The flesh-eating ghouls.

Jan 10, 2005

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The Bottom Line This particular film is a hard find, although it has it's slow spots it also offers a few chills.

Night of the Living Dead, The Original Cult Classic

This film starts off a little slow when compared to some of the modern day zombie films of today. This black and white VHS video starts with two siblings driving to the grave yard to put a wreath on the tomb of their late grandfather. One of the siblings, Johnny (Russell Streiner) starts asking a lot of questions about the graveyard and appears disrespectful towards the dead. Johnny attempts to scare his sister Barbara (Judith O'Dea) stating, “Watch it Barbara they are coming to get you.” Suddenly a lethargic zombie appears engaging in an old fashion scuffle with Johnny as Barbara runs for her life. The frightened Barbara finds what she thinks is an abandoned house. The zombie now stalks her pulling down the phone lines as more creatures surround the house. The scene then turns to another man named Ben (Duane Jones) who unknowingly discovered the key to killing the zombies by striking them on the head and eventually shooting them in the head. Initially Ben becomes Barbara’s savior and hero attempting to protect her.

Now survivors Barbara and Ben share their stories of how they arrived in this predicament until things begin to take a nasty turn as Barbara is suddenly and helplessly grief stricken with the lose of her brother Johnny to the point of become hysterical. Ben immediately jumps into action slapping Barbara across the face like a rag doll. Barbara now unconscious lies helpless as Ben begins looking for nails and boards to secure the house. As the film continues the primarily characters are hard to like and at times there are certain characters you want eaten. The heavy-handed traditional patriarchal theme of man dominating helpless women permeates this film like a water soaked sponge.

In my opinion Director George A. Romero takes a bold cinematic leap for the late sixties in America. After all he created an intense zombie flick where the cast and characters give an excellent performance. The believability factor is a real phenomenon especially seeing that this is an old fashion horror film. Unfortunately Director Romero does not go far enough as he leaves many of the typical stereotypes of the late sixties in the film.
While this movie should be applauded for its originality and broad theatrical scope it is not politically correct when judged by current societal values, however at the same time using horror in this manor was a novelty for the late sixties.

This film is truly a cult classic, and offers a lot for zombie and monster enthusiast who long for the days when you could out run your enemy. However, watching it on VHS in black and white was tiresome and tedious at times. Ultimately, Director Romero offers a suspenseful look at zombies and a panoramic view of how people would really act when they are scared. Romero did an admirable job of creating several protagonists as we see the main characters as the true monsters. If you can make it through this films sluggish presentation and pace the ending should offer a twist you probably didn’t see coming and a head splitting bang.

Overall I enjoyed watching this nostalgic romp down memory lane and value the VHS experience. Naturally, I am not recommending this film for small children and give it a conservative PG-13 rating. The film is sparse on profanity but there is some rough language. There are some semi nude shots but this footage only shows the backside of a few zombies.

By today’s standards this film would be considered mild when compared to some of the other zombie flicks like Resident Evil: Apocalypse. Honestly this film looks as though it were shot on a shoe string budget, and although you see no strings, you get the feeling you are watching something old and perhaps dead. I’m giving this film 3 out of 5 stars with a liberal recommendation for horror fans looking for a reflective walk down zombie history when they were simply called ghouls.


I submitted this review under The Writer's Corner since this is a place for Epinions contributors to periodically submit content that would be considered off-topic elsewhere on the site. This particular VHS is a hard find and in fact a collectors item for horror film buffs.

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