On July. 16, 2017, the world of horror, and cinema as a whole, took a great blow in losing one of its most influential artists. George A. Romero is not only the mastermind behind the famous horror film, Night of the Living Dead, but also responsible for bringing the idea of zombies into the mainstream. Of all his work, he is most noticeably remembered for the aforementioned film, along with Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead. But while the director would become famous and well-known for those three films, he also created other unique works not involving the living dead. Romero spent his career playing with other genres, while continuing to contribute to the realm of horror.
Between Night and Dawn collects and celebrates three such films (all that took place and released in-between Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead). The collection includes: There’s Always Vanilla (1971), Season of the Witch (1973), and The Crazies (1973), all of which Romero directed and wrote (minus the writing credit for There’s Always Vanilla).
As far as special collections are concerned, Between Night and Dawn is well worth your time (especially for Romero fans). Within each film comes a load of special features, offering hours of exploration. Film buffs will be pleased to find such treats as: a limited edition booklet featuring new writing on the films, updated versions of each film (presented in Blu Ray format in 2k and 4k restoration), and behind the scenes commentary for each title (as well as many more extras). The films themselves are remarkable gems that capture the mastery of Romero’s art. For while the director will forever be known for his use of gruesome horror, his stories and directing have always woven some sort of political and social commentary into them. One can sit down and appreciate each of his pictures for what they are, given their thrills and stories; but one can also find within them these rich themes that reflect what Romero saw in our society.
There’s Always Vanilla is unlike a lot of Romero’s other films, with the main focus of the story surrounding a young couple’s relationship. The film takes a look into their lives, weaving in themes that relate to capitalism, parenthood, and abortion. The film bounces around in tone, shifting from bubbly, too somber, as the we watch the couple’s relationship begin to deteriorate. There’s a consistent tension that builds up as we get a look into their individual lives (as well as together), and how their troubles begin to impact each other. Compared to other stories that Romero has worked on, the work is a lot more grounded in realism, offering a more intimate atmosphere.
Season of the Witch focuses on a housewife and mother fed up with how her life is going. Finding herself intrigued by witchcraft, she begins a journey into finding liberation and her own identity. The film is a feminist masterpiece, its themes woven intricately into the story and characters. Offering striking visuals that bring a sense of unease in an already mysterious atmosphere, Season of the Witch is a film that will have fans lured in from the very beginning. While the story plays around with fantastical elements, it still maintains a solid core of realism, further driving home the concept of entrapment that housewives and mothers may go through.
The Crazies is much more than just a quasi-zombie film, but a fascinating exploration into more of Romero’s political work. When a small town gets hit with a virus, the military rushes in, ready to quarantine and shoot down anyone who may try to escape or disobey orders. The moments of violence add to the commentary in how military control can be corrupt, as the townsfolks begin to panic and protest as their freedom is constricted. We see how brawn is preferred over brain, and how throughout the film, this continues feeding into problematic results.
Together, all of these films embody Romero’s superb talent at presenting tension-fueled stories, while also delivering profound statements on our society. It also helps that these updated restorations make the films really pop, bringing forth crisp audio, and nicely toned colors to each picture. Even though he is sadly gone, George A. Romero has left a body of work that has sincerely shaped and inspired the world of cinema. Within and outside of horror, Romero’s work has touched the lives of people all around the world, carrying on the legacy of a true artist. Romero fans will not want to miss out on Between Night And Dawn, for it highlights the artist’s talent in creating masterfully exhilarating, complex, and political films.