They're Coming To Get You Barbara
Radio Announcer: Because of the obvious threat to untold numbers of citizens due to the crisis that is even now developing, this radio station will remain on the air day and night. This station and hundreds of other radio and TV stations throughout this part of the country are pooling their resources through an emergency network hook-up to keep you informed of all developments. At this hour, we repeat, these are the facts as we know them. There is an epidemic of mass murder being committed by a virtual army of unidentified assassins. The murders are taking place in villages and cities, in rural homes and suburbs with no apparent pattern nor reason for the slayings. It seems to be a sudden general explosion of mass homicide. We have some descriptions of the assassins. Eyewitnesses say they are ordinary-looking people. Some say they appear to be in a kind of trance. Others describe them as being misshapen monsters. At this point, there's no really authentic way for us to say who or what to look for and guard yourself against. Reaction of law enforcement officials is one of complete bewilderment at this hour. Police and sheriff's deputies and emergency ambulances are literally deluded with calls for help. The scene can be best described as mayhem. The mayors of Pittsburg, Philadelphia, and Miami, along with the governments of several eastern and midwestern states indicated that the National Guard may be mobilized at any moment, but that has not happened as yet. The main advice news reporters have been able to get from official sources is to tell private citizens to stay inside their homes behind locked doors. Do not venture outside for any reason until the nature of this crisis has been determined, and until we can advise what course of action to take. Keep listening to radio and TV for special instructions as this crisis develops further. Thousands of office and factory workers are being urged to stay at their places of employment, not to make any attempt to get to their homes. However, in spite of this urging and warning, streets and highways are packed with frantic people trying to reach their families or, apparently, to flee just anywhere. We repeat, the safest course of action at this time is simply to stay where you are. Ladies and gentlemen, we've just received word that the President has called a meeting of his Cabinet to deal with the sudden epidemic of murder that has seized the eastern third of this nation. The meeting is scheduled to convene within the hour. Members of the Presidential Cabinet will be joined by officials of the FBI and military advisors. White House spokesmen are saying there will be an official announcement immediately following that meeting. This is the latest dispatch just received in our news room. The latest word also - this is from nation press services in Washington, D.C. - tells us that the emergency Presidential conference which we just mentioned will include high-ranking scientists from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. So far, the best advice they are able to give the public is this quote from Chief T. K. Dunbar from Camden, North Carolina, who is quoted as saying, "Tell the people for God's sake to get off the streets! Tell them to go home and lock their windows and doors up tight! We don't know what kind of murder-happy characters we have here!" Chief Dunbar's words were worn out in grisly fashion just hours ago near the small, normally peaceful town of Willard, Pennsylvania, where the driver of a tanker truck was mobbed by a cluster of apparently would-be assassins oblivious to all concerns for their own safety and blindly intent on attacking the driver. The tanker trunk went out of control and plowed into the gas pumps at a well-known eatery and truck stop known as Beakman's. The truck and gas pumps caught on fire and exploded, apparently maiming and killing gas station and restaurant employees, together with a dozen or more patrons, motorists, and pedestrians. Several bodies were found mangled and mutilated. Many others appear to have been carried off by the attackers. Eyewitness accounts described the assassins as ordinary-looking people, misshapen monsters, people who look like they're in a trance, and creatures that look like people but behave like animals. Some tell of seeing victims that looked as if they had been torn apart. This whole ghastly story began developing two days ago, and from that point on, these terrible events kept on snowballing in a reign of terror that has not abated. Military personel and law enforcement agencies have been working hard in an attempt to gain some kind of control of this situation, but most of their efforts have been marginally futile up to this particular time.
I don't know where my head has been for the better part of the past two decades (or rather since I was old enough to be mindful of such things) but brought to my attention like a lightning bolt from God today (courtesy of my dear uncle Pax Romano from Billy Loves Stu) was a little piece of trivia that George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead premiered 43 years ago today at the Fulton Theater in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Ahem. Yeah, on the very first day of October. Otherwise known as thee day that sends a spasm of anticipation coursing through the bodies of horror fans across the nation. Why? Because our favorite holiday is upon us and our favorite month of the year is here. That in mind, what Pax (and I) would like to know is this: why hasn't October 1st been designated some sort of national holiday? Night of the Living Dead Day, Romero's Day of Darkness, something. Certainly there couldn't be a more perfect way to bookend the celebration of the spookiest time of year. As it is, the world has already taken to choosing this month of all months to host hundreds of zombie walks and zombie themed gaieties in multiple countries and on numerous continents. So it's about time we officially tipped our hats to the man and the film that started it all, amirite? Because what would the genre look like without Romero's landmark film paving the way for guts, gore and shambling corpses as we know them and what would October look like without the visages of rotting faces with gnashing teeth in the streets and on our television screens, the fear of empty crypts and the hope that that lumbering silhouette in tattered clothes in the distance down your leaf strewn, windswept sidewalk really is just a merry reveller getting into the spirit of things and not one of the living dead about to claim you amongst it's ranks? Well I'll tell you dear readers, they'd be shit without them.
So lets raise a glass shall we? To George A. Romero, the cast and crew of Night of the Living Dead and it's and their legacy. Spread the word. Throw on some zombie makeup and go chase people out into traffic. Host a screening party of the original or a Dead trilogy marathon (why would you keep going after Day of the Dead, actually no, don't answer that). Do something. Because this time next year, enlightened as we now are, we will certainly be bringing down the house over what we here at The October Country consider to be one of the most important days of this month for one of the most important films in horror history. Now, let the anniversary of Night of the Living Dead commence.