Vic’s Classics – “Night of the Living Dead” (1968)

night_of_the_living_dead_movie_poster

What’s it About?

As dead bodies inexplicably return to life and feast on human flesh, young Barbara (Judith O’Dea) joins a group of survivors in a farmhouse hoping to protect themselves from the hordes of advancing zombies.

Night of the Living Dead

Directed by George Romero

10 out of 10

By Vic

Much can be said about guerrilla film-making.  In 1968 Young movie director George Romero found it very empowering. Especially when he and his fellow crew members, John Russo and Russell Striener took on a script they wrote called “Monster Flick” and turned it into the iconic, schlock-shock classic “Night of the Living Dead.” This black-and-white film, shot in and around Evans City, Penn. just north of Pittsburgh, cost all of $115,000 to process, shoot and release.

This low-budget, guerrilla film consisted of some really cool little known facts that Romero once told an audience at a Horror convention I attended many years ago. Some of them being that Bosco chocolate syrup was the blood and that the body parts were pieces of cooked and boiled ham from a butcher’s shop. Cool, Huh?

“Night” has everything that a a great little horror film should have: Influence, craftsmanship, subtext and a sense of dread and doom. The theme of the evil lurking out there trying to work it’s way in plays out in very tense fashion. Many films have emulated that feeling of intruding doom. John Carpenter’s “Assault on Precinct 13″ and even “Halloween” are two that come to mind. Romero’s cinéma vérité is uncluttered, grotesque and has a smart, wily wit about it that lingers way after the credits roll. It takes great stabs at the military, local yokels, the slow-as-shit zombies and our protagonists are conflicted and naive.

The only heroic character with any balls is Ben, played stoically (if not at times a bit dully) by Duane Jones. Judith O’ Dea, the then 23-year-old theater actress who plays Barbra, the character who loses her brother Johnny to a zombie early and helps Ben and the unfortunate others holed up at the house. They try their best to stave off the attacking zombie hoard not realizing the dangers lurking from within their own ranks. This tension and paranoia provides some good drama and, along with it, some campy dialog and occasional wooden performances from the cast.

There is gore, ever increasing tension, suspense and unsettling dark comedy in Romero’s zombie opus. I love how he brings the horror that is outside and keeps us in one remote place. The subtext, too, lurks just right outside the door and is waiting to be let in. This theme is repeated over and over in his later “Dead” films, such as “Dawn of the Dead.” It is one magnificent midnight film to enjoy and savor — pun intended.

Enjoy the Full Movie here courtesy of OpenFlix!

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16 comments

    • Thanks! My favorite, hands down, is Dawn of the Dead. Night’s ending was indeed gripping and very bleak. Scary as hell.

  1. Great write up on one of my all time favorites. Such a brilliant movie. Not much more I can say that others haven’t. This is easily top 10 for me perhaps top 5.

    By the way love the new layout of the page

    • Thanks. I felt a new theme was overdue. I love NOTLD. My fave is still Dawn though. In your top 5? wow. that’s awesome. Thanks for reading, bro!

  2. Great review. As you will see on my site a little later in the month, Night of the Living Dead is my all- time favorite horror picture. I love everything about it!

    • It is? Awesome. There is so much to love in NOTLD. I wanted to go full blast with the review but I thought keeping it simple was better. I’m glad you liked it. Looking forward to your review! Thanks for stopping by. 😀

  3. This is one I watched early in my scary movie watching beginnings and I just did NOT like it but I was young and silly so maybe I’ll like it better now. I really like Romero and his work but this just didn’t do it for me on several levels (might’ve been the wooden performances ;)).

    • Yeah, the performances could have done it lol. I think I read somewhere that the actors didn’t know what Romero really wanted at times since the genre was so new. It is a bit clunky in parts. Overall it holds up pretty good. Give it another look see and let me know. Thanks for reading!

  4. Saw it as a child and was traumatized. Still as potent as ever and it deserves it’s spot on the list of not only all time great horror films but all time great films. Great write up Vic!

    • Thanks Black Saint! I agree it is very potent still especially the young girl zombie. Very scary and iconic. Thanks for stopping by.

    • The remake is a cool film. I enjoyed it very much. I included the full movie in the post if you wish to check it out that way. I’m glad you like the new layout! I felt it was time for a change. Took me a while to decide on the right one but it was fun. Thanks for stopping in!

    • Thank you, bro. Always appreciated. Thanks for taking the time to stop in. I have some more classic titles coming. I’m pushing my laptop to it’s limit.

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