George A. Romero changed the horror genre and the zombie trope in 1968 when he co-wrote, directed, and edited ‘Night Of The Living Dead.’
Siblings Barbra (Judith O’Dea) and Johnny (Russell Streiner) are delivering flowers to a gravesite when they are attacked by a mysterious man who kills Johnny. Running for her life, Barbra takes refuge in a farmhouse where she meets Ben (Duane Jones), who immediately boards up the house. Barbra is in a state of shock after seeing a partially devoured corpse. Soon, Ben discovers Harry Cooper (Karl Hardman), his wife Helen (Marilyn Eastman), and daughter Karen (Kyra Schon) along with college students Tom (Keith Wayne) and his girlfriend Judy (Judith Ridley) hiding in the basement. As they hear reports from the radio of the dead coming back to life, the farmhouse gets surrounded as they fight for survival.
The movie has been examined ridiculously over the years by critics, media insiders, and even philosophers for its themes, tropes, and its representation. As such, I intend to focus on my reaction to it as a horror film and whether or not it deserves the accolades that it receives.
As for the actors, everyone does a good job of making you feel the fear of the dangers and the tension of the characters trapped in the house. Every performance is done very well and while I do admit it has some overacting, it is excellent. One of the aspects that I found particularly well made was the music, produced by Scot W. Holton. It complimented the scenes and the themes perfectly.
I also appreciated the use of practical effects from the make-up, gore, shading, and especially the zombies. It was done with a small budget, but instead of focusing on one thing, Romero well balanced it and used it to perfection. Without all of the flash of CGI, it came together and made it a scary piece of cinema.
With the plot, it does send shivers down your spine. The movie is credited with reinvigorating the zombie and has inspired other filmmakers in how they approach horror. Romero definitely deserves credit for that because this movie does deserve that credit. I know he has since released other versions, sequels, and spin-offs that he still is active in making. Watching it for the first time definitely showed me the skills Romero had. He crafted it very well and I did find it genuinely thrilling.
Bottom line, Night Of The Living Dead is a genius work that deserves every single accolade that it earned. It is genuinely terrifying and perfect for a scary movie night.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Violence, Minor foul language
FAVORITE QUOTE: We may not enjoy living together, but dying together isn’t going to solve anything.
Check out the trailer below:
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