Night of the Living Dead (1968) Review
Written by: BlackTequilaKiss
I braved my demons. I admit I was afraid to review Night of the Living Dead. Because I mean, how do you review a movie that is so well praised, loved by many? I swam the murky waters and decided I needed to review this movie to get across how much it means to me.
I am 23 years old and when I saw this movie for the first time I was only 12. At that point horror was still a new format to me, a cheesy piece of fun and nothing more. NOTLD changed that entirely. The black and white movie was my first course into older movies and my first break into a movie that was not just scary but had an ending that truly took my breath away.
The year was 1998, the day was Friday, the date was the 9th and the time was 11 pm. That was the night my life changed forever...
We all know the plot but once more for the record.
A band of people barricade themselves inside a rural house in a desperate attempt to survive the ensuing night. Outside just ways from the house are hordes of slow moving, deadly zombies who are intent on making their way inside the house. They can only be killed by a blow to the head and it is up to everyone inside to survive the nightmare headed their way...
To explain my love for this movie, I have to go back to my past.
I never started out as a horror fan. I grew up loving alternative movies in different fields then I found sci-fi. They showed cheesy horror movies and quickly my love cemented in place. But there was always a little something missing, the depth was not quite there. The night I watched NOTLD it was dark, no stars lined the sky, no moon present just an hollow sky. A stiff wind blew against the window and a solitude branch on a tree was tapping against my window. There was a chill in the air I should have known it was the perfect night for horror, it was by and far.
What really stood out for me originally was the beginning of the movie. It has a pleasant, calm demeanour at the beginning. You don't know where it is headed as it builds up slowly and then suddenly, 'BANG!', the gloves are off.
The characters are extremely refreshing. In a world dominated by looks, by style over substance it was a movie filled with people who we see in our every day lives. Real people with real heart and merit. Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman and many of the others bring a real strength to the movie and you are itching from them from the beginning to survive the onslaught.
In all honesty who doesn't know the score? It's low-key, simple and effective. The build up of the crescendo when they see the zombies heading for them is prominent to the movie and it adds that eerie extra to the movie. Beautiful.
For a movie in the 60's, long before the advent of latex and years before CGI first broke barriers, practical effects were a lot different. It's due to the imagination of Romero that the blood looks caressed, it's the flow of his direction that gives weight. Much like with Hitchcock's Psycho, the blood is not always shown but more implied and what separates the wheat from the chafe. Nothing touches it in all honesty.
The greatest strengths from this movie is that we hone in on our characters, we see the strengths, the weaknesses. And we also see the flaws in society, where everyone is failing and the movie represents these little touches. Take that with the cinematography and it all stuns you.
I am going to admit this: I loved the zombie genre it invented, I love the characters but the moment, the ONE moment that completely broke this girl at a young age was the finale. I had gone through the trials and tribulations, cried with the characters and stared in surprise.
But dammit, the ending. When that happened I stared in shock, not daring to blink or think. Wondering 'what the hell!', it stunned me. It was an intellectual ending, but also an ending that represented all the wrongs man was capable of doing. I defy anyone to watch that final scene today and still not sit in shock.
Fact remains I love this movie. It's not complete horror, it has a much denser subject at heart. It's scary, it's thought-provoking and actually smart. It was ahead of it's time. A gorgeous movie that cemented Romero's place in horror, not just in my heart but many others.
Never forget the power of horror or of man. Watch this and remind yourself that simplicity is sometimes the spice of life.
A joy. Have fun! BTk.