Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Halloween 2022 #30: Night of the Living Dead (1968)

George Romero's Night of the Living Dead remains possibly 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's no Vincent Price appearing for comic relief. 

So many taboos are broken whether it be cannibalism or the stark political commentary. It's an allegory of a society coming apart that takes may hit harder in the post-covid world. 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 could be, your neighbors are now your mortal enemy. 

Duane Jones, one of the first African Americans to lead a horror film lead brings a timely poignancy to the film, his character's courage and ultimately tragic fate is still a gut punch that sadly still resonates. 

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. The brother and sister visiting the graveyard is intentionally hokey, a misdirection of what's going to be a serious horror movie.

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. 

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