The radiation from a fallen satellite might have caused the recently deceased to rise from the grave and seek the living to use as food. This is the situation that a group of people penned up in an old farmhouse must deal with.
Who is in it? Judith O’Dea and Duane Jones.
Was it scary? For the times I bet it was pretty scary.
Would this movie be for every horror fan? Defiantly.
Should you see it? Everyone should see this movie.
Night of the Living Dead from 1968 is a classic masterpiece. It not only put George Romero on the map, it also re-defined what a zombie even was. Before Romero, zombies were people that couldn’t think for themselves because they were under the control of an evil lord like in ‘White Zombie’ (1932) starring the legendary Bela Lugosi. This movie was really the birth of the modern zombie in terms of re-animated cannibalistic corpses. As Romero has said in many interviews, he didn’t plan on inventing a new zombie in fact he loved the old zombies. He modeled the ‘new’ zombie off of the vampires from a book by Richard Matheson titled ‘I am Legend’ which was later adapted for a film titled ‘The Last Man on Earth’ (1964) starring Vincent Price.
They’re coming to get you Barbara….
This movie also had some ground breaking racial differences that was really original for the time. Ben, the leading actor played by Duane Jones was a black man and he bossed his white peers around which doesn’t seem controversial now but for the time it was made, it was pretty ground breaking stuff. The modern zombie has a huge debt to this film and to George Romero and there is no question that Night of the Living Dead is amazing but this review isn’t so much for Night of the Living Dead as it is for the extra footage that John Russo (co-writer of the original) saw fit to add to the film in 1998. I don’t want anyone to mistake this review for the original. I rate the original a cool 9/10.
John Russo wanted to add footage to the masterpiece to make it better which is his right, after all the original film is in the public domain. Over all he didn’t change much aside from ruining the mood of tense scenes with added music, adding an over acting loud mouthed ‘fire and brimstone’ style preacher, some extra footage of zombies eating things, and ruining the ending. The opening scene in the original had Barbara and Johnny driving to visit their dead father in a cemetery. The ‘new’ opening scene is some people loading a coffin in the back of a truck containing the body that later kills Johnny and breaks the car window out with a brick. Before the corpse re-animates, we meet the preacher and some fat guy. They also give a back story to that first zombie as well, telling us that he was a recently executed felon that had killed a little girl. The preacher doesn’t shut up and has a beard that does not at all resemble the time the movie was set in.
As Barbara is running from the zombie that killed Johnny there is added music that takes away from the terror of the scene. It’s like watching a fan made music video of that scene, but the music is terrible. Throughout the film there are some added scenes of more zombies which are nicely done, and add more gore into the film. The newly added zombies also include two pre-teen girls too, which definitely wasn’t in the original. In fact we don’t see zombie children at least in Romero films, until the original ‘Dawn of the Dead’ in 1978. Lastly (and most importantly) he changed the ending.
Russo didn’t totally change it, he simply added to it. In the original after Ben is mistaken for a zombie and shot, the film basically cuts to grainy still photos of the rednecks with hooks and the zombie fire. In the new ending before he is shot, it cuts to the zombie removal effort outside the house and focuses on the preacher that is says that the zombies are demons inside of the dead, blah blah blah. The preacher then tries to exorcise or cast out the ‘demon’ inside a zombie and it bites him in the face because he is retarded. People come to the preacher’s rescue and kill the zombie, then it cuts to Ben being shot. After Ben’s death it cuts to a year later at a medical facility with a lady going inside to talk to the preacher that has not turned despite being bitten a year prior. He rants and raves about the people helping him being atheists and that he is the chosen one, blah blah blah and the reporter leaves…. Roll Credits. The End.
John Russo is more than capable of making a zombie flick. If it weren’t for him we wouldn’t have ‘The Return of the Living Dead’ which was also awesome, but with that being said he didn’t add anything worth while to this movie. Adding some extra footage to make it look more modern is one thing, Star Wars episode 4, 5, and 6 added extra footage and it was pretty cool. They didn’t change anything major like the ending, they simply added some new graphics to the film to slightly modernize it. But Russo did more than that and he totally sucked at it in my opinion by ruining the ending and adding music to tense situations that takes away from the intent of the scene. I rate this version a 3/10. If you want to make original work better, remake it don’t change it later. I’m not trashing the remakes either because Tom Savini remade Night of the Living Dead in 1990 and it was amazing.
Official Nutshell-Movies Explanation of the ‘Original’
Night of the Living Dead (1968): People gather in a house to escape zombies. One man lives but is mistaken for a zombie and gets shot.