywood who know the difference he made.

In more bad news, Martin Landau died.

Years ago I met him at a party (yes, I occasionally get invited to those kinds of parties).  He said "hi, I'm Marty" as if he weren't world-famous.

He had an offbeat look that, when he was starting out, put him on the character actor track.  Early on he did the occasional movie, such as his memorable turn as James Mason's henchman in North By Northwest, but through the 50s, 60s and 70s, was mostly in television.

The role he was best known for then was Rollin Hand, part of the Mission: Impossible team. In the mid-70s, he played the lead on Space: 1999.  By 1981, he was playing a mad scientist in the TV movie The Harlem Globetrotters On Gilligan's Island.

So there he was, in his 50s, making a decent living as an actor, but not really getting the parts he wanted.

Then, in 1988, he was nominated for a supporting actor Oscar in Tucker: The Man And His Dream.  So now, at 60, he became one of the top character actors in movies.

He'd go on to appear in Crimes And Misdemeanors (Oscar nomination), Mistress, Rounders, and his greatest role, Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood, for which he won an Oscar.

Not many actors manage a second act, but he got it, and made the most of it.


Blogger New England Guy said...

I grew up in Pittsburgh and George was a local guy. I certainly recognize the accents in Night of the Living Dead (and our local Chiller Theater host- Chilly Bill Cardille- played the reporter).

George filmed the second movie Dawn of the Dead in the Monroeville Mall which was a few miles from my house (when it was built in the early 70s, they claimed it was then the biggest mall in America). My dad ran out to the mall one Saturday morning and somehow his car ended up where they were filming and he had to wait to be able to get to it. He was pretty mad. I have never seen it-but if you see a brick red 76 Ford Volare wagon in the parking lot scenes- that was my family car (and prom ride).

If you watched Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and saw the third movie, Day of the Dead, you may notice that Chef Sprocket played "Buzz", the zombie they were trying to teach speech to.

11:06 AM, July 17, 2017  
Blogger New England Guy said...

Sorry Chef Brockett played a "Featured Zombie" not Buzz (or Bub as the experimental zombie is named)

11:47 AM, July 17, 2017  

Post a Comment

<< Home

web page hit counter