Sunday, November 16, 2008

1971 Newsweek "Night of the Living Dead" article

First, an apology to my regular readers; I haven't been able to post for a few weeks, as "real" life caught up to me lately and I had very little extra time for awhile. Hopefully now I can get back in the swing of things and post at least once a week. Thanks for sticking around! -Fred

Today's Monster Memories are of:
November 7th, 1971 Newsweek "Night of the Living Dead" article

Whenever I was visiting older relatives in the family when I was a kid, I was always on the lookout for old magazines and newspapers that had items of interest to me. The newspapers sometimes yielded old movie ads which I now share on one of my other blogs, Held Over! which features vintage newspaper movie adverts. And the magazines sometimes held articles that, as I refind them in my collection, I decide would fit better here.

Such is this article from the November 7th, 1971 edition of Newsweek. The article is a look back at how NOTLD was viewed as it began to make the midnight movies circuit long after it's initial theater run, which was unusual. I had never seen the movie, and articles like this only whetted my appetite. I wouldn't get the chance to see it until 1982, when I brought it home from the local library along with their 16 mm projector, and watched it on a sheet on the wall. I was 23 at the time and it was still terrifying to me!

For weeks later, when I would take the trash out at night, I would glance around nervously in the dark. It gave me the willies that much!

18 comments:

prof. grewbeard said...

i remember reading an article in Reader's Digest when the movie came out, attacking it's perceived "depravity" and the scenes the article described were so frightening to me i couldn't sleep for a week! i didn't even have to see it(until many years later)and it still freaked me out, just by reading about it! i was 8...

Frederick said...

Prof.,

If I had heard about it when it first came out, I'm sure the very idea of it would have been scary to me too! Why, the commercials for "The Outer Limits" scared the pee out of me at that age!

But I began to hear rumors in school as kids talked in hushed tones about this movie where dead people ate the living, and "they showed everything!" and I was creeped out also. So I can relate!

Fred said...

I remember the first time I heard of Night of the Living Dead was during the summer of '73. ABC-TV showed it at midnight and my dad and my older brother stayed up to watch it (I think some of the gore was edited for television). My brother then took delight in telling me all the gory details the next day. I bought the Night of the Living Dead paperback that December for a family trip to Mexico (the pictures in the center section gave me nightmares), and finally got to see the film in '74 on a matinee double bill with The Pink Floyd Movie.

For me, the film is the quintessential horror film, showing you just enough but leaving some things for your mind to fill in the blanks. The plight of Barbara is especially poignent, since she spends almost the entire movie as a worthless, catatonic couch potato, only springing into action when it is too late, after Judy and Tom have died in Ben's Chevy Pickup Bombe Surprise, Harry has been shotgunned, the little girl has turned into a zombie and troweled her mom to death. When the brother she has been trying to get the others to rescue finally shows up (giving new meaning to "When Johnny Comes Marching Home), and drags her to be eaten alive by his zombie cohorts, Romero resists the temptation to show any of her fate. Since we had already seen the zombies devour Tom and Judy's entrails (and an errant cockroach), we can just imagine wants happens to poor Barbara. I think Romero's decision NOT to show it makes it that much more frightening, and doesn't disrupt the narrative continuity. Unfortunately, with Day of the Dead and his zombie features since, Romero has given in to the temptation to show all, which has hurt his films, and kept them from being the modern horror classics they could have been become. As for imagined images, for years after my first viewing, I could have sworn that zombie Karen ate some of her mom, and that zombie Helen's eyes opened and darted around before she was shot by Ben. However, I have not seen either of these images since my initial viewing almost 35 years ago. This imaginings are all due in part of Romero's excellent work on the film.

Frederick said...

Fred,

Thanks for sharing your memories! That's the kind of thing I enjoy encouraging with this site and Held Over Movies. I also enjoyed your comments on the movie.

I have an edition of the paperback also! I think it's a good thing I didn't see the film as a kid or even teen... I might have had a problem handling it, used as I was to the usual monster movies.

bluerosekiller said...

Wow, prof. grewbeard. You know what's awesome? We were both very much influenced by the same article in the good ol' Reader's Digest. Though, I think I was a couple of years your senior at ten years old when my Mom pointed it out to me.

I vividly remember her telling me about all the people who walked out of the film because of it's gruesomeness & intensity. Plus, if memory serves me correctly, there was a bit about a woman who fainted during a screening. Which, both made me want to see NOTLD quite badly & at the same time, actually fear getting the opportunity to!

These feelings stayed with me for four long years, until I was 14 & finally got the chance to see it at the drive in that summer of '75.
And, it proved to be MORE than worthy of all the anticipation & expectations that I'd built up over the years & it delivered on all the unparalelled thrills & chills that the article had described.

- Jim

Frederick said...

Jim,

Great to hear from you! Love all your comments when you make them.

WOuldn't it be neat-o if that RD article could be found? I'll keep my eyes peeled for it as I haunt various antique stores in the future. Maybe we'll get lucky!

Frederick said...

Okay, I DID get lucky! I found that issue on Ebay and just bought it. Look for the scan near the beginning of December, or the next day after I get it in the mail.

Fred said...

Frederick, I wish I could say I still had my copy of the Night of the Living Dead paperback, but I lent it to a friend whose parents wouldn't let him see it. I think they found the book and tossed it in the garbage. I still have the copies of In Search of Dracula and I Am Legend (with the Charlton Heston "Omega Man" cover) that I bought for the same trip, but I read both so many times, that they are falling apart and held together with masking tape.

Thanks for this and your other blogs. It is great knowing I wasn't the only one with the crazy "monster kid" youth, scanning newspapers for articles on upcoming horror and sci-fi films, cherising every issue of Monster Times, Famous Monsters and Castle of Frankenstein, and scouring each issue of TV Guide to see which horror movies would be showing up on Chiller Theater and Creature Features on Saturday night.

Frederick said...

Fred,

Amazing! I too have the Charlton Heston cover edition of "I Am Legend!" I got it second-hand at a school library book sale.

Too bad about the NOTLD book. Was it the edition with the silvery-looking half-face of a zombie coming through a door? That's the one I have, but it may have been a later reprint.

I lucked across a cassette book-on-tape adaptation of it, which I still have also.

I thought I had the "In Search of Dracula" book also, but in looking at it it's titled "The Dracula Archives." I have posted an image in an earlier entry on Sweet Skulls:
http://www.sweetskulls.com/2008/07/dracula-returns-again.html
But I could swear I had the "In Search of" book somewhere. It may be hiding in my bookcase somewhere, I just don't have the energy to take all of them out looking for it any time soon!

Fred said...

The NOTLD version I had featured an image of various hands thrusting through a partially boarded up window.

Flickhead said...

Didn't Roger Ebert write that Reader's Digest article?

You can learn more about the midnight cult for Night of the Living Dead in the cool documentary, Midnight Movies.

There was quite a fuss over Romero's movie in the early 70s. Castle of Frankenstein magazine originally gave it a negative review in '68 but changed their opinion a few years later when the film became a hit.

Night... was paired on a double-bill with the documentary Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii in either 1974 or '75. They played together in theaters at prime-time instead of midnight. I think everyone fell asleep during the Floyd film -- even me, and I was a huge fan of theirs.

Frederick said...

Flickhead,

Thanks for stopping by! Ebert did wrtie that, and I'm anxious to see what he said when I get the magazine. From what I understand it made both him and the movie more famous.

I'll post it soon!

And thanks for your bits of info, all fascinating!

bluerosekiller said...

Fred(erick), wow, how'd you manage to find a copy of that issue of Reader's Digest THAT quickly? I'm impressed.

And Fred, I have the same version of the NOTLD novelization as you did. The one with all the hands/arms reaching in. Sad, that your's had to get tossed like that by your buddy's mother. I had the same thing happen to me with one of my books that I'd lent out. Isn't it nice that ignorant folks like that find it so easy to destroy other's property rather than just saying "thanks,but no thanks" for their kid & giving it back?

How I love to proudly wear the label of being a "Monster Kid" now as an adult, as opposed to when I was little & some parents wouldn't allow their children to play with me because of what I loved to read & watch.As if my monster magazines & comics made me some sort of a pariah back then.

- Jim

Frederick said...

Jim,

I had the same thing happen once to me because of my love for Star Trek. This happened when I was about 14.

I used to make cassette tapes of the shows off TV each afternoon when it played, and listen back to them repeatedly. One day I took my tape deck to a friend's house, and we played the fight scene from "Amok Time" with the well-known music, and acted it out in his back yard.

Well, his mother, not knowing how paranoid my parents were about Trek, called my mother and told her that I was so wrapped up in Star Trek that I though it was real. Good grief, we were just playing around! Needless to say that threw gas on the fire at home.

Fred said...

The kid whose parents threw out my paperback copy of NOTLD? He ended up as a petty criminal and the last I heard he was in a prison upstate. Another childhood friend whose parents disapproved of our friendship because of my love of horror and sci-fi ended up a drug addict. And the kids whose parents approved and supported our love of horror, sci-fi and fantasy? All have their own families, most are successful in their own ventures, and some are even in the entertainment industry. I use this to guide me in raising my own son and daughter.

bluerosekiller said...

Fred(erick),

Once again there's that almost eerie shared background experience when it comes to our youth. I also had piles of cassettes that I'd taped the audio from movies & tv shows that I loved on. Including favorite STAR TREK episodes.

One of which was "The Gamesters of Tri ... " ( I USED to know how to spell it by heart back in my TREK days, but you get the idea ) & I had two close friends who were even more into TREK than I was at 14 - 15. So, we'd get together at a local multi level parking garage downtown that we imagined the center of the bottom level as an arena. Where we play out those "Gamesters" fights at for hours at a time.

And, whenever we tired of that for the day, we switch it up a bit by reenacting the final battle between Bruce Lee & Chuck Norris in RETURN OF THE DRAGON. LOL
It was all great fun.

Sure, every once in a while we got thrown out by the security guard if we got too loud & enthusiastic, but we'd always head back after a day or two.

- Jim

bluerosekiller said...

And Fred,

Isn't it funny how things like that often work out?

How we who were ostracized as children for our "un-wholesome" interests by other kid's parents and/or labeled as "odd" by other kids turned out just swell, while many of those who were raised in "Dr. Spock approved" homes turned out somewhat less than swell to varying degrees.

Frederick said...

Jim,

As mentioned by Fred, it does seem that the kids like us who enjoyed the fantasy aspects of such genres had a firmer grasp on reality than the kids that did not. Maybe it was the difference of having an imagination or an interest that kept us out of trouble... who knows? But it does usually seem to work out that way.

Sounds like we would have gotten along good had we met at that age! I had a couple of friends at school that were trekkers also, and we made out own audio adventures on tape using sound effects from the show. We'd meet at lunch in an empty room and record our lines, and I'd mix them with the effects, and we'd listen back to it and out it out.

Or we'd put on the TV tapes and re-enact the exciting scenes. Good times! And good to hear we weren't the only ones...