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“They’re coming to get you, Barbra!
I know I said earlier that Dawn of the Dead is the greatest zombie movie of all time, and I stick by that. But part of me really feels that the original Romero zombie classic lords over them all. It establishes the Romero rules, has an incredibly spooky vibe, and to this day is creepy as hell. And this was in 1968, when this sort of thing normally wasn’t seen in theaters.
For the two of you who haven’t seen Night of the Living Dead, the film focuses on a group of survivors hiding out in an abandoned farmhouse while the walking dead are outside, waiting to feed. The group includes the noble and level-headed Ben, the practically catatonic (and most certainly useless) Barbra, the hot-headed coward Harry, his wife Helen and their daughter Karen, and young lovers Tom and Judy. Somehow, this group of people has to figure out how to not only barricade the windows and doors, but also how to survive each other. And, in what would become a signature trait of Romero’s zombie flicks, surviving each other proves to be more daunting than surviving the zombies.
Despite its status as a classic and revered film, Night of the Living Dead has been treated like a cheap, second-class flick throughout the years. Because it’s in public domain, countless copies of varying (read: shitty) quality abound. It’s been colorized (blasphemy!) and bootlegged to death. Romero even produced a remake a couple decades later. But if you’re interested in picking up a copy of the original (and you should), I highly recommend grabbing the George A. Romero authorized version. Not only has it been completely remastered, but it contains some really nice historical special features. And hey, Romero actually profits off of this version.
Like John Carpenter’s Halloween, the family and I watch Night of the Living Dead every year on Halloween night, it’s that good. So why didn’t I use it as the final entry for SHOCKtober? Well, we’ll also be watching something else this Halloween. Tune in tomorrow to find out what it is.