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Night of the Living Dead DVD Review

Night of the Living Dead

January 4, 2007

Director: George A. Romero,
Starring: Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman, Keith Wayne, Judith Ridley, Kyra Schon, Charles Craig, S. William Hinzman, George Kosana,

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DVD Review

With a simple plot, limited budget, and amateurish acting, Night of the Living Dead should have been a complete and utter failure, but it wasn’t. In fact it has become one of the staples of the horror movie diet and the father figure of all zombie-infested films. In 1968, Night of the Living Dead captured the attention of horror fans as it re-wrote the rules and inspired a generation, as well as spawning many sequels and re-makes.

A wave of mass murder is spreading throughout the nation as the recently dead are starting to rise and feed on the living. No one knows why or how to stop these slow (in more ways than one) monsters. A small group fleeing from certain death barricade themselves in a farmhouse as sanctuary, with no way to contact anyone and only a radio and T.V. playing updates to find out what is going on. They are going have to learn to co-operate if they are to avoid being someone’s lunch.

Night of the Living Dead ticks all the boxes when it comes to making a crappy horror B-movie: it’s in black and white, eerie music, graveyards, the middle of nowhere, flashes of lightning, blood, guts and a high mixture of static and wobbly camera shots. But what sets it apart from imitators is its pure simplicity and anti-hero protagonist. In a brave move, the movie unwillingly focuses on Ben (Duane Jones), a black man who’s not afraid to take charge, slap a woman across the face if necessary and look out for himself.

The script is the main reason that Night of the Living Dead has a higher status than it should, as its graceful build and revelation are perfect. It also brings just the right combination of action, dialogue and gruesomeness, with an outstanding conclusion, guaranteed to leave your mouth gaping. Its age doesn’t really show too much, but audiences will have to put up with hammy acting, probably the worst looking “zombies” ever, and some questionable lighting, but take into account the shoe-string budget and the legacy it’s left – and that’s half the fun of watching this 60’s classic, today.

Special Features:

Only one but it’s pretty impressive. A feature that takes all four men responsible for the creation of this movie, including George Romero, and sits them round a table for a good old chinwag. Adding depth to their conversation we see clips from the movie, fan reactions, and a few lines from horror movie helmers like Sam Rami, Wes Craven, John Carpenter etc…

Well worth a look for long time fans of this classic. But this really is a budget disc and doesn’t offer anything more.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance

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Rating: 73%

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