07 October 2012

October 7th

The Munsters 2.10: "A Man for Marilyn" (1965) directed by Ezra Stone
Time for some more '60s TV with the daughters.  Worried that Marilyn will never find a man who doesn't run away screaming the second she brings him home, Grandpa and Herman set about to create one for her in the lab.  Best bit: the two cops who convince themselves the Munsters are actually frat boys with masks on doing an initiation.

The Munsters 2.11: "Herman's Driving Test" (1965) directed by Ezra Stone
Herman gets promoted at the parlor to hearse driver, only to discover his license expired 20 years ago.  Hijinx, naturally, ensue as he tries to renew his license.  Best bit: the look of horror on Herman and Grandpa's faces when the near-sighted small town clerk thinks they've come for a marriage license.

The Munsters 2.12: "Will Success Spoil Herman Munster?" (1965) directed by Ezra Stone
A recording of Herman singing of a cover of "Dem Bones" makes its way to a radio station and he becomes an instant hit.  Rather cruelly, the rest of the family sabotages his shot at stardom out of the fear he'll turn into a giant a-hole if successful.  Best bit: the dream sequence below in which Herman dresses like a leather daddy and boogies on stage with a pair of go-go girls.  Holy cow.

Night of the Living Dead (1968) directed by George A. Romero
The film that launched a thousand zombie tales.  With our culture still in the middle of zombie-mania right now, it's sometimes hard to realize how influential this little movie was 44 years ago.  Before Romero there were, of course, stories of the dead getting up and walking around.  There were tales of monsters eating human flesh, like ghouls.  There were even things called zombies, which were mostly associated with voodoo rituals in Haiti (as in 1932's White Zombie).  However, this film was the first time all of this stuff got put together and given an apocalyptic spin.

The apocalypse, I think, is the key to the popularity of zombies.  While there's a lot to be said about the zombie as a monster -- they are our disgust without our own bodies, or the fear of the unwashed masses, or humanity stripped down to its basest qualities -- the end of the world is really the star of the show in these films.  This is one reason many consider, for example, 28 Days Later to be a zombie movie even though the infected are not and never were dead.  It's not so much the monster as it is the destruction of society they cause.

In Night of the Living Dead, much time is spent watching the characters listen to the radio or watch TV.  This is no mere time-filler.  The TV and radio broadcasts are some of the scariest things in this film, even so for the characters in the house.  They learn that not only are the dead walking around and eating people in the middle-of-nowhere, PA, but they're doing do so all over the eastern United States.   Worse, no one in authority knows what the cause is and, other than setting up shelters in hospitals and schools, no one knows what the hell to do about it.  That comforting lie that most of us live with -- the "people in charge are taking care of things, don't worry" -- is destroyed by these broadcasts.

What if, in the event of a major disaster, we're really on our own?  What if no one know what's they're doing, even those running the entire country?  These are fears in the backs of everyone's minds, I think.  They are also very fun fears to ponder.  How would I handle such a thing?  What would I do first?  How would I protect those I love?  How would it all turn out?

I think it's clear how Romero sees such things shaking out.  In the end, authority fractures in to much smaller pieces controlled by violent men.  Ben with his rifle inside the farmhouse exerts control on that space.  Though ostensibly the hero of the show, he does end up shooting Cooper -- while an asshole, he was not posing a threat at the time -- in cold blood.  Similarly, outside of the house, the roving band of hunters exert their violent control of the countryside.  They have so much power, they appear to be shooting anything on two legs that they come across without bothering to check to see if they are human or zombie.  Zombies or armed men drunk on power: I think George is staying we're screwed either way.

Watched: DVD from Elite.

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