Sound And Vision: George Romero

Contributing Writer; The Netherlands
Sound And Vision: George Romero

In the article series Sound and Vision we take a look at music videos from notable directors. This week we take a look at The Misfits' Scream!, directed by George A. Romero.

The Sound and Vision of this week might be about George A. Romero, the director who created the modern zombie, but we start with a different icon. Wes Craven, the King of slasher movies, was on a roll in the nineties after his career was revitalized with the meta-horror of Scream. A sequel had to follow, and Scream 2 was the hottest ticket in town. Enter The Misfits, who themselves had a second wind under an iteration without the infamous Glenn Danzig. The new line-up of the band wrote a track for Scream 2, simply titled Scream! The song was rejected and lingered on the shelves until George Romero came along.

Romero needed a few songs for his new film Bruiser, a serial killer movie about a frustrated company clerk taking on a new persona when he snaps after taking too much abuse. The finale of the film features an hedonistic office costume party that seems to be inspired by Kenneth Angers avant-garde satanic masterpiece Inauguration of Pleasure Dome. The Misfits perform at the party, and play two new songs called Fiend Without a Face and Bruiser, the title track.

Romero got the two new tracks for free, in exchange for him directing the music video for Scream! As bassist Jerry Only stated in the liner notes for b-sides album Cuts from the Crypt: "It was an even trade, we shook hands and the deal was done. Business complications soon followed and I became very unhappy with my record label and my publishing company." Bruiser flopped gigantically and got mixed reviews. A soundtrack was never issued.

The music video itself is very different from Bruiser. The film is in part Romero trying out something new, tackling themes of revenge and riches seemingly inspired by films and books like Falling Down and American Psycho. It is new territory for Romero, who contrary to what people seemed to think did like to change things up. He wasn't solely the zombie guy, being a far more politically conscious and stylistically diverse filmmaker than he often gets credit for.

Meanwhile Scream! is in fact one of Romero's zombie-outings, where zombies including the band itself attack a hospital. The zombies seem somewhat akin to rabid fans, the high of a mosh pit being visually comparable to a violent raging mob of deadly ghouls.

While being known terrain for Romero, the music video sets itself apart by setting, the aforementioned hospital, and the style. Shot in stark, heavily saturated black and white, with dashes of vibrant and gory red, the video looks stunning. It is an impressive music video, and incredibly fun. It misses some of the subtext of Romero's Zombie films, which are much more self serious and dour. This plays much more like an ode to EC comics like Tales From The Crypt, and its many movie adaptations. Features including Romero's own Creepshow, which had a similar sense of campy comedy gore horror.

Bruiser being a flop meant that Romero, for better or worse, had to return to the same well, time and time again. His last three features were all zombie films, a financial cash cow that kept food on his shelf. These films, Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead and Isle of the Dead are much better than people give Romero credit for. They are not just Romero resting on his laurels. He keeps pushing the stories in new directions, be it stylistically like in found footage film Diary of the Dead, or thematically and politically like with Land of the Dead and Isle of the Dead. But it is kinda sad he never could get another truly original property of the ground. If even Romero couldn't get funding for his passion projects... What chances do others have?

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