“They’re Coming To Get You, Barbra.”

         Zombies were nothing new when George A. Romero decided to bring his version of them to the screen. When he did unleash his vision on the world, no one suspected exactly what he had in store. What followed was one of the most successful and highly regarded horror films of all time, the 1968 film, Night of the Living Dead. The plot, like many movies of this nature, is fairly simple. It starts with Barbra (Judith O'Dea) and Johnny (Russell Streiner), who are at a cemetery. One of the aforementioned living dead kills Johnny and chases Barbara all the way back to an abandoned house, where she finds refuge with several other survivors. They lock themselves in and hope they can fend off the growing amount of zombies outside of their door.

         At the time of its release, Night was not that popular. Critics even blasted it for its graphic content, which at that time had been mostly unheard of. The movie featured lots of gore, including zombies eating the flesh of humans. In the 1960’s, movies were just starting to show graphic content, but not much. Audiences were not used to a movie that was so terrifying, as they had been raised on campy horror and monster movies of the earlier decades.

         While not regarded highly on its initial release, many now consider Night of the Living Dead a classic. This was not just because of the shock value, but because Romero also included cultural commentary, and provided one of the first movies with an African-American hero. Today Night of the Living Dead has been re-released several times, has produced three sequels, with one on the way, and a spin-off series called Return of the Living Dead, which has about five movies in it. Its impact on the horror genre is still felt today, as Romero is responsible for the current brand of zombie we know so well. In 1999, Night of the Living Dead was given the honor of going into the National Film Registry, which preserves movies that are deemed historically, culturally or aesthetically important.

Joseph Stone

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