Night of the Living Dead (1968)
night of the living dead | george a. romero | john a. russo | duane jones | judith o'dea | karl hardman | united states | zombie | zombies | marilyn eastman | keith wayne | judith ridley | kyra schon | bill cardille
Film: Night of the Living Dead
Director: George A. Romero
Writer: John A. Russo and George A. Romero
Starring: Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea and Karl Hardman
This film, even though isn't my favorite, has a soft spot in my heart. This is my father's favorite film and this was the reason we co-wrote a novel together about zombies. It is a classic. To get into this, the official synopsis is there is panic throughout the nation as the dead suddenly come back to life. The film follows a group of characters who barricade themselves in an old farmhouse in an attempt to remain safe from these bloodthirsty, flesh-eating monsters.
The first thing that I have to lead off with is that this is the film that began the zombie genre as we know it today. There were zombie films in the past, but they were voodoo films. This is the first to have re-animated corpses that eat human flesh.
For this being a low-budget film, this is really good as well. They really utilized what they had to work with. The cemetery scene is quite creepy and barricading themselves in the house is the logical thing to do. Seeing all of the zombies coming does ramp up the fear. It isn't that you can't outrun them, but the sheer number starts to become a problem.
The acting is good for a bunch of unknown people. I really like Duane Jones as Ben. This must have been a hard role him to play in the late-60s as an African-American. I wasn’t a huge fan of Judith O’Dea as Barbara, only because she doesn’t have any character arc and she is one of the main characters. I guess it can be said that she stands up to everything before she dies, but I don’t really see that, because she had moments where she would be frantic. Harry Cooper (Karl Hardman) and Tom (Keith Wayne) were both good characters as well. I didn't really see an issues with any of the acting to be honest, other than O'Dea that is.
It is paced very well also. It has your normal run time and it never falls into any lulls. Even when they are not interacting with the zombies they are doing something that will fortify the house or will get them hopefully one step closer to getting out of this situation. There is the moment at the gas pump that is a little crazy, but with the adrenaline going, I could see it happening. The ending is heartbreaking, but I love it. I know there is a lot of talk about racial issues, but I don't think that is what writer/director George A. Romero was going for.
The zombies look good, they act great and the scenes of eating flesh had to be shocking at the time that this was released. Being filmed in back and white definitely helps as they could use chocolate syrup for blood. It looks good. There are also some scenes of body parts being ate that look pretty realistic as well.
Something else that I wanted to comment on was the score of the film. It has one of the more haunting songs when we see the zombies eating someone. It makes me feel even more uncomfortable when I'm watching these scenes and I love it. It is used a few times and I think that was a good move.
I would highly recommend this film if you like zombie movies. This one started them all and an appreciation for the beginning I feel is important. It isn’t the most exciting, but it has good acting, a solid story and some really nice zombies. The pacing is solid as well as is the score to the film. There are some good social undertones of incense and cannibalism. This is in black and white, but there is also a version out there that has been colored as well. This film is also definitely worth a viewing. I think it is very good overall.
My Rating: 9 out of 10