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  • Writer's pictureAllan Major

Night Of The Living Dead 1968 Reviewed

Updated: 5 days ago

Featured Image For Night Of The Living Dead 1968 Reviewed.  A black-and-white poster featuring frantic human figures and looming zombies.
When the dead hunger for the living, no graveyard will stay silent.

In the world of celluloid nightmares, there are certain films that hold dominion over the dark corners of our imaginations. Films that whisper to us from the past, their decaying reels a tangible echo of some primordial fear. And amongst this tattered pantheon sits a king crowned in shadows and bone – George Romero's 1968 masterwork, "Night of the Living Dead."

Night Of The Living Dead 1968 Key Takeaways

  • The Nature of Fear: The film taps into primal anxieties about death, the unknown, and societal breakdown. The relentless, mindless nature of the ghouls creates a pervasive atmosphere of impending doom.

  • Societal Critique: Romero subtly comments on issues like racism, mob mentality, and the fragility of social order in crisis. The survivors' inability to cooperate despite a common enemy highlights the destructive potential of internal conflicts amidst a larger threat.

  • The Human Monster: The film raises the question of whether the true horror lies with the undead or within the hearts of the living. Some characters succumb to selfishness and brutality, revealing a darkness that rivals the monsters outside.

  • No Easy Answers: "Night of the Living Dead" offers no comforting solutions or heroic victories. The bleak ending reinforces the uncertainty and existential dread that permeates the film, leaving viewers to wrestle with the implications.

  • Horror Iconography: The film cemented many of the tropes we now associate with zombie films – flesh-eating, shambling hordes, vulnerability to headshots. Its influence is undeniable in subsequent horror cinema.

  • Historical Context: It's important to consider the film's creation during a turbulent era, reflecting anxieties about the Vietnam War, social unrest, and the potential for societal collapse.

  • The Vulnerability of Isolation: The farmhouse setting becomes both a haven and a claustrophobic trap, emphasizing the dangers of isolation and the thin line between safety and surrender in a world gone mad.

  • Budget Doesn't Limit Impact: Romero's low-budget ingenuity proves that compelling storytelling and a keen eye for the grotesque can overcome technical limitations. The grainy black and white aesthetic actually enhances the raw, unsettling feel of the film.

A lone woman stares wide-eyed at a black and white TV screen showing Night of the Living Dead.
The terror on the screen was nothing compared to the creeping dread in the room.

This movie didn't simply invent the modern zombie. It breathed a twisted, unholy life into the archetypal shambling corpse. Here was a monster unchained from the musty confines of myth and folklore, reborn as a gruesome mirror held up to the anxieties tearing at the seams of a turbulent era.

We begin, as so many horror tales do, in the chill embrace of a graveyard. Barbara and her brother Johnny are there to visit a loved one's resting place, their hearts likely heavy with that quiet grief reserved for these solemn spaces. But this hallowed ground is about to be desecrated by a horror that cares nothing for tradition or the sleep of the dead.

From the corner of your eye, you see something moving at the edge of the frame. A pale figure lurches towards them; slow but unrelenting, driven by a hunger that knows no reason. This isn't the gothic monster of old. It's closer, more visceral – a grotesque parody of humanity, its vacant eyes reflecting only an insatiable need to consume.

Chaos erupts. Barbara flees, finding herself flung into a nightmare landscape where the recently dead have begun to reanimate. Their rotting flesh stretches over taut muscles, their movements a macabre parody of life. They are ghouls, hungry and relentless in their shambling pursuit.

Seeking refuge in an abandoned farmhouse, Barbara stumbles upon a man named Ben, played by Duane Jones. It's a landmark performance, as one of the first black men to assume a leading role defying horror tropes. Ben is no helpless victim, no caricature. He's pragmatic and resourceful, a survivor against all odds. The film crackles with tension as he navigates not only the encroaching horde but also the simmering prejudices of the other survivors trapped alongside him.

Man recoils from the TV showing Night of the Living Dead, popcorn spilling everywhere.
His fear was so strong, it even conquered his love of snacks.

The Critic & User Reviews Are Almost Always Positive

There's something mesmerizing about the simplicity of "Night of the Living Dead." Its black and white cinematography lends a stark, documentary feel, enhancing the creeping dread. Romero’s use of practical special effects was masterful for the time, and still shocking to this day. The raw, unflinching depictions of violence were unlike anything audiences had ever seen. Each bite, each mangled corpse, was a visceral reminder that this new breed of monster was not bound by the usual horror movie rules.

The ghouls, relentless and devoid of reason, are a terrifying embodiment of our worst fears given flesh. Are they the harbingers of some plague-ridden apocalypse? An indictment of the unchecked violence of the era, or something more sinister yet? Romero never offers easy answers, leaving these lingering questions to fester in our minds.

As the night wears on, and the horde outside grows, the farmhouse becomes a microcosm of society pushed to its breaking point. The survivors, huddled together as their sanctuary collapses around them, grapple with fear, distrust, and the crumbling of their own humanity. Some try to hold onto reason, to a desperate hope that this will end. Others succumb to their baser instincts, the veneer of civilization stripped away by the growing terror.

"Night of the Living Dead" is not just a horror film; it's a dark meditation on the fragility of our social order, the cruelty we inflict upon one another even in the face of overwhelming threat. It’s a stark and brutal reminder that sometimes the true monsters are the ones that reside within us.

So, if you dare, find a darkened room, silence the distractions, and let Romero's grainy masterpiece work its grim magic upon you. I guarantee the experience will linger in your thoughts long after the final credits roll. "Night of the Living Dead" may have been made over half a century ago, but its unsettling power remains undiminished, a timeless testament to the horror genre’s enduring ability to unnerve and illuminate.

And that is Night Of The Living Dead 1968 Reviewed. Another iconic classic horror movie.

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If You Liked Night Of The Living Dead 1968 You Might Also Like These Films.

  • Dawn of the Dead (1978): The thrilling sequel to "Night of the Living Dead", also directed by George Romero. This time, survivors take refuge in a shopping mall as the zombie apocalypse rages on. It expands on the themes of social commentary and consumerism, with even more graphic gore.

  • 28 Days Later (2002): A British post-apocalyptic horror film that revitalized the zombie genre. It introduces fast-moving, rage-infected "zombies". While different from Romero's undead, it shares a similar focus on survival, the collapse of society, and the darkness within humanity.

  • The Evil Dead (1981): Sam Raimi's cult classic horror. A group of friends unleash demonic forces in an isolated cabin, leading to gory battles against flesh-possessing "deadites". While infused with dark humor, it shares the claustrophobic setting, relentless enemies, and sense of overwhelming dread found in "Night of the Living Dead".

  • [REC] (2007): A Spanish found-footage horror film about a news crew trapped in an apartment building with fast, ferocious infected humans. The shaky camera style heightens the tension and realism, offering a terrifyingly immersive experience.

  • Carnival of Souls (1962): A haunting and atmospheric independent horror film. After surviving a car accident, a woman finds herself drawn to a strange carnival, where she's seemingly stalked by ghoulish figures. While predating Romero's film, it shares the unsettling black and white visuals, themes of isolation, and a creeping sense of existential dread.

Night Of The Living Dead 1968 Reviewed FAQs

Q: What is Night of the Living Dead?

A: Night of the Living Dead is a classic zombie film directed by George Romero in 1968. It's considered a groundbreaking, independent horror movie that essentially invented the modern zombie archetype. The film's stark black and white imagery, unflinching gore, and bleak social commentary revolutionized the genre and continue to influence horror filmmaking today.

Q: Who are some of the notable characters in Night of the Living Dead?

A: Some of the cast is as follows:

  • Ben (Duane Jones): A resourceful and pragmatic protagonist, notable for being one of the first Black heroes in a horror film.

  • Barbara (Judith O'Dea): A woman traumatized by the initial zombie attack, her catatonic state reflects the overwhelming shock of the situation.

  • Harry Cooper (Karl Hardman): A stubborn and short-sighted man whose insistence on taking refuge in the basement leads to conflict and tragedy.

  • Helen Cooper (Marilyn Eastman): Harry's wife, whose concern for her injured daughter puts her at odds with her husband.

  • Tom (Keith Wayne) and Judy (Judith Ridley): A young couple who arrive seeking help and become caught in the escalating chaos.

Q: Why is Night of the Living Dead considered iconic in the horror genre?

A: Night of the Living Dead is considered iconic for several reasons:

  • Modern Zombie Creation: It defined the flesh-eating, slow-moving, relentless undead that continue to dominate zombie fiction.

  • Independent Film Pioneer: Its success despite its low budget showed that compelling horror could be made outside the traditional studio system.

  • Shocking Violence: The graphic depictions of gore and cannibalism were groundbreaking for their time.

  • Social Commentary: The film subtly explores themes of racism, societal breakdown, and the destructive potential of human conflict during a crisis.

Q: What is the plot of Night of the Living Dead?

A: The plot revolves around a group of strangers who barricade themselves in an old farmhouse as the recently dead rise as flesh-eating ghouls. As the night progresses, they struggle to survive not only the relentless undead but also the internal conflicts and anxieties eroding their hope.

Q: Who was involved in the making of Night of the Living Dead?

A: All of the following were involved in making this iconic film.

  • Director: George A. Romero

  • Screenwriters: George A. Romero and John A. Russo

  • Production Company: Image Ten (comprised of Romero, Russo, and Russell Streiner)

Q: What is the significance of Night of the Living Dead in film history?

A: Night of the Living Dead holds massive significance in film history:

  • Zombie Genre Birth: It's considered the progenitor of the modern zombie film, influencing countless works that followed.

  • Social Commentary Pioneer: The film used the horror genre to offer subtle critiques of social issues prevalent in the 1960s.

  • Cult Classic Status: Its enduring impact, despite initially mixed reviews, cemented its status as a cult classic that garnered critical acclaim over time.

Q: Why do many recommend Night of the Living Dead to horror film enthusiasts?

A: There are many reasons Night of the Living Dead is a must-watch for horror fans:

  • Historical Importance: It's essential viewing to understand the evolution of the zombie genre and horror filmmaking overall.

  • Raw Atmosphere: The stark black and white cinematography and gritty special effects create an unsettling, timeless atmosphere.

  • Social Undertones: The film offers more depth than just scares, inviting reflections on human behavior under extreme circumstances.


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