Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Directed by George Romero

Starring Duane Jones Judith O'Dea Karl Hardman Keith Wayne Marilyn Eastman

Generally speaking this list only features films from the 1970s onwards. There are a number of reasons for that.

One is that this list, with a small number of exceptions, focuses only on R-rated films, and most of those came out in the horror genre from 1970 to the present. The other is simply that so many films that came out earlier have already been reviewed and covered to death.

"Night of the Living Dead" is one of the rare exceptions that is making this list. The reason is the off chance that someone who otherwise wouldn't see this movie, because it's old and it's black-and-white, may change their mind if they catch this review. The other is to tell you to get the Elite DVD release of this film—not the myriad of other releases available on the market. "Night" is technically in the public domain, meaning that anyone with a print can release it on videotape.

But Elite took the time and effort to strike a brand new print from the original 35 mm negative. The result is a black-and-white movie that looks like it was filmed yesterday. You absolutely want to avoid what's called the "30th Anniversary Edition" of the film -- a horrible re-edit of the movie with new, horribly directed scenes (not done by George Romero) and a cheesy new music score.

Arguably the greatest horror film ever made—and one of the greatest in any genre—"Night" is also the ultimate B-movie. Filmed on a shoestring budget, it packs more of a fearful whallop than almost anything else cranked out either before or since. It still enjoys a fiercely loyal cult following.

It was the first movie to feature flesh-eating zombies taking over the world. Like Hitchcock's "The Birds," it has a group of survivors holding up in a house, trying to figure out some way of getting to civilization—or what's left of it—while a zombie apocalypse engulfs the planet. In one of the most terrifying scenes ever captured on film, a mother is stabbed to death by her newly zombified daughter. Romero used chocolate syrup for blood. The make-up effects, although primitive, are effective. There's plenty to laugh at all the same, including some deliciously bad acting. Somehow the amateurishness only added to the film's art and raw horror.

"Night" also features one of the darkest endings ever. Director Romero would go onto to become a horror legend, making two sequels to this film, including the kick-ass "Dawn of the Dead." He was planning to direct a new zombie film, "Resident Evil," in 1999. He wrote an early 1990s remake of "Night of the Living Dead" as well.

The "special edition" of "Night," featuring new footage shot by co-screenwriter John Russo, was released in '99. Whatever you do, don't see that version of the film.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore

USER COMMENTS

Posted by rippershammer on April 13, 2008
Yes i know- Classic etc- is good film- but enough already- people saying zombie movies wouldn't exist without Romero are talking through the brown stuff of their anus! Zombie movies (Abliet crap) existed before NOTLD and they would have progressed and become popular regardless. Yes he make advancements- politically etc with this film- but enough of the Hero worship- he hasn't done a good film since Day of the Dead!!


Posted by Goretician on June 20, 2013
I actually like night of the living dead more than anything george romero released after it. The perfect zombie film and it still kicks ass to this day!


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