Thursday, May 20, 2010

Night Of the Living Dead

Alright so since Survival of the Dead comes out next friday, i decided to take a look back at all the Romero Dead films. Some i love, one i just like, the other i tolerate. BTW it goes in that order of when they came out, only reverse Dawn & Night.

Night of the Living Dead is a special film, i saw it on vhs plenty of times as a kid, as well as Creature Feature a few times, even if i already owned a copy, i just loved it. George Romero & friends each investing $600 for the films production budget, a move that later failed, due to lack of copyright. The film has gone on to be released by various vhs & dvd distributors, from the lowest common denominator to the Weinstein Company, it can be remade with the snap of a finger, noone owns it. It's been remade with Romero's involvement, directed by Tom Savini. It's been remade in 3D, and very craptastic i might add. Now it's being remade, as a semi prequel semi remake, all CGI, with Danniele Harris & Bill Moseley(reprising the role of Johnny from the Savini version). It's even had a few redux's one with added footage that was shot 30 years later, and one as a brilliant art project, Re-Animated, done by various animators to recreate scenes from Night, but with the same soundtrack, oh it's also had a colorised version released too. It was also one of the first true midnight movies, and a midnight movie i still have had the privilege of seeing. It came out in 1968, a year full of racist undertones, and what appears on screen? A black hero, Romero didn't do this intentionally, but Duane Jones was the best man for the part, and thankfully so, as it added just that much more to Night's essence.

The film begins with a gorgeous shot of the open road, a car is seen driving down, it contains a pair of siblings, Barbra(Judith O'Dea) and Johnny(Russell Streiner, one of the films producers), they are on their way to plant memorials at their dads grave. Johnny begins to refference when they were little and he'd scare Barbara, and how grandpa would say "BOY YOU BE DAMNED TO HELL", he realises she's still scared, but he won't stop it, he begins "They're coming to get you Barbara", then as he points to a man wandering around and runs, the man, graveyard zombie(Bill Hinzman), attacks her, Johnny tries to save her, but it's no use, as he is easily taken out. Barbara runs to the car gets in and goes down the hill, she unfortunately crashes but finds shelter in an old farm house.

In the farmhouse Barbara begins to get whacked out, but luckily meets Ben, who goes on a mini zombie killing spree. The two try to clear space & board up windows, they think they're all alone, until two men appear from the cellar. Harry & Tom(Karl Hardman & Keith Wayne) emerge and begin an arguement with Ben, well Harry does atleast, the racist undertones of Harry are vibrant, yet unintentional. They both have their wives/girlfriends in the cellar, Helen & Judy(Marilyn Eastman & Judith Ridley), aswell as Harry & Helen's daughter Karen(Kyra Schon). Karen had been bitten and is getting sick, Harry wants the cellar door shut and to stay down there with his wife & daughter. Ben refuses and stays upstairs, fighting for everything they have, including a radio & a television, where we learn that a satellite may have caused the incident of zombies running amok, and the proper way to kill them, using a firearm or blunt object to the brain. Ben decides t oescape using the truck outside, but Tom is the only one who can handle the truck, Judy decides to help at the last minute, however a gas spill & flame causes their ultimate death. Harry on the other hand has locked Ben out of the house, but once he has gotten back in, it's pay back time on Harry as Ben unleashes his rage, including a shooting. Some of the zombies have gotten into the house aswell, but one was already their, as Karen herself has turned, Harry passes away but Karen murders her mother with a trowel. Barbara is then grabbed by zombie Johnny, and Ben locks himself in the cellar. The police & towns people have begun killing of the zombies, and upon gettign to the house, discover Ben, as human as can be, but shoot him, right between the eyes, thinking he was a zombie, killing him & adding him to the fire. it ends on such a down note, but that's the brilliance, life doesn't always end well, so why should our films? The film may not have been the first gory flick to hit the screen but it ushered in a new era of horror films and the way they got made.

I myself have been to the basement from Night, which wasn't shot at the same location of the house, but rather the Fort Pit building, also home of the roof from the projects in Dawn of the Dead.


  1. niiiice. I'm diggin' these in depth adventures into the mind of Joe...

  2. could be the greatest zombie movie of all time (though I need to rewatch Zombieland a few 100s times to see if that holds up)