Horror is one of the film genres whose main goal is to scare, frighten, disgust, or startle audiences. The films often try to evoke the audience’s latent fears in the most frightening manner possible. George A. Romero’s living dead trilogy is a six-part series of zombie horror films laced with social problems, with each chapter concentrating on a new subject ranging from colonialism to consumerism. Romero is known as one of the best directors in the sense that his films have had a greater significance. Unlike other horror films, the Living Dead Trilogy’s key goal was to scare audiences while conveying no real message. The films illustrate social aspects particularly of survival and how people react to them.
That Night of the Living Dead (1968); Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985) were set during the Reagan era, a period which was characterized by increased oppression as the laws changed considerably. Romero used this time as inspiration and based his movies on the happenings around him. All of the horror movies are based on occurrences in the United States and their incorporation in films is amongst the circumstances which make the films masterpieces.
Night of the Living Dead (1968) is regarded as one of the best zombie films universally (Romero N.p). The 96 minutes movie focuses on a group of strangers who find themselves in an abandoned farmhouse as they all seek safety from an army of zombies who crave for human flesh and blood (Romero N.p). In as much as the battle for survival as well as getting away from the zombies is their primary concern, they soon realize that the struggle for power and human paranoia are the most significant threats to their survival. Many argue that the film is a critique of the Vietnam war as well as racial relations in the United States (Romero N.p). Further, the dominant theme of distrust in government is portrayed as a significant theme in the film.
It is common knowledge that the government of any country is usually so full of promises and convinces the people about all the developments that they will partake once given the power. People strive for power no matter the circumstance. In this film, the struggle for power is well demonstrated to the extent that the people were ready to fight while arguing who was in charge while forgetting the more significant issue that they had to find a way through which they could stay alive. It would have been more sensible for the people to work together and focus on ways through which they could escape the zombies. The battle for leadership was a clear illustration of what the society focuses on today. People seeking for leadership roles are ordinarily likely to go to any lengths and extend to obtain the positions irrespective of focusing on the needs of their people first. Racial discrimination is prevalent in the film, and the actual picture that the blacks still get discriminated upon is further echoed in the movie.
Also, the films show instances of government mistrust and how people sometimes do not take the governments’ promises and decisions seriously. In this movie, the government is committed to helping the people escape from the zombies unharmed. The escapees are however torn as they do not know if the government is thoroughly committed to saving them or if they would mess up the survival plan and result in the capture by the man-eating zombies. The trapped people choose to focus on their project and get a decision for themselves without having to rely on the government solely (Romero N.p). The same thing happens in the society today. Rarely are people too inclined to hold on to the politician’s promises of better lives but they work hard to obtain the desired experience by themselves. During campaign periods, politicians can say anything to get into power. It is in sporadic cases that they keep up their promises, therefore, causing immense distrust among their followers.
On matters of human paranoia, the survivors in the film soon come to realize that the more scared they are, the harder it is for them to come up with solutions which would help beat the zombies. They, therefore, choose to remain brave and subsequently manage to fight off some of the zombies that manage to find them. The message illustrated here is that it is only the brave people who are more likely to survive. Further, the lack of fear is one of the surest ways of beating your oppressors. Just like the survivors managed to beat off and defeat the deadly creatures, it is only the brave people in the country who are more likely to command change. Just like the Vietnam war where only the brave survived, the world is not for the weak.
Dawn of the Dead is a 1978 trilogy which focuses on a mysterious plague that covers the entire nation and results in the dead rising from their graves (Romero N.p). The victims are stuck in a suburban shopping mall which is infested with the zombies. Unlike the previous sequel where the victims were hiding from the zombies, here, the people are forced to face the zombies and do all it takes to ensure that they remain alive. This movie portrays what happens in a typical society in the sense that, there are so many political and social factors which continue occurring. It is only when these factors that get to the extreme that the people are forced to be sober and act accordingly.
Dawn of the Dead portrays the extreme of hardship and how people respond to them. Typically, the weak people in society give up and ultimately get crushed and rarely survive. In the movie, very many people lost their lives to the zombies since they were unable to fight them off. A few brave people, however, managed to fight off the zombies they survived the worst conditions. At the end of the film, only a few survivors remained, and these were undoubtedly the smartest and bravest among all others.
Just like in the film, people respond differently in accordance with the different levels of hardships or problems they encounter. For instance, political instability is an issue that most people, even in the USA have had to deal with. Most of the problems are mild, and people rarely bother with the occurrences. However, when things become worse, the people are compelled to stand up for their rights and fight for what they believe in. In the days that presided the writing and release of this movie, there were very many political factors that were happening in the United States. First, the Vietnam war had just come to an end, and its effects were still being felt. The Vietnam war occurred because of the differences in opinion as every side thought that it was on the right. Many USA soldiers were involved in the war and as much as many of them as well as civilians died, the strongest survived.
Usually, wars are one of the extreme occurrences, which forces significant lifestyle adjustments. The civilians, as well as the soldiers affected by the war, for instance, had to devise survival mechanisms which would help guarantee their survival. First, in such extreme situations, the people always have to be cautious as they can be attacked anytime. Also, access to necessities such as food and water is hard, and the people have to survive on the little that they have. The survivors in the film lived on whatever they could find as is typical in war cases.
Day of the Dead, the third film in the sequel produced in 1985 showcased the lives of the last remaining people in the world. The film focused on the depiction of how the fall of society can change people and make them hostile, insane and savage on others. The 96-min film illustrates how an entire world was wiped out and only a team of scientists and military personnel survived (Romero N.p). Being the only living people in the world, they are sure that no external help is coming and thus have to devise mechanisms that would enable them to survive. It is a very frustrating moment as they are uncertain if they can be able to beat the zombies. Their only upper hand against the zombies is that they are united and they are thus able to make logical and well thought out decisions. Challenges start arising when the scientists and the militia find themselves disagreeing with the methods through which they can adapt to keep the zombies off. The scientists argue that the zombies can be trained, a situation which is dangerous since they would have to get direct contact with them. The military men are opposed to the decision, and serious arguments ensue. Their unity is broken, which gives the zombies advantage. A few more lives are lost to the zombies, and the people seemingly give up.
In as much as the hopelessness in the film linger, hope is found when the scientists finally manage to trigger the mind of one of the zombies ultimately enabling it to remember events of the living world. The zombie gains a sense of humanity and becomes committed to saving the humans from the savage zombies. With the zombie at their side, the humans finally get the upper hand and manage to fight off the zombies. The ultimate message given by this change of circumstance is that in as much as things may be down, there is always hope.
Romero, George A., and Jonathan Maberry, 1968 eds. Nights of the Living Dead. Gerald Duckworth & Co, 2017.
Romero, George A. “Dawn of the Dead. 1978.” Ultimate Ed. Anchor Bay (2004).
Romero, George A. “Day of the Dead. 1985.” Anchor Bay (2003).