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Zombie Jamboree: 25th Anniversary of Night of the Living Dead (1993)
* 1/2 (out of 4)
John Russo direct, wrote and produced this "documentary" covering the Zombie Jamboree, which was held in Pittsburgh to celebrate the 25th anniversary of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Among the people we see are George Romero, Russ Steiner, Bill Hinzman, Adam West, Lori Cardille, Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens, Gunnar Hansen, Kane Hodder, Tom Savini and Conrad Brooks. This documentary has been sold as a celebration of Romero's film but what it basically is is Russo finding yet another way to milk fans of money. This was obviously shot on video and the sound quality is pretty poor from start to finish. There are quite a bit of Q&A sessions but it's often hard to hear what anyone is saying. Even stranger is that the entire festival was about Romero's film yet this isn't featured too much in the film. There's a Q&A session with the cast and crew but we only get a couple questions. Romero discusses MONKEY SHINES and the studio cutting the ending, which was interesting but everything else is just a waste. The celebrities not associated with NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD answer a few questions but again the audio is so poor that you really become annoyed with everything. I'm sure many, such as myself, are going to get suckered into this thing but it's really just a way for Russo to talk about his own work. We get trailers to several of his movies (MIDNIGHT, SCREAM QUEENS SWIMSUIT SENSATIONS) and some of the films that he produced. In the end it's just a complete waste.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This documentary was revealing in many respects in comparison to some
of the other features I've seen as bonus features on DVDs. The
audio/video quality was very poor which is why I agree that selling
this 60 minute piece as a separate video is a waste of money (unless
you find it in the value bin).
You do however, get to see many of the stars from NOTLD in a very revealing and different light (such as Judith O'Dea, "Chilly Billy Cardille, George Kosana, Karl Hardman, Bill Hinzman, Russ Streiner, and John Russo). We even see other productions made by the small film company (Latent Image) which brought us the great cult classic (NOTLD).
I viewed this doc on Amazon Prime Video, so it basically cost me nothing to watch. I did enjoy this little feature and was able to endure some of the poor audio/video deficiencies. I definitely recommend it as a must- see (if you may) for fans of Romero and NOTLD and films that followed, but don't spend to much money if need be (catch it on Amazon Prime).
If this was sold at one point in time(and really there is no doubt it was), then people were seriously ripped-off. However, I too saw it courtesy of Amazon Prime and was engaged and entertained for 60 minutes about an event I did not attend but would have loved to do so. Basically, we get an inside(not very inside though) tour of the Zombie Jamboree celebrating the 25th anniversary of that film. We get John Russo's narration throughout as we see guests at the convention sell their autographs, etc... but we do get some insights into the film itself, the people who made it, its enduring legacy, and much more. I found the Q and A bit with George Romero very interesting. The same for the two scream queens. Tom Savini's walk through the Monroeville mall was also a highlight. I enjoyed the discussion of Duane Jones's import in the film too. This is not particularly well-made. Yes, there are audio(and video) inconsistencies but bear in mind it was made over twenty years ago. So much technologically has changed since then. For what it is, it is a curious, interesting supplement to not only a great film but also to the convention craze which is still going strong.
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