Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Reviewed on 2007 February 24
Even though it’s a low-budget black and white flick from 1968, it’s still very effective. It’s even effective if you listen to George Romero’s funny commentary, if you’re alone and your idiot dog decides to stare out the window into the woods behind you and growl at nothing. (Trust me.)
The movie gets right down to business, starting with a car driving slowly into a cemetery, eerie music playing. Johnny and Barbra (Russell Streiner and Judith O’Dea) are visiting their father’s grave late one afternoon, and like brothers everywhere Johnny starts teasing Barbra. This time Barbra has reason to be scared — the dead are coming back to life. She flees and holes up in an abandoned farmhouse. Soon more people show up, notably the brave Ben (Duane Jones). Unfortunately, more zombies show up too. Now, they have to decide if they’re safe holed up in the house, or if they should try to make a break for it.
Besides just scaring the crap out of people, Night of the Living Dead sparked a lot of debate about the messages Romero was conveying about society. Romero and John Russo may not have intended any social commentary with their script, but they took the horror genre in a new direction. It also aged well. Besides superficial things like the rabbit ears on the TV and Barbra’s Jiffy Pop hair, there’s not much to date this.
Three chocolate morsels and… well, I think anything goes with this movie.