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This landmark 1968 horror-shocker is a great example of what can be
done with a limited budget, a simple idea, and some dedicated and
talented participants. Very nicely shot, mostly well acted, NOTLD grabs
your attention from the very beginning to the very end - and what a
classic end it is.
The story begins with Barbara (Judith O'Dea) and her brother visiting the grave of a friend of their mother, and takes off almost immediately, as they are attacked by a horde of cannibalistic zombies. Narrowly escaping, but losing her emotional balance in the process, Barbara escapes to a house a bit farther down the road where she meets Ben (Duane Jones), the hero of the film. They discover a family with a sick little girl and a young couple in the basement of the house and they all get to work barricading themselves in and preparing weapons and other defenses. The rest of the story concerns the group dynamics between these survivors as the dead close in on their refuge, the story of what is going on in the rest of the USA - revealed through TV reportage and radio broadcasts, and sheer survival. The human side of this film is an interesting and accurate character study concerning what happens to people whose very lives are threatened.
The horror of this film is, unlike a lot of its recent descendants, less a matter of blood and gore than a matter of the real active horror of realistically depicted scenes of murder, death and cannibalism. Though the black and white footage involving blood and gore is certainly effective, there may not be quite enough of it for today's average horror fan. The photographic techniques of this film are innovative and powerful - showing just enough of the sheer hideousness of the film's basic concepts to disturb viewers, but not enough to allow them to detach from the film's protagonists.
I strongly recommend this film to anybody interested in the art of film making, and to those who enjoy the horror genre, though it is hard to imagine any serious horror fan who hasn't already seen this.
Romero is sublime. His ability to take a small budget and turn it into a stratosphericly giant film is unparalleled. This is one of the best apocalypse films ever (along with the rest of the trilogy). The zombies represent a slow moving enemy. It is easy to escape them. You have only to fear your own mistakes. On these the zombies will capitalize. One of the best aspects of this film is the lead character. Romero has always presented intelligent non-stereotypical black characters in his films. This film was made in 1968 while civil rights tensions were high, and the most "in control" character in the whole movie is a black man. If you can get past a couple of cheesy supporting performances, this is one of the best horror films ever.
A wave of mass murder sweeps across America as the recently dead return to
life to kill and feast on their victims. A group of people board themselves
up in an abandoned house to try and hold out against a small army of the
This is the classic low-budget horror film that is the model for recent hits
such as the Evil Dead and The Blair Witch Project. George Romero stages a
national disaster but reduces it to a single house for greater effect. The
story focuses on the weaknesses of each of the characters in the house -
their cowardice, their greedy, their stupidity etc. This makes the drama
inside the house almost as palatable as the danger from outside and makes
the characters more believable and important.
The undead are not huge works of special effects, nor are they anything other than lumbering beasts. But the threat they pose is well demonstrated - the film makes them feel unstoppable and relentless and makes their lingering presence more menacing and less comical than it could have been. The use of an unknown cast also makes it more realistic as none of them have any baggage. Duane Jones is the standout actor as Ben - who is not without flaws himself.
The downbeat, realistic atmosphere to the film gives it a greater sense of tension and continues right through to the very depressing conclusion. An excellent flagship for low budget horrors.
The Shining, The Exorcist and The Omen are all films that owe some of
their stylistic approach to this film.
This is the film that re-wrote the rules of the horror genre as it went
along, whilst acting as both social critique and fond homage to 'The Birds'
Romero set in place a steady breakdown of all our assumptions of the horror film, which he then utilised to full effect through the rest of this film and the two superb sequels that followed.
This is perhaps one of the greatest low budget cult movies ever made, certainly one of the most influential, and in its brutally harrowing documentary style conclusion a harsh statement on American racial attitudes. A statement which is as relevant today as it was over thirty years ago.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Night of the Living Dead is a true classic and without a doubt Romero's
best and most influential film.
Of course, being simply influential alone would not simply allow this movie to get a full-fledged star rating if it didn't pull through with it some quality at all, which it does in spades. In Night of the Living Dead, there is good pacing, surprisingly good acting from a list of no-name actors, and the most important part that sticks with the film to this day, the sense of dread in the film. In this movie to this day you get that feeling of hopelessness, people get attacked for no reason and nothing can save them. Whether it's family-togetherness, love between a couple, or even the law-enforcers at the end, this was all tapping into the uncertainty level people were having at the time and still today it has meaning. Topping this off with Romero's (at the time) large use of gore adds to the overall uneasiness of the film. Finally at the film's current times, there is a great subtle final nail in the coffin attack with the sad fate of the character Ben. Being the only sole voice of reason is shot, which, at the time of filming brought harsh realities of such other African-American leaders who were brought down unfairly such as Malcolm X or Martin Luther King, even if this wasn't the original idea Romero had.
Overall, no matter how cheesy some of this movie make look to modern eyes, Night of the Living Dead is a classic for offering horror without a shred of hope, forever influencing every horror movie in it's wake.
I often wonder if George Romero was knowing that this was going to
become one of the most influential films ever made when he sat down to
write the screenplay. Few other b-movies have had such great
cinematography, direction, dialog, and acting. You can say what you
want about "Dawn of the Dead", but this shall always be the foremost
zombie horror film in my mind.
The plot involves the radiation from a fallen satellite is causing the recently deceased to rise from their graves to feast off the living's flesh. They can only be killed by a blow to the head. A group of people, in need of protection from the hordes, barricade themselves in an abandoned farmhouse. They are pretty much lead by as young black man named Ben, a resourceful person trying to protect himself and the others.
Surprising as it may sound, the human drama involved is just as suspenseful as the zombies outside the house. It shows how human beings panic in the time of terror, and will stop at nothing to protect themselves and none others. Definitely one of the top ten horror films ever made. (10/10)
Night of the Living Dead, directed by Geoage A. Romero, is a horror
masterpiece and the first of three of his "Dead" movies. This low
budget horror has changed the way movies are made. This didn't need an
"A" grade cast and a huge budget to become one the world's greatest and
most influential horror movies.
This is the simple story of seven strangers who board themselves up in a farmhouse from the ravenous hoards of flesh eating zombies that are rising. But peace doesn't last for long as the tension rises, chaos and tragedy breaks out.
This movie today is still shocking. There isn't a lot of gore but the scenes with gore a shocking and disturbing, even though they are in black and white. This is still regarded as one of the best horror movies in the world.
A car drives up a road, towards a graveyard. Cut to the graveyard, a
woman and her brother have brought flowers to their mother's grave.
Soon the brother starts taunting his sister, saying: "They're coming to
get you, Barbara". Barbara laughs it off and after her brother runs
away, she heads to the seemingly innocent man visiting a family
member's grave to apologize, and out of nowhere he grabs her. Her
brother attempts to fight him off but ends up being killed in the
process and Barbara escapes to a farmhouse nearby.
That's how this incredible, highly influential masterclass in horror film making begins. What is still so fascinating about this film is that it retains its ability to genuinely, truly scare the crap out of you. It's not just a 'jump moment' film, George A. Romero sets the mood perfectly with a sublime script and truly effective use of music. As far as modern low budget horror films go, this is nearly the best of them, surpassed only by Sam Raimi's masterpiece "The Evil Dead".
"Night of the Living Dead" isn't scary because of the zombies (although the flesh eating sequences are still among the greatest and most horrifying horror scenes ever made). The film is still effective because it all has a feeling of impending doom. It seems hopeless, disturbing, terrifying because of the claustrophobic mood it sets. It's not the zombies that scare us, it's the idea of being trapped in a small area with nowhere to go and death itself standing right outside your door. What a brilliant film!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I don't think George Romaro ever had in his mind the masterpiece he
created when he made Night of the Living Dead, one of the greatest
horror movies of all time and gave birth to the zombie genre. The
monster that is the zombie has been a little experimented with before
with the film "White Zombie" but never like the dark depths that George
took it too. To think that this film almost never would have made it to
the public since George threw it in the trunk of his car thinking
nobody would ever buy it, low and behold not only did the film sell but
has one of greatest group of fans to follow it. Such a degrading film
for it's time with naked, scarred up, chewed up zombies eating human
flesh, there was no film like Night of the Living Dead. The metaphor
that we are guaranteed 2 things in life: birth and death, the slow
inevitable death that is walking towards you as if you are looking at
your future self is just horrific. George was way ahead of his time and
that's why Night of the Living Dead still gives me nightmares to this
Barbra and Johnny drive to rural Pennsylvania to visit their father's grave. When Barbra is afraid Johnny teasingly frightens; whereupon they are attacked by a zombie. Johnny tries to rescue his sister, but is then presumably killed when the man shoves him head first onto a tombstone. Barbra flees, with the killer in pursuit; eventually she ran off to an empty farmhouse where she discovers the half-eaten corpse. Running out of the house, she notices a man named Ben arrives in a pickup truck, drags Barbra back into the house, and barricades the doors and windows. Meanwhile, hiding in the cellar are a married couple, Harry and Helen Cooper, their daughter Karen, and teenage couple Tom and Judy. Harry asks everyone to hide in the cellar, but Ben deems it a "deathtrap" and remains upstairs. As they fight through the night for their lives, they try to escape to a safe house but the zombies outside have pulled up the table with the salt and pepper and are a bit hungry for some human flesh.
George casted a black lead, which was so unheard of at the time, I'm sure he never looked at the color but what a groundbreaking moment. He's the smart man who knows how to fight and even hit a white woman, what risks George took with this movie. The film is by no means perfectly made, but you have to understand that this was a low budget film made by a group of friends, however, when you think compared to today's low budget films that have no story with it, it's all about the gore, Night of the Living Dead broke that mold. I have a little tradition every year on Halloween, I have to watch this movie because it is one of the best horror movies of all time. How could you not still get the chills when little Karen turns into a zombie and goes after her mother with a shovel, her mother screaming "Baby!" and falls crying and screaming as her daughter just continues stabbing her to death, God, what a horrific scene! Taking a chance with a depressing ending, not to spoil too much as I feel that I already have but I envy anyone who sees this film for the first time because I like to see their reactions to this movie. A groundbreaking film, a horrifying story and a cast and crew that gave all effort, Night of the Living Dead is a terrific scary movie not to be missed.
The budget was low.The actors were not the top of the heap,yet Night of the Living Dead is a very effective horror film.It was the film that no doubt set the standard for horror films of today.The whole idea of freshly dead corpses returning from the grave to feed on the living makes my hair stand up,even without the movie.I find myself comparing this film with 1999's The Blair Witch Project.They are similar,not in what they are about,but in how they were made.Both films took very little money to make,used no big name actors,and were very successful and effective in presenting their respective stories.Night does get rather gory and disgusting in places,but overall is worthy of the title of "classic".
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