Want to become an instant expert in our filmmaker of the month without committing yourself to an entire filmography? Then you need the Hell Is For Hyphenates Cheat Sheet: we program you a double that will not only make for a great evening's viewing, but bring you suitably up-to-speed before our next episode lands…
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) and MARTIN (1977)
There are two George Romeros: the zombie filmmaker, and the not-zombie filmmaker. The first is the director of legend, the one everyone knows. Romero is, to many people, the filmmaker behind Night of the Living Dead, the independent horror film that brought zombies into the mainstream. This terrifying '60s classic is a world away from the B-movie schlock that defined so much of that period's horror, and so much more identifiable with the serious dramas of the time. It has become a touchstone of horror because of how rawly it reflects everything that's happening in the 1960s, particularly in terms of race relations. There's never an evening when Night of the Living Dead isn't a great watch, and you'll want to follow that up with Martin. This is the non-zombie Romero at play, and although it may seem as if he's taking a side-step into another classic monster trope (this time vampires), Martin is so much more than that. Our protagonist and titular character is deeply disturbed, and has been raised to believe he's a monster. It's a nature vs nurture argument treated like monster A vs monster B, and all contained within this intense character drama. It further reveals Romero as someone who is far from just a horror director: he's a filmmaker who uses horror to explore all sides of human nature, proving that ultimately, these two Romeros are one and that same.
Substitutions: If you can't get or have already seen Night of the Living Dead, try 1978's Dawn of the Dead, which is considered by many to be just as groundbreaking as Night. If you can't get or have already seen Martin, try 1981's Knightriders, the film that's as much about Romero the filmmaker as it is about Ed Harris putting on a suit of armour and riding a motorbike about the place.
The Hidden Gem: Want to watch something from off the beaten track? Check out Season of the Witch aka Hungry Wives (1972), an astonishingly progressive and dangerous film that, like all of Romero's best work, is far more about the human conflict than the supernatural.
The next episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Sophie Mayer talking George A Romero, will be released on the morning of September 30 (AEST).