Night of the Living Dead Screen 15 articles

Night of the Living Dead

1968

Night of the Living Dead Poster
  • Romero's debut is still an object lesson in independent filmmaking: Rather than cover up his distance from Hollywood (budgetary and geographical ), Romero embraces it. The resulting film boasts a sharp sense of location—the suburbs and rural areas outlying Pittsburgh—and an understanding that the banal makes the horror all the more scary when it arrives.

  • George Romero's gory, style-setting 1968 horror film, made for pennies in Pittsburgh. Its premise—the unburied dead arise and eat the living—is a powerful combination of the fantastic and the dumbly literal. Over its short, furious course, the picture violates so many strong taboos—cannibalism, incest, necrophilia—that it leaves audiences giddy and hysterical. Romero's sequel, Dawn of the Dead, displays a much-matured technique and greater thematic complexity, but Night retains its raw power.

  • Digitally remastered in a new print, "Dead" is a movie you want to dismiss as another, gross supernatural B-movie: campy fun. But, shot and edited by Romero himself, the film is an astounding technical knockout, often so expressionist that the daylight seems afraid of the dark. The horror is so unalloyed that dead look decidedly, frighteningly human.

  • Night of the Living Dead (1968) came out of nowhere, or to be more precise, Pittsburgh, and turned into the most influential horror film since Psycho. George Romero’s remarkably assured debut, made on a shoestring, about a group of people barricaded inside a farmhouse while an army of flesh-eating zombies roams the countryside, deflates all genre clichés. It traded the expressionistic sets of the traditional fright flick for a neorealistic style—Romero’s use of natural locations and grainy black and white gave his gorefest the look and feel of a doc.

  • It was produced under difficult circumstances owing to technical and financial limitations, but it remains a major cinematic achievement. Upon its release, critic Roger Ebert objected to the film’s use of graphic violence and its influence upon younger viewers. (1) Regardless, the film has become often credited with working to revolutionise the modern horror film, and actually contains several key thematic concepts which Romero would return to throughout the duration of his career.

  • There may never be a zombie movie that will match the impact of Night of the Living Dead, because it was so far ahead of its time. It still sets the standard for low budget horror filmmaking, where minimal elements enhance the feeling of terror. The tight closeups and handheld camerawork give a documentary realism to this single interior setting, transforming a country house into a claustrophobic urgency.

  • As any viewer can attest, Romero's obvious conviction in mounting this critique does nothing to slake the force of the tooth-gnashing, clobbering, apocalyptic plot... Every dimension of the movie culminates in the incomparably brave final shots, and rarely has "shot" seemed like such an apt name for what can be stirring, powerful, complicated, dangerous, and almost exhaustingly entertaining in this popular medium.

  • Another grimly fitting holiday watch is George Romero’s classic Night of the Living Dead. Cruder even than the director’s subsequent zombie films, Night is nonetheless distinguished by its vicious social commentary, which at times bites harder than the undead.

  • Sure, Romero's made more polished films, and a few other bona fide classics, but there’s a deep primordial intensity within Night of the Living Dead that one can’t self-consciously sustain, recreate, or entirely unpack analytically. It is a flake of a film, a found object; it’s also garage rock, an abstraction, as well as a work of extreme deliberation, a naïf masterpiece. It is lightning in a bottle.

  • To be sure, Night of the Living Dead is no perfect artefact. But it’s the blend of cinematic intelligence and homespun crudity enforced by the circumstances of its production that made it instantly galvanising: the result vibrates with pitiless gall and insolent power, a statement from the fringe that hits right at the axis.

  • Cinema as state of emergency, zombiedom as humanity's putrefied mirror, that's Romero with handheld camera and stringy viscera discovering a new visage of horror. Fervent light and smeary shadow lend a Friedlander effect... A view from a boar's head mounted on the wall tilts down to a music box in a characteristic fusion of Psycho and Cocteau... The epidemic is contained at the close but Romero's apocalypse is only getting started.

  • One now marvels at its systematic structure, its discerning formal design, its clever manipulation of time and space, and its shrewd exploitation of generic conventions. Despite any preliminary limitations, Night of the Living Dead became a groundbreaking, trendsetting masterpiece of modern American cinema.

  • This uncommon ability of Night of the Living Dead to condense the terrifying realities outside the movie theater was one reason the film was uniquely disturbing to so many people at the time. It was also widely perceived as going “a step beyond,” meaning that its blood-and-guts images involved actual guts. But where Night of the Living Dead really went beyond was in refusing to explain itself. The film’s unimaginably hellish catastrophe is senseless.

  • One of the great paradoxes of the irony-drenched product is that, while it depicts a small enclave of petrified survivors shredding their chances for survival over petty squabbles, the film itself stands as a testament to the viability of American ingenuity and democratic collaboration. . . . Night of the Living Deadis a masterpiece that time and accrued perspective fill in with meaning, but only after it first utterly hollows you out.

  • Yes, it was a low-budget picture, but it was made by artists who knew what they were doing. The restoration doesn’t make the movie look slick, but it gets the true, sharp contrasts of the cinematography. This imbues much of the movie with what was then recognized as a documentary-style realism, which bolsters the emotional power of the tale.

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