It's hard to imagine how shocking this film was when it first broke on the film scene in 1968. There's never been anything quite like it, though it's inspired numerous pale imitations. Part of the terror lies in the fact that this one's shot in such a raw, unadorned fashion it feels like a home movie, and all the more authentic for that. Another is that it draws us into its world gradually, content to establish a merely spooky atmosphere before leading us through a horrifically logical progression that we could hardly have anticipated. The story is simple. Radiation from a fallen satellite has caused the dead to walk and hunger for human flesh. Once bitten, you become one of them. And the only way to kill one is by a shot or blow to the head. We follow a group holed up in a small farmhouse to fend off the inevitable onslaught of the dead. And it's the tensions between the members of this unstable, makeshift community that drive the film. Night of the Living Dead
establishes its savagery as a necessary condition of life. Marked by fatality and a grim humour, it gnaws through to the bone, then proceeds on to the marrow.--Jim Gay
George Romero's Night of the Living Dead
is a low-budget classic that had great difficulty finding a distributor at the time of its release in 1968, and has since become one of the most influential horror films of all time. Aside from its visceral impact years before realistic gore became the fashion, the film is also important for its portrayal of a black man as the protagonist during a time when race relations were an extremely sensitive issue in the United States. The plot is simple: seven people, secluded in a Pennsylvania farmhouse, face relentless attacks by reanimated corpses seeking to eat their flesh. The group, which includes a married couple and their daughter, a pair of young lovers, and an African-American man, try to keep their sanity as the living dead try endlessly to enter the house. Radio news reports tell of the plague taking over the eastern United States, while the ever-decreasing band of survivors rapidly loses ground in the battle to both keep peace with one another and stay alive.