on 8 August 2000
Dont be fooled by its age or the fact that its in mouldy old black and white, Night of the Living Dead hasn't lost any of its punch since its controversial release in 1968. Be prepared for chilling scenes of suspence and brutal imagery of gory violence (cannibalism etc. etc.) coupled with superb acting from a cast of relative unknowns. Its grounbreaking violence and slick, stylised and now contempory direction/camera work, make the film a timeless masterpiece that changed the face of horror for ever. Never before had this level of violence been released upon the audience and has subsiquently stayed as the centre of much modern horror. Much imitated and at the mercy of two mediocre sequels, this is the zombie thriller to watch. The one. The only. The origonal horror, shock tale from a revolutionary master of the horror genre. Thank you George A. Romero.
If you want to learn the art of making a horror movie, just watch George Romero's macabre masterpiece Night of the Living Dead. So many times, when it comes to horror, simpler is better, and this is actually a pretty simple film. It manages to create an atmosphere of rising fear while, at the same time, serving as a veritable study in the psychology of terror. It also has the perfect amount of humor that makes horror all the more enjoyable to me, and the truly classic ending of the film ranks among my favorite endings of all time. This ain't Abbot & Costello Meet The Mummy; this is gritty, atmospheric, gutsy horror at its best. It no longer offers the actual fright that was its bread and butter when it was released in 1968, but it's still nightmarish enough to make many a person squirm in anticipatory dread if nothing else.
Who can forget the opening scene of this masterpiece? A brother and sister drive 200 miles to lay a wreath on their father's grave, with their banter culminating in dear old Johnny's teasing his sister by moaning the words, "They're coming to get you, Barbra." Much to his surprise, "they" are coming to get her, and him, and untold numbers of innocent people all throughout the eastern half of the United States. Barbra (Judith O'Dea) flees to a farmhouse, where she commences to wig out in a quiet, childlike sort of way. She is soon joined by a young black man named Ben (Duane Jones), who becomes the driving force of the movie. He begins boarding up the house, getting little help from his near-comatose compatriot, but it turns out that there are also five people already holed up in the cellar. The meeting of all these minds leads to a bickering marathon, with Ben claiming authority and the measly-mouthed Harry Cooper (Karl Hardman) resisting every step of the way. Trapped inside the house, the band of survivors does have access to radio and television, whereby they learn the extent of the unbelievable epidemic of mass murder and, later, get the news that the killers are recently deceased bodies (who have come to life in a hokey way I'll refrain from mentioning) who share a common passion for cannibalism. The group's struggle to survive is one of increasing intensity, making for a completely absorbing movie. Those of a psychological turn of mind can enjoy studying the widely varying reactions of each individual to what is essentially unimaginable terror. And the ending, as I've said, is just a wondrous thing to behold.
You just don't necessarily need a huge budget to make a genuinely scary, classic film. Just get a bunch of people, throw some pale makeup on them and tell them to walk funny and slow, then hole up a gang of strangers in a house surrounded by your zombies, and you've got the basic ingredients for your very own Night of the Living Dead. Of course, only a director as talented as George Romero can turn such a film into a masterpiece, which is accomplished in no small degree by his brilliant use of black and white rather than color film. Night of the Living Dead may well be the most famous zombie film of all time; it is without question one of the best. If you don't have a copy of this film in your video/DVD library, even this inexpensive, bare-bones version, then your true horror movie addict credentials are a little suspect. If you see only one zombie movie, Night of the Living Dead should be the one.
on 4 October 2011
ive always been a fan of the dead films.ive only ever owned this on dvd,in 3 different formats,but this format is the best!as soon as the movie starts,you can tell that its been tinkered with and upgraded for the blu ray format,and a wonderful job theyve done too.the zombies in the nightime scenes are a lot clearer than before,even the daytime scenes are,especially in the graveyard at the start.but there are 2 things that bug me about it though;1)the black lines on the side of the screen and 2)although the sound is DTS HD MA,its done in the original mono.but hey,they didnt have the vast array of sound effects that we have today,so i shouldnt really complain.i have all the dead films now bar 2,so come on George,do ya thing and give us another taste of zombie heaven!:-)
on 26 November 2004
This film is Light Years ahead of the other films of it's day. the sheer concept of it draws from everything from the Cold War, to racism in the south of the states. with a great, twist and a powerful final montage. everything about this film reeks pure genius. the acting isn't great and some of it is cliche, but you have to remember - this film invented those cliches!
on 11 October 2014
Siblings Barbara and Johnny are on their way to a countryside cemetery for their annual visit a family gravesite.
As they make their arrival, a thunderstorm starts to make its forbidding descent on the grounds and as lightning shreds the murky sky’s the par notices an ominous being walking in the distance.
Barbara gets anxious and wishes to leave, Johnny sees an opportunity to put a good fright into his little sister by proclaiming that he’s coming to get her, harmless fun, meanwhile turns gravely serious as the strangers in fact attacks Barbara and kills Johnny as he tries to intertwine.
With the stranger lumbering in pursuit, Barbara flees out over the desolated plains in desperate search for a place to hide, when she spots a secluded farmhouse in the distance, she immediately seeks shelter there and inturn finds that the house is seemingly abandoned.
As the stranger lurks outside Barbara tries to regain her composure, as she checks the house for its residences
But when she ventures upstairs she stumbles across a partially eaten body, which sends her panic stricken towards the front door, there she finds herself face to face with Ben, who grabs her and drags her back inside the house.
Ben tries to explain his situation, that he was attack by a group of strangers at the nearby “Beckmann’s Dinner” and barely managed to escape the situation. He subsequently tries to probes Barbara for her story, but the stress and traumatic events of the day is starting to take there toll on the young women and when she lashes out at him in a fit of hysterics he inturn knocks her out.
As the night continues and an increasing number of strangers surround the house, Ben starts to barricade the doors and windows of the old farmhouse while listing to the increasingly alarming radio reports of violence perpetrated by people in a trancelike state all over America.
But just as things are claming down, a grope of survivors emerge from the cellar, to check out if the upstairs is safe, which inturn presents a whole new set of problems in the form of an escalating power struggle between Ben and the refugees supposed leader Harry Copper
As the night grows even darker so does the prospects of survival as difference of opinion and general latent hostility threatens to tear the group apart, more and more this place of sanctuary is ultimately starting to looks less like a safe haven and more like an tomb. As the remaining media outlet realise that these rabid attackers are in fact the living dead and militia groups consisting mostly of gun crazy rednecks, are forming all over the US to eradicate this unusual threat, self-preservation eventual consumes the group as the house’s power supply shuts down triggers the zombie inevitable attack on the sheltering farmhouse.
Night of the Living Dead was produced in a particular tumultuous time in American history. The Cold War, the Kennedy brothers’ assassination, the comeback of Richard M. Nixon combined with the seemingly neverending war in South East Asia and escalating race riots all gave fuel to one of the most poignant slices of discouraging nihilistic cinema outputs ever, brilliantly masqueraded as crowd pleasing entertainment. On the surface a harmless fright flick about flesh munching zombies, upon closer inspection however, a heart rendering socio-political allegory with unlimited bite and brains. And furthermore one of the best films of the sixties…Hell, ever!
Night of the Living dead is the patriarch of seminal horror films Sam Raimi, Tope Hooper and john Landis have all named the film as a primary influence on their subsequent works and its fair to say that this film created “The Zombie” (although that idiom is never utilized) as we have come to know and love it today, although Victor Halperin’s White Zombie (1933) did get there first, and while it’s an accomplished slave allegory and immensely important in its own right it is ultimately an entirely different beast altogether.
These Moderne day flesh munches are holistically the creation of George A. Romero and his insistence on incorporating social commentary while changing the rules of the game makes him stand out and worth commemorating .
I remember my first encounter with the film vividly; it was during the summer vacation of 1993, the Danish television station TV-2 showed it late one night long past the witching hour and having waited all week to catch it I anxiously sat down to indulges on this horror classic… An hour and a half later I was a changed person.
Completely captivated by the stunning Back and white photography by Romero himself, the incredible effectiveness of an obvious minuscule budget and the overpowering sense of atmosphere that it projected, I was left breathless and in awe at the capability of “low-budget” filmmaking, so much so that I subsequently scattered the VHS marked to acquire the remaining parts of what I would eventually learn was an absolutely transcendent trilogy of films, namely the majestic and epic Dawn of The Dead (1978) and the utterly nihilistic Day of the Dead (1985).
In the aftermath of the films initial release in 68 Night of the Living Dead gained notoriety for it’s ne plus ultra depiction of gore and while it’s still true that the graphic content is severe in its presentation and certainly very much ahead of its time, it’s not very likely to churn stomach’s in this day and age.
What remains undiminished however is the films ability to chill an audience with its cold visuals and haunting score, weaving a tapestry, unblemished in its portrayal of hell on earth.
In a world compromised by demagogic values and the promise of completion obtained through material grains, this film stands as a radiant beacon in the candid hopelessness that is the 21th century’ inevitable decline, in that it tests you and asks “do you want to just sit idly by and let the sense of apathy consume you ? Or do you want to get in touch with your humanity, however utopian that might seem.
You’d do well to bypass the 30th anniversary edition that include dismal added footage and just go for the original classic. It has more releases the Sahara has grains of sand so the options are plentiful just make sure it the original !
Reviewed here is the beautiful 3 disc Japanese edition from DEX Entertainment which houses three keep cases in a sturdy box.
Disc one house’ the main feature presented in 4:3 remastered and completely scratch free. In the extras department you get two audio commentary tracks, the first one by George A. Romero, John Russo, Karl Hardman and Marilyn Eastman (the Latent Image Crew) and the second one by Bill Hinzman, Judith O’ Dea, Keith Wayne Kyra Schon Russell Streiner and Vince Survinski (Actors/Latent Image folk) both are chuck filled with anecdotes concerning the low budget and the challenges it presents and deserves to be heard by all aspiring filmmakers and people interested in genre films, both. It’s a wonderful listening experience.
The second disc presents an immense photo gallery from the production of the film, a radio interview with Duane Jones (Ben) a great interview of Judith Ridley (Judy) conducted by Marilyn Burns (Helen Cooper) a house of commercial produced by Latent Image (check out the endorsement for “Duke Beer” it’s priceless!
Furthermore there’s scenes from Romero’s abandoned project “There’s always vanilla”
The third disc presents the film in colour, so I humble advice you be to skip that one entirely but if you are serious about Night of the Living Dead then this edition more then worth your while.