Night Of The Living Dead is globally a well established horror movie. From the release in 1968 this film has done nothing but wow audiences with it’s impressively unique story and classic horror essence.
Here’s a quick run through of the of plot, a desperate group of individuals take refuge in an abandoned house when corpses begin to leave their graves in search of human flesh.
The first time I watched this film I was in awe at how many horror movie cliches could be in one film. Our falling female protagonist, spooky basement, an isolated house, broken phone and of course bad acting! Although you may think these cliches are boring and overused, this film invented these cliches! This film started the zombie genre which I love, although it was not the first ever zombie movie it defined the genre for years to come, watching did not feel tedious or dull it instead felt fresh and exciting.
This was a risky, low budget, independent film at the time of its release it was very different to anything else. The 60s were saturated with musicals and high budget thrillers, ranging from Psycho and Goldfinger to The Sound Of Music. This reinforces that fact that this film shocked audiences, people were terrified of the idea that dead people could come back to life. Of course, now we will never be as surprised when a zombie appears on screen, but this version really stuck with me, it made me think what it would have been like to watch this in 1968.
Although it’s first impressions appear dated the core of horror lies in this film. We are of course introduced to our main character Barbra in a cemetery, I thoroughly enjoyed how director George Romero wasted no time getting into the action, this film quickly spirals into a nightmare. We are forced to watch as Barbra is slowly approached by a walking ghoul in the background as Johnny famously says, “They’re coming to get you Barbra”. Moments before the sluggish ghoul devours him, leaving Barbra defenceless and alone. This opening sets the scene and allows us to feel empathy for Barbra on her journey.
Unfortunately for Johnny his story ends pretty quickly but Barbra is soon joined by Ben, who gives us our first clue that this is no ordinary horror film made in the 60s, for Ben is black. At the time of its release Night of the Living Dead would have just been another cult classic, but today it’s a statement piece. Particularly at the end when it jumps from fictional horror to realistic horror, invoking the times in which it was made. Seamlessly incorporating an educational message to its audiences about the political and social landscape at the time, which watching today felt heroic.
If you can ignore the harsh, synthetic lighting and terrible acting style of the time this films narrative is brilliantly powerful, incorporating themes of racism and hopelessness with a little bit of gore.
8/10 Probe Points