October 1, 2015

Night of the Living Dead (1968).

Review #738: Night of the Living Dead.

Duane Jones (Ben), Judith O'Dea (Barbra Blair), Karl Hardman (Harry Cooper), Marilyn Eastman (Helen Cooper), Keith Wayne (Tom), Judith Ridley (Judy), Kyra Schon (Karen Cooper), Charles Craig (Newscaster / Undead), Bill Hinzman (Cemetery Living Dead), George Kosana (Sheriff McClelland), Russell Streiner (Johnny Blair), and Bill Cardille (Billy Cardilly) Directed by George Romero.

I remember watching this for the first time when I was about 13 or 14 on YouTube, before the night started to fall. I remember it being pretty good, though I don't think I remembered too much of the movie itself, but I did at least remember the opening scene. Years later, I decided to watch it again. One good thing I can say right off the bat is that it is easily available. The film was known as "Night of the Flesh Eaters" before it was changed before release due to there being a similar movie tilted like this (named The Flesh Eaters), which led to the copyright accidentally being released. Lastly, this movie was made on a budget of $114,000. But enough about facts, let's talk about the movie, on the 47th anniversary of its release. It's interesting to note that though the term "zombie" wasn't used in the film, it is sometimes regarded as the movie that popularized the genre. The opening scene still manages to be one of my favorite scenes in the movie because of its relative simplicity. All it is at first is a conversation about laying a wreath near a graveyard between two siblings. "They're coming to get you, Barbara..." is a line that turns out to prophetic and also manages to be one of the more memorable lines from the movie. Maybe because it's the timing, slightly after Hinzman's character shows up, the first in a long line of living dead.

For an independent movie, this sure does have a good range of effects, especially in close-up. Even seeing a group of them is impressive to watch. The characters are varied in their reaction to this sudden nightmare from springing to action to quasi-catatonic to slightly paranoid, but it makes sense, given that courage and instinct are completely different things. That being said, it is tiresome (occasionally, anyway) to watch O'Dea just sit on the couch half the time and Hardman's character being so stubborn. But the movie is quick and efficient at being a horror movie that doesn't try to explain everything, or try to evoke optimism (Even though halfway the movie someone suggests that radioactive contamination from a space probe might have been the cause, it's never explicitly stated as the reason). Instead, it tries to show a look into what exactly people would do in the case of a disaster of this scope. Some (in the movie) form militias. Others keep on reporting, while rescue centers open to care. Others try to make something out of a tragedy, and why they may not survive, they can at least say in they tried to do something better. It's not a perfect world (or movie) by any means, but it's certainly an entertaining one.

Overall, I give it 9 out of 10 stars.

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