His Dark Materials
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A film that has influenced so much, there's nothing new to be said about it that can be meaningfully added here. Coming so late to it, it's clear how it has cast its shadow over so much I've seen before this. I was deeply struck - in the context of 2019's political situation - how radical it must have been to have had a black character take positive control of the situation, to become the most level-headed and able person in the crisis. Let down by some poor supporting performances; but essential and classic nonetheless.
If a potential filmmaker needs some inspiration on following a cinematic passion, they need to watch this. George A. Romero's film debut on a minuscule budget of just tens of thousands of dollars shows that you don't need a huge Hollywood production machine to pump out a masterpiece. Night of the Living Dead created and popularized the entire sub-genre of zombies for good reason. It is THE perfect independent film, showcasing a social commentary on the times and giving audiences a rarely seen African-American lead. Romero created one of the greatest horror films this world has ever seen.
A delightful and brave origin for zombies!
George Romero's zombie survival horror film Night of the Living Dead (1968) is a wonderfully imaginative social commentary masterpiece. Romero's direction takes slow moving undead and multiplies them into a flesh eating horde. You are actually thrilled by the prospect of the living dead coming to consume the cast. Romero's shining asset for Night of the Living Dead is that the real threat forms from the humans infighting among themselves. The group disregards and distrusts the intelligent black lead and that ultimately leads to the shocking ending. Night of the Living Dead boasts one of the greatest endings to any film. Having America critiqued for its racist attitudes is as brave as the horror genre gets. Romero's writing is poignant for his character drama and fascinating for his numerous inventions for how zombies behave in our world.
The brief 96 minutes feels like a half hour with Romero's fast pacing. Romero's editing moves briskly with slick cuts transitioning from horror sequence to nightmarish scenario. Romero's direction keeps the threat close by forcing the house set to be enclosed and boarded off away from the zombies. The single set helps the audience feel claustrophobic and shut in like the characters. Romero's cinematography is beautiful with stark black and white imagery that really strikes you with the bright sky and flesh against the dark nights and black skin of the hero. The moody lighting highlights the bright eyes and haunted faces.
Speaking of whom, Duane Jones is fantastic as the heroic lead Ben. Jones is compelling on a dramatic level and likable on a personal level. His quick thinking and strong leadership make Ben a fascinating protagonist. The controversy around casting a black is pure American racist sensationalism as Jones is the perfect leading man and the best actor in Night of the Living Dead. Duane Jones holds your attention and garners your sympathy as he must deal with the surrounding morons surviving the zombie apocalypse with him. Lastly, I love the archetypal performance of the undead from S. William Hinzmann as the first zombie on film: Cemetery Zombie.
On the other hand, Judith O'Dea is just awful as the terror stricken Barbra. You never really believe her, but it's alright as she's funny to laugh at still. Karl Hardman is cruel, ignorant, and conservative as Harry Cooper. Marilyn Eastman is neat as Helen Cooper as she's the only female character that stands up for herself. My only problem with Night of the Living Dead is that the women never feel real. Keith Wayne is nice, yet dumb as Tom. Judith Ridley is pretty, yet stupid as the docile Judy. Then, Kyra Schon gets a cool role as the little girl zombie Karen Cooper.
Marshall Booth and Gary Steiner's score is essentially loud throbbing noises and some neat classical pieces. The music is iconic and haunting. I still find it riveting to hear every time I watch Night of the Living Dead.
In short, despite the awful supporting actress, Night of the Living Dead soars into horror iconography due to Duane Jones' lead acting. George Romero's stellar direction, creative writing, lovely lighting, thoughtful commentary, creepy music, and mature cinematography solidify Night of the Living Dead as the perfect prototype for undead cinema.
Extremely important movie in this genre. Night of the living dead paved the way for all of the zombie genre. A very forward looking movie that centers around a black man as the hero in a time where segregation was still the outlook in many peoples minds. Excellent ground breaking movie!
A horror classic that popularized the zombie genre! Dark, Gritty, Intense action, realistic characters, and a feeling of hopeless spread throughout the movie makes it better done than modern zombie movies 60 or 70 years later! A true horror classic
George Romero paved the way for future undead films with Night of the Living Dead. Filmed in black and white and with a shoestring budget. It's amazing the atmosphere they created with what they had. An all-time great in horror directed by an icon of the genre. RIP George Romero
The zombie movie is a funny old genre, because one its so popular and two its so saturated, like any genre that evolves it gets more and more diluted with action, character and violence, more, more more, with each itaration trying to outdo the next.
Night of the living Dead is the beginging, it is the vien the source and it is so incredibley modern and well made with passion and creativity that it still holds up to this day... This film which so many have stolen from over the years is a groundbreaking masterpiece, and one of the greates films ever made.
Possibly the most imitated, influential, important and interesting films ever made.
A film still influencing filmakers today.
The only zombie film you will ever need to see, and instantly realise it is the best, for a whole bunce of reasons.
Best zombie movie ever made.
A mixed bag of likes and dislikes. An early SiFi horror and gore movie. A classic zombie movie. Well worth the watch. However, I don't like the early PC hollywood's divisive racist propaganda. The litmus test: What if all the roles were reversed? What if a white male in an otherwise all black cast was cast as the only key actor one on screen that was intelligent, coordinated, unselfish/selfless, able to think on his feet, farsighted, and fair? What if all the 'blacks' were cast as stupid, self-centered, short sighted, bimbos? What do you think the liberals would be screaming?!?
Probably the first "modern" zombie film, Night of the Living Dead can be rather silly and outdated sometimes but you can't deny the sheer effort put into it owing to the gleeful gore, George A. Romero's direction and that "political undercurrent" the consensus mentions.