George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” (1968) Film
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  • Unfortunately, zombie films--with a few exceptions--have never seemed to rise above a B quality rating, and now I see why
  • In Night of the Living Dead, every punch or push looked like it was scripted to ensure that none of the actors were hurt (though I found out later that the first zombie's actor was accidentally kneed in the groin by the actor of the first victim)
  • It provided for some very boring monologues from her and Ben (Duane Jones)
  • Though I thought that Jones was the most convincing actor in the film, his performance couldn't save the scripted action
  • While I was not impressed with most of the acting in the film and I don't think that the zombie characters were thoroughly thought through, I did appreciate the fact that Night of the Living Dead is--like most of the films in that era--driven by the plot and the character

    • by Rob Killam
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      George A. Romero is known to zombie fans as the “Godfather of All Zombies,” according to Wikipedia. His rise to fame began in 1968 with “Night of the Living Dead,” a dystopian zombie film that garnered acclaim and criticism for its grotesque scenes and nearly nihilistic ending. Though I’ve been a zombie fan for some time, I had not yet seen “Night of the Living Dead” until just recently. Unfortunately, zombie films–with a few exceptions–have never seemed to rise above a “B quality” rating, and now I see why.

      The very first thing that caught me off guard was the fact that the action sequences looked exceptionally fake. Though some may argue that it was the 1960s,


      I would argue that movies like “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (from 1962) showed reasonably convincing fight scenes. Sure, the punches might still be pulled and the sound effects might be hackneyed in “Valance,” but at least they looked like they connected. In “Night of the Living Dead,” every punch or push looked like it was scripted to ensure that none of the actors were hurt (though I found out later that the first zombie’s actor was accidentally kneed in the groin by the actor of the first victim).

      It also didn’t make sense to me that Barbra (played by Judy O’Dea) would run her tail off trying to get away from that first zombie (Bill

      Hinzman) who had just killed her brother (Johnny, played by Russell Streiner), only to be catatonic for the rest of the film. It provided for some very boring monologues from her and Ben (Duane Jones). Though I thought that Jones was the most convincing actor in the film, his performance couldn’t save the scripted action.

      Also, while I didn’t think anything of it to see an African-American man in a zombie film, I was pleasantly surprised to see that–even in the era of the Civil Rights movement–racism did not enter the film. In today’s zombie media, racism between characters is often used as a plot device (such as the confrontation between T-Dog and Merle Dixon in AMC’s ...


      • George Romero's
      “The Walking Dead”). Rather than introduce such conflict, Romero and his scriptwriters chose to stick with the basic drama involved with a power struggle between men (namely between Ben and Harry Cooper, the latter played by Karl Hardman).

      As with Romero’s later work, I did not expect anyone to survive. It did seem to be somewhat of a letdown that in the last four minutes of the film, Ben is shot down by a group of men who do not bother to check whether or not he’s a zombie. It seemed unprofessional for a group who is led by a law enforcement officer, all stereotypical criticism of law enforcement aside. However, in the stress of a world

      overrun with the Undead, I could see that happening more than once. Still, the ending was abrupt and underplayed, which I suppose is more true to life.

      While I was not impressed with most of the acting in the film and I don’t think that the zombie characters were thoroughly thought through, I did appreciate the fact that “Night of the Living Dead” is–like most of the films in that era–driven by the plot and the character. There are still enough action sequences to keep a person interested in what’s going on, but overall I do think it could have been better. Perhaps if it had been, zombie films might rise more often above that “B rating” ceiling.




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Mackenzie says :

Wow, I’m floored by this review. I think this is one of the most significant movies ever made, let alone a horror movie. I could literally write a thesis on this film. Although, the fact that you only saw it recently may be why you have your opinion as opposed to someone like me who has seen it multiple times since a young age. I’m curious to know your thoughts on the original Dawn of the Dead.

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Heather says :

This is the movie that got everything started. There are two main things I enjoy about it. First, the zombies did not wear overdone, gory makeup but instead looked as if they really were humans who had started to decay. Second, I think a zonbie film is more frightening when the zombies are unable to move quickly. Seeing something just slowly creep toward you is quite eerie. One of my favorites.

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