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Thursday, October 21, 2010

George A. Romero's Night Of the Living Dead

     George A. Romero shocked the world in 1968 with his ground-breaking and apocalyptic masterpiece of horror,  "Night Of the Living Dead".   Filmed on a shoestring budget in Pennsylvania, "Night of the Living Dead" shows just what you can do with no money but lots of imagination.  The cheap film stock and black and white photography gives it a straight, documentary-like look and feel to it, which only adds to the horror.  "Psycho" opened the door in 1960- eight years later, "Night Of the Living Dead" came crashing through, changing the face of horror forever.

     A group of strangers find themselves trapped in an abandoned farmhouse as slowly and inexplicably they  become surrounded by a horde of flesh-hungry corpses.  Tensions arise as they board themselves inside to stay alive.  Before long, hundreds of zombies have surrounded the lonely farmhouse, constantly trying to claw their way in.  This is pure, nightmarish horror, and it grabs your attention in the opening scene and holds it until that devastatingly bleak ending. The shockingly gory effects (for1968) were groundbreaking, and the extremely low-budget film would become tremendously influential.  

     The first, (and in my opinion the best) in a string of zombie movies, "Night Of the Living Dead" came along at the perfect time in America.  In 1968, the country was in an uproar over Vietnam and mass race riots were happening all over the place.  As they say, art imitates life.  "Night Of the Living Dead" is a harrowing and harsh statement of racial attitudes in America at the time- which makes this far more intelligent than just your average gorefest.  This is easily one of the Top Ten greatest and most influential horror movies of all time.  In 1999, the Library of Congress  placed "Night of the Living Dead" on the National Film Registry as a film deemed "historically, culturally, or aesthetically important."  George A. Romero has said that Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" partially inspired "NOTLD", and it's easy to see that.  Stay away from the dreadful colorized version- the black and white is far more effective. Classic horror!
      "They're coming to get you, Barbara..."

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