Night of the Living Dead (review by Butch Miller)
As much as I know Doug is counting on me, his Friend and Colleague, to write scathing, mocking reports of movies — be they single or quintuple yak flicks — “Night of the Living Dead” is one hard flick to find a fault with. So it is with great trepidation that I submit this review.
Night of the Living Dead (this is the original, black and white, George Romero edition I’m reviewing here) is quite possibly the ultimate horror movie. Horror is my favorite genre. And frankly, aside from the shooting-at-the-gas-pump scene, there is not one damned thing in this movie that could have been done better.
Night of the Living Dead starts, develops and ends in the same way: broodingly, relentlessly, creepily — no excuses, no explanations, until you’re so caught up that you just don’t care “why”. This movie is what all other horror movies aspire to be: honest, simple, and nightmarishly effective.
It starts with a woman and her brother (yes, names are given — Barbara’s her name, for you nitpickers, and no, they don’t matter, because this movie consistently gives the feeling that this could be you) visiting a graveyard. He mocks her for being scared, and a man is walking across the graveyard as he does so; at any rate, this newcomer just strolls across the graveyard and attacks her, revealing himself to be dead. It sounds ludicrous if you haven’t seen it, but it is just amazingly ominous and disturbing the first time. Her brother fights with him, and the dead man ends up crushing her brother’s head on a headstone (ironic, ain’t it?). She rushes for the car and the walking dead fella just violently assaults the vehicle in a scene that is almost as ferocious as the skinhead going at the door in “Lord of Illusions” — except the dead guy grabs a rock. Her brother has the keys, of course, so she puts the car in gear and it rolls away, just far enough to give her a good head start on the dead guy.
Anyway, she ends up in an abandoned house, where she quickly gains some living allies. The dead assault the house in the greatest siege since Masada. I’m not going to spoil it, you simply MUST see this movie. And they even justify what the dead are doing back alive — once you’re hooked.
So, yeah, sorry. I just can’t mock Night of The Living Dead. It is quite possibly the best horror movie ever filmed in black and white. The acting is superb, the story is relentless, the mood is intense and nerve-wracking. You never need to worry about suspending your disbelief, because it does not let you disbelieve. Five yaks, and then some.