In 1968, an independent horror film was being written, directed, photographed and edited by a man who would soon make such an impact on the horror genre that his name would not ever be recognized by anyone familiar with the genre. That movie was Night of the Living Dead and the filmmaker was the late George A. Romero. This unpretentious black and white film starts out in a graveyard with two characters whose lines would soon become some of the most oft referenced quotes across the horror community. The gore was simple, the acting was straightforward… nothing about the film was overdone or exaggerated. It truly felt real. The actors were all unknown at the time, including Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea and a man named S. William Hinzman, who would go on to be one of the most famous zombie actors in history.
As a child of only six the first time I watched Night of the Living Dead, I distinctly remember specific parts scaring me. I truly believe, because of this film, that I am such the huge horror fan that I am today. For years to come, I would constantly compare and contrast every scary movie that I watched to this one, wondering why nothing in modern day filmmaking could even come close to what I witnessed as a little girl in front of that old box T.V. Even today, I still revel in Night of the Living Dead. The movie is often quiet; the lack of sound is a character in itself. It gives the film an eerie silent vibe that you don’t see too much anymore. I sat, transfixed, as zombies surrounded the farm house of survivors, leaving me with that twist in my stomach that most horror movies since simply cannot do. Infamous lines spoken and remembered echo through this movie’s 1 hour 36 minute runtime and, to this day, I still hear those lines at the most random times. Romero made a simple movie that turned into a groundbreaking revolutionary film, a historic project that has impacted countless writers, directors and modern day horror movie enthusiasts.
What makes this movie chilling is something that I cannot specifically place nor explain. I have spent many hours discussing with other horror movie aficionados as to what it is that makes Night of the Living Dead so amazing, and what, exactly it was about this film that terrified me as a child. I could never accurately explain it to anyone until I began to understand the visionary concept, and then it became quite clear to me. I was astonished by how simple it was. What most movies were lacking was investment, time, and atmospheric accuracy as to what was being portrayed around them. Night of the Living Dead had all of that. It was nothing but a simple storyline, low budget and uncomplicated characters. The concept of the walking dead had been portrayed several times before 1968, but this movie is what truly put zombies on the map. Night of the Living Dead has not only impacted me, but also the horror movie community as well. Whether your a zombie fanatic, writer, or just someone who enjoys the thrill of being terrified, this is a movie that everyone should watch at least once.
Night of the Living Dead has instilled in me a deep love of horror and an obsession with the genre that wouldn’t have been possible without it. The impact of this movie is undeniable. I guarantee that no one who has seen it will ever forget it. In the years to follow its release, Romero would write and direct many more movies with zombies, but none of them can even hold a candle to Night of the Living Dead. It will forever be and forever remain one of the best horror movies ever made. Simple and beautiful, dark and edgy, this film is a must see for all who want to see the world through the eyes of a true visionary.