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Review: 'Birth of the Living Dead'

January 9, 2014 12:21 p.m.

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando review the new documentary, "Birth of the Living Dead."

Related Story: Review: 'Birth Of The Living Dead'


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

ANCHOR INTRO: George A. Romero didn’t invent zombies but he defined them for a modern age in 1968 with his low budget film “Night of the Living Dead.” KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando reviews a new documentary, playing tonight and tomorrow night at the Digital Gym Cinema, about the making of this cult classic.

CLIP: Welcome to a night of total terror…

“Night of the Living Dead” is almost half a century old but it’s cultural impact can still be felt today in the popularity of “The Walking Dead” and “World War Z.” The new documentary “Birth of the Living Dead” looks back at the making of that seminal film. It provides familiar behind the scenes trivia like this tidbit from Romero.

CLIP: One of the investors, Ross Harris, was a meat packer, so he brought all these entrails and it was pretty rough.. it was all real stuff. Real intestines, real livers… we wanted to push the envelope, let’s see what we can do with this.

But what’s most fun is seeing the early work Romero did in Pittsburgh, like a video he produced of Mr. Rogers’ getting his tonsils out.

CLIP: I could see in the kind eyes of the people in the operating room… which remains one of the scariest movies I’ve ever done.

And this TV spot that prompted Romero to invest in a 35mm camera.

CLIP: We did this thing called the Calgon Story it was a knock off of Fantastic Voyage… add the Calgon. And it was the biggest commercial that we’d ever done… it’s working the gray is gone. The fibers are clean. Let’s get out of here.

“Birth of the Living Dead” celebrates Romero’s ingenuity and perseverance in making a film that demonstrated how zombies were not only good fodder for horror but the perfect blank slate for social commentary.

Beth Accomando, KPBS News.