Scratch another one off my Geek Bucket List.
Don’t miss this week’s interview with Dawn of the Dead icon Ken Foree, who’s a guest at Crypticon Seattle, Memorial Day weekend. (www.crypticonseattle.com). I’ll be interviewing him at Crypticon, too, and doing panels that include one on horror in comics. But I would have been tickled to interview Foree on any shallow pretext, because that movie played a major role in making me the sick bastard – I mean the refined media personality you know and love. And he was really cool in it.
With The Walking Dead and approximately half of Netflix taken up by cheap-ass zombie flicks, it may be hard to remember just how shocking the original DOTD was. Not the slick-looking, empty-calorie Zack Snyder remake. Romero’s, with all its flaws and blue-looking zombies. Shocking, transgressive, deeply disturbing, and about something. In fact, I think the movie felt even more raw and intense because of how cheap and unpolished it looked.
Taking me to see DOTD in a theater at an inappropriately young age – let’s be honest: it was sort of child abuse – was one of the best things my mom ever did for me. Because I got to see the audience’s reaction to a guy’s head exploding. (Remember, DOTD came out before the other exploding-head classic, Scanners).
And if you thought they nearly had a Dawn of the Deuce in their pants when that happened, try to imagine how an auditorium full of civilians a generation before CSI reacted when this dead guy took a bite out of his living wife within the first few minutes. Make that temporarily living.
Hey, some people get nostalgic for hair metal bands. I get nostalgic for this.
And that’s not to say I wasn’t gobsmacked, too. I can’t stress this enough: Nobody had ever seen anything like this in a mainstream movie before – not really even in Romero’s 1968 Night of the Living Dead. Crap, even big shopping malls like the one in the movie were a fairly new scourge on the land.
As the credits rolled, I could see that my mom was physically nauseated. So I gave her a little push by suggesting we go get spaghetti or barbecue after the movie – and she did that gagging, throwing-up-in-the-mouth thing. Don’t you take her side.
Since then, I compulsively hoarded every edition on VHS, laser disc, DVD and poster that was ever produced – much like some accident victims fetishize their traumas. (See David Cronenberg’s Crash.) I made my own zombie comic, called Rotten. And here’s a geek Easter Egg: I even use the goofy mall music (“The Gonk”) every week in a segment of my KIRO show.
So enjoy the interview, come to Crypticon and meet Foree – and me and Rev – and then watch Dawn again with a fresh set of eyes. Before you eat them.