NOTE: The group meets virtually via Google Meet. For information on how to join, please contact Cody at email@example.com.
Every one of the films we discuss will be available to view for free on the Kanopy streaming service (www.kanopy.com), accessible through your DC Public Library card. The aim of the group is to engage with a deep and diverse pool of film history—we explore films both classic and contemporary, from a variety of artistic movements and regions.
On October 12th at 7:00 PM we will discuss two influential monster movies that use thrills as a vehicle for piercing social commentary: George Romero’s genre-defining zombie classic Night of the Living Dead and Bong Joon-ho's The Host, a thrilling and subversive modern favorite.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
In 1967, a young filmmaker named George Romero assembled members of his fledgling production company and a small group of untested actors in the rural outskirts of Pittsburgh to make a horror movie—and wound up changing the face of the genre forever. The film they produced, Night of the Living Dead, took the folkloric figure of the zombie and transformed it into a ravenous, cannibalistic creature fit for the modern world. The film begins with Barbara (Judith O’Dea), a young woman visiting her father’s grave alongside her brother. When they are beset by shambling, violent ghouls, she runs and takes shelter in a deserted farmhouse. There she meets Ben (Duane Jones), who takes charge as the farmhouse is quickly surrounded by ghouls. The survivors must fight against the zombies—and themselves—to live to see the dawn. Claustrophobic and gritty, Night bucks against the expectations placed on a horror movie by Hollywood, paving the way for future generations of independent classics. The film made Romero an iconic filmmaker, and his portrayal of the zombie transformed it into a terrifying force ripe for social commentary.
The Host (2006)
An uncanny mashup of horror, social satire, and family drama, The Host is a unique monster movie from Bong Joon-ho, one of South Korea’s most versatile contemporary directors. The film is based on a real incident from 2000, in which an American official working for the U.S. military in South Korea ordered hundreds of bottles of formaldehyde to be dumped down a drain—and directly into the Han River. In Bong’s film, the pollution mutates a tiny fish into an enormous amphibious monster, which emerges from the Han River to wreak havoc among the unsuspecting people of Seoul. Caught in the middle of this rampage is the unassuming, dysfunctional Park family, who own a riverside snack bar. When the daughter of irresponsible Gang-du (Song Kang-ho) is kidnapped by the beast, the family comes together to rescue her from its lair in the sewers, all while a quarantine and military crackdown is placed on the city. Told with palpable terror and unexpected comedy, The Host was a box-office success in South Korea and an international critical favorite that cemented Bong as an essential modern filmmaker.