John Russo's Midnight
John Russo will be a familiar name to any self respecting enthusiast of cult horror cinema. He co-wrote the screenplay for Night of the Living Dead (1968), a film that turned out to be a clarion call for a new and vital form of modern horror expression. His contribution to this film and its resulting influence on the wider landscape of the horror genre affords Mr. Russo generic immortality; but what of his other contributions to cinematic history? I have to confess seeing the name John Russo attached to a film would not inspire me to watch it, in much the same way that George A. Romero’s wouldn’t either. For me this is a seal of mediocrity rather than excellence. I’ve always recognised the importance of Night of the Living Dead within its genre, and it is within the terms of generic discourse (or theory if you like) that the film signals its innovation and radicalism. But I don’t like the film - instead of going into the reasons here, check out my review. In Romero’s defence he has at least gone on to make a number of important additions to the horror genre; Mr. Russo has done nothing of consequence. His follow up (if you will) to Night of the Living Dead marked his directorial debut, and the movie was called The Booby Hatch (1976). I think the title alone tells you all you need to know about Russo’s post Night of the Living Dead credentials. In addition to a career as a screenwriter (sixteen credits to date), and director (nine credits to date) Russo was also something of a novelist, and one of his novels Midnight made it to the screen in 1982.
© Shaun Anderson 2012