For a time which quantity I cannot remember, I’ve rummaged through bargain bins of DVD’s in search of a certain 40 + year-old movie. These hunts always ended with empty hands. Every holiday, again I search the DVD’s on sale. Every Halloween, I think “there has to be copies of it on display now!” Nope. Finally last year, I went to For Your Entertainment and asked if they sold copies of it because they have everything in stock.
“We have it on Blu-Ray.”
I have not made that technological jump yet.
It’s not that I don’t believe this masterpiece deserves me paying a full price. It’s that I simply cannot afford it right now.
I’m talking about George A. Romero’s classic horror film, Night of the Living Dead, independently filmed and released in 1968 on 35 mm black and white film.
My appreciation for this movie began when viewing Night on cable television as a teen-ager. During this time, the cable networks thought it was a great idea to colorize the classics. Well, this does NOT work for horror films. The shadows, drear, and dread disappear when fake colors are added. So I patiently waited a few days until a network aired it in black and white around Halloween time.
That night, I lay on my bed, gripping my pillow and refusing to take my wide-eyed gaze off the screen. Barbara watched in helpless terror when her brother was attacked by a walking corpse in a cemetery. Strangers sealed themselves in a farmhouse, hoping to ward off flesh-eating zombies. And *gasp* sweet little Karen (portrayed by an eleven year old) dined on her own father and killed her mother with a masonry spade. To me, this whole idea was terrifying: the dead coming back to life as soul-less beings, with no purpose but to consume the living; walling oneself in a house and with few options for survival; a child falling prey to the monsters and then killing her parents. Mr. Romero appeared to spare nothing when it came to scaring the living daylights out of people.
And these concepts have survived near four and a half decades, spanned generations, and crossed into many medias: movies, video games, television, books, graphic novels, and music. With no pun intended, the zombie genre is alive now more than ever.
So, back to my beautiful moment.
This weekend, I took the Boy and a couple of friends to the mall so we can get some air-conditioning. We parted ways for a bit and agreed to meet back in Target. But they were not there. Hmmmmm, where would three video game playing, music loving, graphic novel/comic book reading teen-aged boys go?
Newbury Comics. Right beside Target. Of course.
The boys spot me immediately, and two of them head my way. Upon turning to call for the third one, I see it standing on a low shelf, the cover printed over a gravestone background. Could it be? Is this finally happeneing? Everything vanished out of view as I honed in on it.
George A. Romero’s
The Original Classic
After years of searching for them, The Living Dead found me at a completely unexpected moment. I love you, Newbury Comics.
“Wait! I’ll be just a few minutes!” I call to the boys as I scoop the DVD from its place, leaving a blank spot. Ah, the last copy, at least on this shelf. My son’s friends arch eyebrows in confusion when seeing someone my age dash into Newbury Comics. But I did not care. In addition to getting hard-to-find movie, music, and TV show memorabilia, I’ve discovered great bargains at the comic store in the past.
Instead of blabbing about how I’ve been searching for this DVD like a long-lost relative, I made small talk with the Newbury employee at the register, typically dressed in punk gear and her hair dyed orange and yellow.
On they way home, with three boys gawking over a Batman book, I realized this will be my second “staycation” within a year that I’m spending time with Mr. Romero and zombies.