Night of the Living Dead (1968) - George Romero

GREAT ZOMBIE MOVIE
★★★★¾

DIRECTOR: George A. Romero
PRODUCER: Russell W. Streiner & Karl Hardman
WRITERS: John Russo & George Romero
STARRING: Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Marilyn Eastman, Karl Hardman and Judith Ridley
STYLE: Zombie Survival Horror
STUDIO: Image Ten, Laurel Group, Market Square Productions, The Walter Reade Organization and Continental Distributing
RELEASE DATE: October 1, 1968
COUNTRY: USA
Budget: $114,000
Box office: $30 million

Poster by J Wrig on DeviantART

Poster by Pittiders

It's kind of sad. As you get older, all of the people that you idolized start to pass away. George A. Romero is and will always be an icon in horror. His contribution to the genre is incalculable. This movie alone branched horror into a completely new and exciting direction. It inspired countless filmmakers and artists. George A. Romero passed away on July 16th 2017. He was 77. Thank you George. 

Night of the Living Dead is the Grand Daddy of the zombie films. It is a groundbreaking classic from director George A. Romero. This is the first movie that actually features zombies in the way that we know them. No voodoo. No magic. Just bloodthirsty zombies that have an insatiable hunger for human flesh. This is the movie that starts the entire zombie apocalypse. Dawn, Day, Land, Diary... Everything! Even Return of the Living Dead. 

The movie follows Barbara and Ben. They are two individuals that were running from the walking dead and ended up bunkering up in a house together. But they are not alone. We learn that there is a small family hiding out in the basement along with two yokel lovers. Now this small group has to band together in the first attempt to survive the mindless zombie horde that has taken over the eastern United States. 

Our lead role went to the role of Ben Huss played by Duane Jones. Jones, an African American, was a bold choice in 1968, and just another reason this movie is radical. The casting is great. Judith O'Dea does a great job of being useless. Like an artistically good job. Whatever that means. The zombies are even scary. Not running zombies. But these grey, ugly, shuffling zeds that carry the feeling of dread along with them.

The scariest aspect of this movie is the tone. The hopelessness and dread that the movie leaves you with is aching. It sticks around. The zombies are scary too. The way that they slowly amass on the house is just creepy.

The visuals are alright but the filmmaking suffers a bit. It's very independent. Be wary of a few blurry images, questionable cuts and bad acting. Romero really pulls out a win here without the aid of adequate props, costumes, or even a passable soundtrack. The filming is mostly all taken care of in one central location, the farmhouse. Everything from the invasion of the zombies to the incredibly dark ending is all centralized here. It works out really well. This is the kind of movie that leaves you sleeping with the lights on. 

I suggest the entire Romero series. Check it out. It starts here with Night of the Living Dead. Then continues with Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead. His more modern features are quite a bit worse but they still have their charms. They are Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead and Survival of the Dead. Also please watch Return of the Living Dead I and II. Along with the 1990 Night of the Living Dead remake. Horror fans should consume fully. 

Did You Know

When the zombies are eating the bodies in the burnt-out truck they were actually eating roast ham covered in chocolate sauce. The film's first scene, the initial cemetery attack on Barbara and Johnny, was the last filmed, in November 1967. During production, the film's title was still being chosen. The working title was simply "Monster Flick".