Before the Walking Dead, 28 Days After and Zombieland, there was the film that started it all: The night of the living dead.
Released in 1968, it is considered one of the most influential horror films of its time. This film defined the horror genre and became an inspiration and influence for many horror film directors.
Shot in black and white in just seven months and with a really small budget, George Romero’s iconic film, managed to become a huge box office hit and start a whole new era in horror film making. Apart from the apparent shock that the film brought to the audience, it stood out for another reason: It was one of the first films where an African American actor was casted for the leading part, without that being a prerequisite on the script. Quite revolutionary for the time, especially given that the civil rights movement was at its peak.
The story starts with two siblings, Johnny and Barbra visiting their father’s grave. There, the attacks of the living dead begin. After Barbra is attacked and her brother is killed by the “ghoul”, she finds refuge in a farmhouse, where she meets Ben, also hiding from the creatures and another 5 people. They all hide there and try to defeat the mortal creatures.
The film’s effects might seem childish today, but the direction, montage and music of the film helps enhance the sense of danger, fear and agony.
It is very interesting, that despite the fact that the term “zombie” had already been introduced in cinema, Romero decides to refer to the creatures as "ghouls" or "living dead" or "those things".
In their previous appearances in cinema history (I Walked with a Zombie, 1943), zombies were never defined as flesh eating. It was this film that first established human flesh being the primary diet of zombies.
George A. Romero saw very little profit from the film when thanks to his lack of knowledge regarding distribution deals, the distributors walked away with practically all of the profits.
My Film Club
While this week we discovered a classic horror film, next week it's all about the American Independent Cinema and the great Jim Jarmusch
Next Week's film: Permanent Vacation (1980)
Ever since I first set foot on a cinema theatre, I knew that something magical was happening there....