Bloodthirsty zombies hunt down terrified people hiding in a farmhouse.
Release Date: 1 October 1968 (USA)
Director: George A. Romero
Writer: John A. Russo (screenplay), George A. Romero (screenplay)
Cast: Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman
Awards: National Film Preservation Board
One of the genres of movies that is one of those like it or not types is that in the realm of zombie movies. For years there have been countless versions of different zombie movies. When it comes to the pinnacle of the zombie genre it has to be the George Romero classic Night of the Living Dead. First filmed in 1968, this classic cult favorite has spawned many different versions and movies that lend itself to be sequels. However, there is only one Night of the Living Dead.
For people today, who are bred on horror movies and graphic cruelty even in the daily news, we cannot imagine the shocking story that viewers saw portrayed before them in George Romero’s feature film. If was new and something different from the normal fare of horror flicks that were being pushed out by the production companies. This one took its time and gave moviegoers a new shocking movie type to fall in love with.
With a relatively small collection of main characters, the story is one of frightening proportions. The dead are given new life when the radiation of a space satellite settles upon a certain area of the Eastern United States. Because of this radiation the dead are rising from their graves, or from wherever they have fallen, from the ancient to the newly deceased, and feeding upon the flesh of those who are still living. Once bitten, you then become one of the living dead. Since 1968, this premise has been one of many nightmares and sleepless nights.
A small band of those unaffected find themselves surrounded by hordes of these nightmarish living dead in a farm house. The owners of the house have already succumbed to the zombie disease. Led by a young black man named Ben (portrayed brilliantly by Duane Jones), this small group not only fights against the danger of the zombies that are outside trying to get in, but against each other and a family that has a sick daughter that is hiding in the basement.
Fantastic cinematic approach, coupled with a story that you do not want to watch, but feel compelled to, is what makes the 1968 Night of the Living Dead such a powerful film. A relatively unknown cast of characters bring the events right into your lap as you find yourself struggling to stay alive until help comes. Romero delivers a perfect blend of the fantasy (the dead coming to life to feed on the living) and real life struggles with the humans themselves. Not only is the viewer wishing that the zombies do not find their way into the farmhouse, but you are also given a firsthand view of what happens when terror and panic find their way into human life.
Night of the Living Dead is the epitome of what classic storytelling, imaginative visionary and passionate acting deliver to the cinematic world. A breathless rollercoaster of emotions play out in the lives of those fighting for their lives and yourself as you are transported from your own living room into the black and white world that Romero has so brilliantly brought to life.