Thursday, October 1, 2009

#31 - Night of the Living Dead

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Directed by: George Romero. Written by: John A. Russo and George Romero.

Plot: When people start rising from the dead as bloodthirsty ghouls, a group of jerks hiding in an old farmhouse must fight for survival, both against the ghouls and against each other.

Review: Known for being the original zombie movie, as in the first one to depict ‘zombies’ as flesh eating cadavers rather than people under the influence of magic or drugs (although that honour (if it can in fact be called an honour) should really go to Last Man on Earth), it is the inspiration for one of the biggest trends in horror history.

And it’s also, you know, the shit. They managed to make a fantastic movie on a crap budget (I guess - I didn’t actually do any research to back this up, but I’m guessing the budget was pretty low) which is always an accomplishment.

It is generally pretty tense and creepy, with occasional bursts of gore (somehow enhanced by being in black and white… I never understood how that worked exactly. I guess it’s just more classy or something), a morbid sense of humour, and interesting (albeit unintentional) racial undertones.

I always found it weird that that was a coincidence, seeing as every other movie in Romero’s ______ of the Dead series is a blatant social commentary (a fact which kind of bothers me about the movies - I don’t like social subtext, although, actually, horror films are probably the most affected by this out of any genre, except maybe science fiction, seeing as they tend to reflect the collected anxieties of the culture at the time, serving as windows into what people were really thinking about at any given period in the last century, from the fear of nuclear holocaust in the fifties, to the fear of sexually transmitted disease in the eighties, to the current trend involving bad things happening in foreign countries and the zombification of the public, it’s all so… obvious), but, according to the story, Duane Jones was just the best actor the filmmakers knew. And he’s actually pretty good, so that makes sense. It’s weird that he didn’t really do anything else after this - you would think just the novelty of his being in Night would have won him a few parts. But the guy’s only got, like, eight credits on IMDb, so I guess not. That is sad.

The other actors do a decent job, particularly Judith O’Dea - I always liked her, don’t know why. She never really went on to anything either. That is weird.

But anyway, it’s a really good movie, if a little slow at times, and filled with disgusting black and white mayhem.

Favourite Part
: “They’re coming to get you Barbra. Look! There’s one of them now” “Johnny, stop it, you’re scaring me”

Other versions: The weird remake from the nineties, helmed by Tom Savini and yet strangely lacking in gore. They did a 3-D remake a couple of years ago, which I did not see.

Sequels: Dawn of the Dead (the only good one so far), Day of the Dead (worth watching for Bub), Land of the Dead (dull) and Diary of the Dead (worse than dull). More to come, no doubt.

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