I thought for the very beginning of these showdowns it would be most appropriate if it incorporated two heavyweights, and of course, in honour of the late George A Romero who passed away last week.
Both legendary in there field, both pioneers of their craft, these two horror movie gods have gifted us with so much inspiration that without them we would not have a horror movie genre today. The three fields i will be pitting them against each other in are, greatest horror movie, influence and awards. It will be hard to separate these two, and everyone else will have their opinions but here is mine.
Greatest Horror Movie
For Romero, it is undoubtedly his 1978 indie zombie apocalypse masterpiece, Dawn of the Dead. Being claimed by many including Clive Barker, as his greatest film ever. Dawn of the Dead is also his highest grossing film at $55 million off of a $1.5 million dollar budget. Although his debut indie horror Night of the Living Dead was the trend setting origin for zombie horror and undoubtedly the reason for the sub genre, his follow up in Dawn of the Dead was his greatest. It is very much the reason this sub genre of horror carries so much weight still to this day, encouraging more and more remakes, sequels and TV show’s such as The Walking Dead. Within video games, movies such as 28 Days Later, and even The Walking Dead, hiding out in shopping malls, using shotguns to blow off chunks of body from flesh eating somewhat humans is a main stereotype that has been both played out both tastefully and poorly. Without this mainstay in zombie horror we wouldn’t have the themes of the undead. It doesn’t just stop there, the themes of this film have reached TV shows of all genres, with scenes from Dawn of the Dead being replayed without notice. The film also has been recognised as one of the greatest in general, making it’s way into the top 500 films of all time by Empire magazine. This film has been as influential as any on the whole film scene and for that, George A Romero, you will always be cherished.
John Carpenter’s greatest film was much harder to pick, but the highest grossing and the film that came to my mind first was Halloween. At $70 million it is is highest grossing, and the signature Michael Myers mask is the face of Carpenter as a character. This slasher film, much like Romero’s Dawn of the Dead was a pioneer film that was as influential to the slasher scene as any. Although not the first official slasher, out of the three mega franchises, being Halloween, Nightmare On Elm Street and Friday the 13th, this was the first to hit our screens, and it could be said that it was the reason why the other two were so well received. The original babysitter stalker-invincible killer,Michael Myers, is a creation that has creeped out US teens for generations, his blank mask eerily embedding itself in the conscious of all fans. Selected to be inducted in the Library of Congress due to it’s cultural significance, this film has been award winning in almost all categories, and finding itself ranked in 2010 by Total Film, in the Top 100 films of all time.
Although both have great influence on their genres, and both are inspirations to independent film makers, with Halloween being voted in majority lists over the internet as a top 100 calibre film, Michael Myers being such a significant character, it grossing higher and the Library of Congress recognising it for it’s impact, this first round goes to Carpenter.
Carpenter > Romero
Romero created the zombie sub genre. There is no way around that and no arguments against this will hold validity. His Night of the Living Dead is the first zombie movie on record, it was genre defining, and the themes stemming from his series of ‘Dead‘ movies encompass everything Zombie/Apocalypse related to this date. Although the reboot is more well known and critically better, he also created The Crazies. From the 70’s on wards, any TV show/game/movie/reference to the dead rising from the ground or being isolated years later after an Apocalypse you can bet stems from Romero and his mind. Has there been anyone more influential in film, independent, horror or not.
Carpenter is known for being one of the main influences of the slasher genre, but next to Craven, Hitchcock and Hooper, it’s hard to name who is the mastermind behind the sub genre. Carpenter’s ability to adapt to other genre’s is evident, but within the horror industry his standout performances are just that. I am not taking anything away from his ability, as The Fog is a testament to his diversity, but his influence upon the genre is not outstanding due to the craze of serial killers being created in the 80’s from more than one director or writer.
Although The Fog and Halloween are two of the most immensely popular and impactful horror films of their generation, Romero’s zombie idea has spawned tireless spin offs and themes that reach out to every medium of media and film creation all around the world. Without his original and without this idea of humans returning from the grave, the landscape of film and entertainment would not look the same.
Romero > Carpenter
George A Romero has won a plethora awards across the independent film scene, Fantasporto, Fangoria Chainsaw Awards, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & horror, USA the list goes on. Majority are for Best Film, Best Director, and Best Screenplay, which is all courtesy of his own individual work. His greatest accolade is the New York City Horror Festival Lifetime Achievement Award, and that’s undoubtedly one that recognises him for his influence and for his standings amongst other horror directors, writers and filmmakers. All in all, his greatest films were all acknowledged and he has a total of 13 wins and 5 nominations.
Carpenter has his similarities, as he also has won across all similar film festivals and independent award ceremonies. Fantapsporto, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards and Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror, USA to name a few. Although there seem to be more nominations then wins, Carpenter was nominated in 1976 for the Nebula Award for Best Dramatic Writing by Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. He has a total of 15 wins and 18 nominations.
It seems that despite their shared awards and similarities across the independent scene, Carpenter has been nominated a staggering 6x more than Romero, and still accomplished more wins. Although some of the greats never win Oscars, never get nominated when they should, award wining is a indication of talent and is still a reputable indication of their work. Due to this, Carpenter takes this final round based on his overwhelming number of nomination’s, whilst still winning more than Romero.
Carpenter > Romero
There is no doubt in my mind or anyone elses that both men have been as influential as any, both deserve the accolades if not more than they have been awarded with, and both’s greatest films are undoubtedly two of the greatest horror films to ever reach our screens. This being said, Romero’s influence has donned a sub genre, and influenced a greater reach than Carpenter but, this is his downfall, being less diverse and his continual instalments left him one sided. Carpenter has created a portfolio of horror movies that has wowed us for all different reasons and from all different perspectives. This battle was close, but Carpenter with his greater holistic hold over the genre due to earnings, recognisable films and diversity, he has won this inaugural battle.
Carpenter > Romero.