Saturday, May 18, 2013

Night of the Living Dead (1968) Review:

Although it is not needed to be said, for any zombie fan, it is anything but obligatory to view this movie because director George A. Romero is the guy who started the whole trend of making zombie films. For the year 1968, this movie had a lot going for it. As for those who may not find that older films have much appeal, this one does. Its story not only carries its own origin but also contains a well thought out written tone and a very addicting plot. Not to mention this film even has gore. Yes, gore.

The actors that never went seriously....
The premise is very basic, a group of random individuals happen to meet up at house to hide from flesh-eating entranced humans, otherwise known as zombies. Bruce Capristo, the head of the makeup department did a great job at making the zombies look like normal people. Yet, the audience and characters alike can tell the difference between themselves and the zombies. Weird as it is, this will be the only movie Capristo would take credit for. After this he did not move on into other movies. It's also surprising to me how after this movie became a hit, that none of the actors really moved forward with their careers either. Because of this, the actors in this movie remain “no-name” actors.

Which brings me to my next point: characters. In most cases, when a movie has such a basic premise, character development ends up taking a back seat. Why? Because most audiences are more interested in seeing the plot device in action more than they are in the main characters. But what Romero and his screenwriting partner, John A. Russo did was balance the screen time between the scenes of confronting zombies and the lead roles discussing how they're going to escape. This keeps the audience from becoming too bored with too much dialog or too much zombies. This holds true because too much of one thing isn't good in general. There needs to be a balance.

Friendly group of folks aren't they?
What remains the most potent about this picture is just how overwhelming this situation is and how quickly hope can be lost if this were to be a reality. Oddly enough, one would think that because zombies move so slowly, it would be easy to evade them. Better think twice about that claim. Even for these undead beings, they are relentless. To think if you had twenty to fifty of them around you,...sounds like its time to curl up in fetal position and go to that happy place every person has in their head. This is what Romero does with his audience, by creating a hopeless tone. It will seem like any direction taken towards escaping won't work and it's done very effectively.

But while this is effective, another great aspect to this tone is by instilling a small glimmer of hope every time an opportunity opens. This is what makes this story so gripping. I would feel right to let go and give up, but it wouldn’t because you know there has to be a way to win. Also, the musical composer, William Loose did a fair job at the score. It definitely sounds like music and it does contain a reoccurring theme for the film and for the zombies themselves, so it does work.

The last area that surprised me was just how gory this late 1960's black and white film was. I mean, how did audiences back then take this film? People must have flipped out so much that it caused mass hysteria. It's obvious in a lot of scenes that the people parts used in the zombie scenes were animal parts but wow. I'm surprised Romero was let back into the film business after that. I actually wasn't expecting much at all but I'm pretty sure Romero had a lot more to put on the screen. I liked how things went with Romero's first film piece. It was evenly paced and kept me wondering what would happen next. How many films are like that nowadays?

Film legend George A. Romero has brought a treasure to generations to come, even if many would call it at the time malignant. When in fact, zombies are exactly that in our culture today. Night of the Living Dead is well constructed and boasts gross imagery even for 1968.

Points Earned --> 10:10