It's baaack! For the second straight year, in the spirit of the season, the weekly compilation of first-run indie offerings has been replaced with seven movies guaranteed to titillate, nauseate and leave you maddeningly unsettled. Once again, rather than rounding up the usual suspects – cyberspace is already littered with zealous endorsements of The Exorcist and Rosemary's Baby – I've made a conscientious effort to name less obvious shockers, all available at your local video store (if it still exists) or via the now-maligned Netflix.
Nobody is going to confuse Survival of the Dead, George Romero’s sixth entry in his ongoing saga about animated corpses scouring the land for living flesh, with the director’s most polished or insightful work. As a satirist, he’s covering familiar ground, reinforcing the notion first broached in the original Night of the Living Dead (1968) that zombies and their human prey are equally dangerous predators. Yet his gift for storytelling remains undiminished.
Let’s get one thing straight: George Romero, the legendary director of Night of the Living Dead whose nightmarish vision of zombies rising from the grave to prey upon the living has spawned countless imitations and remakes, never wanted to take a break from the franchise that has become his most celebrated legacy.
“After I made Monkey Shines in 1988, I started developing a bunch of big movies for Hollywood studios, projects like Goosebumps and The Mummy, and I made more money then than I ever have before or since,” says Romero, 70. “We were rewriting movies for big stars – you know, let’s make this for Sharon Stone or Alec Baldwin. Then the next week, we’d be rewriting the same movie again for Eddie Murphy.
Thanks to Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, the vicious political satire In the Loop and provocative documentaries like The Cove and Food, Inc., it's already been a terrific year for dedicated moviegoers. Based on the impressively strong selection of films on display at the 34th annual Toronto Film Festival, which drew to a close Sept. 19, there's plenty to look forward to in the months to come.