Posted on November 3, 2010 by Eric Pollarine
Available at Amazon.com
So, just when you thought there wasn’t any room left in hell for yet another “definitive” book on the greatest zombie movie of all time, Citadel Press puts out their 200 plus page achievement called Night of the Living Dead: Behind the Scenes of the Most Terrifying Zombie Movie Ever.
Yes, that’s the whole title.
Anyway – written by Joe Kane billed on the cover as “the Phantom of the Movies,” which I believe hearkens back to his (Kane’s) movie reviewing days with the New York Daily News, the book stands now as possibly the definitive book on the original movie. I found it at a big box book retailer about two days ago and after quickly leafing through it was compelled to purchase it. I had seen it on my Amazon “recommended” list but neglected to go for the purchase, as I thought that would find it a complete bore.
Behind the scenes books are usually as such: A couple of never before seen set/obligatory behind the scenes photos, maybe a stray interview that had been buried for a long while, some other out of print or somewhat hard to find tidbits of info and the authors, most of the time, interesting but ultimately fan boyish take on said project, whatever that may be. But in this instance I found myself pouring through the chapters and selected contributors’ stories of how the original, original zombie movie moved, inspired, terrified or just flat out blew them away, I began to see that this book might just accomplish what it set out to do. Offer you the behind the scenes story of how, why and what Night of the Living Dead has become in the lexicon of pop culture, especially in the Horror genre.
It not only chronicles how the movie was made, with less money than what a used compact car sells for today, and how the idea of flesh starved ghouls who feast on the flesh of the living came to be the plot that almost wasn’t, but it gives you a first hand account to the inner workings of the movie itself. How it was edited, cut, the soundtrack was made, the styles which influenced George Romero, etc. With so many pluses, so many great qualities it was hard t find anything really to say other than it was a great book, but I found two areas that might stand out to the die-hard zombie fanatic.
First and foremost, the few pictures that are in the book are things that many flesh eating fans will have seen. There are, however, some really interesting pieces of advertising and promotional gags/products, most notably a complimentary barf bag and fake life insurance policies that were distributed to those who waited in line to watch the film, which shows the D.I.Y., almost punk aspect to the marketing plan, as well as a few shots of the cast and crew behind the scenes, but really it seems that the content was always meant to take center stage between the covers.
Second, it’s only around 200 pages of actual insight. This to me makes it seem like there was a lot more that was either cut out, or left out from the final draft. Some of which might have actually been better left in. I am sure that this could have been a far larger book, as the cultural aspect of Night of the Living Dead is still being discussed in the hallowed halls of higher education, to this day, but for whatever reason those aspects were glossed over. There are some really great contributors’ though to this book. Among some of the names are Peter Jackson, Wes Craven and Danny Boyle of 28 Days Later fame. Who offer some great little essays and paragraphs as to how NOTLD inspired them to make the movies they make, become directors or inspired the stories they have told.
One of the best things about this book is that it offers you some really great clips of and segments from interviews that the cast and crew, including Romero, Savini and John Russo. Also of worthy mention here are the really great pieces of trivia thrown throughout the book, the lists of zombie movies, like Zombie Comedies, Zombie movie milestones and a few more. But the real highlight to me, as a fan, as a life long fan of the movie, the genre it created both literary and cinema related-was the addition of the complete original screen play of the film. Yes nestled in the back of the book, among the citations and bibliography is the original script. The inclusion of this little gem was by far enough for me to purchase the book and right at 17 bucks it’s not that bad a price.
So, if you love the original movie as much as I do, or even if you’re just a casual fan of all things living dead, then go get Night of the Living Dead: Behind the Scenes… but make sure you have a copy of the movie, because I guarantee that you’ll want to immediately watch the movie the moment you start it.
Review by Eric Pollarine