Night of Living Dread

The Living Dread comes to the Lightbox for Halloween

While the costume parties have already begun, Halloween hasn't even started at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Starting on Wednesday, October 31, TIFF is hosting a week of horror classics from the "Godfather of Zombies" himself, George A. Romero! Co-presented with Rue Morgue, discover Romero's horror classics such as Creepshow, Martin, Monkey Shine and The Crazies, in addition to his zombie film oeuvre. Add a special In Conversation With George A. Romero event to the mix and any horror fan can be promised a creepy All Hallows Week.

Creepshow, a horror anthology celebrating its thirtieth anniversary this year, was the first film that Romero directed that he didn't write. The writer? None other than Stephen King! The film was a wildly successful collaboration between the two, a big enough success on its first release that it knocked Rambo: First Blood from the top spot at the box office. The film? A collection of short horror films ostensibly found in a mysterious comic owned by an abused child, featuring stories about phobias, monsters, alien invasions and more.

Romero's second film after Night of the Living Dead was The Crazies, a post-apocalyptic film about the accidental release of a military bio-weapon and its aftermath. The film shows us both sides of the tale. On one hand we have the helpless citizens and their struggles to keep alive while protecting family members who may or may not have been infected. And on the other hand, law enforcement, military and political leaders go to great lengths to isolate the contamination, regardless of the cost. Needless to say, they are at odds with one another. A failure during its initial release, the film went on to become a cult classic and was remade in 2010.

A Romero film that starts out sweet? Monkey Shines could have easily remained a romantic comedy about Alan, a quadriplegic, his charming helper monkey Ella and his quest for love and rehabilitation, but instead it veers off the deep end into the creepy. Alan develops a great bond with Ella as she helps him with day to day activities while somehow feeding off of his rage and anger towards his friends and family. When Alan meets Melanie, a quadriplegia specialist and babe, he discovers his condition may not be permanent and that's when Ella goes... bananas.

Romero hit the ground running with his first film as Night of the Living Dead was not only was a financial success upon release, but was deemed culturally significant by the Library of Congress. The film features a group of haphazard strangers banding together in a farmhouse during a zombie infestation. But despite the zombies' best efforts, the real drama occurs when the humans turn against each other in fear and paranoia. The film will be introduced by George A. Romero himself, so get your tickets now!

Romero's carte-blanche selection for his retrospective is the 1960 British thriller Peeping Tom, by Michael Powell, artistic partner of Emeric Pressburger, the team who brought us Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes. The film centres around Mark, a serial killer who shoots and collects snuff films of his victims. Mark is seemingly obsessed with voyeurism, stemming from childhood trauma and abuse and longs to show his victims the same fate. The creepiest part however? The act of watching his films also makes us complicit in his violence, turning us into a voyeur just like him. Considering the current creepshots controversy on Reddit, this is definitely an apt horror film for 2012.

For the full listing of films in Living Dread: The Cinema of George Romero, visit TIFF.NET. Tickets to all films are $12 and can be purchased online or at the cinema.

Still from Night of the Living Dead

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