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September 16, 1978 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 1978-09-16

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'ge 7

The Michigan Daily-Saturday, September 16, 1978-P
; 11l

George Romero has. his night

By OWEN GLEIBERMAN
"Basically, film is a popular medium
like music," claims director George
R~omero. "And I think a lot of people
fprget about that."
a That's one thing Romero himself has
)lever forgotten. With Night of the
Living Dead, he created a vision of
horror that manages to at once rivet
viewers and have them rolling in the
aisles. In one of the film's supremely
kironic moments, a police chief sums up
-:he .situation optimistically by
-roclaiming, "Everything's under con-
cnol." The statement is a frightening
i-e, because the opposite is true; in
Night of the Living Dead, pure insanity
reigns. According to Romero, there are
people who've seen the film who would
like to run him out of the country, but
one thing is certain: no one was com-
plaining of boredom.
IT'S BEEN TEN years since the 38-
year-old Romero made the movie that
made him, and he was in town Thur-
sday to show his latest film, a sort of
updated vampire picture called Martin,
and. tell the fairly sedate crowd at
Angell Auditorium A what he's been up
to since 1968. A large, affable man who
sems incongruously "normal" next to
his films, Romero explined that he's
)*nade four movies between Night and
Martin (in addition to the soon-be-be-
completed Dawn of the Dead, the
second in what Romero hopes is a Dead
:trilogy), but that he woes of indepen-
:dent film production have plunged his
;work back into relative obscurity.
- Romero, however, wasn't lamenting.
4Although he's doubtless had oppor-
:tunities work under a major studio by
making aesthetic concessions to trend-
minded executives, Romero claims
he's "not interested in doing that"
unless he can exercise the complete
control he enjoys now. And if Martin is
any evidence-at least as far as
budgetary concerns go-Romero
doesn't need, the studios, although it
looks as if they could use him. If this
director ever gets proper distribution,
be's going to be the new Brian De
Palma.
SHOT IN SEVEN weeks on a
relatively miniscule budget of $175,000,
his Martin is the most intricate and
technically accomplished film I've ever
seen made outside the industry. The
film's vampire, rather than having
supernatural powers, is, as Romero.
puts it, "just an 18-year-old with a hang-
up": too shy to perform "the sexy
stuff" with a conscious partner, Mar-
tin-which, incidentally, would have
been a dynamite role for David
Bowie-opts for drugging women,
slashing their wrists with razor blades,
and carrying out his sexual fantasies by
drinking their, blood. None of this ar-
chaic teeth-on-throat stuff, with his an-
tiseptic hypodermic needles and razor
blades, Martin is the Nosferatu of some
technological nightmare.

DAILY EARLY BIRD MATINEES - Adults $1.25
DISCOUNT IS FOR SHOWS STARTING BEFORE 1:30
M0N. thru SAT. 10 A.M. tii 1:3 P.M. SUN. S HOLS. 12 Noon til t1:30 P.M.
EVENING ADMISSIONS AFTER 5:00, $3.50 ADULTS
Monday-Saturday 1:30-5:00, Admission $2.50 Adult and Students
Sundays and Holidays 1:30 to Cose, $3.50 Adults, $2.50 Students
Sunday Thursday Evenings Student & Senior Citizen Discounts
Children 12 And Under, Admissions $1.25
TICKET SALES
1. Tickets sold no sooner than 30 minutes
prior to showtilne.
2. No tickets sold later than 15 minutes
after showtime.

L.

Daily Photo by WAYNE CABLE
Director George Romero casts his spell on the crowd at Auditorium A in Angell Hall Thursday evening.

Although the violence is perhaps the
most graphic I've ever encountered (it
makes the end of Taxi Driver look like
MisteRogers), Romero 's sardonic sen-
se of humor pervades the film, just as it
did Night of the Living Dead. Romero
explained that the high campiness of so
many Hollywood horror films
(especially those chronically inept con-
coctions of the fifties) have made
humor endemic to the genre. "In the
great horror films we've come to
know," said Romero, "laughter has
become part of the experience." Con-
cerning the humor in his own films, he
said, "I generally see things that way. I
do a lot of improv on the set, and if
something happens that's funny; I can't
resist."
ROMERO HAS enormous respect for
the classic American horror film. "The
early Hollywood stuff is so well-
crafted," he explained, "that t lends
itself to fantasy of all kinds." Where
Romero parts with his forebears is in
his use of violence. He admitted that,
despite the number of people who are
generally up in arms about "gratuitous

violence," he has no qualms about it. "I
don't believe that it's harmful," he
said, "and I hope it's preventive."
Aesthetically, however, does Romero
consider the violence in his films at all
gratuitous? Many view Night of the
Living Dead as a symbolic expression
of disintegrating American values. In
one of the film's most gruesome
moments, a woman stumbles upon her
little daughter, who is now a can-
nibalistic zombie, making a feast out of
Daddy's freshly dead flesh. I asked
Romero if that was a conscious attempt
to capulize a breakdown in the in-
stitution df the family.
"Most of that, if it was intended when
I was writing it, then it was instinctive,"
he explained. He went on to say,
though, that once they began shooting,
there was more of a deliberate attempt
to expand the film conceptually. Scenes
like the father-daughter dinner are all
the more horrifying because of what
they suggest.
Martin, though a superb technical
achievement, could have used more in
the way of such allegory to flesh out its
lurid premise. Martin lives in Pit-
tsburgh with his grandfather, a
deranged old man who believes his
grandson is an old-style vampire, and
thee is some ambiguity about whether
Martin is supernatural or simply
bananas. But Romero never
satisfyingly explores the psychological
dimension this uncertainty imposes. Is
Martin a wretched innocent afflicted
with a curse of vampirism, or simply a
psychotic, albeit quite inventive, sex

murderer? Either' one of these
possibilities-especially the for-
mer-seems intriguing, but Romero
does neither justice.
INSTEAD, HE succumbs to the ob-
sessions that all but did in Brian De
Palma's The Fury. Romero is so intent
on exploring the cinematic possibilities
presented by the situations (par-
ticularly the murders), that he frequen-
tly overshadows (one could, I suppose,
say transcends) the story. Romero,
who also edited the film, is a veritable
wizard at fusing sound and image and
has an extraordinary visual
imagination. Every shot is intricately
designed, and the attention' accorded
detail, such as the opening montage of
Martin filling his hypodermic needles,
heightens the film's intensity.
But Martin, unlike a similarly flashy
film such as Carrie, doesn't carry the
stick-to-your-ribs intensity that one ex-
pects from a horror masterpiece, and
for all the film's ornate perfection,
Night of the Living Dead remains the
more viscerally satisfying. Still, Martin
is quite a harbinger of fine George
Romero films, and shows him to be one
of the most audacious and talented
filmmakers to have emerged in years.
Romero says of horror films: "I really
like the genre and there's a lot to be
done with it. I really don't mind (con-
tinuing making them), because it's a lot
of fun. I would like to do other things,
though."
When Romero does do some of those
other things, look for him to rise into the
public awareness-like a bat out of hell.

Join, the Arts Page
Have you ever said, "I could do it better myself" after reading a review
of a film, play, concert, or record? If so, now's your chance to "set things
right."
The Daily arts Department is looking for people who would like to help
assess the artistic flower pot we call, affectionately, Ann Arbor. If you write
well, that's a definite plus. If not, we'll try to help.
If you'd like to work, come in any afternoon and ask to see one of the arts
editors. They'll make you feel at home right away, and if there's any work to
be done, they'll show you how.
We're also having a big meeting for prospective arts staff members
Sunday, Sept. 17, at 6 p.m. in The Daily offices in the Student Publications
Building at 420 Maynard St. You can see us then, or at The Daily recruitment
meeting that's being held later in the week.

English Subtitles

UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME
POP CONCERT COMMITTEE
PRESENTS

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22 -8:00 PM
NOTRE DAME ATHLETIC & CONVOCATION CENTER
TICKETS $7.50: Send certified check or money order payable to Notre Dame
YES Show, Notre Dame Athleti: & Convocation Center, South Bend, Indiana
46556
OFFICE OF CAMPUS LIFE PRESENTS
IN CONCERT
THURSDAY, September 21-8 PM
Pease Auditorium, Eastern Michigan University

__________________ -~ a -

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