REVIEWED
6/13/04

STORY



LOOK

Night of the Living Dead
Director: George Romero
Year: 1968
TRT: 1:30


While there had been zombie movies made before this, Romero's low-budget, B&W horror flick really helped break open a new wave of horror that was based more in gritty "reality" than the big productions leading up to it (and not having that cheezy, Ed Wood feel to it). And on that level, it works pretty good.

Mood is set immediately as the film starts off in a cemetery. Barbra is visiting her father's grave with her brother when they're accosted by a shambling stranger. She manages to get away, making it to what appears to be an abandoned farmhouse. Eventually an eclectic group of people band together to protect themselves from an onslaught of ghouls, finally deciding to get the fuck outta Dodge (and in this case, Dodge being a countryside filling up with more undead by the minute). But nothing really goes as planned, and things go from bad to worse to unDEAD.

Overall it's decent, though a bit uneven at times from a couple different aspects. It works best when going for reality as opposed to the staged drama (with some pretty bad acting from stereotyped characters). Due to budget limitations, it's also forced to rely at times on a cheezy score from some 50s horror movie that doesn't exactly match the mood of this film. Good lead, though, by Duane Jones, who uses realistic logic and dialogue to try and make it through the night. A decent enough film to revisit, and pacing makes it go by pretty quick for those having 2nd thoughts. Romero has done 2 sequels to his original, and has spawned a remake in 1990 by make-up effects guru Tom Savini.

Great Scene: The scene with the kid, creepy and actually uses some experimental audio instead of the canned score. Nice segue of still-shots into the credits as well.

DVD Notes: CHEAP disc put out by Madacy, with horrible video transfer and mono audio that left me scrambling to change the output on my receiver just so I could understand the dialogue. Lame generic menu with laughable extras. Do yourself a favor and get one of the "special editions" put out recently that really cleaned up the transfer and has some decent extras to boot.