|Directed by:||George A. Romero|
|Written by:||George A. Romero, John A. Russo|
|Cast:||Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman, Keith Wayne|
Night of the Living Dead is one of those rare cases of movie magic, in which so many of the right ingredients just happened to fall together to create a true work of art. It’s what movie making is all about. This was just a case where a group of pals all chipped in a few hundred dollars to make a B-movie, only to end up creating a low-budget legend that set the standards for one of the popular and most admired sub-genres in horror history, and has a relevance that serves as inspiration even today.
This is one of those movies that no matter how many times I watch it I never get tired of it, and actually think I love it even more every time I see it. I’m always amazed by how much it still manages to gives me such chills and always stands the test of time. It’s the film’s age and budget that do wonders for the experience. The budget only allowed for black-and-white film, and for me that just helps to create the unsettling atmosphere and aids the emphasis on the utilization of the shadows.
Another thing that makes this movie so timelessly terrifying is the strong claustrophobic element. It’s not just the claustrophobia that comes from the zombies closing in on you, but the thought of being the last thinking man on Earth. Like the scene where Ben tells Barbara the haunting story about how he obtained the truck, and his description of the “50 or 60 of those things” just staring at him. That is an awfully frightening thought, and I image it would make you feel rather helpless and alone.
But it’s also the struggle between the surviving group confined together in the farmhouse that adds to the claustrophobics, not only from the setting but the mistrust between the people among you and how the instincts of survival turn people into monsters in their own right, and life suddenly becomes every man for himself. Which provides a few layers of racial tension and social commentary of the time by the chance casting and their improvisations.
BOTTOM LINE: I absolutely love this movie, it’s one of my all time favorite horror movies. Always stands the test of time and never gets old with me. Even to this day it scares the hell out of me. It’s an absolutely brilliant film that matches thoughts with frights, serving as one of the most accomplished and intelligent B-movies to ever be released, and helped create a sub-genre that is still thriving to this day. A true masterpiece of horror that everyone should see.