Forty Five years ago this month marks the world premiere of Night of the Living Dead
The film is significant for a variety of reasons. It marked the feature film debut of George A. Romero, who would go on to be the most critically acclaimed director of the horror genre; it was an indie movie before the term even existed, and taught future film entrepreneurs as much what to do, as not to do when getting their film into distribution.
But mostly it may be the most significant horror movie of the latter half of the 20th century -both for the social message found here, and in the rest of the films of Romero's Dead series, but also in the impact that its had on the movies and television shows that followed.
Without Night of the Living Dead there would be no Walking Dead, no World War Z no Shaun of the Dead no 28 Days Later or any of the remakes of the original Romero trilogy.
The movie was not an overnight success. Its legend built slowly on midnight showings around the country. Because the film was an indy without major studio financing, there were a limited number of prints of the film to be shown in various locations. Worse yet, because all involved were new at the motion picture business, the movie was not properly copy written, and went into the public domain much sooner than it should have, greatly reducing the profits that all involved should have seen once the VCR revolution occurred in the decades that followed.
Much has been written over the last forty-five years about this movie. Some find its poor acting ludicrous and campy to the point that it can't really be taken seriously. Some have found its being shot in black and white making it inaccessible. For myself, I've always felt that these attributes added to the film's nightmare feel. Without the polish and shine of a typical hollywood fright film, the viewer is left with a movie that looks like someone's home movie of the apocalypse. For my money, it stands up with the best of Ingmar Bergman's psychological dramas of the 50's and 60's.
So without further adieu, here is Night of the Living Dead