Sunday, June 01, 2014

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Note:  This is a review that was originally posted to my account.

Night of the Living Dead is one of those movies that’s relatively well known.  It’s not a particularly great movie, but it did seem to start the zombie-type undead movie.  (Note:  The undead in the movie aren’t actually referred to as zombies.  At best, they’re “those things”.)  Sometimes, you’ll see it on cable or maybe even broadcast if you’re lucky.  I managed to get it as part of a 9-movie collection that had a living dead theme.  (When I bought it many years ago, I think this is the only movie I had heard of.)

The movie starts out with Johnny and Barbara, a brother and sister minding their own business.  When radiation reanimates the dead, Johnny becomes one of their first victims.  Barbara manages to make it to a farmhouse where she meets Ben.  Having just lost her brother, Barbara can’t do much more than scream and wonder when it will all be over.  You see, the undead want to kill and eat the living.

At first Ben and Barbara think that they’re going to have to wait out the zombie apocalypse alone.  Turns out that there’s a family of three as well as a couple hiding in the basement.  They’re more than happy to wait there, feeling that it’s a more-defensible location.  Ben waits upstairs where he has access to television and radio and can see what’s going on outside.

Through television, the viewer is able to see how things are coming along.  Police and the military are trying to deal with the zombie threat as best they can.  They’ve figured out a few things that work, such as blunt objects and decapitation.  No one really knows what’s going on, but people are trying to rekill the undead.  Since there’s a sequel, you have to figure that the epidemic does eventually end with at least a few survivors.

Night of the Living Dead was George Romero’s first film.  This is not a big-budget movie by any means.  The version I watched wasn’t great in quality, but wasn’t horrible, either.   I don’t know if that has anything to do with the original production or the movie collection not being able to get (or willing to invest in) a better copy.  I’m sure that a movie like this has been remastered at some point in the last 46 years.

While the movie does deal with the undead trying to eat the living, the violence shown isn’t that disturbing by today’s standards.  People that grew up on later zombie movies will probably find it pretty tame.  (It’s strange how movies from 40 or 50 years ago don’t have the same kind of ‘horror’ in them, even if they are supposed to be horror movies.)

I’m not a big zombie/reanimated corpse fan, but I figured I might as well watch this movie.  It was worth buying; I did end up liking the movie and I got 8 other movies to watch and eventually review.  I don’t know that I’d recommend buying it to other people unless you’re a big undead fan, but it is worth watching.  If you can get it as part of a collection like I did, then go for it.  If not, maybe you want to wait for it to come on TV.

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