#21 – Countdown to Halloween: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD

Shot by a group of college friends who made commercials, Night of the Living Dead has endured for over 40 years as the gold standard of zombie films. Released in 1968, on a shoe-string budget, and with little to no experience for most of the cast and crew, this film continues to influence pop culture still today.

With zombie movies coming out seemingly every other week, there has never been a better time to take a look back and remember a classic.

For those uncultured unfortunate enough to have somehow still not seen this masterpiece, here’s a quick run down:

– Johnny is a dick to his sister Barbara.
– Johnny dies in a graveyard, killed by a ‘Living Dead’.
– Barbara flees and finds a farmhouse where she holds up with some strangers.
– The recently murdered Johnny comes back to life & finds Barbara at the farmhouse.
– Ben hits Barbara because she is hysterical.
– Later Ben is mistaken for a Zombie and killed by the Police. The End.

Ok, so I skipped some parts, but you get the just of it. I suppose I could’ve mentioned that Ben was awesome, and him getting capped at the end is super tragic. But in the end all that matters is this was an excellent horror movie, and one that was scary on a much deeper level than a Jason Vorhees or Michael Meyers could ever be.  Here is the trailer…

So for me, what really drives this movie is the tension between Ben and Mr. Cooper. Ben representing logic and reason, while Cooper represented small-minded cowardice. And the ironic part is, in the end, Cooper was the one who was right all along.

Aside from Cooper and Ben, Cooper’s daughter was another major factor why the movie is remembered and copied today. She is the zombie on the inside. As though there wasn’t already enough chaos outside the windows, we are treated to some more on the inside. Injured by an attacker on the way to the house, she is our first example of someone turning into a flesh eater as a result of being bite herself. So all the movie, the Coopers are trying to nurse their daughter back to health only to have her ultimately be the end of them.

As much as I love the movie, I have to admit it’s a total downer. Unlike most Zombie movies where the protagonists escape the immediate threat only to find out that they are doomed regardless, this time we find out they wouldn’t have been doomed if they could just survive the night, but they ultimately end getting killed by the most unlikely of sources. The little girl they’d been nursing, and the rescue squad they’d been waiting on. That’s the bummer man!

Ben in his last moment. before being unceremoniously sniped by the Sheriff.

Overall I’d give the movie a 5/5 Great Pumpkins Charlie Brown! as it’s gone on to influence over 40 years of horror movies to follow, and the fact that it’s still the best of them can’t be ignored.

For more on NotLD – Check out this from TheBustedBoxes

And for more Countdown to Halloween – Click Here

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