Friday, November 27, 2009

Bookshelf of the Living Dead

If you thought 2009 was an exciting year for Night of the Living Dead fans - the Autopsy of the Dead DVD, the limited edition book Advertising Night of the Living Dead, and another Living Dead Festival, there's no sign of things slowing down in 2010.

A few releases may have flown under your radar, and there are some exciting new projects coming out next year that I want to be sure all Night fans are aware of. I plan to run reviews on each of these, and possibly even run interviews with the folks behind these projects.

The BFI Classics series of books each focus on an single film that is important in the history of cinema, and it's nice to see Night of the Living Dead recently added to that list (along with Star Wars!).

Many of you are surely familiar with John Russo's novelization of Night of the Living Dead that was initially published by Warner Books in 1974, and later reissued in 1982 by Pocket Books. And while we are all aware of the film's unfortunate public domain status, one would hope that Christopher Andrews' self-published 'novelization' will prove to be in direct violation of Russo's publishing copyright, and an example can be set for those who assume that anything relating to the film is theirs for the taking.

If you're not familiar with Jerad Walters Centipede Press, you're missing out on some beautifully produced books relating to horror fiction, art and film. His books are not inexpensive, but fine works of art in and of themselves, justifying the price. For this reason alone, I was thrilled to see that his Studies in the Horror Film series would have a volume on Night of the Living Dead.

Also scheduled for release next year is a book on the making of Night by the Phantom of the Movies himself, Joe Kane: Night Of The Living Dead: The Inside Story of the Most Terrifying Zombie Movie Ever.

I've included links to order the above titles (the unauthorized novelization notwithstanding) on the Night of the Living Dead page in The Slaughtered Lamb Cinema Store linked to the right.

P.S. In case anyone out there is still looking for a copy of our long out of print The Scream Factory Presents: Night of the Living Dead 25th Anniversary Tribute, there's one up for grabs on eBay right now. It's hard for me to believe that it's been more than 16 years since we did that...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I believe in America...

I grew up in the days before VCRs were a common household appliance. I was part of the generation who scoured the weekly TV guide in search of monster movies, to ensure I wouldn't miss something regardless of when it might be on. I stayed up late to watch Creature Features; in fact I still I vividly recall the night I saw Night of the Living Dead for the first time - and knowing that at 1am when it was over, I could switch from channel 2 over to channel 36 where Planet of the Apes was starting (frankly because I didn't want to make the trip from the TV back to my bed in the dark after turning it off).

When we got our first VCR, pre-recorded movies and video stores were just starting to pop-up. I remember when the local grocery store got the first bin of public domain VHS titles, at the amazing sell-through price of $14.99! That day, Dad shelled out $30 extra with the grocery bill as I picked out a copy of Spitfire (for him) and you guessed it, Night of the Living Dead for me.

The idea of actually owning a movie to watch whenever I wanted was such a thrill to me, I was able to forgive the poor print quality, splices and jump cuts throughout. It was mine, and you could take it from my cold, dead hands...

While in college, I was working in a bookstore pushing horror titles to anyone who would listen to me. One of the folks who did became a great friend, and Tony in turn got me hooked on LaserDiscs. While discs ranged from $35 for a standard film to $100 or more for a special edition (don't even ask me about the Japanese imports), I was also able to pick out a lot of titles as cut-outs at a fraction of the cost. We always had several LaserDisc stores in the Bay Area, and it was always an exciting treasure hunt when they got a new shipment of markdown cut-out titles.

I can't remember if I brought an LD player with me when I lived in the dorm at Santa Clara University, but I do know that while in school, I amassed a collection of over 100 discs. I recall distinctly that I decided I needed to create a FileMaker database to start tracking them (on my Mac LCII), before the collection got out of hand. It didn't and by 1997, when DVD had reared it's head and it was nary as ugly as we LD fanboys were thinking, I had around 700.

But those little shiny discs won me over in a heartbeat. They were light, they were smaller (more fit on even less shelf space), and by God, they were cheap! $25 a movie! And special editions didn't cost three times as much. Like I often do when faced with a new and exciting technology, I decided that I wouldn't need to upgrade all titles on DVD as they came out. The LDs were perfectly fine! And really, what were the odds that classic remasters like those done on LaserDisc for Night of the Living Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre would get similar treatment on DVD?

Well, despite being an early adopter (and one who quickly dismissed the notion of NOT upgrading darn near every LaserDisc I owned as the DVDs came out), I could not have dreamed what the future would hold with DVDs. Nor could I have imagined that one day I might own 1,000 titles, let alone our current count of 5,732 (which does not include the majority of things we've got recorded on DVD-R (a category I let slip, and now am woefully behind in cataloging). I used to say (in the early days) that I had more DVDs than your average Blockbuster. While they soon overtook me on quantity, I still feel I always gave them a run for their money on quality (Wild Wild West notwithstanding - Vonna's a Will Smith fan).

HD-DVD came and went (we still support it - and will as long as we have titles unavailable in any other format, thank you very much France for releasing Mulholland Drive!), and we waited until the price of PS3s made jumping on the Blu Ray bandwagon palatable. We're at 267 Blu Rays and counting (as of 8:10pm on 11/24/09 - haven't opened today's mail yet), and there appears to be no end in sight.

So where is this all going? I was thinking about how thankful I am to live in a time where there are unlimited worlds of cinema at my fingertips... where for $2 (shame on you if you're not following Amazon's Black Friday Week sales) one can own a copy of a movie like I Am Legend... Black Book... or Young Frankenstein.

Whether you have one movie in your own library or 100, I hope you appreciate that ability to relive your favorite movie experiences whenever you choose, knowing that it was not always a foregone conclusion.

At The Slaughtered Lamb Cinema, it is our mission to share our passion for cinema with our friends. And we're thankful that more than 60 times every year, many of you come out to share the experience with us.

Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Watch Night of the Living Dead Reanimated Online!

If you've held off signing up for Facebook, now's the time to give in and do it. This weekend, Facebook users have the opportunity to screen the animated recreation of Night of the Living Dead - aka Night of the Living Dead Reanimated, for the first time.

Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated a video based art show. Artists from around the world were invited to select scenes from the original film and make them their own. With no restrictions on style, media or process the resulting works ranged from oil paintings to comic illustrations and sock puppets to digital animation. These works were then curated into a visual track of artwork and set to the audio of George A. Romero's masterpiece, 'Night of the Living Dead'.

NOTLD:R is not meant to replace the original film but rather to supplement your viewing experience by allowing you to see the film through the eyes and hands of these talented individuals.

Sign into your Facebook account and click here for this rare opportunity!

Act quickly - as this will only be available through Sunday, 11/15!

Thanks to Kyra Schon for helping spread the word.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

2009 Living Dead Festival T-Shirts

Did you miss the 2nd Annual Living Dead Fest held in Evans City, PA over Halloween weekend? If so, it's not too late to order one of the cool Festival T-shirts. It features the Festival logo (right) on a black shirt. Styles include long and short sleeves in S/M/L/XL/2XL.

Here's an inexpensive way to show your support for the festival, even if you were unable to attend in person. Quantities are limited, so act fast if you're interested.

I'm wearing mine proudly!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Advertising Night of the Living Dead

Last weekend, the 2nd Annual Living Dead Fest was held in Evans City, Pennsylvania. An unprecedented 17 Night of the Living Dead cast and crew members were in attendance. You can view a local news report on the event online.

On display at the event was a gallery of original Night of the Living Dead advertising and promotional materials from fan and collector Andrew Jones. In addition to the gallery, Andrew also produced 200 copies of a companion guide, including original Image Ten promos, Continental posters and press materials, FLESH EATERS and ANUBIS photos and more.

I've got a copy on the way, and based on the material that was on display at the show, it looks like another must have for Night of the Living Dead fans. Considering there are only 200 copies of the festival edition, expect the demand to exceed the supply.

I'll be back with a full review once my copy arrives. In the mean time, watch for the remaining copies to be sold through Andrew's eBay store, where you can check out more interior photos as well some shots of the beautifully arranged display at the event.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Universal Cult Horror Collection

Following in the footsteps of the Warner Archive Collection, Universal is making several titles through the TCM Vault Collection, including a set of five classic horror titles that have not been previously released on DVD.

The Universal Cult Horror Collection includes the following five films: Murders in the Zoo, House of Horrors, The Mad Ghoul, The Strange Case of Dr. RX and The Mad Doctor of Market Street. While each title is available individually for $19.99, a box set of all five is on sale for $49.99. Each disc includes bonus materials such as behind-the-scenes stills, posters and lobbycards, TCM Database info, and more.

I've always been a big fan of The Mad Ghoul, and also enjoy House of Horrors and Murders in the Zoo. For the sale price of $10 a disc, you can't go wrong with this set. And it's important to remember that supporting these lines early is the only way you can ensure to see more overlooked films finally released on DVD.