October 2013 + 5 Best George A. Romero Zombie Films

A brief aside from my Week of the Living Dead now (don’t worry, it will return later today, with my review of Diary of the Dead) for the regular monthly update…

What Do You Mean You Haven’t Seen…?

I was supposed to watch two of these this month, but by giving myself over to Romero for a week I scuppered my own carefully-spaced plans. Nonetheless, I did add tick off one more from the list: ’50s noir chiller The Night of the Hunter. That’s one destined for my year-end top 10, I feel.

Two months left, still four films to go. So much for a neat one-per-month, but at least it’s not an unachievable goal.

October’s films

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs#84a Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965)
#85 G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)
#86 Fast & Furious (2009)
#87 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009)
#88 Lady of Deceit, aka Born to Kill (1947)
#89 Shanghai Noon (2000)
#90 Shanghai Knights (2003)
#91 The Night of the Hunter (1955)
The Night of the Hunter#92 The Tale of Zatoichi, aka Zatôichi monogatari (1962)
#93 Night of the Living Dead (1968)
#93a Toy Story of Terror! (2013)
#94 Dawn of the Dead (1978)
#95 Day of the Dead (1985)
#96 Land of the Dead: Director’s Cut (2005)
#97 Diary of the Dead (2007)
#98 Survival of the Dead (2009)


It’s been an horrific month all round — in terms of viewing content, rather than viewing numbers. Kicking the month off was the godawful G.I. Joe, followed by the little-better fourth Fast & Furious film. After some quality asides, it was into the intentionally horrific: Nights of the Hunter and the Living Dead, the rest of Romero’s zombie cycle, and a brief aside from some family-friendly frights in Toy Story of Terror! I may not have given myself over to 31 days of horror as some people have (it seemed to be all over Letterboxd, anyway), but there was a definite spooky theme to this month’s watching.

That theme carried me to my most successful October ever, and the second-best month of 2013 too (just pipping September’s 13, but a few shy of March’s all-time-second-best 17). It’s also the best-ever end-of-October total for a year in which I didn’t make it to #100 in September. Which is a bit like when a film has the highest-grossing opening weekend for a mid-size 3D release in a non-summer month, or whatever other hoops they have things jump through just to be able to claim it’s “record breaking” these days. That said, having only reached 100 in September twice out of six years, that makes it my third-best end-of-October tally ever.

That tally being 98 means that, with just two months of the year left, I also have only two films left until #100. I think even I can manage an average of one film per month. In fact, my year-to-date average is 9.8 films per month. If I can maintain that, I’d be looking at a total of 118 — not far off the over-120 final totals of my two best years. My viewing often tails off a bit once I pass the 100-films barrier, though, so realistically I’ll be happy with a number closer to 110.

But, hey, we’ll see — as well as my usual viewing, and my toddling-along NOW TV subscription, there are multiple high-profile summer season Blu-ray releases yet. I even bought World War Z, which I said I wasn’t going to do, thanks to a Sainsbury’s exclusive bonus disc. I struggle to resist a good exclusive disc (The Wolverine, which has an extended cut on the 3D release but a Sainsbury’s-exclusive bonus disc only with the 2D release, is killing me), and those Sainsbury’s ones do tend to sell out.

5 Best George A. Romero Zombie Films

I normally avoid just doing a “rank something there are five of” list for this, but I’ve been rather busy with my Week of the Living Dead during the entire time I’d normally be pondering and constructing the usual list-of-five for this post. Besides which, my theme is always inspired by something in the month’s viewing, and it’s pretty clear what dominates this month.

  1. Dawn of the Dead
    The top two are separated by a hair’s breadth; if I could, I might even give them a joint number one. This certainly wasn’t my favourite of the two after initial viewing (I say as much in my review), but with a few more days’ reflection, I feel like I’ve seen Night, whereas Dawn feels like it will merit revisiting sooner.
  2. Night of the Living Dead
    After so many decades, cheap movies usually look even cheaper and terribly dated. Not so Night of the Living Dead, which, technical elements and fashion choices aside, could have been made last week. Few people can claim to have spawned a whole genre, but this is where Romero did.
  3. Land of the Dead
    Returning to something successful after 20 years is undoubtedly a poisoned chalice: your fans are excited you’re back, but can you ever live up to those expectations? For many, Land did not. I think that does it a disservice. Romero’s chameleon-like directorial skills create a very ’00s movie, but still with the trademark Romero social commentary.
  4. Day of the Dead
    I like a quotable cult special-effects-fest as much as the next man, and there’s far more to Day than just that, but I didn’t feel it as much as I did with the other films. Not a bad picture, just a half-step behind the one above for me.
  5. Diary of the Dead
    Diary’s Blu-ray cover proudly boasts four-star reviews from Empire and Starburst, but went down less well with the public. You can see how many stars I gave it later, but suffice to say although I did like it, it’s still the least of the initial five ‘Dead’ films.

Of course, there’s still one other…

    Survival of the Dead
    By the time you read this, I’ll have watched Survival of the Dead; at the time of writing, I hadn’t. Consensus seems to be its easily the worst of the series, a misguided failed cash-grab. I’m sure my full review will let you know my thoughts.

Is placing Land above Day tantamount to sacrilege? Is Survival actually surprisingly good and I should have waited to include it? Your thoughts are welcomed, dear readers.

Next month on 100 Films in a Year…

…I reach #100!

I mean, probably. I probably will. I’d have to watch either just one film or no films not to. Though I have gone a whole month without a single new film before now…

And also! Doctor Who is 50. You think that’s not to do with films? Think again, mister! I’ve got a couple of posts lined up to mark the occasion.

Happy times and places.

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