Dir: George A. Romero, 1968
With the sad passing of George A. Romero, it’s only right to take a look at what is, personally, his best work.
Zombies have always been a staple of horror; the undead returning to feast on the living. It’s the stuff of nightmares. To a lesser degree, even Frankenstein’s creation is a zombie of sorts.
But, arguably, it was Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead that truly brought the genre into the mainstream, becoming the first “zombie flick” and the poster film to aspire to.
Shot on a shoestring budget, Romero’s movie is an inventive and creative exercise in what can be achieved with relatively little money.
Night Of The Living Dead is a fantastically fun horror movie, with some great special effects and a dark and moody atmosphere.
Romero, breaks the mold of typical cinema. The hero of the film is a black guy. For 1968, that was unheard of. But, Duane Jones is superb in his role as the level headed Ben. Judith O’Dea must be given a shout out for her part as Barbara; a traumatised young woman.
Night Of The Living Dead is responsible for so many additions to pop culture. Barbara’s brother Johnny, walking mockingly to his already uneasy sister saying; “they’re coming to get you, Barbara”, has entered Hollywood lore and aped a million times over.
For 1968, Romero’s movie broke boundaries with its scenes of full frontal nudity and excess gore, giving censors a years lasting headache. Incredibly violent, Romero refuses to hold back and shows it in all its glory.
Revelling in the exploitation factor that his film sits so well with, the Pittsburgh born director, in effect, exploits the exploitation. Filmed in black and white, the monochrome look accentuates the darks making the blood a lot darker and, therefore, more horrific and gruesome.
All in all, Night Of The Living Dead is a brilliantly made and endlessly rewatchable movie that is, infinitely, superior to the output that followed and head and shoulders above the current state of affairs.