The Weekend of the Living Dead has begun over here at Ascent Stage HQ.

My kid brother Joey and I are long-time horror film fans. There isn’t a sub-genre that doesn’t delight: vampire flicks, Japanese stuff, Italian stuff, classic slashers, supernatural, psychological, torture porn, you name it.

But there’s a special place in every horror buff’s heart for George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead from 1968. It is the granddaddy of the hundreds, possibly thousands, of zombie flicks that have eaten our brains ever since.

Recently I came across a crude “genealogy” of the films spawned by Night of the Living Dead. Got me thinking about doing an undead marathon. Did a little research, added a few films and … here we are, a birthday present for the Leap Day Kid. 17 films, 25 hours, some beer ok a mini-keg of beer, rum, vodka, and scotch, and two little boys watching scary movies while the family is out of town.


It’s wrong to call all these movies a franchise as you’d do with Friday the 13th or Halloween given the divergent creative visions of the two original writers George Romero and John Russo. They each took the series down very different paths. With remakes, unauthorized sequels, and special editions thrown in you get, well, you get a lot of the living dead.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Day of the Dead (1985)
Land of the Dead (2005)
Diary of the Dead (2008)

Night of the Living Dead (1990, Savini)
Dawn of the Dead (2004, Snyder)
Day of the Dead (2007, Miner)

Return of the Living Dead (1986)
Return of the Living Dead 2 (1988)
Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993)
Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis (2005)
Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave (2005)
Night of the Living Dead: 30th Anniversary Edition (1998)
Children of the Living Dead (2001)

Day of the Dead 2: Contagium (2005)
Night of the Living Dead 3D (2006)

Netflix provided most of the movies. I’d get three at a time, rip them to the Apple TV and back they’d go. But a few — the Savini remake, 30th anniversary edition, and Children of the Living Dead — proved very difficult to find. (Facets and Specialty Video & DVD in Chicago are great places to find the most bizarre of your cinema needs.) At least one had not even made it to video yet. (Thank you, torrenters.) The very last in the list chronologically, Diary of the Dead, just left theaters and is represented here as a trailer only. Boo.

So we’ve just begun. Joey recommended a strictly chronological progression through the lot, regardless of series coherence. He thinks it’ll be interesting to map the evolution against social/historical climate and larger trends in horror. There are of course other ways to slice it, as this chart shows.


We’ll no doubt be posting the findings of our research as the weekend proceeds.

If you’re interested in trying this out yourself, might I recommend a survival manual?