Night of the Living Dead (1968) Review

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RATING: 5/5

[SPOILERS]

A group of strangers has to stay locked up in a house in order to survive the horde of ghouls right outside.

A very successful feature film debut for George A. Romero and the one that really put zombies into the mainstream. All of this despite being an independent production.

Every character in the film I really liked. Each one of them had a distinct personality that made one unique from one another. Barbara was the scared one who had been driven into insanity due to witnessing her brother get killed. Mr. Cooper, who was the over-cautious one. The young couple who served as neutral characters. Meaning they could switch from either good to bad depending on the situation. Mrs. Cooper who wanted to have her daughter live.

There was also of course Ben. This film was notable as being a film in the 60s to have a black protagonist. He was the best character and one wanted to see him make it out alright. One wanted to see him be a strong leader and work hard to make sure everyone was safe. But if one had seen this film already, one will know what came at the end.

I will say that this movie had guts, literally and figuratively. This was a movie that Romero did to push the limits on what can’t be shown to the mainstream audience in the late 60s. Which was to show gore, blood, a black protagonist, and to have all the characters die by the end. Justice for Ben.

Also having this film be in black/white was a very interesting choice for vast majority films of the time were in color. But I believe this was a great choice at showcasing a grim and thrilling film. A thrilling film that will definitely get you in your seat and make you care for what was happening. Whenever the film would cut to the news broadcasted through the t.v, you were invested much like the characters because you want to know what was going on out in the world.

The cinematography, for the most part, was shot in a guerilla-style method. This was well-done in certain scenes where the camera got up close in the unnerving action. It would also get close to a person’s face as they gave off either a paranoid or scared expression. There were some good wide shots of the ghouls slowly coming closer to the house.

The intro was great. The chilling music with Barbara/Johnny driving to the cemetery, only to be attacked by a ghoul. This was great for getting one attached quickly to a very simple plot, but it was executed very well.

Speaking of the music, there were a couple music cues for when there was a jump scare. But I think that these jump scares worked because it wasn’t a fake-out like many modern horror films. It was the real deal. But the rest of the music was pretty good at creating a suspenseful and ghostly atmosphere to the film.

The Ghouls/Zombies were great as the films’ main antagonist. Something that I was very surprised about was the fact that they used tools. They used them to either break windows or get into the house in the climax. This was something that I now wish some modern iterations of Zombies would do.

Were their any gripes I had? Well, the characters aren’t too deep and they only ever give out some details of what they did right before the outbreak happened.  There were some horror tropes like tripping when the monster was chasing a character and they for some reason can’t get up. Also how come Mrs. Cooper and Judy stay in the cellar while Ben was fortifying the place? They could have at the very least come up to say they were not a threat. But honestly, I didn’t have too much of a problem with a majority of these little issues. This was a film that was showcasing the outlandish scenario in a realistic fashion.

In any case, “Night of the Living Dead” is a must-see for any horror/zombie fans out there. It had very fun characters, delivered lots of thrills, showcased good cinematography, and it presented a simple plot that had plenty of emotion to make one get invested greatly. HIGHLY recommend it.

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