Ed. note– I’m honored to have some of my interviews published in Bob Michelucci’s compilation Memories of the Living Dead. He’s been kind enough to include conversations of mine with some of George Romero’s actors, making this my first time in print. I also understand that, though internet “journalism” is a joke, it would be ridiculously unethical for me to review my own interviews. As such, I don’t make mention of this within the body proper of the review. If you are, however, interested in checking out the uncut versions of my interviews, I’ll leave links to each at the bottom of this post. As for Michelucci’s effort, read on.– P.F.
I’ve met a number of actors from George Romero’s films, and they invariably have one thing to say: Romero is a great director, and a great human. From Adrienne Barbeau to Judith O’Dea to John Amplas and the Streiner brothers, every one talks highly about Romero’s character and humanity. Having met him about half a dozen times, I have to agree, as he’s a legend so down to earth it’s as if he’s not even aware he’s a legend. Bob Michelucci is one of those blessed to have worked with Romero. He’s so inspired by this history that he’s compiled a series of interviews and personal recollections of more than 40 contributors to Romero’s Living Dead series. For any fan who has or hasn’t met these folks, it’s a nice read that stands as a tribute to Romero’s character.
The book compiles the interviews in chronological order of Romero’s first four zombie films, and includes a section at the end that encompasses John Russo’s 30th Anniversary Edition and the film CHILDREN OF THE LIVING DEAD, which had no contribution from Romero. You’ll hear from the living and the living dead alike, makeup artists and behind-the-scenes folks as well as enduring screen presences. Three of the four heroes of DAWN OF THE DEAD speak (conspicuously absent is Scott Reiniger, just as he is from my autograph collection), and DAY OF THE DEAD’s foils Lori Cardille and Joe Pilato have their say (and when doesn’t Pilato have his say, really?). If not exhaustive, it’s comprehensive in the breadth of people it covers, and presents all sorts of angles on the films, especially Romero’s original trilogy. My personal favorite, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, is best represented, as it should be, with 16 entries.
As for the quality of the entries, they vary, based on just how exciting the person interviewed or providing recollections is. Ken Foree, for instance, is fun and informative in one of the longer reviews, but Mike Christopher’s interview runs way too long and doesn’t yield much; how many interesting anecdotes can I expect from the Hare Krishna Zombie? And if Michelucci seems maybe a little self-indulgent in including recollections from both his wife and daughter (they both appeared in Russo’s 30th Anniversary remix), I can forgive. A positive about the book is it’s so loaded with interviews, you can skim the ones you don’t really dig and it won’t hurt the overall experience. And I’m sure camps have already divided over the original trilogy.
It’s always nice to hear people speak kindly about George Romero. The iconic director, it turns out, is an even better human being. Michelucci’s collection gives plenty of back story on some of the greatest horror films in the director’s catalogue, but even more importantly it reminds me of just what a great man there is behind all those gory zombie flicks.