STUDIO: Cheezyflicks Ent
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 60 minutes
• Photo Gallery
A fan visits the filming locations of Romero’s Dead trilogy
George Romero’s zombie movies evoke a huge fandom. Some of the hardcore make it a pilgrimage to go to Romero’s regular shooting ground of Pittsburgh, where many of the most memorable set pieces from the films are still recognizable today.
The mall where Tom Savini gets his guts ripped out is a holy place for Nicolas Garreau. Traveling from his native France he plans to visit many of Romero’s locations during the 25th Anniversary convention of Dawn of the Dead. And of course like any good tourist he brings his camera along.
Romero’s first three Dead films are bona-fide geek classics by now. They are at the top of the film geek cannon. Romero’s social commentary, innovative effects, and deft storytelling all elevated them to the top their genre. But it’s Romero’s use of location and set pieces that stay with fans and keep them rewatching. Long a staple of the Western, Romero’s use of single location changed the way we see commonplace surroundings. Who doesn’t walk into a mall and immediately plan their survival and subsequent consumer ecstasy after seeing Dawn of the Dead for the first time?
Holiday Inn’s new policy of having Brian Regan watch you sleep helps many people
sleep sound through the night.
Nicolas Garreau, like any self-respecting geek, is a Romero fan. The film starts with Garreau proudly proclaiming his love for Dawn. It’s genuine and relatable. He smiles as he talks about seeing the European version of Dawn for the first time. He says the films tag line in his best and loudest Ken Foree impersonation. He’s about to leave France for Pittsburgh and a special convention to mark the 25th Anniversary of Dawn. He takes us through the process of how he found all the locations he plans to visit. He was obsessive, combing Google maps and comparing them to film stills. The locations of these films have lived in his imagination since he was kid and the excitement of seeing them is obviously a dream for him.
he found he fit right in as the mall’s security guard.
In Pittsburgh Garreau brings his camera along and starts right in on his search. He visits locations from all three of the original Dead films. The major locations of all are instantly recognizable. The mine from Day of the Dead still looks one of the safer places to go during a zombie apocalypse and the cellar from Night of the Living Dead is as claustrophobic and moldy as it appeared 40 plus years ago. He even gets a tour, along with about two dozen other people, of the Monoreville mall from Ken Foree (Peter in Dawn). Throughout all this Garreau retains the sense of small joys that comes with our obsessive hobbies.
Seeing how these famous locations have changed over the years is something every Dead fan wants. Garreau is just a tourist with a camera so he spends great amounts of time studying the minutiae of the locations. He also spends a lot of time narrating to the camera. He’s excited and out of breath. Quick to point out where a single zombie shot was taken. He is doing this all in his native French with a monotone voice over translating for us. Although, any translating that is going on must have been done with a twelve year old version of Babblefish. The inflectionless voice speaks in run on sentences and broken English. At times I couldn’t make sense out of what was being said. When Garreau found the house where Savini’s 1990 remake was made the translation drones over an excited Garreau, “I kind of found this house and came in and now I am of course here my dream excites and hard”. I’m sure Garreau was much more coherent, but I was afraid he was going to start sexually assaulting the walls with that translation. I don’t know how a native English speaker could have read that and at least attempted to self correct.
Charlie had one great bar trick, regurgitating the floppy discs for
King’s Quest IV.
I’m guessing the DIY translation was done by Garreau. The whole film is essentially a YouTube video. It’s shot on DV over three days and edited to be concise and highlight only the important. It’s a nerd vacation reel. No footage from the films are ever shown. That’s a shame, because a side by side comparison of the locations would have been very welcome. Night of the Living Dead is public domain, so the lack of footage is a little disappointing.
It’s kind of hard to complain though, what we do have seems to be very personal. This is a fan getting to obsess and play in a place that existed only in his memory. It’s not a movie or even a documentary in any real sense. It would make a fantastic extra on a future Dead release. As it is, it’s a fantastic new look at locations burned into the geek psyche.
The film was shot on a consumer level DV cam and the 1:33:1 image looks about as drab and lifeless as the videos of your Uncle’s fishing trip. Still though, the image is as good as it will ever look. A few useless showy Final Cut edits show the obvious tape dupe nature of the transfer, but that hardly makes a difference. A mono track also gets the job done, with a few exceptions of audio dropping way below level.
Although conjoined at the head since birth, the Von Dieter twins still
found time to stand around and ‘look really bored’ for the camera
The only extra for the film is a photo gallery. It’s worth checking out for the a longer look at some of the locations. A few weird pictures of Garreau posing show up though. Turns out the French like to point a camera at themselves and pretend to look the other direction too.
The other included extra is a series of trailers for Cheezyflicks. This is actually a fantastic little extra. The included trailers are all British low budget affairs. Horrors of the Black Museum has a great trailer, starting with a great William Castle style gimmick and ending with a screaming go-go dancer. The trailers are padded by drive in ads, giving the short reel of trailers a night at the movies feel. The exploitation films of that era usually had better trailers than films and it’s an interesting way for Cheezyflicks to try sell some bland movies.
7.0 out of 10