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

We already saw Doc Kronner’s take on this classic, so here is another opinion from TheBustedBoxes…

This is simply the classic Halloween horror flick in my mind. It has influenced everything from video games to music videos ala Thriller….

The best part, this isn’t simply a ‘scare-you-with-gore-slash-up-your-face-and-piss-on-anything-holy film’; it is more than that. It is one of the most ground-breaking films in the history of cinematography. Hyperbole aside, I friggin love this movie.

Here’s a synopsis: A group of people are hiding in a farm-house surrounded by countless living dead.

I didn’t lose you did I?

Now I know that George Romero didn’t invent zombies. He wasn’t the first to bring zombies to the big screen. He did however, take the Haitian imagining of a zombie and turn it into something distinctly American: a blue-collar monster that threatens our way of life (and yes, I did take the “blue-collar” part from Romero’s “interview” on the Call of the Dead map from Call of Duty).

The film itself is an entertaining mix of expanding the visceral effect that a film camera can have, playing to some of our darkest fears, and satire. I think the visual effects speak for themselves, so I’ll concentrate on the latter two.

The most basic instinct that humans have is to survive, and by nearly any means necessary. The characters in N of the L D are simply displaying that tendency, with few exceptions. This is where the fear and satire come in, because as the audience is being horrified by the gruesome trap that surrounds the characters, they are also being shown how individuals react to the stress, self-centeredness, and hopelessness of the world trying to eat them alive. Of course, let’s not forget the social commentary on government ineptitude, racial relations, and indulgence and greed.

Now, I realize that not everyone enjoys thinking that much on Halloween. Fine, let’s go with some great pop culture references. To the name-dropping machine Robin!

Here’s a short list of entertainment pieces that would not exist (at least in the same capacity) without N of the L D. Remember, I could go on, but I’ll just throw out some important ones:

– Sam Raimi
– Stephen King
– Wes Craven
– The Zombie Survival Guide

Any time you even hear, read, or think the word “zombie”!

What you need to remember, or know if you don’t, is that Romero didn’t even intend to have the creatures called “zombies”. Rather, he wanted them to be called either “ghouls” or “flesh-eaters”. Don’t believe me? Watch the movie: not one time is the word “zombie” even used.

This film was a distinct part of the counter-culture to large movies studios and their classic monsters (i.e. Frankenstein’s Monster, Wolfman, the Thing from the Black Lagoon, etc.). Throw on some make-up, groan, eat some brains and BAM! You’ve got a sequel to N of the L D.

Now here is your mission: Get a copy of the film. Go watch (or re-watch) the film. Find a kid that plays zombie video games. Ask him or her who George Romero is. If he or she says “That guy from Call of the Dead,” smack the kid upside the head with the DVD. If you can do this, you are my hero.

And for more Countdown to Halloween – Click Here

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