Night of the Living Dead



You pretty much have to have seen this movie if you're going to pretend to be even remotely into zombies. This might not be the first zombie movie, but it's certainly the movie that launched the idea of slow moving, feet shuffling, awkward groaning, flesh eating dead people unrelentingly swarming a tiny band of survivors whose tensions and lack of trust ultimately tear them apart...both figuratively, and literally.

Released in 1968, funded and produced independently and haphazardly by George Romero, the so called 'grandfather of the zombie', this film broke all sorts of boundaries. According to wiki, it was the first major film which starred a Black Actor in a non-racial role. It also featured mindless townsfolk eating each other, uptight white men being assholes, and probably one of the most uncomfortable stabbing scenes in the history of cinema.
 
That scene always makes me hold my stomach and shout "OH MY GOD" repeatedly, anyway.

What once was a scoffed at as a depraved and disgusting shlock fest has now entered the Library Of Congress, inspired countless films, movies, games, and low budget musicals, and allowed Romero to make an endless stream of slowly diminishing 'Something OF THE DEAD' films. Seriously, there are like 30 of them at this point. And you'll probably want to watch most of them.

Night of the Living Dead has a lot going for it. It's faux-documentary style and low budget really work in its favour, creating a sort of plausibility that most horror films lack. The acting may range all over the place, but even when it's silly, it rarely detracts from the film itself, it just sort of comes off cute. Even though it's not particularly violent by the standards of today...it still manages to be creepy, gross, and unsettling.

It's got something about it, something lucky. It simply works, both as a horror film, as social commentary, and as a piece of art in general.

One thing it doesn't have anymore, however, is copyright. Apparently, when the decision was made to change the title from "Night of the Flesh Eaters" to "Night of the Living Dead," some poor bloke forgot to add in the copyright information. So, this is film is actually public domain. You can download it, screen it anywhere, hell, you could actually distribute it, if you wanted to. People have- there are a ridiculous number of DVD releases, and some of them ABSOLUTELY MANGLE THE MOVIE.

People have seen fit to re-dub the sound, to colorize the film, to add in their own scenes or cut up existing ones. When buying this film, you have to be careful to buy a version that doesn't suck. Read the reviews, use your google-fu, and ask around. I have included a link below to the best version I've seen. Yes, it's an ad...but I have to eat too!
Night of the Living Dead is one of the corner stones of the zombie machine, and not in the way that, for example, 'Dracula' is to the current vampire craze, or fondling is to genital herpes. This movie pretty much set down the blueprint for these type of films that people are still following to this day, and will probably continue to do in the future.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Directed by George Romero.
Written by John Russo and George Romero.
Starring Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman, and Marilyn Eastman.
Makeup/Effects by Tom Savini.

3 comments:

  1. I'm searching for a movie released between 77 and 81. In the first half hour azombie had a woman trapped in a room and he smashed his hand thru the door; grabbed her by the hair and was pulling her thru the door. Her eye was going toward a shard of wood. I don't know what happened after that because I had to leave. This is the movie that terrorized my daughter and made her a zombie fan. I'm trying to find it for her.

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    1. its called zombie or zombi 2...its italian

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  2. I love this movie. It is great example of a classic movie with timeless appeal. I try to watch almost every year around Halloween. One of my favorite parts about the movie is how it subtly deals with racial issues of the time. One of the main characters is African American and during this troubling time of a zombie apocalypse, the color of his skin does not matter. The fact that the ending is so dynamic in that everyone has the same result is what truly make the movie for me.

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