Birth of the Living Dead – Out 12th May on DVD and VOD

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Directed by:

Starring: , , , , ,

birth-of-the-living-dead

Released: 12/05/2014

Cert: 15(TBC)

Run Time: 76 mins

Birth of the Living Dead is a documentary chronicling the landmark zombie horror Night Of The Living Dead, from its origins, through production and the impact it had when it was released. Night of the Living dead is the original zombie (as we know and love them today) movie, which has spawned several sequels and countless zombie films since its release in the late 1960’s, and affirming George A. Romero as a horror master. It’s a fascinating insight in to how Romero became a film maker, the struggles he faced in getting the film off the ground, the trials faced during production, trying to find a distributor for the film and the social and cultural, although seemingly unintentional, impact that many viewers felt the film had at the time. For something which Romero shrugs off by saying that the lead actor was simply hired because he was good, the talking heads seem almost obsessed with the fact that a black actor was hired as the lead and found it even more shocking that the script wasn’t changed to reflect that, given the period the film was made. It does seem negated by Romero’s nonchalance, but a big deal is made of it.

Those interviewed include the maestro himself, who is very grounded and honest (I could listen to his anecdotes all day), and the producer of The Walking Dead and The Terminator, Gale Anne Hurd. Although it covers the making of the film in great detail, it isn’t anything die hard fans wouldn’t already know but that doesn’t mean it’s any less engrossing. It’s a thoroughly entertaining, richly detailed account of the genesis of one the most popular sub-genres in horror. It’s a shame that the film only covers the first of Romero’s zombie movies, as his series of exceptional horror films is ripe for the same treatment as the fantastic Never Sleep Again, a lengthy bum numbing documentary covering the entire Nightmare on Elm Street series which is fascinating throughout. Although the reason for that is probably answered towards the end of the film, as it is brought to light that the original distributor forgot to copyright the film. Meaning Romero barely made a penny and anyone was able to distribute the movie without paying royalties and fees, which probably explains the bazillion re releases the film has had over the years, and the excruciatingly baffling extended version which I remember seeing in one of the ‘Trilogy of the Dead’ box sets. It’s an inspiring documentary, which shows the ins and outs of low budget film making and the beginning of a sub-genre that is still capturing the imagination of audiences to this day. Essential viewing for any horror fan.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

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