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.
Following an ever-growing epidemic of zombies that have risen from the dead, two Philadelphia S.W.A.T. team members, a traffic reporter, and his television executive girlfriend seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall.
Barbra and Johnny visit their father's grave in a remote cemetery when they are suddenly set upon by zombies. Barbra manages to get away and takes refuge in what seems to be an abandoned farm house. She is soon joined by Ben who stopped at the house in need of gas. Beset by the walking dead all around them Ben does his best to secure the doors and windows. The news reports are grim however with creatures returning to life everywhere. Barbra and Ben are surprised when they realize there are 5 people hiding out in the basement: Harry, Helen and Karen Cooper; and a young couple, Tom and Judy. Dissensions sets in almost immediately with Harry Cooper wanting to be in charge. As their situation deteriorates, their chances of surviving the night lessen minute by minute.Written by
There are two known deleted scenes that were removed at the insistence of distributor Walter Reade Organization. They include a 8-minute expository scene in the basement between Helen and Harry at the bottom of the stairs (which explains the abrupt jump cut shown) as well as a wide shot of numerous zombies covering the landscape, which was replaced with footage of zombies eating near the end of the film. This footage was presumed lost when a flood damaged the storage facility years later at Image Ten Inc. See more »
We see Ben pouring lighter fluid on a chair inside the house , planning to drag it outside and set it ablaze to ward off the zombies. In the very next scene he goes outside , and the chair is already on the front porch. See more »
They ought to make the day the time changes the first day of summer.
Well it's eight o' clock and it's still light.
A lot of god the extra daylight does us, you know we've still got a three hour drive back, we're not going to be home until after midnight.
Well, if it really bugged you, Johnny, you wouldn't do it.
You think I wanna blow Sunday on a scene like this? You know, I figure we're either going to have to move mother out here or move the grave to Pittsburgh.
Well she ...
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The credits play over still frames of the hunters dragging Ben out of the house with meat hooks. After the credits, there's a short scene of the hunters setting a pile of zombies on fire. See more »
The original 1969 UK cinema release was heavily cut by the BBFC with substantial edits to the trowel murder and the removal of all the flesh-eating scenes. The film was re-released in 1980 following the success of Romero's Dawn of the Dead and was shown completely restored and uncut. All subsequent releases have been untouched by the BBFC. See more »
It is very rare nowadays in Hollywood that $112,000 will cover anything more than the cost of catering on most movies. And yet that was all it took for George Romero and a number of friends of his in Pittsburgh to make what is without a doubt one of the most significant horror films of all times, the 1968 shocker NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Detested by a lot of critics in its day for several scenes of unsettling gruesomeness (though Herschell Gordon Lewis' gore films earlier in the 1960s beat him to the punch for true stomach-turning horror), the film is now understandably highly prized of its relentless, logical approach, and for being so utterly uncompromising.
Not much more needs to be said about the plot: it merely involves seven people who have barricaded themselves inside a rural Pennsylvania home after having been attacked by flesh-eating ghouls who have returned to life from the dead as the result of an exploded Venus probe bringing back a dangerous and unknown form of radiation. What Romero and his co-scenarist John Russo (who took partial inspiration for this film from Richard Matheson's classic 1954 end-of-the-world vampire novel "I Am Legend") show, however, is the strain built up by the way the characters, especially the ones portrayed by Duane Jones and the film's co-producer Karl Hardman, react to the horror that engulfs them...whether to stay on the ground floor, or to hide in the cellar, and how best to escape even as more and more of the undead surround the place. As it turns out, of course, there is no real way out, and there is no actual good end to the whole horrible situation.
Romero, who would continue his travail through the world of the undead through several sequels over the ensuing four decades, shot this film in black-and-white largely on location just outside of Pittsburgh over several weekends in the second half of 1967. NIGHT has, in many ways, the feel of a 1950s "invasion" film (think INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS), but its setting of an isolated house under siege clearly has its roots in Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 classic THE BIRDS; and the scenes of the ghouls munching on human flesh, though brief in nature, were then, and in many ways still are, shockingly contemporary. The cast of primarily amateur actors does well at being totally naturalistic, and the low budget look of the film gives it a documentary feel that hadn't been seen in horror films before, but which would be revisited in THE Texas CHAINSAW MASSACRE and THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT.
Even after four decades of parody, imitation, and sequels, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD is still not for those with weak constitutions, and for those who have seen far more graphic shockers, it will likely seem painfully old-fashioned. But for true horror connoisseurs, it is up there with the very best, and is an essential film of its kind and its era.
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