A medieval reenactment troupe find it increasingly difficult to keep their family-like group together, with pressure from local law enforcement, interest from entertainment agents and a growing sense of delusion from their leader.
There is panic throughout the nation as the dead suddenly come back to life. The film follows a group of characters who barricade themselves in an old farmhouse in an attempt to remain safe from these flesh eating monsters.
Chris Bradley is a young man who returns to his home city of Pittsburgh after several years of drifting and working odd jobs around the country since his discharge from the U.S. Army. Rejecting moving back in with his father and not wanting to return to the family business of manufacturing baby food, Chris meets and shacks up with Lynn, an older woman who works as a model in local TV commercials, and whom becomes his 'sugar mama' of supporting him financially and emotionally, which begins to put a strain on the affair especially when Lynn finds out that she's pregnant and does not feel that Chris would make a responsible father or husband. Written by
Briefly seen just after the 54 minute mark, the clapboard for the commercial shoot reads "ROMERO." See more »
Dad, I just don't want to go to work in your baby food factory. And, I don't want to sell vacuum cleaners. I don't want to sell little toy plastic aircraft carriers. I don't wanna... I don't know what I want.
Chris, I think I understand what you're talking about. A little bit anyway. But these problems are a little bit like going to Howard Johnsons for some ice cream. You can get all kinds of wild, exotic flavors. But somehow, you always wind up with vanilla.
Oh, Jesus Christ, Dad, I could cry!
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IN A WORLD WHERE ROMERO AND CASSAVETTES TRADED SOULS...
This film reminded me of nothing so much as a John Cassavettes movie. Yes, I mean that as the sincerest of compliments, but whether or not you like it will probably depend upon your feelings about ol' John C. He's a controversial figure even twenty years after his death.
Anyway, despite the video notes from Something Weird, Ray Laine looks and acts just like Russell Crowe. It's almost frightening. While Judith Ridley (here billed as Streiner) is just as lovely as ever and, surprisingly enough in light of her unimpressive turn in "Night of the Living Dead," can actually act.
Okay, so the flick is full of standard issue seventies lingo and some of the most godawful fashion statements since Mrs. Roper, but the writing and direction make up for it. Romero's editing and shot compositions are, perhaps, the best I've seen from him to date. It is odd that George should have excised this piece of work so completely from his opus. Despite its timeliness, it is actually a very accomplished film. The dialogue is crisp and witty. The performances are well delivered across the board. I truly didn't have a problem in the world with this little diamond in the rough. I admit that a few scenes within the first third of the picture were just a bit gag inducing. (Why is it that all these "Love Stories" have to feature a musical montage of the two doe-eyed young lovers going to a play ground, going on a picnic, eating ice cream, etc.?) The final third of the film, as the relationship hits the rocks, however, more than makes up for it with moments truly disturbing. The abortionist sequence in particular was everything I expected it to be and then some. Without resorting to hard core gore or exploitation techniques, Romero manages to provide a real wince inducing air of suspense and danger that will probably be remembered long after the cutesy-poo stuff is forgotten.
All in all, I must say that Romero needs to take stock of his film output over the last few years. Is "There's Always Vanilla" perfect? No, of course not. Is it worlds better than the drek Georgie-Boy's been churning out ever since "Creepshow"? Absolutely! If I were him, I'd bring back "TAV" on a deluxe package DVD replete with audio commentary and plenty of extras and start issuing some damning (or, at least, distancing) statements about "Monkey Shines", "Two Evil Eyes" and "The Dark Half."
Movie Fun: Try and spot all the actors from "Night of the Living Dead" that also made their way into this film. Something Weird Video helpfully points out Ridley (of course) as well as the first ghoul in the cemetery and Judith's husband (Mr. "They're coming to get you, Barbara!") I also found the sheriff lurking here as the abortionist's front man. His turn makes his "Good shot!" comment from "NotLD" seem positively Alan-Alda sensitive. I'm sure there are more familiar faces to be found, but they'll have to wait for repeat viewings.
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