This little-seen chiller from Pittsburgh’s titan of terror George Romero has to do with a virus — developed by the military, who else? — that infects a small town and turns people into dazed, unpredictable killers. Zombies, if you will.Have fun counting all the parallels to Romero’s Dead films. It begins with a brother trying to scare his sister (1). The military takes over, generally fucks things up, and pays little attention to the scientists (2). A small group of survivors are on the run (3). One of them, a soldier, is infected (3). A taboo-breaking scene involves a daughter and her parent (1). There are 5,000 scenes of authority figures shrieking at each other (2). The captured “crazies” are isolated in tight quarters (2), (3). There’s a black hero (4). The ending is utterly pessimistic (4). The bearded guy who plays the head scientist was also the loudmouth TV commentator in Dawn of the Dead; the sicko father who forces himself on his (very willing) daughter is Richard Liberty, the mad doctor in Day of the Dead. The movie could be called The Portable George Romero.
Edited at a sprint, the movie is often shocking, occasionally gory, and never boring. The end-credits theme song is “Heaven Help Us,” composed by Carole Bayer Sager and Melissa Manchester, of all people. By the way, 28 Days Later pretty much ripped this off.(1) Night of the Living Dead. (2) Day of the Dead. (3) Dawn of the Dead. (4) Take your pick.