Retro Review: Night of the Living Dead (1968)

It’s time for another ‘Retro Review’ and this month’s film, chosen by Mark, was George A. Romero’s 1968 classic – Night of the Living Dead. If you are new to my ‘Retro Review’ series, here’s a little reminder of my self-imposed rules.

  1. Must be a first time viewing
  2. Must be more than 5 years since release date
  3. Must watch in full
Retro Review: Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Director: George A. Romero

Starring: Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea, Karl Hardman

Awards: No Oscar nominations for this film but it did receive the ‘Horror Host Hall of Fame’ plaque in 2011.

Judith O'Dea in the 1968 film 'Night of the Living Dead'.

When the dead come back to life, six survivors find themselves seeking shelter in an abandoned farmhouse in rural Pennsylvania. With their lives at stake and the Dead at the door, teamwork is their key to survival, but their inability to unite ultimately leads to their downfall.

Duane Jones in the 1968 film 'Night of the Living Dead'

Typically, zombie films tend to go down the medical-advancement-gone-awry route when it comes to the initial outbreak but Night of the Living Dead, filmed in the midst of the Space Race, goes down a path that really plays on the fears of the time, using cosmic radiation as the catalyst for its epidemic.

The other thing that really stood out for me was the ending (spoilers coming). Any self-respecting movie-goer knows that there is always a happy ending, yes some people may die along the way but there is always a survivor. In this case, it was clearly going to be Ben (Duane Jones), the only one of the group who actually seemed to have his head screwed on straight. So when he gets shot in the head by the rescue team, I think it’s pretty safe to say, both Mark and I were more than a little shocked.

Movie still from the 1968 classic, 'Night of the Living Dead'.

Some people fear vampires or werewolves, monsters and aliens, but for me, it’s zombies. I mean if you really think about it, a zombie apocalypse is the one most within the realms of possibility but that is probably a discussion for another day.

All that being said, there are actually quite a few zombie films that I really enjoy and this is one of them, although I’m not sure how quick I will be to re-watch this one. While I can see the influence it has had on the genre and can absolutely appreciate the effectiveness of the relatively simple concept and small budget, for me, it didn’t really leave a lasting impression on me like the previous two films in my ‘Retro Review’ feature.

Karl Hardman in 'Night of the Living Dead' (1968).

Have you seen it? Let me know your thoughts.

If you liked this review, check out the instalment – Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 classic, Psycho.

11 Comments Add yours

  1. Keith says:

    REALLY glad you chose this one. I can easily say it is my personal favorite horror movie of all-time. I adore everything about it and watch it every year about this time. You’re right, it did influence so many films that would come after it. One of my favorite touches is when they find the television. The newscast that ominously plays in the background really adds something to the atmosphere.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kirsty T says:

      I did really enjoy it and the thing about this film, along with the others that I’ve reviewed so far, is that it makes me almost nostalgic for the simplicity of cinema back then. The atmosphere and experience they managed to generate without the use of CGI and special effects.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Keith says:

        Great points.

        Like

  2. nsfordwriter says:

    Awesome review ๐Ÿ˜€
    I can’t remember if I’ve seen this one. I’m not really a zombie fan, although I do like Shaun of the Dead!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kirsty T says:

      Thank you๐Ÿ˜Š
      Love Shaun of the Dead! I enjoyed this film but probably wonโ€™t watch again for a long time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. nsfordwriter says:

        I love all the ‘Cornetto trilogy’ ๐Ÿ˜‰
        I think I may have mixed up Night of the Living Dead with Day of the Dead? Which I have seen.

        Liked by 1 person

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