In 1968, a group of young filmmakers, lead by director George A. Romero, released a low budget horror film that would eventually become a cult classic. The film was made with little money, and was basically an excuse to build the bank account of the commercial production company they owned. Instead, it launched Romero's career, created a new horror genre (that thrives today), and established the man as a legend.
But how did it all happen?
In his book, author Joe Kane delves into the making of Night of the Living Dead. He discusses Romero's early life, and his days making commercials. He takes us through the entire process getting Night off the ground, as well as the headaches with distribution. Kane addresses the groundbreaking decision to cast an African American as the lead of the film. It's almost comical how trivial the decision seemed to the cast.
While the book's title would lead you to think the story was focused on Night, in fact, the book follows Romero's entire career. Kane winds his story to include all of the director's movies; from the follow up flops, to the triumphant Dawn of the Dead, through the films of the 80's, and the barren waste land of the 90's. This is, really, a complete look at Romero's entire catalogue.
What makes this book so much fun to read is the tone. Kane is obviously a dedicated fan of the film and the director. While his book is mainly written in straight narrative, he does include interviews with cast members or friends in between chapters to highlight certain aspects. This gives the book a very personal touch.
If that weren't enough, he also includes essays from other horror directors like Peter Jackson, who were either inspired by Romero, or worked personally with him. He even goes further to include lists throughout the book which detail "The Best Italian Zombie Films," "The Best Early Zombie Films," etc. There are even on set photos that add the proverbial cherry on top.
This book is a true love letter to Romero and the zombie genre in general. It was written for both fans of those films, as well as newcomers who want to expand their appreciation. This book is a fast read that makes you wanna rent/download/watch each film as its being discussed. It's a perfect page turner for the Halloween season.