Movie Review: Night of the Living Dead (1968)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1968 classic horror movie starring Duane Jones and Judith O'Dea.

Synopsis: When the dead begin rising from their graves and attacking people, a group of survivors take refuge in a rural Pennsylvania farmhouse in an effort to weather the storm. However, as the army of zombies starts to grow outside, they must decide whether to remain in the house or attempt to escape.

Review

My wife and oldest daughter are participating in the annual ice show and had rehearsals last night. So, after putting my youngest daughter (who had her rehearsal earlier in the evening) to bed, I ended up looking for a movie to watch while waiting for them to get home.

When I came across this film on one of our movie channels, I realized it had been a while since I had last watched it and decided to put it on. I did not regret this decision.

This black-and-white film is the first zombie movie I ever watched and still remains one of my favorites. There are a couple reasons for this.

First, I love the zombies in this movie. There isn't much of an effort to gross out the viewer by having them be overly decomposed. But, at the same time, most are very believable as members of the walking dead. And, while they do move at a bit of a slow pace and tend to stand around a bit too much when they should be attacking, the fact they are smart enough to use primitive weapons makes up for that.

I also like the fact the people inside the house have no real idea about what is happening and have to get their information from news broadcasts as various discoveries are made. Other movies have made an effort to copy this but it's much more believable in this film, which was made before every Tom, Dick and Harry was making a zombie movie.

What really sells me on this movie, however, is the human conflict. Ben (Jones) is the obvious hero in this movie. But, he's also not perfect and, while his insistence the group leave the house and try to find other survivors does seem to be the more heroic choice, it can also be argued Harry (Hardman), while kind of a jerk, is right when he makes his case for hiding in the basement.

Of course, for the record, I wouldn't have done either. I would have done a better job securing the downstairs, stand guard at the upstairs window and lob the homemade molotov cocktails at any zombie that got too close to the house.

Probably the only thing I'm not a fan of when it comes to this movie is the character Barbra (O'Dea). As a parent who is trying to raise strong, independent daughters, I can't stand female characters that spend the entire movie scared and needing to be cared for. And, while I know the time period needs to be taken into consideration when it comes to this movie, I get irritated by her every time and can honestly say I wouldn't have thought any less of Ben if he would have decided to just let her die.

Final Opinion

This, in my opinion, is the original zombie movie and one that every horror movie fan should watch at least once. I have never regretted taking the time to see it.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 03/01/2016, StevenHelmer
 
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Judy on 03/02/2016

Always been one of my favorites too!

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