” If you want to see what turns a B movie into a classic…don’t miss NIGHT OF
THE LIVING DEAD. It is unthinkable for anyone seriously interested in
horror movies not to see it”. ~ Rex Reed
Night of The Living Dead Deep Dark Thoughts
There’s probably no movie more responsible for the birth of the modern horror film than George A. Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead”. It established the foundation upon which modern horror is built and set the standards by which it is judged.
Night of the Living Dead helped to loosen the reigns of the “gothic era of horror” (which was sending it into a downward spiral) by modernizing the setting for fear to that of today’s world. This familiarity helps to produce fear that felt more real, even if outrageous. “Night” examined the human will to survive, with or without the help of his fellow men. I’ve decided (but may change my mind) to try and stay away from discussing the social commentary of this film (I could do a whole page on it), because George Romero has stated that nothing was done on purpose (i.e. casting a Black man in the lead, etc.), but will admit the film does reflect his feelings of the time.
Night of the Living Dead is the quintessential “zombie” movie. It helped to establish the modern-day mythology of the “flesh-eating zombie.” Prior to “Night”, nearly all zombie movies dealt with voodoo as the primary vessel for reviving the dead. In turn, these zombies served, as mindless slaves, their human masters. In contrast, Romero’s zombies were “true monsters”. Creatures of destruction. They lived (again) to feed on the living. They served no one, but the instinct that drove them.
A lot has also been made in the debate of colorizing this films. I am 100% against the colorization of any film that was “originally” shot in black and white. Most of the time it doesn’t have any effect on the overall effectiveness of the film, but in the case of Night of the Living Dead, the grittiness of the film helps to drive the fear. Just say no to a colorized Night of the Living Dead.
In NOTLD, Romero firmly established a successful formula for filmmaking. I am not saying that everything George Romero has made has been either successful or good, no that’s not the case, but rather that his films are built upon a foundation of a strong storyline. Romero has never been one to cash in on the quick fix at the detriment of the story. He builds his films from the ground up, hoping to establish the instruments for fear. This is not to say that he isn’t a fan of gore and in fact uses it masterfully to propel the story. Most of Romero’s films success (and sometimes failures) have some at the expense of a strong story with believable characters.
In 1990, there was a remake helmed by Tom Savini, which I find more entertaining than the original. I think George Romero did an amazing job of updating the story and along with the bigger budget made Night of the Living Dead 90 a more fun film for me. But again, I get into the same argument I get into when I talk about Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. Empire was a better story, but Star Wars was the original, so I have a special place in my heart for it. The same can be said about the original Night of the Living Dead….it will always be one of my all-time favorite movies and I will never get tired of hearing: They’re coming to get you, Barbara. Like me know which one you thought was better. E-mail me.
As always please e-mail me if you have anything you can add to this page, or if you have any comments, criticisms or suggestion
Night of the Living Dead Story
As a space probe was returning from its exploration of the planet Venus, it’s mysteriously exploded before entering the atmosphere. Was this the real cause for the dead returning from the grave to feeding on the flesh of the living? Well, at least that is what we are lead to believe. (The original script did not include any explanation, it was later added on) Seven strangers are trapped in an isolated farmhouse struggling with the horror that awaits them on the outside and the tension that will eventually destroy them on the inside.
They quickly learn the only want to stop these creatures is a blow to the head, preferably from a bullet, or to set them on fire. These zombies are slow moving (Yeah, they’re dead. They’re all messed up.) and very defeatable, but their human counterparts are more worried about arguing over who’s in charge than fighting back. The tension in this film is tremendous and I even find myself sometimes rooting for the zombies. Is that so wrong???
This low-budget cult-classic set the standards for modern horror. The zombies are simple but effective. The filming in b&w truly adds to the atmosphere. The score is standard music library material, but very eerie. Romero is one of the few directors that can take a chance with this type of ending and succeed, too bad he didn’t do the same with Dawn. This is the first course for anyone wanting to get into horror. Hopefully, you will pass and not turn into a zombie.
Night of The Living Dead Frightful Thoughts
- The original titles for Night of the Living Dead were “Night of the Flesh Eaters”, but they changed it at the threat of a producer who already made a film by that name. Actually, the movie disturber gave the film its’ final name.
- The film also carried the title of “Night of Anubis” during filming only to be changed as referenced above.
- In the original treatment of the script, Barbara (Judith O’Dea) was to have survived the night.
- Black & White film stock was not used to add atmosphere, but for economic reasons. The color was used in the beginning but later dropped for the aforementioned reason.
- Romero has stated that the “initial” idea for Night of the Living Dead was inspired by Richard Matheson’s book, “I am Legend”.
- The “goodies” (i.e. entrails, meat, etc) were supplied by a butcher who was an investor in the film.
- “Night of the Living Dead” is directly responsible for the advocation of the “Midnight Movie”.
- In the original script, the character of Ben (Duane Jones), was a much harsher man. He was your stereotypical “truck driver”. The character was changed for Duane Jones.
- The budget for this film was $114,000.
- If you look carefully you will notice numbers on the boards Ben is using to board up the house. This was done to help with continually so that when the boards were taken down at the end of shooting they would go back in the same place the next day. Unfortunately, sometimes the boards were put on backward and that is when the numbers are evident.
- Here are my three words for the new 30th-anniversary edition of NOTLD… “DON’T BUY IT“!!!!!!
Night of the Living Dead
Visit Kyra Schon’s (the little girl from NOTLD) official page.
Night of the Living Dead Merchandise
- Buy the Special Edition DVD (not 30th-anniversary edition) of the original “Night of the Living Dead” at Amazon.com
- Buy the DVD of the remake of “Night of the Living Dead” at Amazon.com
- Buy the “Dawn of the Dead Ultimate DVD Boxset at Amazon.com
- Buy the DVD of the “Day of the Dead” at Amazon.com
- Playing with twisty puzzles is the best way of improving your dexterity and problem-solving skills.