Mention the name of George Romero and “zombies” is the next word to pop into nearly anyone’s head. It’s ironic then that the filmmaker frequently lamented that he was “stuck in this niche with horror” and that his two favorite films were Martin (a vampire story) and his pseudo-Arthurian drama Knightriders. Released in 1981, Knightriders is the major outlier of Romero’s career. It’s his longest film, it includes no horror elements, and it was one of his least successful efforts at the box-office. At the same time, however, it features some o
As Assistant Archivist for the university, I have the honor of conducting and recording oral histories with members of the CMU community. Carnegie Mellon is well-known for its creative and innovative talent, from the pioneering work of Herbert Simon and Allen Newell to the dramatic talent of student performers in Scotch ‘n’ Soda. We launched the Carnegie Mellon University Oral History Program early last year in hope of capturing first-hand the stories and experiences of students, faculty and alumni who lived historic moments—think StoryCorps with an academic edge. We record these conversations and preserve them in the University Archives for future generations, and all of the recordings are openly available for anyone to research and study.
Whether satire, camp, or homage, the art of the remix has always been prevalent in American society. When Marcel Duchamp defaced the Moana Lisa by drawing a mustache on her upper lip, he helped to inspire a host of others to create works of parody. As new technologies have created greater opportunities for artistic and creative expression, Remix Culture and Creative Commons advocates such as Lawrence Lessig argue that appropriation and remixing are vital to advancing culture.
Happy Halloween! Join the CMU International Film Fest as they screen Night of the Living Dead tonight in CMU’s McConomy Auditorium at 6pm! Along with the screening of the film, viewers will enjoy a specially recorded introduction from George’s wife, Suzanne Desrocher-Romero, and a costume contest.
In 1968 George Romero changed everything about zombie movies – except, of course, that he didn’t. Though it’s often cited as the key film in the now ubiquitous zombie genre, Romero’s Night of the Living Dead never used the term “zombie.” Instead, it referred to it’s reanimated undead characters as “ghouls.” Initially, the filmmaker himself avoided any zombie references, and cited Richard Matheson’s novel “I Am Legend” as the main inspiration for his horror opus.
By the mid 1980s in America, it was very clear that the manufacturing economy that had led the United States to unprecedented economic heights was crumbling like a corroded steel bridge. Thousands of blue-collar workers were losing their jobs; across the Midwest and Northeast, from Cleveland and Detroit to Pittsburgh and beyond. Politicians and business owners made vague promises of revival, but the industry was already transitioning into newer, leaner, automated forms of manufacturing that required higher-precision technology, but less manpower.
George Romero left his zombie films behind with the end of the Cold War, only to return to the genre with "Land of the Dead" in 2005. As America began to polarize into red states and blue states during the early years of the War on Terror, Land picks up several years after the initial zombie outbreak with an equally divided society. In it Romero’s attention to the arming of America satirizes private security forces and the use of the military or National Guard to protect wealthy enclaves.
Unlike the alien landscapes and alternative futures of science fiction, the worlds of the zombie apocalypse are ours. They operate as allegories for the failures of government, social institutions, and the fragmentation of community. The zombie is our neighbor, the zombie is us. When he introduced the flesh-eating risen dead in 1968, George Romero became the father of the modern movie zombie. He scorned the later postmodern “fast” versions in Zack Snyder’s 2004 remake of "Dawn of the Dead" and the army-ant antics of the CGI-undead in Marc Forster’s adaptation of "World War Z" (2013).
The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff is an exhaustive (and at times, exhausting) account of the accusations, imprisonment, trials and executions of fourteen women and five men. It’s a story we all think we know, but Schiff places us in this world so completely, we can feel the chilly air and hear the howling of dogs at night.
"Legacy of the Dead" would not be possible without the generous support of CMU School of Drama Professor Emeritus and frequent Romero collaborator Barbara Anderson. A professor of costume design and construction in the School of Drama, as well as Associate Dean of the College of Fine Arts until 2012, Barbara began teaching alongside her late husband, production designer and fellow CMU Professor Cletus Anderson, in 1968.