Night of the Living Dead

Critics Consensus

George A. Romero's debut set the template for the zombie film, and features tight editing, realistic gore, and a sly political undercurrent.



Total Count: 66


Audience Score

User Ratings: 130,408
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Movie Info

A group of people hide from bloodthirsty zombies in a farmhouse.


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Critic Reviews for Night of the Living Dead

All Critics (66) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (64) | Rotten (2)

  • Romero conjures moments of eeriness and dread throughout, keeping the lighting low and the special effects to a minimum, though there will be blood, fire, cannibalism and a great deal of death.

    Oct 24, 2018 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

    Steve Rose

    Top Critic
  • The immediate, quasi-documentary feel, a result of budgetary constraints, actually served the film's horror, jolting audiences because it all seemed just a little too real.

    Oct 12, 2017 | Full Review…
  • If [Romero's] original vision of the undead looks dulled by today's standards, his embedded political commentary on racism feels just as sharp.

    Oct 7, 2013 | Full Review…
  • Although pic's basic premise is repellent -- recently dead bodies are resurrected and begin killing human beings in order to eat their flesh -- it is in execution that the film distastefully excels.

    Oct 3, 2008 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Top Critic
  • 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.

    Sep 19, 2007 | Full Review…
  • Over its short, furious course, the picture violates so many strong taboos -- cannibalism, incest, necrophilia -- that it leaves audiences giddy and hysterical.

    Sep 19, 2007 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Night of the Living Dead

  • Nov 03, 2014
    George Romero revolutionizes the zombie genre with his classic indie horror film Night of the Living Dead. Simple but terrifying, the plot follows a group of people who take shelter at a farm house when the re-animated dead begin attacking. The writing is pretty good and feels grounded in reality; being very minimal so as to allow the unknown to create its own fear. And, the drama between the characters is intense. However, the score is asked to carry a lot of the film and isn't up to the task; lacking the suspense and atmosphere needed. There are also inconsistencies with the ghouls; which is a little problematic. Yet despite its weaknesses, Night of the Living Dead is visionary, setting the foundation for the modern zombie film.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 05, 2014
    A family, a man, and a woman hold up in a farmhouse as they try to survive an attack of zombies. I should forgive this 1968 classic for its poor special effects, its misogyny, its predictable character types, it plot holes, its overwrought performances, and its lack of any ethical raison d'etre. But I don't. The female characters are all useless fools, and why doesn't the old lady in the attic ever wake up and attack the group of survivors? If the dead are walking and she's dead, why isn't she walking? Was her brain damaged? If so, that wasn't clear. Overall, while it's a horror classic, there have been improvements on this genre that have made it archaic.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Apr 19, 2014
    Its hard to review something that's been as influential as "Night of the Living Dead" . . . sufficed to say, I recognize and appreciate that influence, even if though it's been copied so many times that the "shocking" moments no longer disguise the film's more amateurish elements. However, the great ending still holds up remarkably well.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 30, 2013
    Hard to believe there was a time when "zombies" weren't the big drawing factor they are today. Before "Night of the Living Dead" was release in October of 1968 the horror genre (just like today) was dominated by masked killers and involved the supernatural making it mark impossible to ignore. More significant is "Night of the Living Dead" redefined the word zombie even though the word is never said in the film. Quite an accomplishment to define a word and the film itself is more than a film that introduced the formula for the zombie sub-genre. Night of the Living Dead is about a group of people hide from bloodthirsty zombies in a farmhouse. One of the main reasons the film has sustained a large beloved following is it lack of tradition to the horror genre. It has no heroes nor villains. Just people trying to survive from an epidemic they don't completely understand. The lack of knowledge going into the film heighten the senses. Zombies are naturally slow and seemingly incapable, but appearances are deceptive in the film. The number of zombies appear endless, poorly coordinated yet working together for brains, and are bloodthirsty monsters going to great lengths to get their feast. The dialogue of the film doesn't hide the fact it's all plot device characters are spouting out, but it keeps a balance between the characters working out the best course of action for survival and the set pieces involving zombies. Isolation within a single location while a now common plot device in the genre provides the house a character. One of vulnerability as resource depletes and the inability to move to beyond the set boundary like the characters that inhabits the house The commentary provided through radio and television broadcasting adds a layer of depth to what otherwise would have ended up being a simple horror film. These broadcastings follow the golden rule of horror; Giving us answers to what we want to know, but hides enough to maintain intrigue. We are shown glimpses of how big the epidemic is which in a genius move makes convincing political commentary. Possibly disillusioning with the information presented to us. Questioning the the inhumanity committed towards our fellow men. With the tendencies for anyone with power to have a trigger happy approach against overwhelming odds. In particularly with the ending raising thoughts on who exactly is more of a monster of the epidemic. It message is secondary to the story making it subtle and not distracting from the main focus of being a horror film. The only major gripe with "Night of the Living Dead" are the characters of the story. None of them are given sufficient enough information to care about them. Only gaining a handful of tidbit telling us what happened to the characters before the zombie epidemic occurred. Therefore some viewers will find trouble placing themselves in the characters position as they have little definable traits, especially the women. Subjectively there's fewer things I hate more than an archetype or stereotype of women being passed off as a character. Here in particular the women are for a lack of a better term deadweight to the plot. They contribute nothing positive to the story. The women contribution includes getting a survivor killed, cutting up pieces of a draper, and even sit around doing nothing. George Romero direction shares a bit of similarity to early greats of the horror genre. It's grainy, hand-held, black-and- white cinematography adds a low-budget dirty quality to the film. Enhancing the effect of the light make-up on the living dead making them appear appropriately like a walking corpses. Along with dark lightning in the few moments with when blood and gore appear it sticks to your mind because of how sparsely it supplies it. The still photography puts us in place in the action where it's most important never having our eyes wander around. The acting from lead Duane Jones is solid carrying film nearly entirely on his shoulder. The performances are not bad, but don't stand out compare to the rest of the element of the film. That should be blamed more on the scripts than the actors, especially the actresses that do the best they can with the shallow material given to them. Night of the Living Dead introduced the formula for the common zombie film and created a new horror sub-genre. Unlike many in the same genre roaming around aimlessly "Night of the Living Dead" has brains to be a relevant potent film. Never succumbing to its limitations and masterful craftsmanship from George Romero delivering in execution. Going more for an atmosphere than sheer body pieces splattering on screen. It's a horror film that impacted the genre significantly and regardless of how many in the same genre uses the same formula few can combine them flawlessly as the one film that gave them the blueprint.
    Caesar M Super Reviewer

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