The theme for the first weekend of this year's Reddit October Horror Movie Challenge was George Romero. To commemorate the legendary horror director, I watched three of his '70s outings, which just so happen to be all the horror movies he directed between making Night Of The Living Dead and Dawn Of The Dead. He also made a romantic movie during that timespan called There's Always Vanilla, but that's a movie for another time. On to the triple feature.
All Films Written & Directed By George A. Romero:
- Season Of The Witch (released May 1972 in an edited form called Hungry Wives)
- The Crazies (released Mar. 16, 1973)
- based on a script by Paul McCollough
- Martin (released May 10, 1978)
Premises: Season Of The Witch follows an unhappy housewife who turns to witchcraft to fill the void in her life. The Crazies focuses on a town whose water supply has been contaminated with a chemical that causes insanity or death while the government figures out how to handle the situation. Martin is about a young man that's been told he carries a family curse of vampirism who goes out, injects victims with sedatives, and then cuts them to drink their blood.
Pick My Brain
Social commentary was always the hallmark of Romero's horror. With his Dead series, conflicts would often arise just as much from the decisions people made on how to handle the situation as it did from the zombies (or "ghouls"). All three of these movies carry on that tradition. Season Of The Witch was inspired by the feminism movement and shows how domestic life could often leave women feeling trapped in a meaningless cycle. The Crazies borrows much of its imagery from war movies, but casts one side as normal people who are nothing but victims and the other side as military and government workers who are unhappily burdened with cleaning up a mess they weren't involved in. With Martin, we watch a kid fulfill a prophecy that has been placed upon him. I would recommend horror fans check out all three. Martin is the strongest in my opinion, while Season Of The Witch is incredibly slow-paced. I enjoyed The Crazies well enough, but I've heard several people say the remake outdoes the original.
Sometimes They Come Back... Again
Many of the actors in these films had relatively minor careers. Lynn Lowry, who played Kathy in The Crazies, appeared in several more horror movies including Cat People, Shivers, and the remake of The Crazies.
John Amplas, who played Martin, and Christine Martin, who played his cousin Christina, have both appeared in about a dozen horror movies each, many of which were also directed by Romero.
Additionally, director George Romero and special effects legend Tom Savini both made cameo appearances in Martin. Romero played Father Howard and Savini played Arthur, Christina's boyfriend. Romero also made two cameos in The Crazies, as one of the people being rounded up by soldiers and then as the president.
It Came From The IMDB Trivia Section!
- None of these three films were a financial success, and Romero was almost a million dollars in debt by the time he got around to make Dawn Of The Dead.
- Both Season Of The Witch and Martin had longer cuts that the missing pieces of footage from are now lost.
- Season Of The Witch was written with the title Jack's Wife. For it's original theatrical run it was heavily cut down, renamed Hungry Wives, and marketed as a softcore porn (which must have been very disappointing for those original audiences, because there's very little sex in the movie). After Dawn was a success, the movie was then re-released under the name Season Of The Witch, after the Donovan song featured in it. The DVD release by Anchor Bay retained the Season title and added back in as much cut footage as could be found.
- Many of the soldiers in The Crazies were played by local high schoolers.
- Lawyers had to be brought in when people in the town where The Crazies was shot objected to a scene where a man changes clothes outside.
- Martin was originally written older, but made a young man specifically for John Amplas.
- Soft Cell, most famous for the song "Tainted Love", also recorded a song called "Martin" based on the movie.