October 26, 2010

#8-11 Top 13 George Romero Movies

#8 BRUISER (2000) - Like MONKEY SHINES and THE DARK HALF, this is a movie you can watch and not even realize it was Romero who wrote or directed it. The film is about a cowardly man with repressed violent thoughts who wakes up one day to find that his face has been replaced with a white death mask that he's unable to remove, and with the new look comes a confidence that he needs to finally stand up to the people who have wronged him in his professional and personal life. His wife is openly cheating on him (with his boss), his good friend is stealing money from him, so on and so forth. The ultimate pushover becomes the bully. Despite Romero's direction here seeming to be a little weak, BRUISER is a rather enjoyable movie in which there's always something going on. It's not the dark character study that MARTIN is, but rather a black comedy of sorts. In a way, the movie almost plays out like Ferrara's MS. 45, culminating with a costume party that doesn't end well for some of the attendees. Notable cast members include Tom "Thrill Me" Atkins as a cop (big surprise there) and a scenery-chewing Peter Stormare as the lead character's boss. Some rock band called the Misfits also make an appearance, whoever they are.

#9 THE CRAZIES (1973) - A city's water becomes contaminated with chemicals used for biological warfare. The clueless citizens drink the water and go CRAZY! THE CRAZIES is a movie with bad pacing and a plot that wants to go somewhere but seems to get lost along the way quite frequently. It is noteworthy, however, for being somewhat of a bridge between Romero's two most highly regarded films, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and DAWN OF THE DEAD, by featuring a lot of the same themes from both films, especially DAWN. A "person of color" as a leader. A world full of chaos. Social commentary. Lead characters holed up somewhere they don't belong while attempting to "be normal" amidst the mayhem outside. People turning into monsters. A lead character turns into one of said monsters and the others are faced with a tough decision regarding the predicament. An overwhelming feeling of hopelessness. THE CRAZIES is an interesting film and certainly not horrible, but, overall, a failure to live up to its full potential. Given the resources that Romero had at the time, however, I'd say he did an excellent job with what he had.

#10 MONKEY SHINES (1988) - The life of a young, handsome, athletic type is reduced to that of a cripple when he's struck by a motor vehicle. Confined to a wheelchair and unable to move from the neck down, his life only gets worse when his girlfriend leaves him and he finds out some disturbing news in regards to the new man that she's with. Companionship and hope eventually comes in the form of a capuchin monkey trained to help him and intelligently respond to his every command. Things take a turn when tragic events that surround him are traced to the monkey, who, unbeknownst to him, may be carrying out his sadistic thoughts. Overall, MONKEY SHINES is a bit too long (almost two hours) and, unfortunately, unintentionally funny at times, but otherwise decent. It's not an overly memorable movie and it's low on replay value in comparison to Romero's other films, but it's paced well for how long it is. The story is decent and leaves a bit up to the imagination. Oh, and let's not forget the cute little capuchin monkey. Some well-executed jump scares, too.

#11 THE DARK HALF (1993) - This another novel adaptation from Romero and it's based on the Stephen King book of the same name. It's about an author whose nom de plume, which he uses to write sleazy crime novels, manifests into an actual person - a distorted image of the author himself - and goes on a killing spree, targeting those around him and giving the police the impression that he's suffering from some sort of multiple personality disorder once the investigations begin and the evidence points to him being the primary suspect. It's an interesting story that focues on duality, and the movie itself - much like Romero's other novel adaptation MONKEY SHINES - is a bit longer than usual compared to the director's other films, but it's paced well and has strong performances from the cast, especially lead actor Timothy Hutton, who plays dual roles (or does he?!). Not a great movie, but watchable and decent for what it is. It's one of those movies that I won't seek out or go out of my way to see, but, if it's on, I'll watch it because I know that I won't be disappointed. Michael Rooker is great in his supporting role.


  1. Bruiser has never really grown on me, I dont know what it is but I've just never liked it. It felt like Romero trying to make something along the veins of Fight Club but failing horribly at it.

    Monkey Shines I've always loved, it has some tense moments in their, with that evil little monkey.

    The Crazies is flawes beyond belief, yet it has its moments.

    The Dark Half is extremely underrated, I enjoy it. It's a Stephen King movie through and through. But it has moments where it is obviously Romero, like for example, those dream sequences! I think Timothy Hutton did an outstanding job, though I hear there was a lot of trouble at the set between him and Romero. Doesnt matter though, it translated well to the screen.

  2. The cover of bruiser looks like every Japanese horror movie today mixed with a MMA fighter. I think the themes of Monkey Shines, having no control to help yourself or stop things from happening!!

  3. I dunno, THE DARK HALF and MONKEY SHINES are some of Romero's weakest films, I'd rank 'em much lower than THE CRAZIES. At times, they feel compromised as if the studio was breathing down his neck, telling him what to do. You certainly can't say that about a film like THE CRAZIES.

  4. That's a sweet BRUISER poster, never saw that image before.

    I liked BRUISER a lot when I first saw it... but every time I've seen it since it kinda gets, well, worse. The story makes less & less sense every time. *shrugs*

  5. At least Romero's "The Crazies" is a bit funny. Not at all like the remake which made me want to cry. Thankfully I was sitting next to equally unimpressed people at the screening and we hosted our own MST3K.

  6. Francisco: Re: THE CRAZIES It's a very flawed movie, but when you keep in mind how low budget it was and how little Romero had to work with, it's actually quite impressive. Glad to hear you like THE DARK HALF as well. I didn't know Hutton caused problems on the set. Interesting, I'll have to do some research on that.

    JD: I ranked CRAZIES higher than MONKEY and DARK HALF, so I think we're on the same page, although I probably did enjoy them a little bit more than you. Like CHRISTINE and ELVIS to Carpenter, they're not "Romero films" per se, but I enjoy them for what they are.

    Astro: Yeah there's no denying that BRUISER is not a good movie. I just kinda dig it. I've seen it about three times so far. The first time I hated it, but it's grown on me, so I guess it's had the reverse effect on me than it did you. If I were doing a list not on my favorites, but ranking Romero's movies in order from best to worst, BRUISER would be somewhere near the bottom.

    Graygrrrl: Yeah CRAZIES (the original) is actually really funny in spots. I like to re-watch the scenes where all the kids are going crazy because of how ridiculous all of the extras are. That movie puts a smile on my face. The remake, on the other hand... ugh.

  7. I watched Bruiser because the Misfits were in it and still really like the film...mostly because the Misfits are in it. And Jason Flemyng is awesome.

  8. Chris, the Misfits are a good enough reason to watch just about anything. Unless we're talking about anything post-Michale Graves, of course. As far as Jason Flemyng, I have to disagree with you. He was OK, but his fucking accent got on my nerves.

  9. I still haven't seen Bruiser, though I have heard good things. I am still 100% with you on the other placements though Aaron, as much as I want to like the original Crazies, it was average at best IMO.

  10. Thanks, Carl. As far as BRUISER, I do enjoy it, obviously, but I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to see it. Unless of course you want to see every George Romero movie.