The 1968 horror film “Night of the Living Dead” celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, and in honor of this, Plattsburgh State alumnus Andy Macdougall, ‘84, hosted showings of the film at several locations through the Friday the 13th weekend.
The first showing was held in downtown Plattsburgh Friday, then at Under One Roof Video the following day and closed out last Sunday in Yokum 208. Fans got a dose of nostalgia as each screening was through a 16mm celluloid projection.
The last time PSUC experienced something like this was in 1979 when the Student Association put on Halloween-themed shows in Yokum 200. Macdougall has taken it upon himself to keep celluloid production alive in what he calls “the digital era” by hosting events where he shows classic films on their original formats.
“It’s a very hard sell,” Macdougall said. “I’m the only still publicly exhibiting celluloid in this area.”
It might seem as though millennials have no interest in this kind of movie production, but PSUC students show genuine interest in the productions.
“We often don’t appreciate films like we used to,” sophomore Nick Von Rosk said. “Throw me back into a different time so I can have a unique [movie] experience.”
Macdougall loves retro productions of movies, but also tries to connect with modern-day zombie fans and educate them on zombie history.
“Celluloid is the original native habitat of zombie movies,” Macdougall said. “Before video tape, before DVDs and before streaming, the only way for zombie fans to access their pride and joy was through actual film showings of those movies.”
Senior double major in computer science and philosophy James Reubold agrees with what Macdougall stands for and even owns a celluloid projector of his own.
“I’m a film fan,” Reubold said. “I really enjoy watching films on their original media.”
Reubold describes movies today as simple commodities that do not have as much value as an original celluloid projection. Reubold attended all three showings because of his love for both the movie and the classic format.
“To me, it puts a movie in its original context, and I really get the essence of things as opposed to watching it on a phone,” Reubold said.
Being a philosophy major, Reubold compares the field to his love for retro films.
“Just seeing the epistemology of film, by what modes we encounter, is interesting,” Reubold said. “It allows everyone to see what they have been missing while watching digital forms of films. It’s like there’s something extra there, but the digital form is only a sample, whereas celluloid film is the real thing — a record of reality.”
Macdougall acknowledged some hardships he’s dealt with in promoting celluloid projection from individuals who he’d expect to provide encouragement.
“There is a real condescending attitude toward this even from people who should know better because they are considerably older than me,” Macdougall said. “[Some audience members] were making comments that were unbecoming to this age group.”
Despite the comments Macdougall heard at the last screening, he’s grateful he could celebrate 50 years of “The Night of The Living Dead.”
“My passion is the preservation of celluloid projection and I will continue to do it no matter what.”
Email Mataeo Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org