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Remembering George A. Romero by Stephen Romano

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The heroes.

The great heroes of our lives.

They all seem to be leaving us now.

It’s all so strange.

In my short life, I have never experienced a time such as the one we are living in now—where so many of the people who have inspired us have been called home at the same time. Both young and old, timely and untimely, these passings remind us that we are human, that we are not immortal, that nothing human can truly stay. And then comes the loss. The pain. The hurt in our hearts that makes our eyes flood and our lives cold and empty. But in this moment, we must remember something important: What these great people leave WITH US is what really DOES makes them—and US—immortal: the experiences we shared with them, the legacies they left behind. Most importantly, we must honor them with the stories of our OWN lives. Because we were touched, influenced and shaped by those legacies. I write these words now in a bit of a daze—it’s been not even a year since I eulogized Wes Craven, only a bit longer since I mourned the passing of my good friend Angus Scrimm. But here’s the thing: These don’t have to be dark times. Our lives needn’t be cold and empty. The great heroes of our lives are not really dead.

As long as we remember them.

So let me tell you how my life was changed forever by George A. Romero. Please take this with you. And know that it was his gift to all of us. As are your stories. And the stories our children will tell.

I was 13 years old. It was winter of 1983. I sat in the smallest auditorium of a tiny little multiplex in the parking lot of the Alameda shopping mall in Houston, Texas. I was there with my friend Noah. We were gonna see Dawn of the Dead for the first time. I felt like a man about to be shot out across the universe on a cannonball. That’s really what it felt like. It was like some kind of joyful dread mixed with the high excited anticipation of an explorer on the edge of everything. At that time, I didn’t know from zombies. Nobody did, really. I had never even seen Night of the Living Dead. All I knew was that this sequel film was apparently so gory that the Motion Picture Association of America wouldn’t even give it a rating. That was where the feeling of dread came from. Up until that night, the very idea of gore in movies was replant to me. Oh sure, I had loved ALIEN. Oh yeah, I had been obsessed with Halloween. But this? This was something else altogether. This was an invasion of cannibal freaks who ripped you apart in the street. This was blood and guts supreme. This was being shot out of a fucking cannon, people.

But the real shock that night?

Beyond, I mean, being so blown away by a single motion picture that I was finally moved to study the craft of special effects, filmmaking and screenwriting and BECOME ONE OF THESE MAGICIANS MYSELF ONE DAY? Yeah, beyond all of that, my friends.

What was the real shock?

The real shock came from knowing I had seen something that defied classification and extended beyond the confines of its genre to become something more than a simple horror film—or a simple any kind of film for that matter. In fact, there was nothing simple about this at all. I had been shown an adventure movie, a complex human drama, a rollicking comedic farce, a savage cautionary tale—and, yeah, a pretty kick ass horror film—all wrapped up in some kind of berserk freewheeling comic book freakout which still managed to be so intellectual on the edge of its own infamy that every punch to the gut came in under the radar, below the belt, and straight to the heart. And every image stayed with me. Every. Single. One. Mostly, I remembered those exterior shots of the shopping mall, that vast consumer temple where all the zombies went to worship what they could no longer understand. And the zombies . . .

The zombies in Dawn of the Dead were the most terrifying monsters I had ever seen. They were clumsy. They were idiots. They fell down stairs and bumped into each other. They were also unpredictable. Weirdly human. And highly dangerous when not taken seriously. To this day, they are the most real zombies for me. The most utterly convincing in every way. They key to that may be that they actually are real people from real life, doing what they “normally” do through a fractured lens—but the weird Technicolor tempera paint blood and bizarre green makeup used by Tom Savini somehow managed to combine with Romero’s zany camerawork and film shredding editing style, along with the surreal mash up of music on the soundtrack, to power one incredible sweep of unified cinematic language that lined up in that film—and that film ALONE—for one brief, exciting, perfect moment in the history of the medium. After Dawn of the Dead, nothing was ever the same. For me and the world.

Since then the zombies have gotten cooler looking, maybe even more “realistic” in terms of makeup and gore . . . and there will always be “Bub” . . . but there will never be zombies like these again. Nor will there be a moment in film history when an apocalypse survivor looks off into space as the world ends on TV in front of her and finally actually realizes that she IS an apocalypse survivor, whispering “It’s really all over isn’t it?” And just then, we hear a GUNSHOT from the next room, as her comrade dies . . .

That is my favorite moment in all of movies.

When I met George Romero for the first time many, many years later, I told him about that scene and how it had affected me. I told him how his film made me want to tell stories. I told him about how I had been dropped off at the mall for that midnight showing of DAWN in 1983 and how I emerged at half past 2 in the morning a changed human being. My friend Noah and I had been dropped off there that night by a buddy who later got wasted and passed out, leaving us stranded in the cold after the movie was over. We waited there until 4 in the morning to be rescued. We almost froze to death. But all I could think about that night . . . the ONLY THING that was on my mind . . .

Was that mall. Those zombies. That adventure that had changed everything.

I got to tell George that.

Truthfully, I have always been wary of meeting my heroes. You don’t want things ruined, you know? I never made an attempt to seek out and befriend Romero, as others who are paying tribute here did. But I also never missed a chance to “rap” with him when I could. That first time was at a Fangoria convention in 1998. He sat with me in the bar for two hours and talked to me about everything. He was so fucking cool that he wouldn’t even let me buy him a drink—though I downed more than a few and offered many times. He kept getting his assistant to buy him scotches, and I noticed he’d taken up smoking, after being quit for years. He told me the reason he’d started up with the cigarettes again was all the Hollywood runaround. “I’ve had so many great years financially since The Dark Half,” he said. “But I just never get to make movies anymore.” That was a dark time for him—when he was being paid millions to write scripts that never saw the light of day. One of them was for Tarzan of the Apes. I sat, transfixed, listening to so much wisdom and frustrated genius and good humor flow from him. And I could tell that he was continuing to offer these pieces of himself to a total stranger—only because he knew it meant something to me. I’ll never forget that. I shook his hand. I called him George. I gave him a copy of my first novel and he asked me with a big friendly grin: “So who owns the movie rights?” Amazing.

My next encounter with George was strange and I will keep it mostly to myself—but it was also kind of amazing. Steve Barton from Dread Central was there that night. It was the world premiere of Survival of the Dead here in Austin where I live. This time George had come to my town. Even more amazing.

And hey, Steve. Know you’re feeling this one. So am I. Love you, brother. You too, Debi.

The last time I met George was probably the best time. It was at the first annual ZOMBCON in 2010, where we were both guests. By then I was a professional screenwriter and author, with the respect of my peers. I got to hang out with Chuck Palahniuk that weekend also and we talked about our upcoming books. I rode to the airport with John Amplas from Martin and he asked me to get him work on my next movie. I sat next to Vince Neil on the plane home and said absolutely nothing to him. You don’t want things ruined, you know?

It was kind of a magic weekend, really.

My final time with George was filled with laughs and good humor. I told him again how that scene in Dawn had changed me. He nodded and told me thanks. I asked him if he could make any movie right now, what would it be? He said Tarzan of The Apes. I almost cried right in front of him.

I wanted to tell him I would not be an artist without him.

I wanted to tell him Dawn of the Dead and Knightriders were the greatest movies ever made by human hands.

But he knew what I wanted to say.

Thousands of people like me—millions, even—had already said it with their words, their eyes, and their work, which will live on long after his death. After all of our deaths. This makes me more glad than I can adequately express in words. So I will stop here. And please know that I have told you all these things with a heavy heart—yet a heart that is full and rich and grateful . . . for it was touched and will always be touched by the Great Heroes of our Lives.

Thanks, George.

You are our hero.

You belong to all of us.

George A. Romero

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Another WolfCop Gets Another Poster via The Dude Designs

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It was only last week that we shared the bloody new trailer for writer-director Lowell Dean’s upcoming sequel to his hit horror-comedy flick WolfCop.

Today we have another poster for Another WolfCop.

This new poster comes to us from one of my current favorite poster artists, Tom “The Dude” Hodge. If you’re unfamiliar with the name, you surely know his work. To refamiliarize yourself, you can check out more of his posters right here.

Below you will find his new poster for Another WolfCop, along with the flick’s newest trailer. After that make sure to hit us up and let us know what you think in the comments!

The film is written and directed by Lowell Dean, produced by Bernie Hernando, Deborah Marks, and Hugh Patterson, and distributed worldwide by Cineplex.

Another WolfCop co-stars Amy Matysio, Jonathan Cherry, and Serena Miller. The film also features special appearances from Canadian music icon Gowan and legendary filmmaker Kevin Smith. It was executive produced by Sean Buckley, J. Joly, Bill Marks, Brian Wideen, Michael Kennedy, and Michael Hirsch.

The film is slated for a wide Cineplex theatrical release on Friday, December 8, 2017, with the film seeing a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital home entertainment release through A71 and Black Fawn in 2018.

Synopsis:
A month has passed since the eclipse transformed hard-drinking Officer Lou Garou into the crime-fighting hellion WolfCop. Although the Shape Shifters controlling the town have been extinguished, Woodhaven is far from returning to normal. Lou’s liquor-fueled antics and full moon outbursts are seriously testing his relationship with Officer Tina Walsh – the new Chief of Police. An old friend has mysteriously reappeared with a truly bizarre secret to share, and a homicidal new villain has emerged from the shadows looking to finish what the Shape Shifters started. To defeat this lethal adversary, it will take more than a lone wolf packing a pistol.

Prepare for the next chapter of WolfCop that will be more dirty and hairy than the original! Consider yourself warned.

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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 140 – Pet Sematary 2

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Ahoy there, fuckos! This week’s episode is brought to you by none other than Chris Franco! That’s right, it’s a Chris pick! So you know what that means, we’re cranking the cheese factor up to eleven! This week we’ve got $5 Furlongs, naked women with dog heads, and accents that are more forced than a Bill Cosby sexual encounter! That’s right, we watched  Pet Sematary 2 so you don’t have to!

Ever wonder which of us knows more lyrics to Ice, Ice, Baby? Well, Patreon found out, but perhaps there’s more singing in the actual episode. Download to find out!

Sometimes, dumb is better. It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 140!

If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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Night of the Living Dead 4K and The Silence of the Lambs Come to the Criterion Collection

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It’s been a long time coming for these two classics, especially Night of the Living Dead after the ridiculously bad transfer put out by Mill Creek Entertainment, whose transfer was supposedly remastered from a new 2K scan. I swear I thought it was some kind of a joke when I first put it on to watch. In any event…

IndieWire is reporting that horror classics Night of the Living Dead and The Silence of the Lambs will be added to the 2018 Criterion Collection, a hallmark label for home video cinephiles.

According to the site, Criterion will release a new 4K digital restoration of The Silence of the Lambs, which has been approved by the movie’s cinematographer Tak Fujimoto. Included on the DVD and Blu-ray sets are 35 minutes of deleted scenes and audio commentary from 1994 featuring the late Jonathan Demme (director), stars Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, screenwriter Ted Tally, and former FBI agent John Douglas.

Night of the Living Dead will also be released in 4K with never-before-seen 16mm dailies included as a bonus feature(!).

These will be added in February of 2018 so make sure you save up some cash after the holidays!

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