What do you think of Night of the Living Dead? (1968)

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I am not sure what to think of the movie, mainly cause...

SPOILER

I found the undead people, to be pretty unconvincing. Mainly none of them look like they had really decayed all that much, and it makes you think that all of the people who rose from the dead in that town, and in the cemetery, have all only been dead for about a few weeks, nothing more.

What do you think?



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Technically, the zombies in Night of the Living Dead are all recently deceased, hence why they don't look particularly decomposed. The people become zombies almost immediately after they die - this does happen to a couple of characters over the course of the film. It is easy to assume that they're coming out of graves since the first zombie appears in a cemetery, but this is never actually shown or implied in this film or the sequels.
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Oh okay, thanks. But where are all these recently deceased people turning up dead from? Was there some sort of disaster that killed a bunch of people recently? Or did one bite another, then bite another, then bite another...?



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News broadcasts throughout the film imply that a satellite returning to Earth from space brought a virus that resulted in the dead coming back to life, which would then lead to them biting living humans and spreading it further. The idea is that zombies are able to quickly increase in number due to the remaining humans not knowing what's going on until it's too late.



I personally love Night of the Living Dead. It is one of my all time favorite movies. Though I admit I do prefer Dawn of the Dead more.

As for the decaying part. The dead were recently deceased. They did not have the time to decay to Walking Dead levels yet.

Also, it was Romero's first movie, it was done on the cheap, and he was not working with Tom Savini yet so the make up was not perfected.



Oh okay thanks that makes more sense. But if Romero was on a low budget, why not just hide the zombies, not so dead looking faces in shadow, and dark lighting, and other camera angles?

He literally has the camera right in front of them with a bright light, right on their faces so much of the time. Could it have been scarier to put them in more shadow at different angles?



There is no doubt that the zombies are less effective than way they look in other movies, but it's an absolute classic and one of the greatest Horror movies of all-time. Timing and mood are some of the biggest factors that can contribute to the enjoyment of a movie, and this movie is no different. It works best at night with the lights off and when your in the mood for an old black and white style film; especially after re sensitizing yourself by watching a few other older, more innocent movies for a few days.



It is true, I still do really like the movie. There is something about the zombie invasion with the news clips on TV, that makes it feel much more real world, compared to a lot of zombie movies. And it's so violent for the 60s, with the graphic cannibalism sequence. Makes me wonder if it is a good movie, or of it perhaps went to far, to the point of being an exploitation horror movie.

I was wondering, why was the movie shot in 4:3? Since it came out in 1968, it seems that almost every movie at that time was 2.35:1 or wider, so why did they choose an older fashioned, and perhaps less epic looking aspect ratio?



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The end really amazed me how they thought to do the people hunting them down on the news that just seemed far ahead of its time for me.

Overall i think its a great horror movie the special effects of the decay are understandable it was the early days.



It is true, I still do really like the movie. There is something about the zombie invasion with the news clips on TV, that makes it feel much more real world, compared to a lot of zombie movies. And it's so violent for the 60s, with the graphic cannibalism sequence. Makes me wonder if it is a good movie, or of it perhaps went to far, to the point of being an exploitation horror movie.
You hit it on the head -- the TV news/documentary feel is what gives the movie the credibility to sell the idea of flesh-eating, reanimated corpses, which was a new idea with this movie.

Novelty is also why Romero didn't need to go all-out with zombie effects; the idea itself was shocking enough to work with a comparatively few fresh-looking corpses walking around. And, as Gunslinger pointed out, Tom Savini wasn't involved with this movie (in fact, he was in Vietnam at the time, learning what real carnage looked like.)

The cannibalism scene was awesome, but the one that gets me is the kid killing her mom with the trowel -- that long, weird, distorted scream still ties my spine in knots!

I was wondering, why was the movie shot in 4:3? Since it came out in 1968, it seems that almost every movie at that time was 2.35:1 or wider, so why did they choose an older fashioned, and perhaps less epic looking aspect ratio?
Simple. They were using the equipment and some of the crew from a local TV station, which of course added to the documentary look (besides cutting expenses, no doubt).
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Yeah true. I feel that it would have been more exciting to see the Mom kill her daughter, cause then it would have forced the Mom to get to make moral decisions, rather than just being the victim, who doesn't really have her morals put to the test.



Yeah true. I feel that it would have been more exciting to see the Mom kill her daughter, cause then it would have forced the Mom to get to make moral decisions, rather than just being the victim, who doesn't really have her morals put to the test.
Intriguing!



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There's a common theme throughout the movie where a given character's downfall comes because of sticking by their loved ones in the face of danger. The young couple stick together and get blown up, the parents die because they can't bring themselves to kill their zombified child, and a shell-shocked Barbara lets herself be swarmed by zombies because she's trying to reach her already-zombified brother. The only one to survive the night is Ben, a character with no loved ones.



There's a common theme throughout the movie where a given character's downfall comes because of sticking by their loved ones in the face of danger. The young couple stick together and get blown up, the parents die because they can't bring themselves to kill their zombified child, and a shell-shocked Barbara lets herself be swarmed by zombies because she's trying to reach her already-zombified brother. The only one to survive the night is Ben, a character with no loved ones.
You make an interesting point, but I can't imagine that would have been Romero's intent. I'm inclined to interpret the events you list rather differently:

WARNING: "Night of the Living Dead" spoilers below
As I recall, a) While Judy's rushing out at the last minute to rejoin Tom arguably threw off the timing of the overall plan, it was the ill-advised gunshot to the gas pump that killed the two of them. b) I think it was early enough in the zombie crisis that the Coopers, in the stress of the unprecedentedly bizarre moment, could understandably not have immediately realized the full implications of Karen's reanimation. c) Barbara was already being swarmed before she even saw Johnny in the swarm, and she was screaming the loudest after he got hold of her. d) And while, strictly speaking, Ben did survive the night, he infamously didn't survive in the end.

I may be wrong, but I think the broader theme (of possibly all the Dead movies) is that everything turns to s--- precisely when the group breaks down and turns on each other. Interesting question, though, and I'd love to see some more discussion on it.



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I was mainly trying to figure out a purpose to the original scene that would have been lost if it had gone the way that ironpony described. I won't argue that a common trope in this movie and others like it is that more conflict comes from the human survivors failing to co-operate than from the zombies themselves - ironpony's comment just made me realise that there was an extra layer to how the film went about constructing that theme.



Yeah, the parents might have survived if only they'd done in the kid. (Most parents would secretly agree -- .) In the hindsight of a gazillion zombie movies and AMC series since, I do think the matricide gambit was at least more realistic, and arguably more interesting, than the Coopers instantly coming up to speed and abandoning all their parental instincts on a dime.

Obviously, one major point of conflict was whether to hole up in the cellar or to stay upstairs, and protecting his own family was Cooper's real impetus to argue that issue practically to death. The conflicts throughout the "Dead" movies, and all zombie movies, and real life, seem to be not between individuals, but between smaller, cohesive groups/tribes/sects etc. Hardly an original or exciting point, but for whatever it's worth I think it applies here.