Movie Review-Night of the Living Dead

Hi Folks,

 

So today we’re going to be dealing with a classic, a true genre standout, a film that the critics actually like! It’s almost too much I know. Anyway let’s get on with it.

 

 

Night of The Living Dead

 

 

Fast Facts

 

Made in 1968 and the first of the great Romero’s ‘of the dead’ series, certainly the best. Night of the Living Dead  is the granddaddy of the modern zombie film.

 

and tv show...

and books...

and comics...

and board games...I can totally keep going...

 

 

That really isn't necessary...or interesting

 

 

The story centers around a small group of strangers holed up in a farmhouse and besieged by the reanimated, recently deceased. In this particular instance it is implied that the starting gun was a falling satellite carrying radiation from Venus of all places.

 

Cast

 

She's handling it well

Judith O’Dea- Plays Barbara, the first main character we’re introduced to. She does a fantastic job lending real sympathy to a character that spend the entire movie freaking out big time. Hysteria can get annoying very quickly but O’Dea keeps it at a manageable level.

 

Hmmm. I think he's the hero

Duane Jones- Plays Ben, a survivor and major badass who is essentially one of about three people in this situation acting rationally. He has some very aggressive moments in this movie and Jones does a nice job keeping it very much in the realm of doing what he has to as opposed to just being a control freak.

 

Captain Toolshed

Karl Hardman- Plays Mr. Cooper the exact opposite of Ben, overbearing and stupid to boot. Hardman gets a really fun part; there is something really good about someone you love to hate and Mr. Cooper fits the bill nicely.

 

You look sassy... I like you already

Marilyn Eastman- Plays Mrs. Cooper and is the comic relief for much of the movie if only for the fact that she gets the best lines and gets them at her counter part’s expense.

 

You recognize the danger in being young in a movie like this right?

Keith Wayne- Plays Tom; a young man who has wandered into the farmhouse with his girlfriend. He’s mostly here to be a middle ground between Ben and Mr. Cooper and Wayne is sort of bland but he’s working with what he’s been given.

 

she looks like she gets it

Judith Ridley-Plays Judy; Tom’s girlfriend and like her partner is pretty much just here to be a broadly drawn 60’s teenager. Which she handles with suitable competency.

 

Observations

 

Zombie movies are running a bit rampant these days aren’t they? Well this movie is why. It’s not the first zombie movie ever. It’s just the one that made the zed head a cinema favorite and so, as with any movie about the shambling dead this film is a lot more about what people are like, backed into a corner and fighting for their lives, then it is about flesh eating mayhem.

 

Above: what people are like backed into a corner and fighting for their lives...

This is sort of an ambient terror type flick; you’re more terrified by the situation than by any individual event within it. The fact that there is a horde of zombies all around you and no viable means of escape is far more frightening than that one zombie chewing on what is clearly a chicken leg.

 

With 11 herbs and spices!

This is very much a character piece so we’re going to do this a little differently than normal; we’re going to go by character rather than scenes.

 

 

 

Barbara

 

This is pretty much how you feel whenever she talks

The first person we’re introduced to, the only thing I can really say about her is that even though she is frequently infuriating you do feel pretty damn bad for her. I mean the only lucid moment this poor woman has in the second half of the movie is when she realized that it’s her undead brother that’s about to pull her into the horde.

 

This is why only children are lucky bastards

She also has the distinction of having two of the only shock scares in the movie; Babs is just lucky like that. The first zombie we see, the one in the graveyard; attacks Barbara, kills her brother John and then the chase sequence that follows said zombie murder is actually pretty tense.

 

Though frankly he doesn't look all that dead does he?

The second is the body at the top of the stairs in the farmhouse; the one with it’s face eaten off (for the record this was Bright Dyke’s first viewing of this movie and she totally jumped) it’s one of the few real jumps in this film and the best.

 

Never ever go upstairs

Now given Babs is kind of a wet mop but I’m blaming it on the fact that it was the 60’s. Also that she’s gone insane from the shock of seeing dead people shambling towards you with the intent of eating your face.

 

FACE...well actually no...no face

 

 

Ben

 

Aim for the head! Aim for the head!

Otherwise known as Captain Awesome, Ben is a BAMF. He’s exactly the guy you want in a zombie apocalypse and I’m kind of amazed that he doesn’t have his own video game yet. We’re pretty much in Ben’s corner the minute he smacks a hysterical Barbara in mid nervous breakdown. Now in all fairness he’s pretty damn insensitive to the ‘zombies ate my brother’ shtick considering he just had a freaking soliloquy on how he got there.

 

Now given Ben has some anger management issues but I think that’s why we love him and seeing as the movie really hinges on the dynamic of the strangers in the house; we really kind of want there to be one person who says ‘fuck you douchebag I’m in charge’ and seeing as the alternative is Mr. Cooper who we’ll get to momentarily I think it’s safe to say we’re all pretty damn glad it’s the guy lighting armchairs on fire and flinging them at the horde.

 

Light a match! They're frightened by fire!

The power struggle between Cooper and Ben is tense and fun to watch. I think I can speak for everyone when I say that watching Captain Awesome kick the shit out of Captain Toolshed is the most satisfying moment in the movie.

It's like punch out on the Wii...but fun

Ben is the character we all identify with; he’s the voice of reason and even though he is up in everyone’s face about not being a bunch of fucking idiots; he is frequently the voice of compassion. He reacts to this situation I think the way that we all would like to think we could; which is why the end of this movie is at once frustrating and perfectly appropriate for the genre.

 

 

Mr. Cooper

 

This would be sweet...if you weren't such a douchebag

Is a royal asshole. He creates dissension in the froup for basically no other reason than that he’s clearly not in charge. Now some people have argued that his panic is related to his daughter’s illness and that the asshattery is totally justified because of this. But he’s far too concerned with what everyone else is doing and what he tells them they should be doing for me to buy that. Fortunately for us he makes a series of bad decisions and picks a series of fights with Captain Awesome that allow him to be satisfyingly smacked down again and again. The fact that he frequently makes decisions and picks fights over things that will actually hurt his daughter’s chances of survival makes her eating him the second most satisfying moment in the film.

 

HA HA

Mrs. Cooper

 

Most noteworthy human goes to...

My favorite character, and the only voice of reason coming from the basement camp. She calls Mr. Cooper out on his bullshit constantly and helps Ben hold off the horder even while her dipshit husband is running down the stairs. Also she’s got some great dialogue.

 

“It’s important isn’t it? To be right.” When he says that the ones upstairs will regret not liening to him. Also:

 

“We hate living together, dying together isn’t going to be any better.”—-BURN.

 

 

Judy and Tom

 

I’m putting them together because that’s how they’re treated. Tom’s rational if not capable and Judy is kind of flighty but likable for her loyalty to Tom. Honestly watching them try to escape just to end up barbecuing themselves is surprisingly horrifying. Coming from someone who has been watching teenagers find interesting ways to off themselves on film for years- that’s saying something.

 

whoops...

 

Sheriff McCallen

 

He's so distinguished

This is the guy leading the organized counter assault against the undead and he is hysterical fo two reasons.

One: he has kind of a same shit, different day approach to the onslaught.

Two: he has the best line I think I’ve ever heard in a zombie movie. “Yeah they’re dead, they’re…they’re all messed up.” Every time I hear it I drink a glass of milk to allow it to shoot out of my nose.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

Night of the Living Dead is a classic, it is absolutely required viewing  and not just for those of us with a zombie addiction.  It is more about the living than the living dead but you’ll get plenty of intestine munching, face eating, shambling/moaning horror to serve as a backdrop for the human drama.

 

That's some good backdrop

 

All in all an 8 out of 10

 

 

Your Classically Trained Screamstress,

 

 

 

~Fright Dyke

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