Night of the Living Dead
Directed by George A. Romero
Written by John Russo and George Romero
I didn’t particularly expect to enjoy this movie, but I was surprised by how watchable it is. I mean, maybe it’s not so surprising given the following it has and it being, as it is, the granddaddy of so many zombie movies. Independent, and obviously so, set as it is in just two places pretty much. Watching it reminded me of attending the Incredibly Strange Film Festival, and I kept seeing scenes which I recognised from the homages in other movies I’ve seen.
I spotted Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead, Cabin in the Woods and 28 Days Later moments, echoes of this gorgeous black and white movie. The script is rich with interesting characterisation, cutting jokes and twists which I am sure were shocking at the time and have now become cliche. The little girl, for example, her wound was a Chekhov’s gun from the moment they said she was sick.
Does it make me love the people? I really loved Ben, not sure I cared at all about any of the others apart from Tom. The women were generally useless, which wasn’t particularly a surprise. I had hoped from the start of the film that Barbara would be the ‘strong girl’ horror lead, but I’m okay with Ben, the token black character being the bad ass lead instead. I totally predicted what would happen to him though…
The thing that I think I loved the absolute most though was the explanation for why the dead were walking. Radiation from a satellite that orbited Venus. Yep, that’s some solid backstory right there. Love it. Of course that does tie into radiation fears from nuclear power/atomic bombs I suppose.
Bechdel test: Yes, it passes! There’s a scene with Judy, Helen and Karen in the cellar. Ellen asks how Karen has been, Judy replies that she hasn’t spoken, they speak for a few more lines. (‘They need you upstairs’ ‘okay’ kind of stuff) and Karen responds to her mother about how she is in pain.
Field Reporter: Are they slow-moving, chief?
Sheriff McClelland: Yeah, they’re dead. They’re all messed up.
Helen Cooper: We may not enjoy living together, but dying together isn’t going to solve anything.
State of Mind: I enjoyed that way more than I thought I would, especially since almost all of the zombie based nightmares I have are about trying to board up windows and doors and keep out zombies. I am sad that Ben didn’t survive but not surprised.