Night of the Living Dead (1968)
A group of people try to survive an attack of bloodthirsty zombies while trapped in a rural Pennsylvania farmhouse.
what a joke
In truth, there is barely enough story here to make a film.
The thing I enjoyed most about the film is the fact that it doesn't shy away from being a super-sized-cliche;
The granddaddy of modern zombie films and arguably also the progenitor of the modern day horror film. NOTLD's story should be familiar to modern horror audiences, even if you've never seen this film before, as this film's influence on survival horror films cannot be emphasized enough. The recently dead mysteriously rise and come to life to mindlessly feed on the flesh of the living, who then in turn become the undead themselves to create more undead flesh eaters. The film follows a disparate group of survivors who have found shelter in an abandoned farmhouse where they barricade doors and windows, share information/stories about what they think is going on outside, bicker amounts themselves over what to do in the situation, and all of the usual tropes we typically see in horror siege films. Writer/producer/director George A. Romero gets credit with this film for creating the "rules" for zombies (i.e. zombies are slow and dumb, anyone who dies will rise to feast on the living, you must destroy the brain to kill a zombie, etc.), in much the same way Bram Stoker made established the rules for modern vampire depiction with Dracula in 1897 or how Curt Siodmak established the rules for werewolves with his script for "The Wolf Man" in 1941. Romero's zombie rules are taken for granted at this point, but it's a major achievement that may not be quite appreciated, to have essentially invented a movie monster that has continued to endure for over than 50 years. Romero's zombie rules have been followed by most zombie movies up until "28 Days Later" when filmmakers and authors started playing with the rules (much the same way that's been done with vampires and other creatures of the night), but Romero's rules have still been adhered to by everything from Max Brooks' "Zombie Survival Guide" to Robert Kirkman's "The Walking Dead." Without "Night of the Living Dead" we would never have had the many end-of-the-world classics like Lucio Fulci's "The Beyond," Sam Raimi's "Evil Dead," Stuart Gordon's "Re-Animator," Robert Kirkman's "The Walking Dead," Charlie Brooker's pre-Black Mirror TV mini-series "Dead Set" or the above mentioned "28 Days Later," not to mention a ton of great zombie fiction from authors like Stephen King, Joe R. Lansdale, and Brian Keene, or some great tongue-in-check zombie films like Grindhouse's "Planet Terror" or Simon Pegg's "Shaun of the Dead," or some fun lesser but entertaining zombie films like "REC," "Dead Snow," "Dead Alive," "Zombieland," "Le Horde," "Shock Waves," "Juan of the Dead," "The Dead," "Night of the Comet," "Demons," "Pontypool," "Return of the Living Dead," or the super gory "Zombie 2" (Wondering about Zombi 1? Romero's sequel to NOTLD "Dawn of the Dead" was released in Italy as "Zombi" and this Italian production was marketed as a sequel). Romero also gets credit with "Night of the Living Dead" for establishing the horror film siege scenario that's endlessly been used to this very day (everything from "Assault on Precinct 13" to "Aliens" to "From Dusk till Dawn" to "The Mist" to "30 Days of Night" to "The Purge"). Sure there were siege films going back as far as "The Lost Patrol" or "Rio Bravo," but Romero established the plot, story, and genre elements that remain strong to this dya. The cultural influence of this "Night of the Living Dead" cannot be emphasized enough. Looking at the film on it's own, Romero doesn't just tell a zombie siege film story, but also injects a smart political subtext into the film about race relations. Ben, a black man, and Mr. Cooper, a privileged white man, clash throughout the film as to if it's better solidly barricade themselves in the basement or to stay upstairs with the partially barricaded doors and windows to have a potential path for escape if needed. It's notable that Ben has the only gun in the film and Mr. Cooper desperately wants to literally wrench it from Ben's grasp to take control of the situation. For a film in the 1960s, it's quite provocative to cast a black man in in the heroic lead role, telling a group of white people what to do. Romero admitted that he didn't write the character of Ben as a black man, but that after casting the excellent Duane Jones, the story began to take on these elements of race and politics. SPOILER ALTER! At the end of the film, it's undeniable when Ben, the only surviving member of the group, is casually killed by a redneck posse and his corpse thrown on a bonfire, quickly followed by black & white newspaper photographs of the incident, that the audience would think of the recent assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X. "Night of the Living Dead" also works as a Cold War parable for US involvement in Vietnam. The US has better technology and know how, but were overwhelmed by the sheer numbers and the relentlessness of those who they were fighting. So overall, although the acting is admittedly not the best (except for Jones) and the production values are pretty low, "Night of the Living Dead" is a classic that has greatly influenced innumerable books, movies, comics, TV show, and popular culture ever since and in ways than cannot be over stated.
After a zombie outbreak, a group of people arrive at an old farmhouse where they must spend the night to survive. This is a personal favourite of mine and has to be one of the most influential movies, not just to the zombie film but the horror genre itself. Even though it wasn't the first zombie movie it did introduce some of the most iconic tropes of the genre like using the resources you have to survive, zombies being flesh eaters and zombies needing to be shot or severely injured in the head to die.Duane Jones delivers an excellent performance as Ben who's a strong black protagonist who stands out amongst the highly irrational fellow survivors. George A Romero excellently conveys that sense of claustrophobia with the house setting and his direction unflinchingly creates tension and suspense. It managed to be the most successful independent movie of the time, garnering 263 times its budget. The movie features a ballsy ending and I won't give it away unless you haven't seen it but let's just say it's a profound social statement that you won't forget after watching the movie.
No need to echo consensus points. What a tribute to a bunch of non-Hollywood folks getting together to make a movie, (Romero's first). Seems like everyone in the cast already knew someone else there. The production was certainly a long way from the usual Hollywood spore, and one of the first really successful indies. Things just seem to come magically together, from casting, to great camera work, to spooky effects. My knuckles are still white from the latest viewing. I keep thinking there is some provocative subtext to the story, especially with Afro-American Jones in the lead role and playing a real hero. But I still can't find one. Instead, I think it's exactly what it appears to be: one heckuva fright film. The first and last parts are the best, concentrating on shudders the way they do. The middle part is more like human interest, random characters thrown together having to sort things out. Anyway, Romero did for Zombie films what Lugosi did for vampires. No, it's not as gory as most fright films of today. But the technique is perfect for the material, so catch how a bunch of near-amateurs manage to trump the professional Hollywood crowd.
Honestly I can handle many black and white films well but this astounded me! Barbara and her brother go down to a grave site very far from where they had came when it all happened and that's when thongs go downhill. This film really had good effects for a indie film and shaped our world on what we call zombies. A 7/10 for great effects, acting, and the story which kept me watching.