“A Night to Dismember” or “They’re Coming to Get You…TOXIE!”posted in News, `Roids |
“They’re Coming to Get You…TOXIE!”
w/ Justin Martell
Greetings from Tromaville! George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead brings me back to a very, very special time in my life. Yes, I remember it well; a brisk fall evening at Yale University in 1968. My Friday night date and I were walking across the across the old campus. Thomas and I had just left the Gay Power Sock Hop and were coming down off a pretty reckless afternoon of binging on, as Bob Dylan allegedly described it to Andy Warhol, “that faggy speed shit.” As we were walking, we noticed a poster for an event hosted by the Yale Film Society.
On this particular evening, they were screening a virtually unknown film by a virtually unknown group of filmmakers from, of all places, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Naturally, my interest was piqued. After convincing Thomas that we could spoon later later, we entered the theater. The lights dimmed and the projectionist ran a grainy, 16mm print of Night of the Living Dead.
Because the movies that the Yale Film Society usually screened were by directors like Stan Brakhage or Sam Fuller, I thought Night of the Living Dead might be of the same ilk. Accordingly, I was at first a bit disinterested and was also distracted by Thomas’s hand inching towards my throbbing, 2-inch member. Just as his hand finally made contact, I looked up at the screen to see the Graveyard Zombie grab Barbara. While Barbara’s brother Johnny struggled with the zombie, Thomas struggled into my pants. I let out a gasp — but not a gasp of delight – a gasp of shock as Johnny’s head was smashed against a tombstone. From that point on, I could not take my eyes off that movie!
Freaked out by the images on the screen and jealous that I was paying too much attention to the Graveyard Zombie, Thomas left the theatre in a panicked-huff. I spent the next hour and a half engrossed in what ended up being one of the most politically poignant films I had ever seen. I could see immediately that this was both a masterpiece of art as well as social commentary and marveled at George Romero’s courage to address an issue which I was, and still am, very passionate about – Gay Rights.
Many have made the case that Night of the Living Dead confronts Cold War fears and Civil Rights issues. Yes, the film may have had something to do with Capitalism versus Communism and White race versus Black. I, however, knew immediately that the infighting between Ben and Harry Cooper over whether to stay in or out of the basement was representative of a homosexual couple struggling with their gay identity and debating whether or not to bring their relationship out of the closet! Also, since this was twenty years before CNN would be showing body parts during prime time television, I was totally blown away by how graphic Romero’s movie was.
Today, I believe George Romero is America’s most underrated director and his films have been a major influence on my filmmaking career. You can clearly see Romero’s influence on my satire-cum-gore in The Toxic Avenger, Terror Firmer, and Tromeo and Juliet, to name a few. My latest film, Poultrygiest: Night of the Chicken Dead, not only takes a cue from Romero in it’s title, but also touches on upon the issue that Romero had the nerve to confront in 1968, Gay Rights!