Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Halloween 2018 #31: Night of the Living Dead **** (1968)

George Romero's Night of the Living Dead remains the most influential horror movie ever made. Produced in the late 1960s as American society appeared to be coming apart at the seams, Romero broke horror movie conventions by doing something rather simple: not playing nice with the audience. There are numerous accounts of kids going to see the movie on a Saturday afternoon and being traumatized for life (and adults).

So many taboos are broken whether it be cannibalism or the stark political commentary. Duane Jones as the African-American lead brings a timely poignancy to the film, his character's fate is more horrific than the rest due to its connection to real world events (then and now). When the terrified Barbra keeps asking "What's Happening," she's speaking for all of us. 

The film begins like an old driver's education short then devolves into something like a found footage movie, a terrifying account of what went wrong. Even the use of stock music gives Night of the Living Dead a sense of reality, as if it all happened for real. A survival story as well, one that hits close to home. Think of how vulnerable we all are if the power went out for no reason, civilization would crack up within a week. Whatever the outside threat would be, your neighbors are now your mortal enemy. 

Romero covered all the primal horrors: claustrophobia, cannibalism, your space being invaded, your closest loved ones turning on you, and watching horrors play out in real time on television.  A relentless assault on the senses, few movies inspire such a potent sense of dread. 

This concludes movie reviews for Halloween 2018! Thanks for reading!

Happy Halloween!


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