Night of the Living Dead (1968) 4.33/5 (3)


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Rating: The Good – 94
Genre: Horror
Duration: 96 mins
Director: George A. Romero
Stars: Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea, Karl Hardman

George A. Romero’s B-budget horror piece was revolutionary at its time and that still shows today. Beginning in a patient yet sinister fashion and maintaining a controlled pace to the end this film seems to creep into our psyche. A group of strangers accosted by ravenous undead humans board themselves up in an isolated house. The internal squabbling which erupts between the group slowly takes on the air of inevitability in much the same way as the relentless pursuit of the creatures outside does. This is where it all began and there’s a fresh sense of terror which any number of subsequent zombie movies has failed to replicate. Duane Jones became a folk hero most notably because he was one of the first black men to lead a cast of white people. Romero cleverly reserved any commentary on racial issues until the ending which is utterly unforgettable and all the more potent because of the wait.

On the technical front, Romero redefined the genre (and medium) with his economic use of lighting and set-design. Everything is lean and Romero uses that to augment the atmosphere. The gore is introduced sparingly making it all the more disturbing and the scenarios he creates (brother/sister, parents/child) were for the time (and still to this day) core-shocking and rooted in cultural discourse. Night of the Living Dead is a monument to horror direction and independent movie making alike. There are few films that have been more important to the medium and on top of all that, it’s one hell of an enjoyable 90 mins too.

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