Night of the Living Evil Dead
George Romero and Sam Raimi are two of the most influential horror filmmakers of all time. While they may have come from different backgrounds and had their own unique styles, there are many connections between the two that have helped shape the horror genre as we know it today.
Both filmmakers created their own creative communities far from Hollywood, relying on friends and resources they made in the so-called “rust belt” cities of Pittsburgh (Romero) and Detroit (Raimi.)
Romero, of course, is best known for his series of zombie films, which began with 1968’s Night of the Living Dead. While the first film was made on a shoestring budget, it was a critical and commercial success, and it spawned several sequels and imitators. Romero’s zombies were slow-moving and lumbering, but they were also relentless and terrifying in their sheer numbers.
Raimi, meanwhile, is best known for his Evil Dead series, which began with 1981’s The Evil Dead. The film was a low-budget affair that relied heavily on practical effects and a wicked sense of humor. The movie’s blend of horror and comedy was unusual at the time, but it quickly gained a cult following and spawned multiple sequels/remakes and spin-offs across tv, comics, and video games.
Despite the differences in their films’ subject matter, Romero and Raimi shared a similar approach to filmmaking. Both were willing to experiment with different techniques and styles, and they were unafraid to push the boundaries of what was considered acceptable in horror movies. This willingness to take risks and challenge conventions has made both filmmakers beloved by horror fans around the world.
Looking back at the grueling shoot of Evil Dead, Raimi has said “It’s not something you can do except with a crew of like four on a very minuscule budget. But it was a wonderful experience in that way. So the harsh conditions made a [mess of] the crew, and the fact that we had to do everything ourselves did spur on our creativity.”
One of the most significant connections between Romero and Raimi is their use of practical effects. Both filmmakers were known for their reliance on practical effects, such as makeup and prosthetics, rather than relying solely on computer-generated imagery (CGI). This gave their films a tactile, visceral quality that is often missing in modern horror movies.
Another connection between Romero and Raimi is their use of humor in their films. While Romero’s zombie movies were often bleak and apocalyptic, they also contained moments of dark humor and satire. For example, 1978’s Dawn of the Dead takes place in a shopping mall, which allows Romero to satirize consumer culture and the mindless pursuit of material goods.
George Romero once said ““For a Catholic kid in parochial school, the only way to survive the beatings – by classmates, not the nuns – was to be the funny guy.”
Raimi, meanwhile, used humor to subvert horror movie tropes and add a sense of levity to his films. The Evil Dead series is filled with one-liners and slapstick gags that make the films both scary and fun to watch. Raimi’s use of humor has been influential in shaping the horror genre, and it has inspired countless imitators over the years.
Despite the many similarities between Romero and Raimi, they did have their differences. For one thing, Romero was known for his political and social commentary, while Raimi’s films were more focused on entertainment. Romero’s movies often tackled issues such as racism, consumerism, and the military-industrial complex, while Raimi’s films were more concerned with delivering thrills and laughs.
The success of Romero and Raimi paved the way for other independent filmmakers to make their mark on the horror genre. Their willingness to take risks and push boundaries continues to inspire countless others to do the same, and their influence can be seen in everything from low-budget horror movies to big-budget blockbusters.