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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 8.4%
Average: 3.36%
Pretty Bad: 2.52%
Total Crap: 7.56%

3 reviews, 101 user ratings

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Night of the Living Dead (1968)
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by MP Bartley

"Brains, anyone?"
5 stars

With the remake of 'Dawn of the Dead', the horror spoof 'Shaun of the Dead' and the recent '28 Days Later', all highlighting the current vogue for all things zombie, it's easy to forget the impact that Romero's original flick had. Before this zombies were traditionally seen as unfeeling, but essentially docile creatures. Always under the control of an evil owner, but not evil within themselves. It took Romero to transform them into slow but terrifying flesh-eaters, in a film that still resonates now. For this, George - we salute you.

It's the story we're all familiar with now (think of how may times it's been re-used: Alien, The Thing, Dog Soldiers etc). Radiation has caused the newly-dead to start walking and to start chewing on any human being who is handily near-by, with the result of growing nationwide panic. This leads to a small group of desperate and conflicted humans barricading themselves into a farmhouse whilst desperately waiting for help. There's young couple Tom and Judy, the Cooper family with the aggressive father and young daughter who's ill after being bitten, and last but not least Barbara who has just witnessed her brother getting a particularly nasty lovebite from a passing zombie; and our hero Ben. It's Ben who seems the most focused and the most together of the group. If someone's going to get out of this alive, it's gotta to be Ben.

Well over 30 years on and Romero's classic hasn't dated a jot. It's well known that the scarcity of money meant everything had to be done on the cheap, but that helps to give the film the power it has. The black and white photography looks grimy, but damn it's effective, coating everything in an unnerving sense of realism and shrouding the corners of the film in darkness to hide lurking zombies. The make-up effects for the zombies may be cheap, but it stops them from being gruesomely over the top, and so when thrust into extreme black and white close-up it makes it all the more shocking and real.

Romero also shows real skill in using space and composing his scenes. The first time we see a zombie he's wandering around in the background, almost unnoticed, again giving it a creepy sense of realism. Romero never jump-cuts to the zombies or makes a big deal of showing them, he just presents them closing in on the house in a deadly matter-of-fact fashion, and just expects the audience and characters to deal with it and believe. It's this respect for the audience that ensures we do believe and do get terrified. This terrifying sense of believability is helped along by the tv news reports of the growing zombie plague. A slightly cheesy plot device now, it still works to creep you out as you realise the magnitude of the situation.

The actors too, give committed performances. They may be slightly awkward and come across amateurish, but they work. Particularly Duane Jones as Ben, who comes across as resourceful, smart and brave. When arguing with Cooper over the best place to hide, it's Ben we want to win just because he seems our best chance of survival. And make no mistake, it's our survival here. The tension is superbly ramped up, so that we're there in the house, our sphincters quivering along with everyone elses. No statement is ever made over the fact that Ben is black (a very brave move for the 60's) and it's a shame that Johnson never became a bigger star.

But if you look up the word 'relentless' in a dictionary, you should simply see the description for this film. It's horror at its purest; no wise-cracks to relieve the tension, no bravado heroics, no subtext; 'Night of the Living Dead' has one aim only: to scare the crap out of you. And it does this remorselessly, with the ever growing zombie horde rattling at the windows and the doors until the house is practically falling over. Tension wouldn't be as masterfully handled until John Carpenter handled The Thing. And even that was a slow-burner. This just never stops. Any decent horror film would count itself lucky to have one genuinely terrifying sequence. 'Night...' has at least 3 or 4. The opening cemetery visit, the daughter in the cellar, Barbara's family re-union...all terrifying moments building up to perhaps the scariest of all, the final few minutes. I love bleak endings and 'Night...' has the bleakest, baddest of them all.

Critic's Note

If you're going to watch 'Night of the Living Dead' beware of two things:

a) don't watch the colour version. It looks god-awful in colour, and loses all the black and white richness.

b) avoid like a plague of zombies the 30th anniversary version. It has a dreadful out of place new modern score, but even worse they've re-edited it. A lot of suspense is taken out, and even worse still they've shot new scenes and tried to blend them in. Unfortunately they stick out like an infected thumb. Did they really think the new scenes would fit simply because they're in black and white? Cos every black and white film looks the same doesn't it? Just like every colour film looks the same, the fucking schmucks.

And the new scenes are so painfully obvious at odds with the rest of the 30 year old film. While Ben and Barbara are running around with 60's clothes, we have new scenes of an over the top priest with a very neat and tidy 90's goatee. It's an atrocious decision to include this new footage (at least other re-edited films use stuff shot at the time. Ignore this monstrous travesty and just seek out the thankfully easy to get hold of original.


Even considering that Romero came up with a very fine sequel and the recent zombie films have done nothing to disgrace the genre, this is still the daddy of them all. A challenge to all fledgling horror-makers to make something anywhere near as effective and plain terrifying as this, it also stands as a beacon to independent film-makers. For less than a million dollars, Romero crafted something that is still slavishly copied and captures new fans with every passing decade. That's something to look up to, and that my friends, is the sign of genius.

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originally posted: 04/23/04 03:02:41
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User Comments

11/01/20 bored mom Not a zombie fan here, but even I can appreciate how this classic was such a great pioneer. 5 stars
10/17/18 Louise Ludicrously over-rated rubbish, Tom Savini`s 1990 remake is a much better movie. 1 stars
7/25/17 Chaz Walter The greatest zombie film of all time. RIP George Romero. 5 stars
10/30/16 morris campbell a classic zombie movie haters drop dead 5 stars
12/11/12 Jamie Fucking shoot yourself 'Art'. Cunt. 5 stars
6/17/11 art 1932's White zombie BURRIES this Overrated Junk! 1 stars
9/13/10 art the only "ZOMBIE" flick's i have ever seen,are BELA Lugoisi's WHITE ZOMBIE and 1980's ZOMBI 1 stars
8/10/10 Chad Dillon Cooper This and Psycho are the best 60's horror movies. 5 stars
12/21/09 art FOR A BETTER VERISON WATCH THE 1990 REMAKE! 1 stars
12/01/09 Silkworm Yep! Excellent - eery and great ending 5 stars
8/29/09 Julian The best zombie film 5 stars
5/22/09 art you'd have to BE MENTALLY ILL TO ENJOY THIS! 1 stars
1/15/09 FrankNFurter Political,audacious,brutally frightening horror film.Easily the best horror film ever made. 5 stars
10/22/08 Shaun Wallner This film got me hooked on horror films! 5 stars
9/22/08 don Great 5 stars
11/15/07 mr.mike an unforgettable classic 5 stars
10/15/07 fools♫gold Among Romero's very best! 5 stars
2/06/07 David Pollastrini still the king of zombie movies 5 stars
2/06/07 action movie fan eerie and atmospheric but otherwise dull-ignored upon release, the crazies was romeros best 3 stars
11/23/06 Billy Backstabber NOT an absurd story. It smells as real as 9/11, Katrina, or other disasters. so much depth. 5 stars
10/27/06 Isaac Baranoff If you love horror, you must see this. Accept no substitutes. 5 stars
10/19/06 David Pollastrini brilliant, frightening 5 stars
10/01/06 Agent Sands Very clever and novel for its time. 4 stars
8/25/06 havthat This is easily the best of Romero's zombies. 5 stars
8/09/06 Dragon The Artist A legendary horror classic!!!!!! 5 stars
7/11/06 David Cohen Proof that Low budget" doesn't have to mean "bad" 5 stars
5/21/06 mr.mike low budget horror classic 5 stars
3/28/06 Josh Standlee Dark as fuck! It must have been NC-17 when it first came out! 5 stars
3/24/06 Jack N Perfect movie to watch home alone at night 5 stars
3/24/06 Freddy Incredible how this movie is still terrifying 5 stars
3/24/06 ColoredHero I love the original and i think the colorized is great fun 5 stars
3/24/06 Vlad Absolute Classic 5 stars
3/24/06 BlackCat Made me curl up to my master prrrowl many times 5 stars
3/24/06 Darkness Black & White B-Movie Masterpiece 5 stars
3/24/06 Luciferi666 scary, terrifying, shocking 5 stars
3/24/06 Ben still gives me the creeps 20 years later 5 stars
3/24/06 sweet_baby_rhi The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever!!!! 5 stars
3/24/06 UndeadCaleb You can't get much better than this 5 stars
3/24/06 Dethbyhashi The Greatest B-Movie Ever 5 stars
2/20/06 chris f classic zombie horror at its best 5 stars
12/01/05 Bene Knowles great movie! color only adds to the gore & nothing else,bringing out the best in the blood. 5 stars
10/20/05 Eden One of the best. The opening is horror gold 5 stars
9/03/05 ES Liked it, havewatched it a few times, but slow zombies are laughable, not laudable 3 stars
8/06/05 Pierre Great! 5 stars
6/26/05 DennyRoss The beginning - scary as hell and superb acting. A must-see!! 5 stars
4/25/05 Indrid Cold I don't care how "influential" it is, it has little or no impact on today's audiences. 3 stars
2/16/05 Wilt Chamberlin Best zombie film of all time 5 stars
1/29/05 Mmmm...Brains If you hate this movie you're clueless! 5 stars
1/29/05 She's one of them! The beginning graveyard scene speeks for itself 5 stars
1/29/05 Evil Brain Eater from planet Zolum 5 Could you ask for a better horror movie? No you couldn't! 5 stars
1/29/05 ZombieMonkey The only flaws are budgetary. Nuff said! 5 stars
1/29/05 Rockchic When I'm home alone or alone at someone else's house I think of this movie 5 stars
1/29/05 DethbyHashi NOTLD is my favorite horror film and has inspired 1,000's of other movies 5 stars
1/29/05 Calebx NOTLD is why i love horror movies 5 stars
10/18/04 trex scariest movie I have ever seen 5 stars
8/19/04 Zombies Eat People Yesssssssssssssssss! 5 stars
8/04/04 Jessica Scott No matter how many times I watch it, it still creeps me out. 5 stars
4/24/04 The More You Know It's flame-broiled, flesh-a-flying fun & finishes in a bittersweet pyrric victory. 5 stars
4/23/04 Jack Sommersby Sags in the middle, but it's still a good deal of fun. 4 stars
4/10/04 American Slasher Goddess Excellent,brought to life the zombie genre. 5 stars
4/01/04 Samuel classic horror at its best, thid movie definetly changed the face of horror forever 5 stars
3/31/04 true review - correct review everytime brilliant best movie ever about so much more than just zombies, one of the best films ever 5 stars
3/20/04 truth one of the best films ever made, better than Citizen Kane by a long shot 5 stars
3/16/04 Spencer Turner Loved almost every minute of it! 4 stars
2/10/04 Whatevr THe best of them all! 5 stars
1/31/04 Jingo P. Not too scary, but groundbreaking, well-done, and HUGELY entertaining. SYAMALAN SU X! 4 stars
1/24/04 Elena Worth a look just to see the concept that spawned a legion of ghoulish followers 4 stars
12/13/03 darkofnight A film robbed of its power by poor direction, ineffective music, and bad acting. 2 stars
12/05/03 john as much a classic of the genre as Frankenstein or the Wolf Man - brilliant! 5 stars
11/07/03 Samuel A really great movie, still havent saw the remake yet tho... 5 stars
11/03/03 Luke Thompson I saw this film when I was younger, but now I look back at it I see how great it was. 4 stars
11/02/03 American Slasher Goddess The movie that really released the zombie genre. Great stuff. 5 stars
4/01/03 Luke Skywalker ahead of it's time.. 5 stars
3/31/03 Steven (Boy) a landmark horror film and epitamy "zombie genre" movie 5 stars
3/03/03 Jack Sommersby It's no masterpiece, but it's admirably realized and executed. 4 stars
9/30/02 Charles Tatum Creepy but intriguing, like my ex-wife's family 4 stars
9/22/02 Morally Sound The best black-and-white horror movie ever. 5 stars
9/13/02 sebastian excellent what can I say but that much better than the turd that is made at present 5 stars
7/28/02 Butterbean I loathe the ending, even though it worked for the film. It has it's slow parts. 4 stars
6/24/02 David A. Classic precursor to Friday the 13th. Ben was bossy, Cooper was right--stay in the cellar! 4 stars
6/09/02 Gummibear X I fell atsleep at the opening, wow, talk about a boring horror movie! 2 stars
4/29/02 Phoenix A horror classic, but only good movie George Romero made. 5 stars
2/12/02 Monday Morning Class-sick! 5 stars
1/30/02 Chris K. This is a GOOD MOVIE. Hollywood, take some lessons from this flick! 5 stars
1/13/02 the earl Very creepy, claustrophobic, and in its own way realistic horror classic. 5 stars
12/18/01 Chris K. Not a B-movie, but A material all the way! Example of good filmmaking on a low budget! 1 stars
12/11/01 Andre Massena It sucked ass 1 stars
11/29/01 annette ahonen Great movie! Acting wasn't the greatest, but for a black and white film,it was done well! 5 stars
11/04/01 Andrew Carden It Was Boring, but It Created A Generation Of Excellent Horror Films. 5 stars
10/17/01 Jake It's everything the sequel wasn't. It gets better the more I see it. 5 stars
9/30/01 Mohammad J. While not up to Dawn, still a classic. 5 stars
8/06/01 E-Funk Still creepy after all this time. Revolutionized the horror film and still isn't matched! 5 stars
6/13/01 King Jackass As far as horror movies go, this is simply the greatest of all time. 5 stars
1/31/01 Bob THE GREATEST Zombie Movie made!!! 5 stars
7/24/00 Matthew Bartley See it in black and white for the full horror! 5 stars
6/28/00 DAVID Im a big Romero fan but i think this movie is overrated!! 3 stars
3/21/00 jake mostov sucked big mother fucken ass 1 stars
3/09/00 Zach This movie is a classic...don't miss it! 5 stars
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  01-Oct-1968 (NR)


  N/A (R)

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